THE FLEECING OF AMERICA by William Proxmire

THE FLEECING OF AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It probably was inevitable that Senator Proxmire's Golden Fleece awards would form the basis of a book. Examples of wasteful government spending--from an $84,000 National Science Foundation study of why people fall in love, to government bureaucrats' gross over-use of military planes--are both amusing and maddening. But after ticking off abuses and applauding public concern over spending limits, Proxmire turns to serious issues, tossing out economic data and theory with little discrimination or substantiation. He says more federal Community Development funds go to upper income than to poor people, and that while 40 percent of the population qualify for housing subsidies, the ""truly poor"" get left out--charges needing elaboration. He sees less direct federal education funding and more local taxing authority as a solution to the literacy problem, fears a massive tax burden from universal health insurance, and says the National Institute for Cancer Research is ""stuffed with more money than it can wisely use for years."" Proxmire also re-states familiar positions against bailing out Chrysler and New York City, although he says that two days riding a Brooklyn garbage truck made him realize New York's labor costs ""can be handled in a way that will permit the city to balance its budget"" (no explanation). Finally, Proxmire describes ""good"" federal programs like Social Security (""the dignity of living. . . without welfare,"" he naively notes, also ignoring the Fund's solvency problems); cites his own bill moderating federal spending without mandating balanced budgets; and urges abolition of the Small Business Administration and Revenue Sharing. Overall, a disappointingly large dose of rhetoric.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1980
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin