Call me an idealist, but the biggest shock in American politics for me was the discovery of the thousand different ways pork and other needless expenditures were stuffed into the cracks of every corner of American politics. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this government was redundantly bureaucratic and leaked money faster than sand escaping a clenched fist, but the sheer magnitude of the money that is spent on nonsensical expenditures, enabling of parasitic citizens, and outright corruption is as startling as it is enraging.
The most recent expenditure that gets my blood boiling is the $2.1 billion spent on- wait for it- cell phones and cell phone plans for the needy. That’s right, a fraction of that money in your pocket will be funding the purchase of cell phones and plans so that those that already take too much from society can keep in touch with the other social parasites.
Lifeline is a program available to those that are on food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Head Start or just about any other program designed to “spread the wealth around”. This program, originally intended to provide phone service to the needy, has ballooned to an estimated $2.1 billion expense. While this is alarming by itself, what’s even more alarming is the rate at which this absurd program has increased in the past three years.
In 2005, the program demanded $802 million. It skyrocketed to $1 billion in 2009. By 2011, the program was costing us $2.1 billion and it is estimated that by 2014, we will be seeing the program costing $3.3 billion. But, of course, as ridiculous as this is, it is not nearly as costly as food stamps, which will cost Americans $82 billion this year.
A dollar bill is .010922 cm thick. That means if we take the current expenditure of 2.1 billion dollar bills and stacked them, we would see a stack 9,174,712.74 inches tall which is 144.8 miles tall. That is about 15 miles shy of the length of Vermont and three times the length of Rhode Island. With government spending billions here and there and pundits dismissing $1 billion as a measly sum, it is easy to lose sight of how much money this is. In short: it’s a lot.
Of course, the FCC claims that this is so high due to fraud and abuse of the program, with people doubling-up on cell phones and plans. But don’t worry, the FCC has planned to combat this problem by tracking and combating multiple users at a cost of around $7.5-$10 million. While it’s great to see that after years of abuses, they’re finally wising up and trying to crack down. However, the question remains: why does this program exist to begin with?
As if this wasn’t absurd enough, the FCC is considering providing broadband internet for those who already take too much. To illustrate the ridiculousness of this, it should be noted that in college, to save money, I did my work at school or a Starbucks for the free internet and I certainly did not have a smart phone.
We are becoming a nation of saps. We like to believe that every beggar with an iPod and a hard-luck story really is doing the best he can, and is, therefore, worthy of our dollar at a stoplight. Unwilling to kick the outliers that are the working poor to the curb, we continually fund food stamps and other welfare programs for fear that the truly disadvantaged will fall on tough times, despite the fact that charity existed for these people long before state-mandated robbery did.
We have become accustomed to thinking it is government’s job to help those who will not help themselves. The fiscally responsible wish to wean them off government assistance and they’re called heartless. I suggest that it is more heartless to create a class of social invalids, dependent upon others for their existence.