Now that I see John Tsitrian disagrees with me, I guess I'll have to call him names and stuff, right?
The Rapid City businessman looks at the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery's purported two-million-dollar contribution to Spearfish's 374-million-dollar economy and sneezes:
What's with expecting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to subsidize a local tourist attraction? Given the Booth Hatchery's drop-in-the-bucket status as an adornment to Spearfish's economy, I'd think it would be a realistic task to get local investors to step in and find ways to fund it from inside the pockets of those who benefit economically from the facility. Seems to me that the federal government could find other, more pressing, needs to fill with our money, particularly at a local level. Head Start programs that recently got cut might be a great place to start. I can only imagine the size of the laundry list of other, much worthier programs. Looks to me like our political class could rewrite Izaak Walton's classic and re-title it "The Compleat Finagler" [John Tsitrian, "Quick Takes on the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery Reprieve," The Constant Commoner, 2013.09.19].
So much one could rebut... but let's focus on the Head Start point. I am intrigued by Tsitrian's suggestion that we prioritize spending on the most vital and impactful programs. But I can also see how strict adherence to a list of priorities could lead to policy paralysis.
Suppose we identified three policy goals as more important than anything else. Suppose we vowed that we wouldn't spend one penny on anything else until every child had Head Start and three squares a day. That's a heck of a goal... but could we get there? And could we really afford not (and really not afford) to fly any bombers, float any Coast Guard boats, process any tax audits, or pay any police until we had gotten that 74 millionth child a sandwich?
Head to head, Hatchery versus Head Start, I'd probably pick Head Start. But we're a big country with a big budget. We don't face false dilemmas like that. We can fund Head Start and send the kids on field trips to feed the fish at the Hatchery.