George Leef’s latest Forbes column draws attention to wasteful practices at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

On top of all the evidence of incompetence and lawlessness comes a report by Open the Books finding enormous spending by the EPA on a wide array of goodies.

Quoted here, Adam Andrzewski, the founder of Open the Books, said, “Everyone is under the impression that the EPA is spending money to ‘clean the environment.’ But, it turns out EPA is running a $160 million PR machine, $715 million police agency, a near $1 billion employment agency for seniors, and a $1.2 billion in-house law firm.” …

… There is much to object to in the EPA’s extravagance, particularly at a time when the federal government continues to drive the nation further into debt every minute.

For one thing, why should it (or any government agency for that matter), spend money on publicity? The EPA employs nearly 200 in-house public relations staffers, and yet blows $15 million more on outside PR consultants. The taxpayers are being squeezed so that the EPA can “spin” its activities and thus build public support for future increases in its budget and scope of power.

Monarchs of old used to employ fawning court historians to magnificently portray themselves in exactly the same way. American taxpayers shouldn’t be bilked for pro-government spin any more than the poor taxpayers under the French Bourbons or Russian Romanovs were.

We also see that since 2007, the EPA has ladled out some $144 million in performance bonuses. Why should employees who are already very well paid (average salary at the EPA is over $111,000) for doing their jobs receive bonuses? In the private sector, incentives can be useful in stimulating additional effort and creativity, but in government it merely increases the burden on the taxpayers.

But the most amazing revelation (to me, anyway) is that how much the EPA spends on weaponry, including some items that exemplify the frightening trend toward the militarization of American life.