American Elephants

Fund the Things That Work. Cut the Ones That Don’t. by The Elephant's Child

From an article in the Foundry, the Heritage Foundation blog:

Standing in front of a Baltimore County middle school yesterday, President Barack Obama said “Even as we cut out things that we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future.  And that’s especially true when it comes to education.” Accordingly, the president’s budget includes a $13 billion increase in Department of Education spending from the 2010 budget.  But this is hardly the first time a White House has significantly raised education spending.

Since 2001, federal education spending has already increased by 100 percent, and going back to 1970, it has almost tripled.  And what have we gotten for the federal “investment” in our future?  Nothing, Nada, Zip. Funding allocated for the Department of Eduction, $77.4 billion, a 22 percent increase over 2008 levels. 

The Federal Department of Education’s spending has completely failed to raise student achievement over the past 30 years.

In any very large enterprise, there is going to be large amounts of waste and inefficiency. The bigger the enterprise, the more waste.  But there are huge programs that we know don’t work, and hope keeps triumphing over common sense.  The federal government doesn’t belong in the education business.

Head Start has been studied over and over, and it has been determined in each study that it simply does not perform.  Any small benefits have vanished by 3rd grade, and there is no improvement over time. Yet the intent of the program was beneficent.  They meant well.  So will the program continue forever, always funded, because this time it might be different?

The federal government has $700 billion in unspent funds gathering dust in accounts all over Washington.  There’s $12.2 billion of unspent funds at Agriculture; $16.4 billion at Labor; $25.2 billion at HUD; $71.4 billion at Defense, and $309.1 billion at Treasury.

The Department of Energy is backing a $1 billion plan to turn wood chips into an oil substitute.  This would be about 4 times larger than any previous guarantee for biofuels.  There’s a long cautionary tale about Range Fuels for which President Bush ponied up $76 million and funds committed by taxpayers eventually reached $162 million plus about the same amount in private funds. The company created only one batch of methanol, not ethanol.  There should be a lesson here, but nobody is paying any attention to lessons.

The administration is embarking on a campaign to promote the U.N. and America’s role in the organization. The White House is sending Susan Rice, our UN ambassador out to make a series of speeches throughout the spring. She will talk about how the world body should be strengthened rather than forced to reorganize.  The UN has a long record of accomplishing nothing, refraining from preventing genocide, not halted starvation.  It is a corrupt organization that we support to the tune of $1.25 billion a year, roughly 25 percent of the organization’s budget.  The problems at the UN are probably too deep to be reformed.

Maybe we could just fund the things that work, and set aside all the hopey changey stuff till after we get the budget under control.

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