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Wasted Money - Three of the Largest Dumb Expenses Your Tax Dollars Cover

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June 12, 2024
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Every year, the United States government allocates billions of taxpayer dollars to various programs and projects. While many of these expenditures are essential for the functioning of the country, some are questionable at best. We can as citizens and taxpayers disagree on this or that program or policy, there are others that make no sense unless someone is getting paid some shady money.

The Maintenance of Vacant Federal Buildings

One of the most glaring examples of wasteful spending is the maintenance of vacant federal buildings. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government spends millions of dollars annually to keep thousands of unused properties in basic condition. These costs include utilities, security, and minimal maintenance to prevent further deterioration.

In 2017, the GAO estimated that over 770,000 properties owned or leased by the federal government were underutilized or completely vacant. Despite multiple attempts to address this issue, the problem persists. Selling or repurposing these properties could save significant amounts of money, yet bureaucratic hurdles and slow-moving processes continue to drain resources unnecessarily. Having spent a lot of time on government facilities, it’s easy to see maintaining the occupied ones should be the priority.

Subsidies for Big Agriculture

Another questionable expenditure is the substantial subsidies provided to large agricultural corporations. While the original intention behind agricultural subsidies was to support struggling small farmers, much of this financial aid now goes to massive agribusinesses. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the top 1% of farm subsidy recipients collected 27% of total subsidies between 1995 and 2020.

These subsidies often support crops like corn and soy, which are primarily used for livestock feed and biofuels, rather than nutritious food for human consumption. Critics argue that these funds distort market prices, encourage overproduction, and contribute to environmental degradation. Redirecting these subsidies towards sustainable farming practices and small-scale farmers could provide a more equitable and environmentally friendly solution, not to mention putting money back in the pockets of American farmers instead of massive conglomerates.

Unnecessary Military Projects

Don’t come for me, just hear me out. The U.S. military budget is one of the largest in the world, but not all of its expenditures are justified. A significant portion of the defense budget is allocated to projects that are often deemed unnecessary or redundant. For instance, the development and procurement of certain weapon systems have been criticized for being excessively expensive without providing corresponding strategic value. Replacing a weapon system with a more expensive, less useful variety because the congressman or senator (from the great state of who cares) wants to look pro military takes money away from systems that really need improvement. 

Especially if the new shiny factory is in their district.

A prime example of improper military expenditures is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which has been plagued by cost overruns and technical issues. Originally estimated to cost around $400 billion, the program's total cost has ballooned to approximately $1.7 trillion over its lifetime. Despite these expenditures, the F-35 has faced numerous performance problems, leading some defense experts to question its overall effectiveness and necessity.

Another controversial military expense is the construction of new nuclear weapons. Even though the U.S. already possesses a vast and powerful nuclear arsenal, billions of dollars are being allocated to develop new warheads and delivery systems. Critics argue that this not only perpetuates the arms race but also diverts funds from other critical areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Considering the condition of the current launch structures and their commands, those need the money much more desperately. As well as more oversight.

While there are many important and necessary areas where taxpayer money is well spent, these examples highlight some of the dumbest expenditures that continue to drain public funds. The maintenance of vacant federal buildings, subsidies for big agriculture, and unnecessary military projects all represent areas where budget priorities could be re-evaluated for more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

By addressing these issues, the United States could potentially save billions of dollars annually. These funds could then be redirected towards more pressing needs, such as improving public education, healthcare, and infrastructure, or reducing the national debt. A more thoughtful and transparent approach to budget allocation would not only enhance government efficiency but also restore public trust in how their hard-earned money is being used. Money needs to be spent, but receipts need to be turned in, or else America may never get out of the red.

In an era where fiscal responsibility is more important than ever, it is crucial to scrutinize and challenge these questionable expenditures. By doing so, we can work towards a more sustainable and effective use of public funds, ensuring that taxpayer money is spent wisely and for the greater good of the nation rather than self-interested elites.

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