My unscientific conclusion: It's always easier to spend other people's money. After all, if the money belongs to someone else, then there are no real consequences to how it's spent. You don't have to determine if you really need a small order of fries or medium -- just get the medium. And go ahead and get the medium shake, too, just in case. When faced with choices that have consequences (you can spend either here or there), then one tends to allocate limited resources more efficiently.
Scarcity is the restraint that leads to allocations that reflect priorities.
If restraints are taken away, then real decisions can be avoided.
So I have a confession to make: I've changed my mind. Last Friday, I tweeted that Eric Bolling's and Sean Hannity's offer to pay for the White House tours was excellent. The government-funded tours were cancelled effective this past Saturday due to the sequestration, according to the White House website.
Robert and I toured the White House last month. We also toured the Capitol and the Supreme Court. My new perspective is that government is paid for by the American people (and corporations) and therefore the key government buildings should be open to the same people who pay for them to be operating in the first place.
While a private payer might allow the White House to stay open, doing so would artificially remove a constraint on how our (not the government's) money should best be spent.
Based on my experience in budgeting, I feel pretty sure that, somewhere in our federal government, horses are being rented for members of King Arthur's Court to ride upon -- if not literally, then figuratively. Before the government buildings are closed to the people who fund them, we should first round up all the theoretical horses and those who ride upon them.
We might just find out that the emperor who rides the horse has no clothes.
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