Free Money Isn’t Free

Robert New

Last week I attended one of our city council meetings and I heard one of the council members make a statement that I hear all too often in local politics. In a discussion of a project by the city administrator and the cost of the project, the council member said, “And this didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime, it was all paid for by federal money.”

Perhaps this guy watches too much TV and thinks the federal government is like that Geico television ad. The one with the guy made of money, riding around on his motorcycle leaving a trail of twenty dollar bills behind him. Or perhaps he thinks Geithner and Bernanke just print money magically to send to cities who want to build some quarter of a million dollar bicycle bridge to nowhere. Actually the printing part may be all too close to reality!

I hate to break it to this councilman, who I know personally and is a really nice guy, but that free money isn’t free. That federal government money still comes from our pay checks in the form of taxes. And it never ceases to amaze me how local and state politicians think that taking my dollar, sending it to Washington, laundering it through 5 levels of bureaucracy, and sending back 30 cents to spend on a project is a better idea than keeping the entire dollar here to use, or better yet, let me keep most of it to spend with local merchants. Education and energy are prime examples. The Department of Education doesn’t educate anyone. The Department of Energy doesn’t produce any energy.

When I hear statements like this by local politicians it makes me realize just how much work remains for we conservatives to educate the misinformed

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