Since my job is to be a watchdog on government waste, I’m often asked about the most outrageous cases.

That’s a tough call because government bureaucrats never take care of your money as carefully as you would take care of it yourself. More important, bureaucrats spend money on what government wants, not what you want—which is the whole point of taxing away your money.

Without authorization, for instance, the feds spent $19.6 million annually on the International Fund for Ireland. Sounds like a noble cause, but the money went for projects like pony-trekking centers and golf videos.

Congressional budget-cutters spared the $440,000 spent annually to have attendants push buttons on the fully automated Capitol Hill elevators used by Representatives and Senators.

Last year, the National Endowment for the Humanities spent $4.2 million to conduct a nebulous “National Conversation on Pluralism and Identity.” Obviously, talk radio wasn’t considered good enough.

The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency channeled some $11 million to psychics who might provide special insights about various foreign threats. This was the disappointing “Stargate” program.

The Department of Education spent $34 million supposedly helping Americans become better shoppers and homemakers. Wasn’t it about time?

The federal government proposed spending $14 million for a new Army Museum, although there already were 47 Army Museums around the country. We helped stop that idea.

Dubious government spending schemes abound since bureaucrats play with other people’s money. For example, the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) spent $70,029 to see if the degu, a diurnal South American rodent, can help us better understand jet lag . . . they spent $77,826 to study “Coping with Change in Czechoslovakia” . . . $100,271 to see if volunteering is good for older people . . . $124,910 to reduce “School Phobia” in children . . . $161,913 to study “Israeli reactions to SCUD Attacks during the Gulf War” . . . and $187,042 to study the quality of life in Hawaii.

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