Mona Charen

Your tax dollars will support $732,000 for the Center for Designing Foods in Ames, Iowa; $560,000 for the Sheep Institute in Bozeman, Mont.; $202,500 for a new arena at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds in Dothan, Ala.; and $90,000 for the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. Our legislators also saw fit to spend $900,000 for the renovation of the Plaza Theater in El Paso, Texas; $405,000 on the Soccer League in Staten Island, N.Y.; $180,000 to the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston, Maine (after the French tried their best to eviscerate us at the United Nations?); and $500,000 for catfish health in Stoneville, Miss.

And from the Department of Redundancy Department, the Heritage Foundation reports that there are 342 different economic development programs in the federal budget, along with 130 programs serving the disabled, 130 programs for at-risk youth, 90 early childhood development programs, 75 programs funding international education, cultural and trade exchanges, 50 homeless assistance programs, 40 separate employment and training programs, 23 agencies providing aid to the former Soviet republics, 19 programs fighting substance abuse, 12 food safety agencies, 11 principal statistics agencies, four overlapping land management agencies, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard, reportedly quipped that "nobody ever washed a rented car." As you would expect, the federal agencies handling our money do not treat it with the kind of care they would their own. The Department of Agriculture seems to have lost track of $5 billion in receipts and expenditures. Of 26 departments and major government agencies, 21 received the lowest possible rating for their financial management. The Justice Department has lost 400 laptop computers and 775 weapons due to poor record keeping and inventory control. And to top it all off, the federal government as a whole cannot account for $17.1 billion dollars spent in 2002.

If each agency and department had cut its spending by just 1 percent in 1980, the Heritage Foundation estimates that taxpayers would have saved $190 billion through 2002 -- or about half of our current deficit.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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