Spending while Rome burns

Billions in inefficiently allocated funds are clogging government coffers

The very foundations of Western European society are clinking and clattering and rattling under their feet and our noses. The American economy is shaky at best, on the precipice of disaster at the least.

Across this great land, ordinary citizens not otherwise given to flights of paranoia are hoarding basic necessities, diving into worlds of increased self-reliance and, when they can stomach it, imagining the worst and what it might require of both them and civil society.

If they are overreacting, surely our leaders in Washington are guilty of underreacting.

When they should be fortifying this country’s financial picture; when they should be slashing government spending and fueling the private sector to create jobs; when they should be sitting down together to work through our collective problems – they’re doing none of that.

We’d say they’re fiddling while Rome burns, and they are. But it’s worse than that. They’re accelerating the country’s drive toward the cliff – with continued profligate spending, with mud-wrestling on television for political gain, and with abject, wanton and active neglect of this country’s condition.

If they were parents, they’d have their children taken away and be yanked off to jail for criminal endangerment.

There’s no way of getting around it: This is the worst collection of leaders in American history.

There are some exceptions, of course – such as Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is, sadly, self-limiting his stay in Washington out of a respect for the principle of a citizen legislature our Founders thought they had established. But before leaving, Coburn intends to keep pointing out the flames licking at Rome’s infrastructure.

Most recently, Coburn exposed the fact that billions of dollars are lying around in federal government coffers that may never be spent, for projects that aren’t going anywhere – or which are over: There’s still $2.7 million in an account earmarked for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics!

Then there’s pure waste. Coburn notes the government is spending more than $200 million a year on foreign promotion of U.S. companies and industries that are already quite profitable on their own.

“Mr. Coburn’s top example,” writes The Washington Times, “is Blue Diamond Growers, a California cooperative of almond farms that he said reported $3.3 billion in sales over the past five years, yet has received $28.2 million in promotion subsidies since 1999.”

Another part of the program funds a reality show in India; another promotes livestock semen and another Sunkist, which Coburn says has $1 billion in sales.

Other programs are even more wasteful.

The point is, no one’s minding the store – and our leaders can’t agree on what day it is, much less how to solve our problems.

Did you know the U.S. Senate hasn’t even passed a rudimentary federal budget in three years?

Problems in Europe will either drag us down too or present us with opportunities to capture capital fleeing the continent.

The neglect and reckless selfishness of our rulers in Washington makes it more likely that we’ll suffer the same fate as our friends in Europe.

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