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How the Government Spends Your Money. Really

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

On Friday, I dashed off a check to Uncle Sam for just under two grand. That is over and above what we bled out during the year. So I’ve been doing a slow burn all weekend since I am part of the 99 percent, and we definitely felt the bite.

If you had to scratch out a tax check this year or are curious as to where that amount in the mysterious “FICA” box goes, take a blood pressure pill (or get a prescription for some) and allow me to enlighten you as to how your money is being spent.

17 billion of your money went to either fraudulent or incorrect overpayments by Medicare.

Everybody likes trains, right? You’d better because you also subsidized Amtrak to the tune of $1.4 billion. That comes out to around $55 per each ticket sold. When did the government start propping up companies that can’t make a profit as a private enterprise? Oh, wait…never mind. Right then, moving on.

Speaking of that, you also “invested” $328 million in research and production for energy efficient vehicles. Since it was your money that went to the companies, you should be getting your first dividend check any day now. Just keep watching that mail box.

Being the good global citizens that you are, you also spent $1.5 billion on foreign aid to such places as China, Brazil, and Russia. However, Congress borrows trillions from those countries in order to fund the federal budget. So we end up paying for infrastructure, medical care, military costs and economic development in those nations. That’s good news considering the recent developments in Russia. Whatever happened to just sending a nice thank-you card? “Dear Vladimir, Thanks bunches for the loan! Here’s a little something for your troubles. We promise we’ll have that pesky missile issue all cleared up by Christmas! Love ya!”

You are a selfless group. I’m sure last year many of you shoe-horned yourselves into coach seats to save a buck on air travel, and had to hold your bag of almonds between your knees and tear it open with your teeth while not knocking that 10 cc glass of coke off your tray table. So it was very kind of you to spend $70 million to upgrade federal employees flying on your nickel to business or first class.

Apparently, you know how to have fun. Or to pay for other people’s fun. Why else would you donate $232 million to the Institute of Library and Museum Sciences? They used your tax money to finance such things as the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, a quilt museum in Nebraska, and a merry-go-round museum in New York. But then again, these are museums after all. So we’re not just talking about fun, we’re talking about edutainment!

I won’t even tell you about the $147,106 you spent to foster emotional wellbeing in Palau. (Check your Atlas.)

I have queried some elected officials that do business in the District of Columbia. I am told that they cannot lower taxes or balance the budget because there are too many Democrats there. And they have justified objectionable votes by saying that they were necessary to stave off even worse legislation, or advance better legislation. I can understand that conservatives have a fight on their hands when it comes to cutting entitlements, but can any of them really expect me to believe that there was a serious floor fight to ensure funding for the Museum of Magic? Who filibustered that?

I know people who worked in D.C. and they tell me that on the very day that our Senators and Representatives arrive, they learn quickly if they want nice office furniture, or good playing fields for their softball teams (When in the hell do they get time to play softball?) they have to cut deals and make alliances.

That mentality eventually washes over into the rest of their jobs. In an arena in which piddling away a couple of million dollars is all in an afternoon’s work, the “Let’s Make a Deal” attitude has obviously cost us some money. If the stuff sold at Staples is good enough for the rest of us, it’s good enough for our legislators. If they can’t make do with that, let them get by with a brick phone, a card table and a rolodex. But what’s a couple of million dollars in favors and deals here and there?

If it is the D.C. mindset is the problem then perhaps it is time we change the minds in D.C. and replace them with ones that aren’t going to repeat the lavish mistakes of the past.

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