A pretty penny saved is a pretty penny earned

On Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen linked to this page with pictures of some extravagant public libraries.

While these libraries are beautiful, I think they also demonstrate the careless spending that takes place when bureaucrats get a hold of other people’s money.

It reminds me of this post of mine where I eventually get around to suggesting that if libraries were not paid for by third parties through tax dollars and donations, we would likely still have libraries, but they’d look less like jobs programs for architects and artists and more like Blockbuster, Netflix and Redbox.

I’m sure all of these libraries have fans who can’t imagine the world without them, but it’s easy to treasure something that you didn’t pay for directly.  If these folks were asked to cover the cost of the library, few would.

3 thoughts on “A pretty penny saved is a pretty penny earned

  1. I guess this goes along with the concepts (1) he who pays the fiddler, calls the tune, and (2) careless spending by bureaucrats when they’re using tax dollars that they didn’t earn.


    To summarize, the US Olympic Committee, a privately funded organization, used their own private funds to purchase (from Ralph Lauren Polo) uniforms for the olympic athletes. Ralph Lauren had these made in China which has cause Harry Reid to protest because they aren’t made in the US.

    Here’s three points I have to make:
    1. It’s private money so it’s none of Harry’s business. If Harry wants “made in the USA” labels on the clothes, let him make a personal donation to buy the clothes.
    2. If it was US tax dollars, I would be upset if they didn’t seek the best price. Obviously Harry would have no concern about using the US taxpayer dollars to reward his union cronies – because it’s not coming out of his pocket.
    3. I think it was kind of tacky for the USOC to put the little polo pony on the blazers (but if this “advertising” lowered he price of the garments, I understand their actions).
    4. Despite Harry’s claim that it’s degrading to the US to have China make our uniforms, I find the opposite to be true. By having the Chinese perform these mundane sweat shop tasks, what we are essentially saying is that our citizens are more talented and have better uses for our time, i.e while we can certainly make the uniforms ourselves, China has a comparative advantage in making the uniforms because we would lose the opportunity to engage in some more valuable activity if we had to devote our time to uniform making. I’m sure that Harry would understand that he hires someone to haul his trash to the dump because it’s more productive for him to spend that time doing something else (even though it might be more productive for the rest of us if Harry spent less of his time in Washington and more time at the dump). In a sense, by making the uniforms, the Chinese are our serfs (not that they will always be if our citizens don’t actually engage in activities that are indeed more productive rather than sitting on the sofa and demanding their entitlements/benefits).

    • Agreed. I heard on the news last night that Congress is working on legislation that will require the US Olympic committee to outfit our athletes with American made wear.

      That, my friends, is wholly un-American. It’s an example of how twisted we’ve become. Using the government to restrict our freedom and force someone to make a choice that might not be the best for them is exactly the OPPOSITE of what our government was designed to do: to protect our freedoms.

      Here’s how a politician with a backbone (I know that’s an oxymoron) would handle the situation. “My fellow Americans, if you are bothered that our Olympians will be wearing Ralph Lauren clothes not made in our country, I encourage you to start a business that makes clothes and win that business fair and square. That’s what America is all about. Do not expect our government to do anything about this. That would be a waste of your taxpayer dollars.”

      • Substituting a few words and going back a few years, your first paragraph could be reworded as follows: I heard on the news last night that Congress is working on legislation that will require the private US citizens to purchase health insurance. The only things left will be (1) for SCOTUS to determine if the financial disincentive that Congress attaches to USOC purchasing cheaper Chinese uniforms constitutes a tax or a penalty, and (2) to see how many of us actually fall for the toe-may-toe / toe-mah-toe nonsense.


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