Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wasted Money is Wasted Money

I had a debate the other day with a relative who was strongly supportive of the FAA spending millions on a project at the local county airport. Now, to put this in perspective, you have to realize what the local county airport consists of.

It has always been, up until the multi-million dollar project, a dirt runway with very little flight activity. There are at most one or two aircraft stationed at the port, and a busy week on the tarmac would amount to a couple two-seaters touching down.

A couple years ago, the airport landed a grant from the FAA as part of Obama's vast project to improve infrastructure while paying off union supporters and buying local votes. The total cost of the projects from coast to coast cost the US taxpayers billions of dollars. With the completion of the local project it is hoped that air travel into Oscoda County will increase. (It had better if the justification for the money spent is to ever generate enough local business to cover the price tag.)

The reasoning my relative used for his support of the project was that the money, if not spent here, would just get wasted elsewhere and, besides, the county only had to pay a small portion of the project's costs. Of course, the first of these arguments makes nearly any earmarked cost containment impossible regardless of where it might occur, and the second is false on its face. Ultimately, whether funds are spent from local coffers or are ultimately borrowed from the Chinese by the Obama administration, we, the taxpayers, are on the hook for the whole thing.

The fact is that all conservatives everywhere must fight the spending of discretionary dollars regardless of where it is going to be wasted. A waste is a waste whether it is spilled milk on my doorstep or on some other overtaxed person's threshold.

There was a time perhaps when we could pick and choose which boondoggles to throw our money at. Those times are long gone. It is time for conservatives to stand on principles that transcend the locality of waste. Now, when a hurricane ravages any portion of our country, or when wildfires lap at the homes of our fellow Americans, we have to go begging to the credit markets to get the capital we need.

Perhaps Oscoda County should have gone without the project, and perhaps the other airports around the country should have done likewise. We could do with fewer bike paths, studies on animal sexuality, and should stop the expansion of our country's benevolence on the fly. When this country collapses under our burgeoning debt the least of our worries will be whether the borrowed money was wasted locally.

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