THE FEDERAL RATHOLE by Donald Lambro

THE FEDERAL RATHOLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lambro's thesis ought to cut across party lines these days, but his application of it is dyed-in-the-wool conservative. The Federal Government, it seems, is pouring money into all sorts of ill-conceived, useless, and unsupervised boondoggles, with the participation of an appallingly inflated bureaucracy, a dumb and cowardly Congress, an Administration that never runs out of hypocritical pieties about economizing, and a demoralized public. So far, few would disagree, but Lambro rapidly starts attacking targets like legal services for the poor and research grants for projects with funny titles (can you imagine some self-appointed watchdog in 1939, whooping over ""Bombardment of Uranium Atoms with Neutrons""?). To do him justice, Lambro flails away at the Pentagon dining facilities, the free floral service for Congressmen, travel expenditures for bigwigs, and the maintenance of military servants at public cost as zealously as he blasts the Women's Bureau, the Office of Consumer Affairs, and the Council on Environmental Quality (he refrains from knocking their aims, but thinks other Cabinet departments could handle their activities better and more cheaply). The format, while not conducive to profundity, is snappy--a handy list of fifty budget items we could profitably do without. How profitably? Well, the Smithsonian shelled out $11,540 a while back to study a bisexual Polish frog. The Agriculture Department went so far as to make a $300,000 film on good nutrition for children. Even the bigger expenses Lambro mentions ($444 million for the Small Business Administration, $258.5 million for the Economic Development Administration) are peanuts compared to a few things he doesn't mention, like the projected $1 billion for a single Trident submarine, or $20 million plus per plane for a fleet of 300 F-14s. We fear that while Mr. Lambro is taking care of the pennies, Grumman and Boeing and the Joint Chiefs and Mr. Schlesinger are taking care of the pounds. . . . A well-meaning exercise in futility.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1975
Publisher: Arlington House