Letter: The government’s ‘free-giveaway’ mentality
Blame it on my upbringing. As a child, when I would announce some "free" offer, my father never neglected to say, "Nothing’s free! Who’s paying for it?" It made me look at every "free" offer with the eyes of a skeptic.
The Gazette-Journal always has "free" offers—commonly businesses trying to entice customers. The business has made a decision to spend money to advertise an offer and give up a little of their profit to get you to buy their service or product—an understandable way to get business.
On July 21, there was also an advertisement for a free energy audit. The ad says it is funded by "an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant through the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, and administered by the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, in partnership with Bay Family Housing." The ad alone cost over $150 and I am certain ours is not the only community newspaper in America soliciting this "business."
Who paid for the ad? You did! Well, you didn’t actually pay for it—the federal government put it on their tab for you! When I try to assemble the impact of these "free" services in my head, I am overwhelmed—just as our economy is! The tangle of federal, state and local agencies providing goods and services to people is staggering. Your local supervisors send your tax dollars to agencies like the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission or Bay Aging, who also receive funds from other government and non-government sources to fund their government agencies and lots of money gets spent! Lots of people take home paychecks for providing those "goods or services." The list of "free" goods and services is incredible. A while back, it was fans that were being given away. A well-off relative had a new cell phone she got free "because I’m old, I guess," she joked.
I have to wonder if we understand the impact of the government’s "free-giveaway" mentality with its incredibly inefficient delivery system. The cost of the delivery system that turns a "free" (to some locality) $60,000 job into a charge of $278,000 to American taxpayers is crazy! You or I could go out and help a needy person just for the cost of a fan or a tank of fuel oil, but when the government does it, the cost multiplies through each layer of bureaucracy.
Each agency has costs and expenses that siphon off dollars and add an enormous cost to every "giveaway." America is now $14.5 trillion overdrawn on our checking account! Most of us cannot begin to grasp such a huge number without some visualization aids. Here’s one example: Say you were going on a spending spree and were going to spend $20 every second. You would spend $100 in just five seconds. You would spend $1,000 in under a minute. In 13 hours and 48 minutes, you would have spent a million dollars. A billion dollars would take one year and 214 days to spend. A trillion dollars would take about 20 lifetimes (1,585 years) to spend! Our federal debt is 14 and a half times that much, so it would take 22,982.5 years—almost 230 centuries to spend at
It seems clear we need to tell our government representatives that while we may sympathize with their intentions, we just can’t afford the "free" gifts.