Lots of 'free' money!

Lots of 'free' money!

September 27th, 2010 in Opinion Free Press

Who doesn't like the thought of "free" money?

But is any money really "free"?

Do you know where there is "free" money available? We don't. In every case of so-called "free" money, somebody has to pay. "Somebody else"? Or "you"?

Lots of people like special grants from the federal government - if we personally, or our community, get them. But we are not quite so enthusiastic about grants, especially of large sums of money, if they are going "somewhere else" and "we" have to help pay for them.

Besides, where in the Constitution of the United States is there authorization for "free" local grants?

We thought about that the other day when there was a long list in the Times Free Press of "energy efficiency grants" coming to "our" local communities. (There are countless other kinds of federal grants, too.)

Do you think it is the constitutional business of the United States to take tax money from Americans in general (and borrow more) to give to other people for "heating and air conditioning" - and many other projects?

Where in the Constitution is there any such authorization? You say some things are not delegated by the Constitution - and thus are prohibited! You are right! But lamentably, too many things emanating from Washington these days are clearly unconstitutional - yet happen anyhow.

When our country is more than $13 trillion in debt and our annual budget is adding about $1.4 trillion in red ink, do you think it is really a "good idea" (even if it were constitutional) to send $300,000 to LaFayette, Ga., for an aeration system for a sanitary sewer system?

We are sure the LaFayette sewer improvement is desirable. But is it desirable for U.S. taxpayers to finance a strictly local system in LaFayette, or anywhere else?

Meanwhile, Jasper, Tenn., is getting $100,000 for heating and pump retrofits at City Hall and city pump stations.

McMinn County is going to get $100,000 for lighting and heating upgrades.

Pikeville will get $100,000 for street light replacement and biofuel development.

Chattanooga is going to get nearly $1.9 million for "energy audits," a new energy office, building energy upgrades and LED lighting.

East Ridge will get $99,077 for energy retrofits in five city buildings, plus some traffic signals.

Red Bank will get $100,000 for City Hall lighting, heating and insulation.

Signal Mountain will get $100,000 for heating and water-heating retrofits at a historic school.

Soddy-Daisy will get $100,000 for energy retrofits at three city buildings.

Hamilton County will be getting $616,500 for new park lighting, traffic lights, a "green" roof at the Health Department, energy audits - and elementary school tours.

The list goes on and on locally - and multiplies throughout the whole United States!

The cost mounts up - in red ink!

How many of those "good" things do you think local taxpayers would have voted higher taxes to pay for locally? If not, are they really good ideas?

Spending money on federal grants still costs "us" even if it comes from Washington.

Is money from "the government" really "free," after all?