Senseless Spending

U.S SEN. William Proxmire died in 2005, but he had the right idea about government spending. He originated the Golden Fleece Awards in 1975 to draw attention to what he considered to be frivolous government spending.

Even though Proxmire, who represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, is no longer with us, the wasteful spending goes on despite the need to economize in these trying times.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month about some examples of what most people would consider very questionable spending.

One of the items reported by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in a 54-page report was $98,000 for an underwater robot for Columbus, and there are no major rivers and few lakes nearby.

The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Committee thankfully had more sense than to request a “BearCat” armored vehicle costing $285,933. That, however, did not stop such a vehicle being purchased for Keene, N.H., a small town with an annual pumpkin festival attracting up to 70,000 people.

The Homeland Security Department also spent $24,000 for a “latrine on wheels” in Fort Worth, Texas. It makes one wonder why this was necessary.

Coburn reports that much of the aforementioned spending was for the department’s Urban Area Security Initiative, and it appeared to be allowed under the program’s rules, but it was still inappropriate at a time when budget austerity is needed and the federal government faces a $16 trillion national debt.

“Every dollar misspent in the name of security weakens our already precarious economic condition, indebts us to foreign nations and shackles the future of our children and grandchildren,” said the senator from Oklahoma.

Those are all good points – it’s just too bad that those in power fail to put a curb on such expenditures.

This grant program stems from the 2001 terrorist attacks when the federal government pledged to help equip local governments to prevent future attacks and respond if they occurred, The Associated Press reports.

It’s difficult to give justification for such spending as the latrine on wheels. Is this supposed to rush the occupant away from a possible terrorist?

The late Senator Proxmire and Coburn appeared to have the right ideas.

UNFORTUNATELY, such common sense isn’t all that common.