Tag Archives: waste

There Is Nothing Left to Cut

Headline: “Town Spends $1,000 on Rubber Chickens

And that’s not all:

[Cicero, Illinois] Town President Larry Dominick’s administration has also spent nearly $600,000 on promotional items, including mouse pads and ice cream scoops, from You & Me.

Hanania said he expects proceeds from the Houby Day festival to pay the bill for the chickens.

“It is what it is. We’re not hiding it. We’re trying to be aboveboard,” he said.

His transparency is laudable. But he forgets about opportunity costs. Rubber chickens aren’t exactly revenue magnets. They are unlikely to add more than their cost to Cicero, Illinois’s town coffers. Meanwhile, those thousand dollars could have been put to some better use — schools, police or fire protection, fixing potholes, you name it. Surely those things are more desirable than 250 rubber chickens.

There Is No More Fat to Trim from Government Budgets, Part 3

The USDA is spending $2 million to take pictures of what San Antonio school children eat for lunch.

There Is No More Fat to Trim from Government Budgets

Workforce Central Florida, a government agency, is spending $73,000 to give away 6,000 capes and some cardboard cutouts.

Stimulus Roundup

Most people doubt Congress’ ability to spend money wisely. The stimulus has given them some proof:

-$800,000 for an African genital-washing program.

-$700,000 to create computer software that can tell jokes.

$40,000 for ten trash bins.

-$1.6 million to irrigate a golf course inTexas.

-Thousands of dollars to replace – twice – a sidewalk “that doesn’t front any homes or businesses, and leads into a ditch”

300 truckloads of oyster shells.

Bonus non-stimulus spending: “[T]he Census spent $23,000 on a totem pole in Alaska. Census representative Hector Maldonado says the agency thought it was a great idea. The plan was to increase participation in Alaska, but despite the totem pole, participation dropped in the state by two percent from the last census.”

You Can’t Make This Up

$150,045 of stimulus money is being spent to restore a bridge that doesn’t connect to any roads and ends in an 8-foot drop.

Stimulus backers claim that the project created 1.9 jobs. That’s $78,971.05 per job created. That’s not a very good deal. Especially considering that no jobs were created on net, because that $150,000 was taken away from somewhere else in the economy.

Without the stimulus, that money would have been spent in other ways. Given that most jobs cost less than $78,971 to create, it may well be that the bridge restoration project meant fewer jobs were created than if the government had just left the money where it was originally — your pocket.

Friday Regulation Roundup

$1.6 million in stimulus money to be used to irrigate a golf course in Texas.

-A new study by Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren finds that regulatory spending grew 31 percent under Bush. Regulatory staffing grew 42 percent.

-Selling shellfish to the Department of Veterans Affairs? There are regulations for that.

-It is illegal to possess pliers in the state of Texas.

-The federal government’s Integrated Nitrogen Committee is having a public teleconference on June 8.

-In Virginia, it is illegal to take a bath without a doctor’s permission.

-Government programs never die. One Cold War relic is the Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee.

-The federal government’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is holding a public workshop June 14-15.

$300,000 of stimulus money to pay for floating toilets.

How Wisely Is Stimulus Money Being Spent?

Not at all, to be honest. For starters, the very notion of stimulus violates basic economics. Taking money out of the economy and then putting it back in has no net effect. But it gets worse. Much worse.

When that money is put back into the economy, it goes to the weirdest places — $3.4 million is going to Florida to build a tunnel under U.S. Highway 27, so turtles can cross safely. A fish hatchery in South Dakota is getting $20,000 for new light fixtures. $50,000 is being spent to resurface a tennis court in Bozeman, Montana.

And so on.

These boondoggles aren’t getting nearly enough press. To help fill the vacuum, the good folks at Citizens Against Government Waste have put up a new website, MyWastedTaxDollars.org. Click on over and check it out. The best feature is an interactive map that shows just how unwisely stimulus funds are being spent all over the country.

Stimulus is worse than a zero-sum game. It is actively harmful. It is government saying that it knows how to spend your money better than you do; stimulus is the ultimate act of hubris. Kudos to CAGW and MyWastedTaxDollars.org for providing hundreds of examples of why government hubris should be replaced with government humility.

Friday Regulation Roundup

Some of the stranger governmental goings-on I dug up over the week:

EnergyStar has been certifying bogus products, such as a gas-powered alarm clock and a space heater with a feather duster stuck in it. Out of 20 fake items that the GAO submitted, 15 were approved, 2 were rejected, and 3 received no response.

-NASA spent $500,000,000 on a launching pad for a rocket that will probably never be built.

-In Norfolk, VA, it is illegal for hens to lay eggs between 4:00pm and 8:00am.

-In Minnesota, it is illegal for women to play Santa Claus.

-In California, it is against the law to enter a restaurant on horseback.

-From Jeff Flake’s office: The federal government is spending $935,000 on pasteurizing shell eggs in Michigan.

-The federal government is spending $73,000,000 this year on the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program.

Regulation of the Day 119: Bake Sales

New York City’s public schools spent $18,365 per student in the 2007-2008 school year. That spending has been growing at more than double the rate of inflation over the last decade. That’s a lot of money. But since it isn’t spent very wisely, nowhere near that amount actually reaches the classroom.

Instead of firing teachers for incompetence (and sometimes worse), the district re-assigns bad teachers to “rubber rooms,” where they do nothing except receive their full salary. Maybe play Scrabble or surf the Internet. But mainly sit around and get paid.

Average teacher pay in New York City is approaching $70,000. There are about 700 teachers in rubber rooms. Assuming the rubber room teachers draw roughly average salaries, we’re talking about as much as $50 million that never makes it to the classroom from rubber rooms alone. That’s nearly $50 per student right there.

To make up for some of the money that gets lost in rubber rooms and central offices, schools often have fundraising events like bake sales.

Well, not anymore. At least not bake sales. Those are basically banned in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s Department of Education worry that bake sales contribute to child obesity.

Bake sales are technically still legal. But only approved foods can be sold. And only at approved times. And never before the end of lunch hour. And you have to keep detailed records. And so on.

Complying with all the rules is just too difficult for a school basketball team raising money for a new scoreboard, or to cover the cost of traveling to a tournament.

Anything goes after 6:00 pm, food-wise. But hardly anybody stays in school that late. PTAs are given a longer leash. But even they cannot hold more than one bake sale per month.

(Hat tip: Fran Smith)

Regulation of the Day 114: Unlicensed Fruit Candy

The Chicago Tribune has a jaw-dropping story of regulators gone wild:

Department of Health inspectors seized, slashed open and poured bleach over thousands of dollars of local peaches, pears, raspberry and plum purees owned by pastry chef Flora Lazar… Inspectors cited no health problems with any of the food.

And that’s just the beginning. Read the whole thing. This is a scandal. Ms. Lazar is out of business for six months and has lost about $6,000. There is no evidence of harm. This is no way to treat a small business. Especially during a recession.

(Hat tip: the ever-resourceful Brian McGraw)