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Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $950,000 for Please Touch Museum

If taxpayer dollars could talk, they might say, "Please don’t touch!" Unfortunately, Congress isn’t getting the message. Last year, Congressional members loaded the 2005 Labor/HHS Appropriations Act (H.R. 4818) with $950,000 for Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum (PTM) to develop education programs focusing on hands-on learning experiences.

Located in Philadelphia’s historic district, the Please Touch Museum is dedicated "to enriching the lives of children by providing learning opportunities through play," according to its website. "PTM’s exhibits and programs are carefully chosen to reflect our philosophy that hands-on, self-directed, open-ended experiences facilitate learning and are fun! A safe haven for exploration and a rich learning environment, PTM appeals to families and children with varying interests and abilities." These exhibits include, "My World and Science," "Dino Discoveries," and "Foodtastic Journey."

Sadly, the Please Touch Museum has been a chronic recipient of America’s hard-earned tax dollars. According to the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, the Museum has received $5,195,000 since 2001.

As the father of five kids, PTM sounds like the kind of place my children would love, but it is grossly unfair to burden America’s taxpayers with the bill. Our representatives in Washington owe the American people an explanation for putting their own political ambitions ahead of the people’s needs. Perhaps the Museum can run an exhibit on monetary principles. They can call it, "A Porktastic Disaster." If it’s simple enough, maybe Congressional members will finally catch on."

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on the Please Touch Museum (Senate Roll Call Vote #215) on November 20, 2004.

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Mr. Laffey is mayor of Cranston, R.I., and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. For more information, visit

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