October 08, 2006

Your Tax Money At Work

Drudge is running with another of those stories today about massive FEMA mismanagement of Katrina aid.

I don't especially care about the details of the story itself. However, it gives me the perfect excuse to repost the single most important couple of paragraphs on money I've ever read in my life, words o' wisdom that are applicable not just to Katrina relief, but to any issue regarding government expenditure (and, really, expenditure by everyone else as well). Read them. Learn them. Live them.

There is a problem with letting government buy us the things we want, such as a cleaner, more diverse, more environmental environment. The problem is worse than political, it's psychotic. The government has a deranged method of spending money. This was first pointed out by Milton and Rose Friedman in their 1980 classic text on economic liberty, Free to Choose.....The Friedmans describe the four ways money is spent:

1. You spend your money on yourself. You're motivated to get the thing you want most at the best price. This is the way middle-aged men haggle with Porsche dealers.

2. You spend your money on other people. You still want a bargain, but you're less interested in pleasing the recipient of your largesse. This is why children get underwear at Christmas.

3. You spend other people's money on yourself. You get what you want but price no longer matters. The second wives who ride around with the middle-aged men in the Porsches do this kind of spending at Neiman Marcus.

4. You spend other people's money on other people. And in this case, who gives a shite?

Most government spending falls into category four. Which is why the government keeps buying us Hoover Dams, B-1 bombers, raids on Waco cults and 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Acts.

--P.J. O'Rourke, All The Trouble In The World.

To that list go ahead and add Katrina Disaster Relief Programs.

I'm a large-C Conservative in that I would like to see this sort of thing cut back. But I'm a small-c conservative cynic in my belief that the problem is systemic, not ideological, and that the likelihood of reform is, well, remote at best.

Posted by Robert at October 8, 2006 05:22 PM | TrackBack