October 1, 2019
We return briefly to our Canada beat today with a letter from reader Julian P…
Steven… guess what, life is good in Canada even though our medical system is “slow” everyone is covered and seniors get all medication free! A bit of socialism here but still good for the entrepreneur who wants to make money and a safer place to live than USA! We might not be as rich as you Americans but there is more to a happy life than money! – Julian P.
Julian, we love Canada.
P.J. is up there this week for a hunting trip… And I took my wife up to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia two years ago. Beautiful place.
But no place is without its problems…
This morning, we woke to a video of Canadian antifa behaving badly. These masked far-left protestors blocked an elderly couple from crossing the street and called them “Nazi scum.”
Why, you ask? Because they wanted to see libertarian comedian and talk-show host Dave Rubin.
Of course, we know that this incident was an outlier. Our experiences in Canada have all been pleasant.
It’s not so different from America. And we’d note that around 90% of Canada’s population lives less than 100 miles from the U.S. border… but less than 10% of Americans live within 100 miles of the Canadian border.
But as for what the Canadian government spends its money on? Or the U.S. government, for that matter?
We suspect there are more similarities and waste than would at first appear. Today, we dug into the archives and found a story from editor in chief P.J. O’Rourke that was first published in March 2016 that answers the “why” question. Enjoy…
Why Government Spends So Much Money…
On All the Wrong Things
By P.J. O’Rourke
There’s a simple reason why government is expensive. Thirty-six years ago, in his 10-part PBS television series Free to Choose, Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman used a plain chalkboard-box diagram to show how money can only be spent in one of four ways…
The Four Types of Spending
|Other People’s Money||III||
Logically, there are two kinds of money. And logic proves you only have four methods for spending that money.
I. Spend “your money” on “you.”
II. Spend “your money” on “other people.”
III. Spend “other people’s money” on “you.”
IV. Spend “other people’s money” on “other people.”
Let’s take cars as an example of something to spend money on and me as an example of someone doing the spending.
I. In 1990, I bought a Porsche 911 that I still have. I got a great deal. I purchased it almost new from a dentist who scared himself with the Porsche and decided to get a Lexus coupe instead.
When you spend your money on yourself you get – as nearly as you can – what you want. And you bargain as hard as you can for it.
II. When you spend your money on other people, you still bargain hard. But you’re not as concerned about getting exactly what’s wanted… although I’m sure my wife loves the Geo Tracker I got for her and the kids.
III. If I’m spending other people’s money on myself, then I’m on the fence between an Aston Martin Volante that goes for $300,000 and a Maserati GranTurismo convertible, a steal at $145,000.
IV. If I’m spending other people’s money on other people, I’m not involved at all. It’s not my dime, and nothing’s in it for me. So it might as well be billions for a clunker.
And No. IV is the way government does ALL its spending. It’s how the Cash for Clunkers Program burns through $3 billion buying up everyone’s broken-down Corollas.
Government lacks any incentive to limit spending. It also lacks any ability to make intelligent decisions about how that spending is done.
This has to do with the brain of a politician. “What brain?” you ask. Alas, it’s worse than a joke. Taken one by one, politicians are of dull-normal intelligence. But when you put politicians together in government you get… committees. In Congress, they even come right out and call the committees “committees.”
We’ve all been on committees. We know what happens to intelligence and common sense when a person becomes a committee member – “Committee Brain.”
You live in a neighborhood with a playground. The kids in the neighborhood would like to play tetherball, but the playground has no tetherball pole. A committee is formed to raise funds for tetherball – the Committee to Raise Funds for Tetherball (“CRFT”).
CRFT is started by a group of pleasant, enthusiastic, public-spirited neighbors. The minute any of these neighbors becomes a member of CRFT, he or she will begin to express his or her pleasant, enthusiastic public spirit by turning into one of the following types:
The Stickler, who insists, “We have to draw up a charter and form a nonprofit corporation with a chairman, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, development officer, and human resources executive. And the tetherball pole has to be exactly four meters high in accordance with North American Amateur Tetherball Association rules.”
The Dog in the Manger, who says, “We need to get permission from the County Zoning Board, the City Council, the Parks Department, and adjacent landowners who may complain about tetherball noise. That part of the playground is too damp for tetherball. It might be federally protected wetlands. We can’t do any fundraising without advertising. We can’t advertise without raising funds. The kids would rather have a tennis court.”
The Person Who Is Stupid Even by Committee-Brain Standards asks, “So the rope has, like, a ball on it?”
The Worrier frets about “Padded pole, break-away tether, a light-weight foam ball, and a ban on playing after dark or when visibility is poor – and also when the sun is shining, to avoid UV skin cancer damage. The kids should wear helmets and kneepads and safety belts… ”
The Person With Ideas babbles, “Let’s set up a challenge grant to erect a second tetherball pole in the inner city. Midnight Tetherball could be an alternative to crime for deprived youth. We can also promote tetherball as a way to combat child obesity, which would make us eligible for funding from the Gates Foundation. We’ll have a tetherball league – no, three – Adults, Juniors, and ‘Tether Tots.’ This could be a great Title IX thing. If our daughters are varsity-level tetherball players, they’ll get into Yale.”
The Person With Ideas, None of Which Have Anything to Do With Tetherball carps, “Is the tether biodegradable? Is the pole made from recycled materials? Many playground balls are manufactured in Third World countries using exploitative child labor. Let’s be sure to utilize organic fertilizer and indigenous plant species when seeding the tetherball play area.”
The Bossy Person, who says the same thing as everyone else on the committee, but louder.
The Person Who Won’t Shut Up, who says the same thing as everyone else on the committee, but more often.
The Person Who Won’t Show Up… unless his or her vote is crucial, in which case he or she shows up and votes the wrong way. Or…
You, who actually does all the work and calls 40 people to ask them each to donate $20… half of whom do. And you raise the $400 needed only to find out you need $400,000 because the U.S. House of Representatives’ Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee’s Select Committee on Opportunities in Physical Education’s Subcommittee on Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance requires all tetherballs to be wheelchair-accessible, no matter how high the tetherballs fly in the air.
Given the complete dominance of politics by Committee Brain, the wonder is that anything gets done, and the horror is that it does.
What government ends up spending money on is just what you’d expect from a committee.
“A camel is a horse designed by a committee” is a saying that couldn’t be more wrong. A camel is a seeing-eye dog designed by a committee and available free with government grants to people who can see perfectly well but who can’t walk.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
“You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but she’s going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump,’…”
His campaign is in disarray and Elizabeth Warren has eclipsed him as the progressive standard-bearer of the primary. He’s sunk to third place nationally, behind Warren and Joe Biden, and some polls of early nomination states show him barely clinging to double digits.
Mr. Biden’s pullback is an unusual and potentially worrisome sign about his appeal among the Democratic activists, young people and donors who are especially engaged on social media. Candidates rarely withdraw so much money from their online campaigns unless they are seeing weak results in online fund-raising.
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
October 1, 2019