Any of us can think of a handful of things government ought not to be spending money on. (Several handfuls, for some of us.) Here’s a modest list from Brian J.:
Advertising for tax increases. I mean, they’re showing profligacy and poor money management with the existing tax revenue they have if they throw it into four color mailers and neat signage. I notice that Greene County [MO] has started putting up signs along roads it would improve if the quarter cent sales tax wasn’t sunsetting. Please. Spend the existing money better.
Around here, they usually partner with some interested private-sector party.
I remember one City Council candidate who put up signs with his name along the worst roads in the ward. He didn’t get elected; I’m wondering if maybe some voters thought he was already in office and therefore was to blame for the miserable conditions.
Lobbying for more share of revenue from higher governments. The whole game of getting “free” money from the state or Federal government is unseemly as it is. Spending money to get that money is a bit like gambling.
The Feds, of course, are happy to see the states, hat in hand, offering to do this, that, and maybe even the other thing, just give us some money, wouldja please?
Worst recent example: the high-speed rail initiative announced last year by the Obama administration. Most states didn’t have a chance in hell of dipping into this slush fund, but most states tried.
Suing other governments or taxing districts for a bigger share of money. I hate it when the taxpayer is on the hook for all three sides of this story (two sets of attorneys plus the actual judiciary). Win or lose, taxpayers lose.
Surely there’s something we can sue Arkansas over.
Advertising their services. I listen to radio on the Internet, so I get a steady diet of PSAs advertising the services of various agencies, but I also hear them on the regular radio, too. If you have to advertise for your service, it’s probably superfluous. And the regional drinking-and-driving ads drive me crazy. The state gets money from the Federal government to spend on the ads, so instead of a single PSA, you get your state highway patrol cutting its own ads. Which takes a cop out of a car or from behind a desk for a day in addition to inefficiently spending money to let citizens know that the government will enforce a law.
Of course, the agencies need new clients; in this age of austerity, it’s the only way they can avoid getting their budgets cut.