(NaturalNews) As lawmakers wax poetic and jockey for political position ahead of the pending "fiscal cliff," a package of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts coming Jan. 1 that many economists believe could rekindle the crippling recession of 2008-09, few of them are talking about the fact that the federal government continues to spend money on foolish, wasteful projects that contribute nothing to the "general welfare," but instead go a long way towards speeding the country's bankruptcy.
That the nation has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, is epitomized by the fact that our government now borrows 46 cents of every dollar it spends, creating a massive $16-plus trillion deficit that will have to be repaid by our children, grandchildren and, most likely, our great grandchildren.
And yet, too few federal bureaucrats give a second thought to the impact foolish spending decisions have on the nation's fiscal health - let alone show any remorse for wasting the taxpayer's money.
DHS is but one example, albeit a huge one, of federal spending run amok
The Department of Homeland Security is a case study in point. As detailed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a physician by trade, the mammoth agency primarily charged with making Americans safer from potential terrorist attacks has spent billions in taxpayer money to accomplish little toward its stated goal.
Some of DHS' most outrageous taxpayer abuses have been singled out by Coburn, who - along with Senate colleague Rand Paul from Kentucky - has become one of Congress' leading wasteful spending whistleblowers. Here are some of the most egregious:
-- The department paid a $1,000 fee out of grant funds for a week-long conference at the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego to help pay for the department's highly promoted "zombie apocalypse" demonstration. Tactical training firm Strategic Operations was also hired to put on a "zombie-driven show" as simulation for - get this - a real-life terrorism event. Can't make this stuff up.
-- The city of Columbus, Ohio, recently purchased an "underwater robot" using $98,000 in DHS grant money. The purpose? The robot is mounted with a video camera that transmits a full-color display to a vehicle on shore. City officials declared the purchase an "emergency," but it was nothing of the sort; the "emergency" came not in the sense of improving security around the city, but because grant funding was set to run out and, if not spent, then the money would have been returned to the Treasury. Egads!
-- Arizona officials used $90,000 in grant funding from the department to install a video surveillance system at the Peoria, AZ Sports Conference, where the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres conduct spring training. So now, "protecting" professional sports franchises is the responsibility of the taxpayer and the Department of Homeland Security, not the private interests who own the ball clubs.
-- A number of municipalities - small, medium and large - have used DHS and other federal grant funding to buy Lenco BearCat armored vehicles (see them here), which are highly specialized, for even the most tenuous of "security" reasons - like "protecting" the Kean, N.H., Pumpkin Festival, not exactly a high-priority target for terrorists.
-- The Seattle Police Department used $41,000 in grant funds to purchase a DraganFlyer X6 remote-controlled helicopter for "traffic accident surveillance," all the while insisting it is not a drone. But what is its anti-terrorism purpose? Well, that's a good question, since Seattle P.D. officials have said the DraganFlyer can only fly as high as 400 feet, cannot be flown over crowds and, again, is used mainly for traffic accidents.
It ain't hard to find places to cut spending
These are just a few examples and the amount only adds up to a couple hundred thousand dollars. But the fact is federal agencies spend hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars every single year, much of it either on bureaucratic salaries and goofy programs. Moreover, the mindset that "we have to spend all that we are budgeted this year or we won't get as much money next year" is a cancer that has spread throughout all government agencies - state and federal - as well as the military.
So it's no wonder there is no incentive among bureaucracies to be good stewards of the taxpayer's money.
"Finding areas of savings should not be difficult. Today's federal budget is littered with economic superfund sites - cesspools of waste, duplication, cronyism and parochialism. Cleaning up these sites will heal, rather hurt, our economy," says Coburn.