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Was Ben Carson’s $31,000 Dining Set Reasonable?

His spending choices were insensitive

Detractors are too quick to judge

 Getty Images: Justin Sullivan

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson was rightly criticized for his inappropriately lavish taste in furniture with which to refurbish his office and dining room inside the agency’s headquarters. While no one is contesting his need to improve his office, planning to spend public money on a $31,000 dining room set, under the apparent guidance of his wife, an order he has since canceled, is unreasonable and insensitive, says Dan Jones in CNN. Given that 30 million housing units in the US are considered substandard, and millions of Americans live in unheated, dilapidated or unsafe conditions, public officials should be more responsible when spending taxpayers’ money. This is especially the case for Carson, whose department is responsible for public housing. He deserves more scrutiny for his government spending.

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While Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has erred in how he has handled the latest furniture scandal, critics have been too quick to judge the situation and his choices for the interior of his agency’s headquarters. While he is not the only government administrator to overspend, he has been an easy target, as a $31,000 dining room set is more tangible and therefore easier for Americans to relate to and question than government overspending by millions of dollars on programs that are more abstract and unnoticed, suggests creative director and professor at the Yale School of Art Michael Rock in an interview in Slate. The public forgets that the HUD is a large agency, so it's not surprising that an executive would need a suite with quality furniture, specifically a table, typical of a corporate office suite, to meet other administrators and officials.

Keep on reading at Slate
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