Of course there’s waste – the famous “bridge to nowhere” leaps immediately to mind – but I would venture to say that most federally funded projects have at least some merit.
Remember Senator William Proxmire from Wisconsin? He was frequently in the news for presenting bureaucrats and other politicians with what he called the Golden Fleece Award … his way of bringing the hot white light of publicity to bear on what he thought was wasteful government spending.
One of Proxmire’s awards went to an appropriation – put into the budget, as I recall, by our distinguished U.S. Senator Dan Inouye – that was to fund a program to prevent the brown tree snake from getting into Hawaii. I guess this seemed like a waste of money to the senator from Wisconsin.
Brown tree snakes found their way to Guam shortly after World War II, probably in cargo coming from the South Pacific. There are now literally millions of the damn things there and they are a huge problem. Most of these snakes are three to four feet long, but they can grow to more than twice that length. They crawl up utility poles and cause frequent electrical outages, they get into houses and bite people (painful, and can be fatal to little kids), and they kill and eat small family pets. Sadly, there are now almost no birds on Guam, because the snakes crawl up into the trees and eat the birds eggs.
By contrast, there are no snakes in Hawaii ... and we'd kinda like to keep it that way. Furthermore, we have hundreds of species of birds, many that are found nowhere else in the world, like this beautiful creature, the i’iwi.
So … do we think the funding Dan Inouye gets from the federal budget to inspect containers coming here from Guam is money well spent? Well, the late Senator Proxmire and all his good intentions notwithstanding … you’re damn right, we do!