Government Waste: The Bright Side

Tom Smith answers the question, “How efficiently can the Government waste money?” with an uncharacteristic optimism.

I think alpha is greater than one.  You may think that’s impossible, but I’ve seen it done.  For example, you can tax productive people to pay other people to make sure still other people don’t do anything productive.  If the government just taxes and borrows and then wastes it all, they are actually doing pretty well.

Some things in life are bad; they can really make you mad.  Other things just make you swear and curse.

(In fairness, there’s the aquaducts.  And the roads.  And sanitation.)

Photo by Flickr user Clint JCL, used under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ptfe says:

    “…[B]ut I’ve seen it done. For example, you can …”

    That’s not much of an example of “I’ve seen it done” — in fact, he doesn’t provide an example, just a method for increasing inefficiency. Anybody can play that game to wonderful benefit. To wit:

    I’ve seen planes fly in space. For example, you can launch a 747 with a solid rocket booster.

    Which is not to say that the scenario he posits doesn’t or can’t exist, just that his statement is a bit, shall we say, unproductive.

  2. sam says:

    (In fairness, there’s the aquaducts. And the roads. And sanitation.)

    Yeah, and somebody owes us a definition of “productive”.

  3. Dantheman says:

    “Yeah, and somebody owes us a definition of “productive”.”

    I blame the Judean People’s Liberation Front.

  4. tom p says:


    “Peace! SH*T!!”