The state of Arizona has started a new funding program to bolster its security along the border with Mexico: the state is asking for donations.
The state has set up a "Keep Arizona Safe" website, which has already received over $1.5 million in contributions from more than 33,000 individuals.
This may seem like just a kooky, one-off, political stunt, but if successful, it would raise serious questions about the way we fund our government, especially when it comes to controversial, non-essential programs.
Take the Hubble Space Telescope for example. Some people will argue it is one of the greatest investments our government has made, and point to the vast amount of information it has collected about space and the origin of the universe. It has provided a wealth of information that may help us understand mankind's purpose in the grand scheme of things. Opponents of the telescope will ask where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to spend money researching the great mysteries of the universe. Defense, and roads, and clean drinking water, that's Congress's job, leave these other things to private institutions.
So, what about a la carte government funding? If you really believe our government should build a Mars rover, let NASA set up a website and see if it can raise the funds, rather than impose a mandate on all citizens. Think we should fund "sculptures" that are barely distinguishable from actual rubbish? Then make a donation to the NEA (or directly to the sculptor, for that matter). Most big ticket items will have to be mandatory, but remove all the optional (and constitutionally questionable) programs from the budget, and let people fund what they will. Just think about the boom in the coffee mug and tote bag industries from the pledge drives by Planned Parenthood and Northwestern's Joke Machine (which got over $700k in stimulus funds).
[Keep AZ Safe]