There’s this persistent idea that government spending is akin to decadent and frivolous consumer spending. People speak of “greedy government bureaucrats” lusting after tax dollars as though they were hedonists seeking their next shopper’s high. As though the mundane work of keeping the streetlights on or preventing sewage treatment tanks from overflowing was like buying a Roomba.
I’m not saying there’s no government waste. The fact that Medicare can’t negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over the price of drugs is a big stupid waste of taxpayer money. So is outsourcing the work of the U.S. military to highly-paid mercenaries. And yet we don’t hear the self-proclaimed deficit hawks screeching about these hardworking-taxpayer-dollar-suckers. Somebody’s buying expensive toys, all right.