Government money: Who doesn’t want it?

The COVID-19 pandemic for some has been a windfall

Without naming names, I will say it’s interesting to see some of the uses for the millions of dollars in federal money being spread around Joliet and Will County with the expressed purpose of helping the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

I got some of it.

So did you.

I have been fortunate to have worked through the pandemic.

So did many of you.

We’re not about to turn down government money, especially when it doesn’t come very often to average people who work for a living, pay their taxes and don’t have the imagination required to get a piece of the government action.

We’re more used to sending money to the government then getting it. So be it.

Still, I can’t help but notice as I report on pandemic relief from Washington that a significant share of it seems to be money being spread around in search of a reason for spending it.

One local radio host, whom I won’t name out of concern that I may not quote correctly, said something along the lines of it may be an indication that the government has too much money to spend.

It was a good observation.

But oh that it were true.

The federal government and the state of Illinois are not spending money that they have laying around to make us feel a little better about our pandemic experience.

They’re just sidetracking money already owed on the national debt and the state pension funds.

Many people really did need government help to get through the pandemic. They lost jobs or went months without work.

For me, it was kind of a windfall.

And, it’s been the same for a number of local organizations and local governments that have received millions in pandemic relief.

Take the city of Joliet.

Joliet is not to blame for any of this any more than I am. I’m not turning down the money, and neither is the city of Joliet.

Even though the city of Joliet, despite reasonable concerns to the contrary, prospered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it gets $22.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES Act.

The second installment of $11.1 million comes in May.

The city’s need for the money is so not urgent that it still has not figured out how to spend it.

But Joliet is not alone in this happy predicament.

Joliet is not the problem. It’s an example of the problem.

The problem is people in government who treat money like it’s something that should be used to make people like you.

I recently read a biography of Calvin Coolidge by Amity Schlaes which was enlightening.

Coolidge treated money, even government money, like it was something you couldn’t count on always being there.

He may have been the last president to have this attitude.

Our grandchildren may find out he was right.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News