"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, March 4, 2011

Duplicate Post on Duplicate Government Programs

Earlier this week I noted the GAO report on government programs that duplicate the "work" of other government programs ad nauseum, wasting hundreds of billions of American taxpayers' money.  Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who requested the study, was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt here, and had this to say:
HH: Let me ask you now about another GAO story released on Tuesday that finds extraordinary amounts of duplication effort in the federal government, at least $100 billion, maybe as much as $200 billion. I gather you requested this study, so you’re not going to be very surprised by it.
TC: I wasn’t surprised at all. As a matter of fact, this is just the first third of the federal government. So…and next year, we’ll get another on another third, and the next year, we’ll get the last third. And every year thereafter, they have to issue this report on duplication. And you know, it just shows you that we don’t know what we’re doing, we have multiple programs doing the same thing. You know, my favorite of all of it is that we have twenty different agencies operating 56 programs on financial literacy.
HH: Right.
TC: And we’re going to lecture the American people about financial literacy, when in fact we’re running these kind of deficits and don’t know what we’re doing?
HH: I found the fact that there are 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality…
TC: Yeah.
HH: …to be really quite amazing, because obviously, one of those has got to be the best program, and one of them has got to be the worst. But I’ll bet you the federal government has never tried to categorize which of their teacher quality programs are good, and which are bad.
TC: Yeah, none of these programs have metrics on them. And members of Congress have written duplicative programs rather than research what’s out there, and try to fix what’s broken. What they do is just pass another law.
Shameful.  It's our money, not theirs.  If they were trustees -- and that's not a bad way to look at the government, which takes our money with the implicity promise that they will act as fiduciaries to protect it and use it wisely -- we'd be suing them for breach of fiduciary duty, and we'd win.

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