America has a long tradition of casting in metal and stone people and events from our history. I don't know why tax or municipal bond dollars are ever spent on these monuments to vanity. A bronze, dazzling bust or a heartwarming representation of a great accomplishment doesn't really help anyone. And certainly that's a better way to spend money. Ya know, helping people. Or just lower taxes. Lots of options here.

Consider this striking statement of principle from our own Supreme Court, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

I love George Washington – what a leader! He was a Founding Father who deserves loads of credit and a great place in history. He has that place, without the statues – and I'm not crazy about drifting from that fixed star of our constitution, even if it's to lionize him. Should we use your tax dollars to convince the next generation of his greatness? Should we prescribe it as orthodox that when you see his 20-foot sculpture you literally look up to him? He will be known for his deeds, cast in bronze or no. His legacy is cast in our very nation – why would a statue in a public park make any difference?

Of course, that very Supreme Court ruling seems to indicate that even the petty officials of a city government ought to be prohibited from doing this type of thing. I admit, I am less bothered by those uses, the just-beyond-a-gazebo-naming-level of plaques and such (and not particularly bothered at all, really – who cares about statues?), but I think the principle is a true and good one.

I'm also a little curious about if religious groups are concerned about using their taxes to affix a false idol to the shared public land – but they can speak for themselves. My approach is distinct, a bit simpler – and cheaper, to boot (and so should be preferred by politicians who love making promises and hate raising taxes). Let's just tear these down when they're too worn to appreciate.