It’s unfortunate that Senator Tom Coburn is retiring. He hasn’t been perfect, but nobody can question is commitment to limited government. He’s been a rare voice in Washington against wasteful spending.
And he’s going out with a bang, having just released the 2014 edition of the Wastebook.
The good news is that the American people increasingly recognize that Washington is a cesspool of waste, fraud, and abuse.
A Gallup Poll from last month, for instance, finds that folks are quite aware that a huge chunk of the federal budget is squandered.
There are two interesting takeaways from this polling data.
First, it’s good to see that there’s been a steady increase in the perception of waste in Washington. That shows people are paying more attention over time. In other words, more and more Americans recognize that the public sector is a sleazy racket for the benefit of bureaucrats, lobbyists, contractors, politicians, cronies, interest groups, and other insiders.
Second, it’s also worth noting that there’s less waste at the state level and even less waste at the local level. These are just perceptions, to be sure, but I suspect people are right. Money is less likely to be squandered when people have a greater opportunity to see how it’s being spent. Which is why federalism is good policy and good politics.
Now let me add my two cents. Government waste doesn’t just occur when money goes to silly projects. From an economic perspective, money is wasted whenever there is a misallocation of potentially productive resources.
Here’s my video providing the theoretical arguments against excessive government spending.
And here’s the companion video that reviews the evidence showing that big government undermines prosperity.
And if you want another video, but one that shows horrific government waste presented in an amusing manner, click here.