More Crazy, Stupid Wasteful Government Spending

What is the dumbest thing the federal government has wasted money on lately?

That’s a difficult question to answer, but only because politicians waste so much of U.S. taxpayers’ money. Fortunately, government spending watchdog OpenTheBooks provides their answers to that question in their annual “Where’s the Pork?” report.

What makes these reports fun to read aren’t the most wasteful items that cost billions and include things like the Paycheck Protection Program and the pandemic unemployment insurance programs. Instead, it’s because politicians cannot stop themselves from funding things that unquestionably provide little, if any, benefit to ordinary Americans. Here’s a short list of my favorite entries from this year’s edition with links to OpenTheBooks’ feature stories about the spending:

As you read these examples, remember that the U.S. government’s total public debt outstanding was nearly $30.5 trillion as of June 30, 2022, or $90,371.71 per living American.

That brings me to a very specific line item from this year’s report:

According to the United States Treasury, the United States spent $562.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2021 on interest payments alone. This money isn’t going towards paying off our current $30 trillion debt obligations, this just covers the cost of borrowing the money.

Money used to pay interest cannot be used to pay for anything else. For governments dependent on borrowing to support their spending, interest on their national debt is the one bill they must pay.

If they don’t, they risk defaulting on their national debt like Sri Lanka. That country’s leaders spent a lot of money very stupidly for far longer than they could afford. If you haven’t noticed, things are not going well in that country.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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