Is The National Book Festival "Waste"?
The National Book festival, the annual one-day celebration of books, authors, and reading hosted by the Library of Congress, will be held next Saturday on the National Mall in Washington. This will be the festival's 10th anniversary.
As might be expected from an event that promotes reading and book-buying, the festival gets a good deal of private support, but it still relies on federal dollars. So I want to do ask again this year what I asked last year when the festival occurred: From a budget perspective when the deficit is a concern, does this qualify as waste, fraud, and abuse?
Here's what I said in last year's post:
...if it could be calculated, the program is probably very expensive on the basis of the cost per additional book sold or per the increase in the number of people reading....it might be possible to achieve better results at a lower cost if the government distributed vouchers all over the country and let people get books from local stores. Some might consider the program to be a waste because it directly benefits only a relatively small number of people and is held in only one city. Others might believe it’s a waste because they don’t think it’s the federal government’s job to promote reading over, say, movie watching. Some might think it is waste because they don’t like the authors whose books are featured or because the language in their books offends them.
This is definitely the kind of feel-good, non-partisan event that, like state and county fairs and pep rallies the night before a game, makes you feel a little better about life. But is it something the federal government should be spending money on?