As a friend of ours noted during a recent downpour, "That rain looks awfully wet."
Indeed it was, as has been a lot of the rain this winter. But this particular observation got us to wondering why our government does not have as keen a sense of the obvious as our friend.
In August 2010, Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and John McCain released a paper called "Summertime Blues: 100 Stimulus Projects That Give Taxpayers The Blues." Basically, the paper detailed some dubious projects that were paid for by your stimulus dollars.
For example, many of us would probably not pay to replace the windows in a vacant building. However, the U.S. Forest Service targeted $554,763 to replace the windows in a visitor center at Mount St. Helens in Washington that has been closed since 2007. As of the writing of the two senators' report, there were no plans for the use of the space.
Or consider the new sidewalk in Boynton, Okla. Boynton was given $89,298 in stimulus funds to replace a quarter-mile of sidewalk. The only problem is that the original sidewalk was built only five years ago. Boynton, therefore, is faced with a project that is, according to one resident, "100 percent a waste of money."
To top it all off, one end of the sidewalk ends in a ditch.
Or take a look at the nerve of legislators in Kansas. Twelve years ago, work began renovating lawmakers' offices and the statehouse at a cost estimated between $90 million and $120 million. Then they expanded the project, even including a $15 million underground parking garage. According to the report, the architect estimates the price tag will now be "$285 million plus" adding "I just don't know what the plus is."
To help offset that little "plus," the Legislature authorized $39.7 million of Build America Bonds be used.
At the same time the Kansas legislators are taking care of themselves, they are slashing education funds. Talk about tone deaf, or having no sense of the obvious.
Or maybe they do have a keener sense of the obvious than the rest of us. Maybe the obvious is that you can fool all of the taxpayers all of the time.
How else do you explain these boondoggles - and the other 97 in the report?
(A version of this editorial appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.