How Government Is Wasting Our Money

Originally published: 10.01.10 by Terry Tanker

Last month’s column on taxes created quite a stir and prompted more feedback than any other column in recent memory. I thought I would follow that up with examples of how some of your money is being spent in foolish ways.

As business owners, we cut expenses when business is down. We don’t look for new ways to spend money we don’t have. But unfortunately — as we’ve come to expect — that thought process doesn’t work in Washington.

As a result, we voters need to ask: Do politicians really need more of our tax dollars or a lot less? Check out how the federal government is spending our money:

  • Because of overstaffing, the U.S. Postal Service selects 1,125 employees daily to sit in empty “standby rooms.” They are not allowed to work, read, watch television, or do anything. Annual cost — $50 million. Source: “Soaring Spending, Not Low Taxes, Drives The National Deficit,” The Heritage Foundation
  • Even the U.S. Postal Service admits it is an incredibly wasteful organization. According to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, “Three investigations of the U.S. Postal Service by the Postal Inspector General (IG) . . . have uncovered stunning evidence of contract mismanagement, ethical lapses, financial waste, and excessive executive perks that cost the Postal Service more than $800 million a year in unnecessary costs.”
  • The federal government owns more than 50,000 vacant houses.
  • The Advanced Technology Program spends $150 million annually subsidizing private businesses; 40% of this funding goes to Fortune 500 companies.
  • The Conservation Reserve program pays farmers $2 billion annually not to farm their land.
  • The Transportation Dept. will subsidize up to $2,000 per flight for direct flights between Washington, D.C., and the small hometown of Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY) — but only on Monday mornings and Friday evenings, when lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists usually fly. Rogers is a member of the Appropriations Committee, which writes the Transportation Dept.’s budget. 
  • The National Institute of Mental Health spent $823,200 of economic stimulus funds in 2009 on a study by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex. Source:
  • According to:, The National First Ladies’ Library in Canton, Ohio, received an earmark of $124,000 (original request was $130,000) in the Omnibus Bill for the 2008 budget in order to create a catalogue of all of the original White House library books purchased by First Lady Abigail Fillmore in 1850, during the time her husband Millard Fillmore was President.
  • The same website reports that the Federal government gave Boydton, VA, $98,000 for a walking tour. The 15-minute tour was positioned as a feasible way to promote tourism in the small town. And, thanks to Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the First Tee Program received $3 million in taxpayers’ money in order to provide golf programs for children. Exactly 72 days before Rep. Clyburn requested the earmark to be included in the 2008 Dept. of Defense Appropriations Act, the City of Columbia Golf Center, a host facility for the First Tee Program, was renamed the James E. Clyburn Golf Center, complete with a giant statue of the representative in the front of the building.

As the mid-term elections in September clearly showed, voters are fed up with these ridiculous expenditures and want them to stop. This is not a fringe element. In fact, there is even government-sponsored research to back us up: The U.S. Office of Management and Budget spent five years examining 98% of federal programs and found that about 20% of them failed to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.

These include programs that in total spend billions upon billions annually from the Dept. of Defense’s $5.878 billion for the Defense Advanced Technology Development Program to the Dept. of Education’s $1 million B.J. Stupak Olympic scholarship program. Where’s the accountability? (To see the 2008 government report, go to expectmore/index.html.) Send me other examples of wasteful spending — the more ridiculous the better — and we’ll post the examples on our website for all to see. 

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