The Rochester Sentinel
Voice of the People
There is no free money
Federal grants. State grants. It seems like you can’t read the paper without seeing reference to government grants being sought and received. Recently this has been the case for our area: the Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the USDA announced in the Dec. 17th Sentinel, the revitalization of downtown Rochester, the development of the Nickel Plate Trail and many other projects of recent years. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a grant is sought and received for the Times Cinema restoration.
This is not unique to the Fulton County area. Recently the town of Seymour in southern Indiana received a state grant of about $800,000 from the Indiana Department of Transportation to erect a welcome sign on the edge of their community. No doubt the seeking of grants is occurring throughout our country. It is always easier to spend someone else’s money even though we’re fooling ourselves when we think this is the case with government grants.
The issue is not the projects but rather the means of funding them. We send money via a bunch of different taxes to Indianapolis and Washington D.C. and if “lucky” some of it is returned as grants along with a lot of bureaucratic red tape and stipulations to receive the grant and administer it. Our country has amassed a federal debt of more than $18+ trillion. There is no “free” money.
One of the most frequent uses of government grant money is the creation of walking and biking trails. This grant money comes from gas taxes. Yes, tax money for the maintenance and repair of roads, highways and bridges is being diverted to trails. Again, the issue is not the project but how it is funded. A favorite phrase of those who advocate for the grants is “enhancing the quality of life.” Make no mistake, this is a sales pitch.
It is a matter of priorities and when spending your own money, i.e. at the local government level, a mindset of priorities will quickly come to the fore. If it appears to be “free” money, i.e. from the state or federal government, then the concept of “priorities” quickly disappears.
This matter and other Fulton County as well as Indiana and national government topics are being explored at www.myusagovernment.org, a recent project created to inform my fellow citizens.