Cash in the Landfill

It’s hard not to think about wasteful spending at this time of year. I know because I do my share of overspending on Christmas gifts, and I would probably be considered pretty conservative in what I spend compared to a lot of what’s going on out there. But whatever spending I do with the money I’ve traded a large portion of my life at work for is my choice, and I am the one who faces the consequences when I decide to let go of it. I have to weigh the value or lack thereof, and I am the one who takes the associated risks or enjoys the reward.

When the government goes on any number of their spending sprees, it’s another matter altogether, because we all have to help foot the bill for things that someone else has decided to dig into our wallets for, things which may provide little or nothing of value to us in return.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), has compiled his annual list of the most egregious government spending for the year; it’s called the WASTEBOOK, a Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low Priority Government Spending of 2011. It’s a 95 page book complete with photos.

“This report details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative, or just plain stupid projects spread throughout the federal government and paid for with your tax dollars this year that highlight the out-of- control and shortsighted spending excesses in Washington.”

Have you ever considered how much of your cash winds up in these government spending landfills because of unnecessary pet projects funded through grants? I think it would be quite an eye-opener to see how many dollars are wasted each year just in the municipalities in Palm Beach County alone… all that is frittered away in the combined totals of those projects that might not make this list, but which when added together tell quite a tale of our national waste. Those $52,000’s and those $2.4 millions sure add up here in our town, imagine how they look combined with the totals spent in all the towns and cities in our state alone, especially in light of what those who are paying for them get in return.

Tom Coburn lists 100 of the most expensive, unnecessary, etc…but the massive amount of what is spent overall doesn’t even make it to the news. Add it up, though… and waa laa! You have a heck of a lot of your own personal money being frittered away constantly on things that benefit very few…I repeat, at your expense.

The numbers and the waste would be staggering, I’m sure, especially if other towns are pulling in as much tax-payer money as Lake Park does. When you begin to add up the millions Lake Park has sought and won through grant projects and multiply that by the number of cities and towns in our county, state and then the entire country, and you might get a foreboding sense that we have been somebody’s fool. Something, and a lot of “somebodies”, are draining our wallets, but what do we have to show for it?

Small Town Accountability

At the Federal level it seems nearly impossible to do much more than throw up our hands and shake our heads, and the same may play out even at the state and county level, but we live in a town where its size affords us the opportunity to keep track of what’s going on and put our foot down, to make sure out town doesn’t add to the landfill of tax dollars heaped up for the political benefit of a few.

When the cost is masked in fees and taxes that come out of our pockets, we don’t necessarily think to make the connection to the wasteful things that they will be spent on later, even right here in our town. It’s our job to question the leadership of our town first and call these people out on the spending sprees which are draining our pockets, often grant by grant. Multiplied throughout the 67 counties in Florida each with multiple municipalities (Palm Beach County alone has 38 incorporated municipalities), you begin to see the scope of the problem.

Next time you take out your wallet to buy another gift and think it’s feeling a little light and looking a little empty, consider what your government bought for themselves and their favored ones when you weren’t looking. Then check atop the great dumping ground of wasted government spending to see how much you contributed to the heap. Then, when Lake Park leadership embarks on one of its next grant procurement endeavors, sit up, pay attention and say something. You’ll have to keep your eyes open though. The CDC is the town’s stealthy grant procuress, and you’ll have to be quick on your feet and have your eyes open wide to catch sight of many of the projects being done under the cover of this entity. Not an easy task.

But don’t despair, the new year ahead offers boundless opportunities to get involved and pay attention to the consequences of your town’s spending habits. We hope you’ll join us and have your say about it.

Give yourself a little gift and get involved. The landfill of wasted dollar bills and “government gifts” is calling your name.