What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The comptroller general of the United States, the man who has the very stressful and harried job of measuring how far in debt our government is and reporting said number to the Department of Treasury, recently released the current data on our financial situation. And the synopsis was, at predictable face value, very red.

According to report that made its way to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's desk late last week, if the national debt were divided up evenly over the entire population, we would each owe $175,000. The comptroller general wasn't specific as to whether this number includes illegal immigrants and minors, who in their own way contribute to the national economy, or was just limited to taxpayers, but regardless the number does look very red. But I said that before.

Financial experts will give themselves a litany of medical conditions as they worry about this new information and poorly informed Americans - those who don't read FCN - will wonder why this figure is so high and how such seemingly gargantuan debt is justified. Dogs will also bark, terrorists will blow themselves up and the Olsen Twins will lose weight, but none of these are, as far as I can see, related to the debt issue.

What a lot of Americans are ignoring when they decry the $175,000 is that this debt provides some serious lifestyle advantages to us. The funds are not wasted. In fact, some would say debt is the path worn smooth by the American Dream. We, the FCN staff, took a vacation from our usual dereliction and went to the library to conduct some research on the advantages our government is providing you and me with the $175,000. Here's what we found:

$1,000,000 (about six people's worth of debt) from the Defense Department is spent to fund an Allen Telescope Array in Mountain View, Calif. This “alien” project is part of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). SETI describes the telescope as “dedicated to astronomical and simultaneous search for extra-terrestrial intelligence observations.” A good investment considering the dangers aliens pose in our modern world. The Defense Department was thinking ahead with this one. I'll bet this Allen fellow was happy to spend $175,000 on it, too.

$5,500,000 (about 31 people's worth of debt) from the Defense Department to fund the Gallo Center, a neuroscience clinic designed to study the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the brain. The folks in DC figure that, after aliens, drunks are the biggest threat to national security. No private sector organizations were willing to undertake this responsibility The government is looking out for us.

$352,000 (about two people's worth of debt) from the Department of Agriculture for floriculture research. It's only two people out of 300 million and think of how much more beautiful flowers will be. You will be thanking Uncle Sam for this expenditure next Valentine's Day.

$2,300,000 (about 13 people's worth of debt) from the Foreign Operations budget for the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). The IFDC, now in its ninth year, helps to augment foreign soil management. Because soil is a terrible thing to mismanage.

$350,000 (about two people's worth of debt) from the Department of Interior to fund hanging baskets in Chicago. Boy, those little floral and straw arrangements really spruce up the Windy City. In fact, the program managed to design, install and maintain 950 baskets so far, at a price of roughly $368 each. Money well spent.

$150,000 (about one person's worth of debt) from the National Park Service budget for the Actors Theater in Louisville, Kentucky. One of the theater’s productions is called Bad Date, in which “a feisty single mom relocates to the big city, finds a new career and jumps back into the shark-infested dating pool only to find herself on the wrong side of the law…the hilarious and unforgettable story of one woman's love life, her anticipation of (and recovery from) each new date and the fabulous shoe collection that saves her every time!” Expensive and edifying!

$450,000 (about three people's worth of debt) spent by the Legislative Budget for plantings on the eastern front of the Capitol. This will allow members of Congress a chance to “stop and smell the roses” before they proceed with spending more of our money. Don't worry, though. For almost a half-million dollars, these roses are sure to be extra-nice.

$250,000 (about two people's worth of debt) from the Transportation Budget for the National Cattle Congress (NCC) in Waterloo, Iowa. Fair activities include: the Second Annual Cattle Congress Cage Combat, the ‘Survivor” Family Game Show, Jocko & the J’s Monkey Show, and Steeple’s Wild West Bear Show. Well worth the price of admission.

$47,326,000 (about 270 people's worth of debt) by the Department of the Interior for projects in the state of Alaska, including: $1,100,000 for the Matunuska-Susitna Borough; $750,000 for the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park; $450,000 for the Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association; $400,000 for the Ketchikan Wood Technology Center; $150,000 for the Alaska Whaling Commission; and $98,000 for the Alaska Sea Otter Commission. Too bad Alaska isn't pitching in more; at least the otters are happy.

And that's just scratching the surface. Our elected officials find so many ways to satisfy our every need and desire. It just seems so wrong to complain about the price tag. Capitol Hill means well and we end up will all kinds of cool stuff when they decide to be generous in what they bestow. Why do we have to be haters? Can't we just enjoy the blessings of our government?


Anonymous said...

Wow, those are quite the barrels of pork.

Anonymous said...

Now look ahead 4 years and tell me what you think nationalized medicine will do to that debt?? I think money would be better spent on psychological assesment for our representatives - or better yet, having our own heads examined for electing them in the first place.

LDer at heart said...

I still think we could equate nationalized healthcare to the white witch:
Mom: "Poor JR...you're not feeling well today? Perhaps we should take you to the doctor."
JR: "NOOOOO!!! I hate the doctor! It'll kill me! You hate me!! You're trying to kill me!"
Mom: "Nonsense, JR. We're going to the doctor."
* JR and Mom get into car and drive. *
* JR has doctor visit *
Dr: "Hmmm...Let's see...well, the government has only authorized one type of treatment...where's my magic wand?"
* JR gets zapped and turns into stone *
* Mom drives home with the statue in the trunk *


Matthew said...

I agree. It's worth it.