Recent years in America have been marked by a period of economic instability and fiscal irresponsibility.  With the country’s growing deficit, most officials have been looking to cut the budget for many governmental programs.  However, are we spending money on necessary programs and products?

The new F-35 defense aircraft from Lockheed Martin is attempting to acquire the most expensive defense contract of all time.  The lifetime cost of this program is estimated to be $1.5 trillion including development, materials, operation, and maintenance.  With so many funds being cut from important programs, is it really necessary to contribute this record amount of funding to development of simply another defensive weapons aircraft?  Another fact to consider is that, since the aircraft is only 20% through the development stage, a relatively small amount of resources have been spent on this project and dropping it from our budget would not be a major economic loss.

It’s not just the government that spends funds on unnecessary good though; we, as individuals, spend enormous amounts of money on wasteful goods!  For example, every time a new iPhone comes out, people rush to buy it – even though their old phone most likely works just fine.  When the iPhone 5 launched, it sold 5 million units in the first three days.  Ranging between $200 and $500 per phone, that’s billions of dollars spent on unnecessary electronics!  It’s not just phones either, when the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii gaming systems launched at even higher costs than the iPhone, they too sold millions of dollars’ worth of units within a few days.

Not only do we spend enormous amounts of money on unnecessary goods, sometimes those expensive goods are far worse for the world than their much cheaper counterparts.  Take cars for example.  The new 2013 SRT Viper starts at a cost of $97,395 but only gets 15 mpg.  On the other hand, the popular economic Toyota Prius costs about $24,000 and gets 50 mpg.  If given a choice, most people would take the sporty Viper over the Prius.  Why is this?  Why would people choose a car that is much smaller and gets much worse gas mileage over the opposite?  An even crazier question is why some people spend $74,000 more on that smaller, less efficient car.  Most likely, the answer to that is that the Viper makes people stand out.  Is this a good reason to contribute to global warming and “waste” all that extra money?

It’s time that we start holding our government responsible for their frivolous spending.  To do this, we must first get control of our own finances!  How can we expect our government to be responsible when we are spending $500 on a phone we don’t even need?  Gandhi said it best when he noted, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”

*SIDENOTE: the more popular saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” has never been documented as being said by Gandhi.  More likely, it is based on the quote used in the article and has been modified over the years.

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