The president may know, for example, that his pre-school initiative--a reiteration of Head Start, which, even according to a government study, has little beneficial impact on children--won't improve education. But it sounds good and will benefit some at the expense of many, even if it is primarily a waste of money. After all, being ineffective hasn't dimmed the political luster of Head Start.
One of the reasons that government must extract so much money from us is that it has a huge bureaucracy to support. Go to any upscale bar in Washington on a Friday after work, and you’ll see it jammed to capacity with people who work for the government or who have come to town to ask for something from government. Surely, the Roman Empire at its zenith didn’t have a comparable army of civil servants, this plague of locusts who are now paid more than they could earn in the private sector. But, of course, the only purpose of the private sector is to generate money for the public sector.
These government employees don’t make products that sell—they don’t even create or run policy that works. But they enjoy perks and paychecks that seem arbitrary to us payers.
Did you know that some IRS employees don’t even live in the same city with their offices and are reimbursed six figures for the airfare to commute? Did you know that Huma Abedin—aka Mrs. Anthony Weiner—was paid $135,000 for a part-time, work-at-home position in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, while Ms. Abedin was simultaneously earning $355,000 in the private sector as a consultant? Either Ms. Abedin is the greatest foreign affairs strategist in history or somebody made a bizarre financial decision of the sort you can only make when money—because it’s other people’s money—is no object.
Waiting for a friend yesterday at the Clarendon Metro stop, I picked up a copy of Politico. There was a two-page ad from University presidents urging President Obama and Congress to “close the innovation gap.” I knew instantly what they wanted: more money. Instead of raising money themselves—and this is money that will go to their institutions for their salaries and the like—they take the easier path of urging the government to force us to pay more and more for their left-leaning, administrator-heavy institutions.
Nowadays, it’s the American way. Yet the pick-pocketers should be warned that America’s wallets are getting awfully thin.