Should U.S. Government Be Allowed to Spend Millions on Superficial Projects?

Published Apr 17, 2013. By Alex Niblett.

During the few weeks prior to tax day, those of us who work and earn a salary are busy filing our taxes and crossing our fingers we get a large refund back from the government. Although the government assures us our tax money is contributing to beneficial expenditures, I’d argue some of these things are unnecessary, and quite frankly, just plain ridiculous.

On April 15, many people took to Twitter to tweet how they feel about paying taxes. The catchy hashtag #proudtopay began trending. Some people expressed their dissatisfaction with paying taxes in a flow of heavy sarcasm, while others tweeted more supportive, patriotic opinions.

Let’s take a look at a few areas where our tax money was previously used:

  1. In his 2012 “Waste Book” report, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., brought attention to Washington’s irrational spending with our tax money, including Moroccan pottery classes for $27 million. This $27 million project was created by the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve the economic competitiveness of Morocco. The goal was to teach Moroccans how to create and design pottery to sell in domestic and international markets. Just the thought of government funds of that enormity going towards pottery is a little baffling.
  2. Our government is using our tax money to fund the recreation of an old-fashioned style trolley system in St. Louis, Mo. The city is receiving more than $25 million in federal funds for this project, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. If you’re wondering how this trolley system will benefit you, it most likely won’t. The lengthy 2.2-mile trolley line will take citizens from the Missouri History Museum to the University City Library. I’m all about preserving history, but for $25 million? With that much money, everyone could get a new bike or car to travel the extensive 2.2 miles.
  3. Our government sends millions of dollars in foreign aid to other countries when we are already in massive debt. A total of $1.4 billion was dispersed to other countries, according to a report regarding the government’s foreign aid spending in 2010 from the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. gave Mexico an estimated $316.7 million, while India received $126.6 million, Russia $71.5 million and China $27.2 million, according to an article I understand the importance of aiding other countries, but we can’t neglect the fact that our national debt is currently exceeding $16 trillion.

At least our government doesn’t put all of our tax money toward insensible projects or categories. For example, in 2012, $42 billion in federal funds were spent on the environment, according to the Concord Coalition federal budget pie chart. For obvious reasons, it’s important that a portion of our tax money helps fund the preservations of natural parks, the availability of clean water, etc.

There are some government projects that do make sense, while other investments and grants from federal funding are just outlandish. I can’t confidently say our tax money is being properly distributed.

So how do you feel about paying taxes and leaving the decision of the distribution of your tax money in the hands of the government? Tweet #proudtopay to share your thoughts.

Alex Niblett is a journalism junior.