Useful vs. wasteful
I just read this post by my pal, Dr. Bacchus. And I must say that there was a time, not so long ago, that I would have vehemently disagreed with his premise.
But no longer...
As I've gotten older I am so much more pragmatic than I have ever been - and I was pretty pragmatic to begin with. And while I don't agree that NASA is totally unnecessary, I do believe that missions like this - to go look at things that will have no real impact on anything other than budgets and some people's notion that they are doing something - are. This could only be a bigger waste of money if the contractors were to submit larger bids. This money could be spent on so many more pressing needs.
In my cute, little, perfect world, however, I would take it to much higher degree. The amount of money that is simply wasted by our government is absolutely staggering. Congress spends an inordinate amount of time doing absolutely nothing of importance. I actually had to stop following the US House of Reps on Twitter because I was tired of seeing how much time was spent voting on a proclamation naming March 13th as National Dog Food Appreciation Day and a resolution acknowledging the long public service of Jeff, the guy who scrapes the gum off the Capital hallway floors.
On the large side: There is a compelling argument that a good portion of what most government agencies do is either better done by the private sector or not done at all. And I've long said that the goal of any assistance program, whether governmental or not, should be to work themselves out of a job. The natural tendency is, however, to try to increase your constituency and, therefore, your usefulness.
On the small side: I'd love to see the numbers on how much is spent per year on stupid things like Official Signing-A-Bill-Into-Law pens so the president can sign seventy-two "ceremonial" copies with a different one so every Senator can have a photo-op and a souvenir to show the folks back home. And why does a brand new flag have to be used every day? And in the name of all that's holy, quit redecorating the damn White House and picking out new china and silverware patterns every couple of years just because - "Well, we couldn't possibly be expected to sit on the same sofa as that last guy sat on. Why, he was from the OTHER party!"
Maybe those last ones aren't big things, but I'm betting that they add up to a hell of a lot. In fact, last time I heard a stat on it, the government simply misplaces more money every day than most people will ever make in a year.
In short (I know, too late...) I believe that those wasted dollars should be given back to the people from whom they came and that we - being said people - can determine what to do with them.
I tweeted recently about a pithy saying that I subscribe to. "The Bill of Rights should end after the first 5 words." While this is, of course, hyperbole, it does sum up my general feeling that the government should, for the most part, just get out of the way and let people live their lives. I also believe, and this is NOT hyperbole in any way, that both Houses of Congress should be in session for about 4 months each year and should then disperse to go live and work under the system that they create. No more career politicians whose only talent is campaigning, to bring this back to the original subject, spending other people's money on things so they can hold onto the office that they successfully campaigned for.
Government exists not to make anyone's life better but to keep anyone from making anyone else's life worse. Two great quotes in closing:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. —James Madison
Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. —Thomas Paine
term limits, term limits, term limits! as my new bff Dave Ramsey likes to say. ps - nice shirt!
1) Ramsey rocks! and 2) Thank you. I like it. (Side note: you may be the only living person to have ever seen the web cam picture besides me. Feel privileged yet?)