Remember, in politics there's the stupid party and there's the evil party. Sometimes they join together and do something that is both stupid and evil—we call it bipartisanship.
It's the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there's a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
"If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Of course, the jobs argument has to come into play here:
Pete Keating, a General Dynamics spokesman, said the money from Congress is allowing for a stable base of production for the Army, which receives about four tanks a month. With the line open, Lima also can fill international orders, bringing more work to Lima and preserving American jobs, he said.
Hmmm?!? Let's ignore opportunity cost, which is the true cost of government. That $436 million could indeed be spent elsewhere, possibly improving social welfare far more than it is by spending it on tanks. Yes, politics gets in the way, which is all the more reason to limit what we do through the political process. If this type of waste prevails in what most people would truly characterize as legitimate functions of government, there's no telling how much waste is encountered in those areas in which government is hardly likely to create any true social value.