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Government waste is the opinion that the government does not spend money in an acceptable manner.
David Maris wrote, "one of the key problems with government funding of certain studies [is that] the investment is with taxpayer dollars and the benefit might be only to a few". Describing his opposition of some government funding for scientific research on studies he views as frivolous, he writes, "Scientists often rally quickly to attack anyone who thinks of reducing public funding of science – they do this under the idea that if you don't want to fund finding answers, you must be a luddite – you must be against science and progress. I am not. I simply think that there are so many very good ideas to study, but limited money and other higher priorities."
David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute opposes governmental decision-making because the obligation to pay taxes is distinct from the decision as to their expenditure on specific budget items. He writes, "We're not asked 'will you pay $100 right now for farm subsidies and $4000 for Medicaid and $1600 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $130 for a new presidential helicopter and ... ?' If we did get such a question, we might well decide that lots of government programs were not well worth the money to the people who would be paying the money."
People across the political spectrum have proposed various reforms to the process of government spending: One of these is simply to limit the amount of money that the government spends. A second reform would be to increase government oversight. A third proposal is to implement tax choice. This latter approach was satirized in a 1990 column by New York Times writer Russell Baker: "I have no doubt that the public, with its strongly satirical view of Federal spending, would send in so many tax returns marked Use for $600 toilet seats only that the Pentagon would soon have to distribute overpriced toilet seats free to the homeless, as the Agriculture Department once had to give away cheese to make storage space available for more excess cheese being bought with the taxpayer's famous dollar."
Some purported examples of government waste are merely urban legends, such as the "million dollar" Space Pen purchased by NASA for $6 each.
- "Government Waste: Science Spending Includes Massages For Rabbits, Meditation For Hot Flashes". Forbes.com. 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- "Well Worth the Money". Cato.org. 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- "50 Examples of Government Waste". Heritage.org. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- Russell Baker (July 25, 1990). "Taxpayers' Choice The New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- "Report on government waste cites 'robosquirrels,' tax breaks for NFL". Cnn.com. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
- Mitchell, Matthew – The Pathology of Privilege: The Economic Consequences of Government Favoritism
- Rotherham, Lee and Elliott, Matthew – The Bumper Book of Government Waste