As Aug. 2 approached, we were warned that unless the debt ceiling was raised, the United States would default on its obligations.

That would be, to use the well-worn word used by the politicians and pundits, catastrophic! The sky would fall, the rivers would rise and in the hyperbolic words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi it would be the end of our planet as we know it.

Mercifully, we were saved by our leaders in Washington who cobbled together a Rube Goldberg piece of legislation and got out of town, patting themselves on the back for “mission accomplished.”

That bit of soon forgotten recent history came to mind while reading a recent article about a dispute over a tourist development which is to include a new museum to be built on Mississippi River batture. Whenever I see something like that, I look for the source of the funds. Sure enough, the museum is to be funded by a $5.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation? Why is the United States spending money on a museum?

If the debt ceiling hadn’t been raised, I suppose not making that grant, which is really a gift, would have been considered in Washington a default on an obligation. I once thought about making a list of local projects funded by the federal government, such as trolleys (like the new ones in Baton Rouge), buses, schools, street lights, sidewalks, bike paths etc. I decided it would be too time-consuming. They’re almost on every other page of the paper.

When people complain about the deficit, do they ever stop and think that these “grants,” these “gifts,” are their money? That they make up the deficit? That this is money we don’t have? I guess it’s all right if they’re getting it.

The purpose of grants is, of course, to buy us off; to keep us happy with the politicians in Washington. They’re like a boon from a generous king. Politicians like to say that if they can’t touch entitlements or defense, all other spending is just a drop in the bucket, so let’s spend. But it’s a fact of life that if you keep taking drops out of the bucket, it eventually will get empty. What then? I guess everyone thinks like Scarlett: “Tomorrow is another day.” But tomorrow is today in Greece.

Do you want that to happen here?

William Bonin


New Iberia