Where does the dough go?
Sept. 13, 2010
by Ivan Raconteur

It occurred to me, while I was listening to the news recently, that a lot of our tax dollars are being spent in places of a foreign nature.

There are times when it seems like old Uncle Sam is as free with his money as an intoxicated sailor in an exotic port, only it isn’t his money he is spending – it is ours.

This line of thinking led me to wonder just how much of our money is spent outside of this country.

Politicians like to talk about transparency these days, but, as it is with so many things in the political arena, there seems to be more talk than action.

Perhaps it is just a case of our fearless leaders being a bit confused, and not quite understanding what transparency in government really means.

In order to help them out, I submit the following suggestion as to how they could take a giant step toward transparency in foreign spending.

I must first, however, make two observations concerning what I am about to suggest.

First, I don’t believe the government is capable of providing the information I want. There is so much bureaucracy, so many overlapping agencies, and so much of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, I simply don’t think the government knows where the money is going.

Second, even if the government could provide the information I want, I am convinced that there is no way it would ever disclose it. To do so would be too risky politically, and we all know that the one thing that politicians are better at than anything else is covering their own assets.

I had a different word in mind there, but since this is a community newspaper, we will stick with assets.

Anyway, here is what I propose: in the interest of transparency, I would like to see the government produce an annual report showing exactly how much of our tax money is being spent outside of the US, where it is going, and what it is being used for.

Heaven knows the government is adept at squandering money in this country. We don’t need them throwing around our tax dollars in other countries, too.

I understand that ours is a representative government, and we elect people to make decisions on our behalf. This means we give up a certain amount of control.

However, I am concerned that our elected officials sometimes forget whose interests they are supposed to be protecting.

The reason I am so interested in money that is spent outside the country is that I see a lot of things right here at home that need attention.

I admit that I don’t like paying taxes. I don’t like it at all, but I accept it as a responsibility of citizenship.

But here is the thing; I am a citizen of the US. If I have to pay taxes, I would at least like that money to be used to improve things here in the US.

I am not a citizen of Afghanistan, or Iraq, or any of the countless other places around the globe where US tax dollars are being spent.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, our roads are falling apart, bridges are deteriorating, water and sewer systems are failing, and public buildings are neglected.

And yet, some in government want to raise our taxes, while at the same time shipping piles of tax money overseas to build roads and schools and hospitals and public infrastructure in other countries.

That just doesn’t make any sense.

Some might say I am insensitive, but I am not suggesting that people in other countries don’t deserve good roads and schools and other nice things. I am just saying we should let them pay for these things, and keep our tax dollars here at home.

It is not the duty of the US government to be the caretaker for the world. I resent Uncle Sam playing the role of the rich benefactor and scattering dough all over the world, especially when he has to go deeper into debt to do it.

I respect those who make charitable contributions to help others, but it is not the government’s job to be charitable with our money.

In addition to foreign aid that is used to improve infrastructure, we spend a fortune propping up questionable foreign governments and sending troops to protect other countries and train their military and police forces. I swear, sometimes it seems like we are paying to support both sides in areas of conflict, and that is insane.

I am also convinced that a lot of the money that the US sends overseas is never used for the purpose for which it was intended.

The feds seem to find some remarkably shady characters to deal with, and I suspect that an awful lot of foreign aid ends up lining the pockets of corrupt individuals, rather than helping those who are truly in need.

I would like to see an annual report that shows where and how our money is spent, and I would like to see it before each election for the benefit of the voters, but I know this is nothing but a working man’s fantasy.

We have about as much chance of seeing real transparency in governmental accounting as we have of seeing bi-partisan cooperation in congress, peace in the Middle East, or a herd of unicorns pulling Santa’s sleigh this Christmas.

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