Marolt: Waste of time worrying about the government wasting money
December 14, 2016
Some claim that to be a writer, an aspirant must stretch their limits of understanding, get out of the comfort zone of what is familiar to them, basically write something that sounds ridiculous and then twist it and turn it and wring everything out of it so that it ends up with wrinkles where it once was smooth so it makes some kind of new sense to at least one person that reads it.
With this as encouragement, I came up with the notion that there is no such thing as wasteful spending by our federal government and set out to prove it in prose. The beauty of this, of course, is that literature is literature and math is math and the later is mostly reserved for those in white lab coats while the former for those with faux leather patches on the elbows of their sweaters. I am a writer and, so, will stick to words.
While families can waste money on bad movies, juicers and timeshares in Snowmass Base Village, never to get any value from what they bought and never to see their money again, the same cannot be said for the federal government.
Even if our Trump-led government were so stupid as to spend money from the Treasury to purchase a timeshare here, it, unlike our hypothetical family who should have sought solid financial counseling before investing in a slot on the fractional ownership association calendar, will eventually get every penny of their money back through taxes.
I can already see I have drawn a bad example here to prove my point. There is so much debt, broken promises, financial losses and legal meandering involved with this project that it would take a "War and Peace"-length manuscript to map it out. But trust me, the last chapter would have the government getting every penny it spent back in income tax. We have logic, just not enough paper to prove it.
Instead, let's say the federal government sends a welfare check to a ski bum who doesn't want to work and instead has figured out how to milk the system. The bum takes that welfare money and spends it all over town. The grocery, liquor and pot shops all get a share. They pay taxes on their profits. Then they pay their employees, who have all kinds of taxes taken out of their paychecks. The employees then take what's left over and go on a vacation or buy a new car. Wherever that cash lands, the taxman will have his hand in a pocket.
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See, even ill-gotten welfare money scammed from the government by an indolent ski bum is spent over and over and over again and taxed every step of the way until every penny of it ends up back in the hands of the federal government, keeping legitimate businesses and hardworking employees busy until it does.
I will go so far as to say that even if the government opened the bays of a B-1 bomber over any city in the U.S. and dropped a billion $1 bills to scatter across the streets, this could not truly be considered wasteful, despite all appearances of being so. Every one of those dollar bills would be recovered and spent and taxed and then spent and taxed again until the federal government recovers it entirely.
If the country needs new roads, the government should spend money on new roads, but, if not, spending it on $2,000 toilet seats for Air Force One will get the economy going just as well. No need to worry. We'll build the roads when the money comes through on its next pass. In the end, all money spent by the government comes back to the government to be spent again.
You heard it here first: Wasteful spending by the federal government is a myth. Yes, they can spend too much. Then we end up with inflation. Likewise, they can actually spend too little, which can prolong an event like the Great Depression until something like WWII comes along and rescues the economy by making sure every able-bodied person is employed in the military or making weapons and the government has to spend money to pay them.
I started this as an writing exercise as a self-imposed proponent of the absurd and now I think I have convinced myself that this seeming impossibility of our government begin incapable of wasting money is true. Maybe all it really means is that I will never be an editor.
Roger Marolt hopes he hasn't wasted money on a snow shovel this winter. Email at email@example.com.
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