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September 29, 2021

Governments waste half of every dollar spent, public poll says

Cynicism can be a useful tool.

1176253_cut_expenses_3 For instance, it can help us sift through the constant spin of today; a common sense device, of sorts. Like, Hey, maybe we should listen to geologists about what to do with the Alberta oilsands, not James Cameron. That kind of thing.

But pessimism may find no more important use than with regard to our world’s governments. It’s important for them to know we don’t totally trust what they do. It keeps them on their toes. Yet … are we really this sceptical of our elected officials?

The latest in we’re-exhausted-by-government news has come out of the U.K. this morning. A BBC survey of 22 countries found that people believe their governments waste more than half of the money it receives in taxes.

According to the poll, which garnered 22,000-plus participants from various rich and developing countries, people think 52 per cent of tax-collected money isn’t spent “in the public interest.”

In fact, in no country was that figure less than one-third; Spain was the lowest at 34 per cent (Canadians fit in right about with the average findings, believing 51 per cent of money spent by our governments is wasted.) Corruption-rich Colombia and Pakistan were the highest countries polled, with about two-thirds of its citizens suggesting their governments throw tax money away.

Now, the key words of the previous paragraphs are “believing” and “suggesting.” These are not scientific figures, and are based merely on public perception, not actual government performance.

Still, the figures are sky-high – even Kevin O'Leary, he of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, The Lang & O’Leary Exchange  and a notorious opponent to government, suggests only about one-third of every government dollar is wasted – and appear even more bizarre when paired with another finding of the survey.

The BBC poll also found that, with the world’s finances continuing to stink, most people want more government intervention when it comes to the economy – up to 76 per cent of respondents, in some cases.

So, if you’re scoring at home, people want governments to spend less, but do more. Surprise, surprise.

What do you think? How much of your taxpayer cash would you say is spent wisely?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...