The office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released the 2011 edition of its annual “Wastebook.” The document spotlights 100 particularly ridiculous expenditures of taxpayer money from the past year. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s pure gold. But it’s also infuriating, depressing, and a painful reminder of what happens when politicians and bureaucrats spend other people’s money.
Here are my five “favorites”:
Yes, the money involved here amounts to pocket change in comparison to the $3.7 trillion the federal government spent last year. But as Coburn asks in the introduction, “Do these initiatives match your understanding of the role of the federal government as outlined by the Enumerated Powers of the U.S. Constitution?” Worthy or not, very little of what the federal government spends money on comports with the Founders’ vision of a national government that was to be strictly limited in its scope. That the money is often poorly spent is proof that their intentions were wise.
Check out DownsizingGovernment.org for more information on many of the agencies and programs cited in the Coburn report.
Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst on federal and state budget issues for the Cato Institute.