Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is Waste? Answered.

I linked to it from Plum Line yesterday, but I want to make sure everyone sees a great survey from Emily Swanson and Mark Blumenthal about what "waste" means to those who want to get rid of wasteful government spending.

This all came out of a post I wrote a whole ago in which I wondered about exactly that; it seems Swanson and Blumenthal decided to find out the answer. Cool! It's well worth reading the whole thing -- the data are fascinating -- but I'll quote the key paragraph:
When it comes to fingering specific programs for government waste versus pointing more generally to inefficiency or foolish spending, the survey results find little variation by party. But a more detailed look at which programs were named by Democrats and by Republicans suggests that for many, waste is indeed defined as "money spent on some government program I don't like."
That's about half of it. Interestingly enough, to me at any rate, the rest is split between two kinds of "real" waste -- that is, stuff the government supposedly spends without getting anything at all to show for it. Of that, about half is basically about politicians and bureaucrats living high on the hog. The other half is Swanson and Blumenthal classify as "Inefficiency/Fraud/Foolishness," but I'd note that a large chunk of that, such as unnecessary/ridiculous research, could easily be classified under programs, as well -- although to be fair, it's certainly possible that some of the objections to programs could be because of perceived inefficiency or fraud. Not criticizing the study or the analysis; it's just that it's hard to know exactly what people are thinking.

Fascinating stuff. And the emphasis on money wasted on salaries and "perks" of politicians certainly explains the latest round of lies from Michele Bachmann; there appears to be a receptive audience ready to believe that politicians are exploiting their positions for personal gain.

Anyway, it's great stuff. Now if anyone would like to find out what people mean when they say "deficit"...


  1. Well, since 69% thought the deficit could be eliminated by cutting "waste and fraud," it appears that, operationally, respondents relate to "deficit" as "spending on stuff I disapprove of." Operationally.

    The other interesting takeaway from the survey is that, at least going by the results in there, it would be impossible to develop anything remotely resembling a consensus on budgetarily significant cuts. Just arithmetically impossible.

  2. I glanced at that op-ed by Broun, and I was thinking afterward that I didn't remember seeing the word deficit. "Spending," that's the problem. But then, if you eliminate all spending, I suppose you eliminate the deficit.

    1. And why don't more people come out for the courageous stand in favor of more inefficiency, fraud, and corruption?

  3. there appears to be a receptive audience ready to believe that politicians are exploiting their positions for personal gain.

    Bill Clinton came into office as a pauper and has over $80,000,000 now. The "receptive audience" is the cohort of non goo-goo fantasists. I know that you liberals really like your big government, but you shouldn't be totally shielded from reality.


    1. Your position makes sense if you believe that Clinton made his money (whatever the amount is) by stealing it from the government. If he made it by spinning his personal fame and popularity into speaking fees and book sales, then doesn't that fit in with the conservative view of how the world should work?

    2. These are not the only two options; another is that politicians are mostly rewarded by interest groups AFTER they leave office (although the CBC is famous for openly getting the goods while in office) so all they have to do is produce the desired outcomes and wait for their overwhelming payoffs in the form of fake jobs for insane money.

      This stuff would enrage goo-goo fantasists if they didn't suppress higher brain function when they looked at articles like these.

    3. Clinton has made his money from speeches and stock investments. Much better than leaving congress and working as lobbyists using your influence for your own gain and against the conuntry's best interests!!!

    4. Clinton has made much of his giant fortune from speeches to former special interests (and who knows what they are buying from Hillary by shunting money through Bill) which you can easily verify for yourself. If Clinton is consistently beating the stock market, it's via insider trading. This was something that libs understood about Bush 41, et al but seem shocked about in regards to Clinton.

      Health insurance companies will hand Obama million dollar checks for short speeches and meet-and-greets after this term; goo-goo fantasists will be strangely quiet on the matter.

    5. And don't forget Maxine Waters and the scandalous CBC!


      She's not even subtle enough to wait for her payoffs, or she expects to stay in Congress until her bones are dust.

  4. Maxine Waters? Pfffffttt! Chickenfeed. She's one of the poorest Senators in the Chamber, and many of the policies she pushes are actually good for people. I don't begrudge her directing a small amount of TARP money to a bank (which has paid it back) that her husband has an interest in. Darryl Issa, now, or Joe Lieberman...


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