Monday, January 4, 2010

Great Moments in European Waste, Part II

While American politicians are experts when it comes to squandering money, they may be just amateurs compared to the kleptocrats at the European Commission. The overall burden of government is heavier in Europe, so that certainly suggests that there are greater opportunities to waste money, but what makes the European Commission special is that it is insulated from democratic accountability and there is no system of checks and balances. So even though the actual amount of money spent by Brussels is small compared to what is wasted by national governments in Europe, the outcomes are especially obscene. Here’s a story from the UK-based Daily Mail, reporting on a program (no joke) to fund activities such as basket weaving and siestas:

British taxpayers are helping to fund basket-weaving and slapstick acting workshops for young people across Europe. The projects, which include meetings about folk dancing and even a scheme to promote afternoon siestas, are part of an £800million EU programme to help people aged 13-30 'feel European'. Because the UK Government provides ten per cent of the EU's central budget, it is likely around £80million of the cash used to run the Youth In Action programme could have come from British taxpayers... One Serbian project that received £21,000 involved using silent-movie slapstick to promote 'non-verbal communication'. Another venture in Finland received thousands to support a coffee house which offered 'everyone the chance to have a sleep for free'. It aimed to encourage afternoon naps to reduce stress. 'Youth exchange participants' also flocked to Macedonia last year for a meeting entitled Stories And Legends, receiving £18,000 to explore storytelling. ...An EC spokesman said the projects were about exposing young people to other cultures and increasing their participation in society. He added: 'I don't see anything wrong with basket-weaving or music-making if it encourages young people to meet other Europeans and learn a new skill from another part of Europe.'

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