What stupid thing does your government spend it's tax monies on?

This came up in the Olympics thread, I thought it would be interesting to hear others. This doesn't have to be national governments, it can be local. The two so far are royal families and former presidents.

The rich people and organisations/industries that don't need more money or incentives to do their jobs....

I'm okay with the UK Royals because the amount of revenue they pull in via tourism and stuff far outweighs what we spend on them.

$8 million to replace corroded latrines on C-5 transports. Our Air Force is literally pissing away millions.

Former presidents is tough to critique. They are too important to leave unguarded, and look at the good Bush sr. and Clinton have done.

Duoae wrote:

The rich people and organisations/industries that don't need more money or incentives to do their jobs....

I'm okay with the UK Royals because the amount of revenue they pull in via tourism and stuff far outweighs what we spend on them.

Right, I forget where I read it but it was something like the royals cost around 9 million a year but bring in 50+ million from tourism. Seems like a smart investment.

Subsidizing hugely profitable energy companies

Tanglebones wrote:

Subsidizing hugely profitable energy companies

Expanded to for profit companies in general-telecoms, schools, prisons, etc.

KingGorilla wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Subsidizing hugely profitable energy companies

Expanded to for profit companies in general-telecoms, schools, prisons, etc.

I'm with you on prisons for sure; the thing that's infuriating about the energy companies is that it's actively stifling the market for change and improved practices/processes. When the government takes small steps to subsidize companies practicing alternate energy, they get smacked back to the industrial age.

Tanglebones wrote:

Subsidizing hugely profitable energy companies

Seconding this, oh so much.

I don't mind protecting former presidents. It makes sense to me. How much do we spend on that?

Rio Nuevo. A gigantic money pit that the city has next to zero to show for.

Demyx wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Subsidizing hugely profitable energy companies

Seconding this, oh so much.

I don't mind protecting former presidents. It makes sense to me. How much do we spend on that?

Well also presidential widows. So Barb Bush would also get taken care of.

It is a job with a retirement plan, I can live with that.

Lifetime Secret Service protection ended in the 90's, so Clinton is the last one to get that. Now it is for 10 years after you leave office.

There would be at any time 3-4 living former presidents, and at this point I am convinced that Jimmy Carter is a Timelord. Spouses get about 10 percent of the pension. I think presidential pension is 200k a year.

Is this the best we got? If this is so, we obviously are not spending enough.

NathanialG wrote:

Former presidents is tough to critique. They are too important to leave unguarded, and look at the good Bush sr. and Clinton have done.

Both of them make huge amounts of revenue as ex-presidents. If anything, we should allow the government office that caters to them take 15% of the revenue they through appearances and speeches to help pay for their security and support. Like having a hollywood agent.

When I worked at the census we mailed out packages of paperwork every day. Every package was sent Priority Overnight by FedEx. I did some back-of-the-napkin math on how much it cost just to use Overnight instead of 2 night and it was millions across the country.

In Ottawa specifically, spending millions (even when running massive deficits in spite of sky rocketing property taxes) buying ads on TV, radio, billboards, buses etc. smugly promoting their policies. You already made many of them them laws (including several that people said they didn't want), we don't need to see flashy for them too when the city's bleeding money. Also, our local transit authority keeps buying the majority of their buses from one particular manufacturer (New Flyer), even though one of their models got recalled, their bendy bus model is almost undriveable in the winter, many of them had to have their A/C units replaced after only a couple of years and every single bus I've ever seen broken down is from this manufacturer, not the other one they buy far less. Oh, they also spent a pile of money on a new transit card system (which I supported), only to find out right before launch that it was buggy as sh*t, doesn't work, has to be delayed until next year and there's a good chance the manufacturer won't have to eat the incurred losses. City councils are notoriously inept but Ottawa is special even considering that. And every municipal election, most of the same idiots keep getting re-elected because the people are too lazy to find out about other candidates and just vote for the name they know (if they vote at all).

I love this city but out nanny-state government and sheepish voting populace drives me nuts.

/rant

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

In Ottawa specifically, spending millions (even when running massive deficits in spite of sky rocketing property taxes) buying ads on TV, radio, billboards, buses etc. smugly promoting their policies. You already made many of them them laws (including several that people said they didn't want), we don't need to see flashy for them too when the city's bleeding money. Also, our local transit authority keeps buying the majority of their buses from one particular manufacturer (New Flyer), even though one of their models got recalled, their bendy bus model is almost undriveable in the winter, many of them had to have their A/C units replaced after only a couple of years and every single bus I've ever seen broken down is from this manufacturer, not the other one they buy far less. Oh, they also spent a pile of money on a new transit card system (which I supported), only to find out right before launch that it was buggy as sh*t, doesn't work, has to be delayed until next year and there's a good chance the manufacturer won't have to eat the incurred losses. City councils are notoriously inept but Ottawa is special even considering that. And every municipal election, most of the same idiots keep getting re-elected because the people are too lazy to find out about other candidates and just vote for the name they know (if they vote at all).

