Sunday, January 20

Total waste of your tax dollars, part gazillion

Head Start was one of the Dems' "Great Society" programs.  The theory was that many poor kids didn't get breakfast, so they didn't--couldn't--do as well in school.

And after just a year or two of impaired learning, they'd be more or less permanently consigned to be academic under-performers.

It was a perfect problem for a government-funded solution.

Initially liberals proposed to spend a paltry $50 million per year.  How could anyone possibly object?

That was 1965.

Thirteen years ago--after Head Start had been operating for 35 years--congress began to hear that the program wasn't resulting in any improvement in academic performance in participating students.  Accordingly, in 2000 congress directed the Department of Health and Human Services to do a comprehensive study of the program's impact.

HHS spent eight years collecting the data, finishing in 2008--but strangely, they didn't release a report as congress had ordered.  In fact HHS didn't release the report for four more years, until late December, 2012--specifically, the Friday before Christmas. 

One almost suspects the release was timed to get the least possible attention.

Why would HHS want the report to be ignored?  Because the study--of 5,000 kids--showed no positive effects.   In fact in some age groups kids in Head Start actually did worse than kids in the same income range who weren't in the program.

If the program wasn't improving academic performance--which was ostensibly its rationale for spending taxpayer bucks--you'd think congress would end it.  But logic loses to politics every time, and Head Start is one of those programs that lets congresscritters feel good by spending your tax dollars.  After all, it's--you know--fer the chillun, even if it doesn't do what it was supposed to.

And after all, it's hardly enough money to worry about, eh?  Allowing for inflation since 1965, the program now probably spends, what, $200 million a year?

Oh, wait...Head Start got $8 Billion of your dollars last year.

And since it began, it's spent $180 Billion.


Now, I mention this story not as a rant against wasteful government spending--after all, $180 Billion is barely a rounding error in a $3 Trillion budget--but to make two points:  First, government programs always expand--in this case by a factor of 160.

Second:  Government programs, once created, are virtually impossible to kill.

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