The Wasteful Priorities of Bureaucrats

We can learn a lot about the priorities of bureaucrats by what they choose to prioritize when they are forced to make choices in spending taxpayer dollars.

For example, the U.S. State Department is one of several agencies whose operations are being cut back as part of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Unfortunately, as the deadline to the partial government shutdown neared in December 2018, the State Department’s bureaucrats rushed to spend taxpayer dollars in a really strange way: to fund a film festival screening of a number of American-made LGBT movies in Mumbai, India six months later. Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon reports:

The State Department is planning to spend $18,000 on an LGBT film festival in Mumbai to “promote gender inclusiveness.”

The department is seeking a nonprofit group to facilitate the “LGBT Pride Month Film Festival” in June 2019, according to a grant announcement released on the final day before the partial government shutdown.

“The three-day program in Mumbai would center around the screenings to the general public of seven to ten American films that outline the legal and social aspects of the struggle for gay rights in the United States or that illustrate how the perceptions of gay people by Hollywood and the general public have changed over time, in particular how gay characters are portrayed in film,” the grant announcement states....

The festival will also include panel discussions with LGBT activists in order for the “Indian public to better understand their fellow LGBT citizens.”

If not for the State Department bureaucrats’ quick action before the partial government shutdown, the receipt of funds for its LGBT film festival in India might have been delayed. Clearly, an international crisis was averted.

As furloughed federal workers are now coping with missing their first paycheck since the shutdown began, it’s nice to know that the State Department’s bureaucrats were motivated on the eve of the shutdown to prioritize spending $18,000, half a year’s pay for some of the furloughed workers, to fund a three-day film festival halfway around the world.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and the creator of the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org.
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