I love this city but out nanny-state government and sheepish voting populace drives me nuts.

/rant

What is turn out like in municipal elections there?

We just had runoffs in North Carolina that cost millions because no candidate received 40%+ in the first round of the primaries. Turnout for the second round was less than 3% of registered voters. Had North Carolina adopted an instant runoff (i.e. voting in preferential order) it could have saved the state millions.

LeapingGnome wrote:
Duoae wrote:

The rich people and organisations/industries that don't need more money or incentives to do their jobs....

I'm okay with the UK Royals because the amount of revenue they pull in via tourism and stuff far outweighs what we spend on them.

Right, I forget where I read it but it was something like the royals cost around 9 million a year but bring in 50+ million from tourism. Seems like a smart investment.

How do the royals themselves bring in that money? How many tourist actually see the royals? Would there be no tourism at all if the royals were not there? I don't most people go to cities where there are royals to actually see them, but more to experience the history and the architecture. If you remove the royals I wouldn't expect the tourism rate to drop to zero.

My local government spent 2 million of a half size replica of the cities square and 1.6 million on a horse farm. Neither was planned to make any money.

The royal fam owns a lot of property and enterprises, and all the income from that goes into the national coffers. They each get housing and a stipend, if I recall correctly.

Ever higher wages to Members of Parliament, of whom many are dopey TV presenter has-beens, former sports athletes and pro wrestlers, and, most recently, xenophobic alcoholics who end up getting ripped off by prostitutes at a particularly dodgy MC club's clubhouse.

EverythingsTentative wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
Duoae wrote:

The rich people and organisations/industries that don't need more money or incentives to do their jobs....

I'm okay with the UK Royals because the amount of revenue they pull in via tourism and stuff far outweighs what we spend on them.

Right, I forget where I read it but it was something like the royals cost around 9 million a year but bring in 50+ million from tourism. Seems like a smart investment.

How do the royals themselves bring in that money? How many tourist actually see the royals? Would there be no tourism at all if the royals were not there? I don't most people go to cities where there are royals to actually see them, but more to experience the history and the architecture. If you remove the royals I wouldn't expect the tourism rate to drop to zero.

My local government spent 2 million of a half size replica of the cities square and 1.6 million on a horse farm. Neither was planned to make any money.

I think that every analysis that I've seen indicates that the royals are a net contributer to the UK economy, particularly after the slimming down of the Civil List in the last decade or so. It's also worth considering that after removing them we would still need a Head of State, so there would be the cost of electing them and also of maintaining them and their household in an appropriate manner given their ceremonial duties both within the UK and abroad. There would also be a significant reduction in the number of events which are currently supported or have a ceremonial presence, because at the moment there are multiple members of the Royal Family who undertake such activities.

Research indicates that visitors from other nations do come to see the relevant pageantry, but I can't imagine too many people doing that for some political placeholder - do many people visit Germany to see the President ? Does anyone know who the current one is ? (Apologies to any German GWJ'ers, I could have easily picked France or Italy, for example).

In an effort to help stimulate the global economy, I would like to volunteer my time as a member of the royal family. I will accept my free money in the form of cash, check or solid gold coins, and I PROMISE to continue to exist.

If we say the royals are a good investment because people like to gawk at them then we might as well subsidize Paris Hilton.

At least she's never shown up for a party wearing a swastika.

jonfentyler wrote:

What is turn out like in municipal elections there?

We just had runoffs in North Carolina that cost millions because no candidate received 40%+ in the first round of the primaries. Turnout for the second round was less than 3% of registered voters. Had North Carolina adopted an instant runoff (i.e. voting in preferential order) it could have saved the state millions.

I'd be surprised if we get 20% turnout for municipal elections here. Even during contentious provincial or federal elections, Canadians are very apathetic when it comes to voting and we often barely crack 50% turnout there. No one cares on the municipal level. Everyone would just rather bitch about how lousy our city government is rather than spend half an hour every election researching candidates and actually voting. A good part of the reason the same people keep pushing the same personal nanny-state agendas on the citizens of this city is because they know they don't have to care about angering anyone because no one will vote for change. It drives me up the wall. I vote in some way in every election, even when I don't support anyone.

