Government spending is sometimes curiously called an "investment." But money "invested" by Washington was first taken from the private sector, where it might have been invested more wisely.
After all, a private company or individual has a strong interest in investing carefully, because he will lose his own money if he doesn't. But if government loses money because of unwise spending, it can just take more from taxpayers.
So how well do you think the federal government has been "investing" your tax dollars in recent years?
Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, asked a good question about the Obama administration's spending - or rather "investing" - priorities.
Addressing the president rhetorically, he wrote in National Review that the president has "repeatedly referred to federal spending as 'investments.' Since the beginning of your administration, your 'investment' spree has added more than $4 trillion to the national debt. At the same time, [gross domestic product] growth is at an anemic 1.8 percent, the nation's credit rating is in jeopardy, ... the housing market remains in the tank, unemployment is at 9.2 percent, and federal entitlements are imploding. Do you maintain that this is an adequate rate of return on your 'investments?'"
Of course, the president alone is not responsible for all of those ugly economic realities. There was an enormous national debt before Obama took office, and certainly Congress - and too many members of both parties - have gone along with outrageous spending for decades.
But whomever you blame most for excessive federal spending, this question remains valid: Are we, the people, getting a good return on the huge, so-called "investment" of our tax dollars?
And does our current economic crisis suggest that even more spending, or "investing," is the solution?