by Robert Winter
NOTE: The following item was originally published in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was campaigning for his first term against Jimmy Carter. Only nominal touchups were required to bring it up to date. Apparently some factors in politics remain constant over the years.
This being an election year, it is also bureaucrat-kicking season. The exercise has become somewhat compulsory, much like Required Figures in Olympic skating. Failure to deliver sufficient boot to the behinds of the Federal Triangle Gang seems now to constitute almost a breach of political etiquette.
Normally, when enough politicians get together to thunder against the same evil, you can bet that the voters got mad first. But in this instance, the origins seems a bit less direct. If the voters are so mad at government agencies, there must be something pretty crummy that the agencies have done to them.
Certainly you can find splashy news stories in almost any newspaper or nightly news program about ways the government has wasted money. But while it would be irrational for us to be unconcerned about our hard-earned tax dollars going down the tubes, we need to maintain a sense of proportion about whats wasted and whats not. In government, dollar amounts tend to be so large as to be effectively incomprehensible. As the late Senator Everett Dirksen once put it, "You spend a million here, a couple of million there, ten million there, and before you know it, youre talking real money."
Say an ineptly conceived or administered program wastes $100,000. Is that a significant percentage of an agencys budget? Does it end up costing the individual taxpayer as much as a dollar? Even a dime?
(c) COPYRIGHT 1980 ROBERT WINTER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.