The last election was a bit more positive as more people did some out and a lot of the "old guard" got voted out. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and those that remain are making life very difficult for the inexperienced people who took their places. The mayor we elected is also a guy who was mayor once before many years ago, went into provincial politics, retired from that and ran for mayor again. He's actually a good guy but it very much of the mindset that government is smarter than people and should legislate lifestyle "for their own good". He's earned the moniker Nanny Watson in the local media.

LobsterMobster wrote:

In an effort to help stimulate the global economy, I would like to volunteer my time as a member of the royal family. I will accept my free money in the form of cash, check or solid gold coins, and I PROMISE to continue to exist.

Seriously guys, if we say the royals are a good investment because people like to gawk at them then we might as well subsidize Paris Hilton.

At least she's never shown up for a party wearing a swastika.

As arguments go, that does not appear to carry much in the way of weight. Or sense.

Foreign tourists come to the UK, by and large, for history, tradition, monuments etc etc - it sure as heck isn't for the weather or the food.

Like it or not, the Royal Family are a significant part of that. They therefore are a major, and well recognised, part of the motivation for a lot of people to visit the UK and spend money. You, in all likelihood, are not.

Stimulating the 'world' economy is not what we were discussing in this case, it was whether the Royal Family represent a net cost to the UK taxpayer. Most economic impact studies have indicated that they are a net boost to the UK economy, hence they do not really fall into the category of 'stupid things that your government spends money on'. I'd be much more inclined to put our multi-billion pound nuclear deterrent into that column.

You're right, I'm not a tourist attraction. The Royal Family is. Therefore, either I could become one given sufficient wealth, or giving the Royal Family wealth is unnecessary.

Parrellel just gave two examples how his city government is doing a bad job.... About buses...

Yet most of his rant was about the "nanny state."

Come on.... Don't we have better examples than buses and the royal family?

goman wrote:

Parrellel just gave two examples how his city government is doing a bad job.... About buses...

Yet most of his rant was about the "nanny state."

Come on.... Don't we have better examples than buses and the royal family?

I am comparing our lives to life in Syria and it is coming up roses right now.

goman wrote:

Parrellel just gave two examples how his city government is doing a bad job.... About buses...

Yet most of his rant was about the "nanny state."

Come on.... Don't we have better examples than buses and the royal family?

I've got a litany of examples from Canada in general but these are major issues where I live which is why I brought them up. I mentioned the "nanny state" thing because I think spending lots of money on advertisements for policies you shoved down people's throats (as well as spending millions on buses that don't work) isn't wise when your budget is deeply in the red. It's a local example of a kind of government waste I think many would say is an epidemic in the western world.

On the national level:
1. The War on Drugs (especially marijuana)
2. Budgetary mismanagement (If a department doesn't spend everything in a given fiscal year, the following year's budget is typically cut regardless of actual need)
3. Pumping money to Pakistan et al to buy minor cooperation in The War on Terror
4. Private prisons / general imprisonment in lieu of any attempt at rehabilitation

Locally:
5. Trying to force the expansion of Portland's light rail system to Vancouver, WA.
6. The cluster-frack that is the current plan to replace the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River
7. Portland trying to kill motor traffic in the downtown section before public transit can actually replace the need
8. This is mixed local-national: subsidizes for counties/towns that (decades) previously depended on carte blanche logging of public lands.

A forgotten camera on a plane lead to it being diverted, searched, and shadowed by two F15 fighter jets.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/01/travel...

Talk about a waste of money.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

A forgotten camera on a plane lead to it being diverted, searched, and shadowed by two F15 fighter jets.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/01/travel...

Talk about a waste of money.

It's standard procedure to send two F-15s any time they scramble for intercept. The wisdom of this particular protocol was proven in March 2008, when a second forgotten camera was discovered on board one of the F-15s.

But if you want to discuss unnecessary aircraft expenditure, it costs millions to do a B-2 flyover at sporting events. I seriously doubt anyone buys Superbowl tickets to get a better look at the Spirit.

LobsterMobster wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

A forgotten camera on a plane lead to it being diverted, searched, and shadowed by two F15 fighter jets.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/01/travel...

Talk about a waste of money.

It's standard procedure to send two F-15s any time they scramble for intercept. The wisdom of this particular protocol was proven in March 2008, when a second forgotten camera was discovered on board one of the F-15s.

But if you want to discuss unnecessary aircraft expenditure, it costs millions to do a B-2 flyover at sporting events. I seriously doubt anyone buys Superbowl tickets to get a better look at the Spirit.

Silly me. I always assumed flyovers were paid for by the event sponsor. Nope, looked it up to be sure. These flyovers are in the military budget as training missions, testing 'time on target.' That could be justified as a good use of federal funds, but the government should charge for this service.