Monday, September 28, 2009

Seeing Double on Highway 50 - our tax dollars at work, times two

As we drove to lunch on Sunday, we noticed that every road sign for over a mile was duplicated. Not one or two, but every sign had its exact double next to it.

The stretch of Highway 50 with the double signage was resurfaced and the signs, even though most were clearly not needed, were added as, after all, it wasn't their money.

On Monday morning, shortly after these pictures were taken, the highway crew chopped down the older of the two signs, leaving just one sign. However, as these pictures will attest, most of the signs did not need to be replaced.

Milton Friedman once described why government does not spend taxpayer money the same way you or I would spend our own money.

  • Milton said that if you are spending your own money for something for yourself, you care about the quality of what you are buying and the cost of it.
  • If you are buying something for someone else with your money, you care about how much it costs, but not so much about the quality.
  • However, if like the government, you are buying something for someone else with someone else's money, you are not overly concerned with how much it costs or how good it is.
I guess Milton knew just how the Highway Department could replace all the signs on Highway 50, even the ones that you cannot tell the difference between the new and the older signs. The Highway Department is just spending someone else's money on something for someone else.

Such waste does not seem a smart way to stimulate the economy or run a Highway Department in tough economic times.

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