By Harley Austin | United States
Sadly, this isn’t a satire piece from The Onion. According to OpenTheBooks.com and The Washington Free Beacon, the agencies of the federal government spent 50 billion tax dollars on unneeded items such as cars, scooters, fidget spinners, and more. To top it all off, this all occurred in seven days. The spree took place before the end of the 2017 fiscal year, which closed September 30th of last year. This ultimately serves as another example of the absolutely wasteful spending habits of our government. In the 2019 fiscal year, it will spend a whopping 4.4 trillion dollars, some of which it cannot even bring in.
The Yearly Federal Spending Spree
Many are probably wondering how the government did this. While careless wasteful habits are nothing new, this seven-day shopping spree was intentional. Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of OpenTheBooks, describes this yearly occurrence like this:
Federal agencies spend-out their budgets… If they don’t spend it this year, they lose it for next year. It’s a year-end spending spree whereby $1 of every $9 spent during the fiscal year is spent in the final week.
Last year, during the final week of the fiscal year, federal agencies literally ‘drove up taxpayer costs‘… They bought $170 million in ‘passenger motor vehicles.’ And that’s a lot more than the $1 million spent on motorcycles, scooters, and bikes. Health and Human Services bought a fleet of armored vehicles with Square One for $1.5 million.
This brings us to the 6,600 tax dollars that the US military spent on fidget spinners. And, this is the smallest price tag of the reported federal waste spending.
Government: Designed to Be Wasteful
This did not occur from the corruption and incompetence that are the usual culprits for government spending. Rather, it is inherent in the system of bureaucratic funding. This is a prime example of the Economic Calculation Problem. Essentially, this concept states that government is inherently incompetent and wasteful because it doesn’t follow supply and demand.
Despite this inadequacy, this very system still supplies the feds with money. Each fiscal year, they receive a set budget that the American people coercively lose through taxes. If the agency has any leftover money at the end of the fiscal year, the government decreases the agency’s budget to compensate. In theory, this is a nice concept, as it lowers the spending of agencies that do not need it.
In reality, though, the government effectively punishes the efficient use of a budget and rewards maximal spending. This is the exact opposite of a private company, which must spend as little as possible in order to reduce costs. This is a fundamental part of the Economic Calculation Problem: governments have no incentive to be efficient because they have unlimited funding, no profit motivations or competition, and can just go into endless debt when they fail.
A Leftover Shopping Spree
Obviously, federal agencies do not want their budgets to go down. So, they spend all the leftover money, our money, in the final week of the fiscal year. Most of this money goes towards useless consumer commodities that they could have easily even bought in bulk. Then, at the start of the next fiscal year, with even more federal funding, the process starts all over again in an endless cycle of waste. It’s no wonder why the national debt has grown exponentially during the bureaucratic boom of the past 40 years.
What This Means for the American People
Hopefully, this should serve as an example of how the government really spends our money. Every year, when they forcibly take money from us through taxes, it does not magically go to schools and roads. Instead, much of it goes towards a bureaucrat’s paycheck, and worse, his expenditures. Of course, it is also worth mentioning the hundreds of billions of dollars that the budget wastes before this last week.
It’s time to see federal spending for what it really is. The government is not some all-powerful being that can rain commodities from the sky like heavenly manna. It is an incompetent and wasteful entity that, by its own nature, cannot efficiently provide anything.
A Solution in Mind
What is the solution to such federal waste? The first, of course, is to break free from the mindset that government is competent or cares about the interests of the people. From there, the American people must reject the government that forcibly takes our money. We must also reject the two parties that only increase federal spending every year. We must reject all government programs that justify more taxes, more bureaucracy, and more waste. And, most importantly, we must reject every politician who tries to hypnotize people with the promise of “free” goods and services. Anything that government pretends is free will ultimately come from the pocket of an innocent individual.
Second, the American people must support, rather than vilify, the system that can efficiently and voluntarily provide the commodities and services that we want: the free market. The antithesis of the violent government, the market can provide the products and security we desire without forcing people to pay for it. If a businessman fails to sell you a product, he loses and must adapt. If the government does so, it can merely raise the budget, print more money, and continue selling the inefficient product you don’t want. When government fails, the citizens all take the hit.
State Intervention vs the Free Market
When state intervention does not cripple it, the free market provides efficient production of desirables based on supply/demand, profit incentives, and competition. The intervention of the government, desperate to parasitically leech off of the market through taxes, creates the poverty and problems we have now. This occurs through taxes, tariffs, regulations, licensing, corporate subsidies, industrial complexes, patents, and bureaucracies. State intervention, not the free market, is the greatest source of society’s duress.
Government economic intervention is a disease masquerading as its own cure. Free individuals in our society, thus, should treat it as such.
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