Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Government "Waste"

Politico and other media outlets have pieces on the Gallup poll, which seems to average the guesstimates of their respondents to say that 51 percent of Federal tax dollars are wasted. Room for lots of ambiguity there: does "tax dollars" include FICA or Medicare taxes?  What is "waste"--how many of our aircraft carrier groups are "waste"?  So much ambiguity it's relatively meaningless, but it makes a good story.

As for me, if I stipulate that spending in accordance with legislation passed by Congress is not waste, my guesstimate is less than 5 percent waste, and even that is high.


walter Jeffries said...

My wife and I were just talking about this. Many people don't realize that when money is spent on some things, like sending a space craft to Mars, we didn't waste $10 Billion dollars and just lob it at Mars. No, the reality is we employed hundreds of thousands of people developing the technologies, mining the materials, feeding the workers, building the space craft, etc and then we lobbed a mere $100,000 of actual materials at Mars.

In the process of this fun we also developed new technology that will have uses here on Earth and hopefully took one more step towards getting off this mud ball. We had better because there is a rock out there coming this way with our name on it. By the time it gets close we need to know how to either handle it or evacuate some of us. The latter is the better option because there are more rocks after that one. Of course, both is best.

(All numbers are made up - but you get the idea.)

Bill Harshaw said...

True enough. Though there are various buy-American provisions which apply in different situations, sometimes leading to inefficiencies, at least in the eyes of economists.