Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 23, 2014

Pet rocks abundant in government 

By Carson Tigges, Ledger sports editor | Jul 07, 2011

Does anybody remember the pet rock?

People bought in for a while, but ultimately, it failed. It failed because it was a dumb idea.

Charging people money for a rock all their own isn’t going to work because somewhere along the line, they’ll figure out they can step outside and pick up a stone from the ground for free.

Speaking of rocks — and dumb ideas — my alma mater, the University of Iowa, installed a decorative boulder on a campus sidewalk last week. This rock, titled “Ridge and Furrow,” features continuous grooves, which took six months to cut, running around the entire surface.

Oh, and it had a price tag of $160,000. Which was paid to an artist, who not only doesn’t live in this state, but doesn’t live in this hemisphere.

Must be some rock.

On a related note, I receive alumni mailings from the University of Iowa on a monthly basis asking for donations. As I thought more about it and became increasingly frustrated, I have made the decision they’re doing just fine without my money.

It’s probably clear where I’m going with this — does this not seem like a huge, extravagant waste? Yes, it’s artwork, I understand there is some value to decoration and even I’m not a plain-white-walls kind of guy.

But could they have shopped around for something in the $10,000 ballpark, maybe? Is there a pre-owned boulder store? Even that still sounds a tad excessive.

I also realize money gets appropriated for different things, and it’s not as easy as saying “let’s just spend this money on textbooks.” Of course, that would just be way too smart and simple, so at some point, someone felt the need to make rules saying we couldn’t spend each and every dollar intelligently.

In these kind of economic times, would it be so hard to look at each situation individually — or even just the $160,000 situations — and honestly ask if it is really worth it?

I don’t get into politics, and I really don’t even understand completely how the government works. It infuriates me when so many conversations turn political, but I’m going to go ahead and do exactly that.

Quite some time ago, headlines were made on a story about the federal government paying $400 for a hammer. (A hammer that wasn’t even “art.”) Clearly, the hammer didn’t cost that much, but the money went somewhere.

Myth or not, it is a glaring example of the kind of corruption that is possible and a disheartening look at how much is wasted.

Literally, a couple million people work for the government. Maybe we could assign a few of them to keep track of where every penny goes, or at the very least, head to the hardware store across the street to check if there’s a hammer on sale for $397.99.

Would it be difficult? Yep, but probably better than staring at a debt calculator that I currently see as $14,478,509,978,456 and counting.

“If I was in charge” and running a country in financial distress, I would have the stingiest people of all time right at my side. Coincidentally, it would be a great opportunity for my recently retired and part-time-job hunting dad.

Why not, right?

If I was in charge, I would probably also pass legislation requiring jail time for incorrect uses of there, their and they’re. So maybe it’s not such a good idea for me to have that kind of responsibility, but I think I have a start.

OK, enough politics. All I’m really upset about is that friggin’ boulder.

What am I supposed to do with it? Maybe if I could glue on some eyes, or draw a tail or even just carry it around in a cardboard kennel.

All it can do is play dead. What a waste.

Carson Tigges is Ledger sports editor.

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