Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes about how Congress orders NASA to complete a testing tower for rocket engines at Stennis Space Center that is no longer needed, since the rockets themselves were cancelled.
The price tag of this tower is $350M!
But not to worry because NASA caught in this muddle says they will maintain the tower in case it’s needed in the future at a cost of just $840,000 more a year.
Why does this happen?
Pork barrel politics, where the the Congressmen and -women (in this case of Mississippi) don’t want to lose out on the federal spending, so they make deals whereby they get what they want and others what they want for their home states–even if the taxpayers end up getting little to nothing.
Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal that while public servants are “expected to be less selfish than the average Joe…they are [actually] the locus of selfishness.”
She writes, “there isn’t a staffer on the Hill who won’t tell you 90% of members are driven by their own needs, wants, and interests, not America’s.”
Essentially what Noonan describes is a broken political system, where we elect individuals as politicians to represent us, but they take our vote of confidence and their elected office platform and instead use it to vote either for what they think should be done–not what their constituents think or want–or they work the system in order to make themselves look good and line up votes for their next run at office.
Either way, we don’t get representation of the people, for the people, with big picture strategic decisions for the future of the nation, but rather we get narrow thinking and voting driven by self-centered thinking of what’s in it for me (WIIFM).
Freedom is not free, especially when we make bad decisions to fund testing towers that are no longer needed or bridges to nowhere.
How we fix this is by having politicians with a genuine vision of where we need to go, anchored in the thinking of the people they represent and a foundation of integrity.
The leader can create a shared vision by explaining why, what, and how and building a genuine consensus around it.
Selfishness is not an inherent trait of politics–it can be replaced by selflessness when the greater good of the nation is placed above any one “I”–whether that be a person, party, state, or special interest.
(Source Photo: here)