There are thousands of stories on government waste. I could literally write an article
every single day on some wasteful government program. While this would get tiresome, I think it is important to
point out some of the more egregious cases every once in a while, just to
remind people of what happens when government spends our money.
One of the latest cases involves a special facility in South
Carolina that could transform nuclear material from weapons and convert it into
fuel that could be used for civilian nuclear reactors.
That sounds like a great idea, right? Many government programs sound good
when they are first presented, but politicians aren’t spending their own
money. There is no profit or loss
system with government spending in order to tell us whether it is meeting
market demands. The only profits
and losses involve losses for the general taxpayer and profits for the special
In this particular case, the Department of Energy is putting
this multi-billion dollar project on hold because of the cost overruns and the
need to reduce federal spending in some areas. The project, pushed by the big government Republican Senator
Lindsey Graham, was going to cost $10 billion to continue, instead of something
closer to $1 billion. Estimates
showed that the South Carolina plant would need another $24 billion to operate
it over a period of 15 years.
I would say that this is a typical government program,
except there may be one difference in this particular case. The government, at least for the time
being, is cutting some of its losses instead of ramping up spending even more
to finish the facility. While they
are not halting all spending on the project, the funding is actually being reduced.
Some people will point to the approximately 2,100 workers at
the plant as a positive benefit because it provides employment, but this is
just bad economics. The money to
pay these workers is capital and resources that are being taken out of the
private sector. In addition,
spending $10 billion for 2,100 workers would have seemed rather silly, as that
would work out to more than $4.5 million per worker.
It is important not to point fingers at just one of the
major political parties.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress are both to blame. This project was actually first
proposed back in the 1990’s as a piece of negotiations with Russia to reduce
Obama has been particularly bad in promoting government
boondoggles. In his case, some of
the new and more obvious failures have been in so-called green energy. Think about the political process and
the government failure of Solyndra and Fisker. A business or entrepreneur does not invest in such things,
so the government steps in with its central planning in an attempt to create a
product where there is a lack of consumer demand.
I have no problem if an entrepreneur wants to sell electric
cars or some form of new clean energy.
But it should not be subsidized by the government. If the project is worthy, then it
should require no government funds and should be profitable because it meets
consumer needs and wants at a price they are willing to pay.
And while government boondoggles constantly happen under
both major parties, the Republicans even promote energy projects, although with
a little less alarmism about the earth being destroyed by humans and
There was a clean coal “FutureGen” project that began under
the George W. Bush administration, first proposed in 2003, and since re-funded
under the Obama administration. It
has been another money pit where the special interests profit and the taxpayers
In a sense, all government spending is a misallocation of
resources. If people were going to
spend their money in a certain way in the first place, then you don’t need the
government spending it for them.
This just tells us that most government spending is on programs that
most people would not have voluntarily spent their own money on. Otherwise, it would not have been
necessary for the government to fund it.
These examples of government trying to “invest” money in
energy sources are just particularly destructive forms of domestic welfare
spending. Much of the money is
going to special interests and into areas that are providing little long-term
The government keeps flushing wealth down the toilet while
the American middle class continues to struggle to pay for health insurance and
other basic needs. The only answer
is for the American people to demand a dramatic decrease in the size and scope
of government, particularly at the federal level.
As long as there is major power and money residing in
Washington DC, we should not be surprised when resources are continued to be