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Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $200,000 for Wilmington Music School

Private institutions shouldn’t receive federal money

For $198, students at the Wilmington Music School in Delaware can learn the basics of chamber music, "the most rewarding of all music literature to perform." Other classes run the gamut from music appreciation to basic choral conducting to a new class entitled "more power for vocal performers," in which students develop self-confidence and musical concentration. For those averse to crowds, private instruction is also available ranging from $236 for 30 minutes a week (for nine lessons) with a regular faculty member to $677 for 60 minutes a week with an artist faculty member.

While the school’s colorful palate of classes, concerts, and camps include many worthwhile programs for the young and old alike, this local and private institution hardly seems like the ideal candidate for America’s hard-earned tax dollars. Of course, that didn’t stop the 2006 Transportation Bill (H.R. 3058) from doling out $200,000 to the Delaware school.

Now a couple of people here and there misconstrue my opposition to pork as an opposition to the specific projects that are funded. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Like many of the museums and programs that receive federal pork, the Wilmington Music School is a fine program that does good work. But these private and local institutions should not be receiving federal money, and they certainly should not be receiving that money through a cloak-and-dagger appropriations process that seeks to throw the wool over the taxpayers’ eyes.

Once I explain this reasoning to them, they understand that this is not the way government is supposed to work. They understand that it is not the federal government’s job to feed the selfish whims of incumbent politicians, but to consider the best interests of the country as a whole.

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on the Wilmington Music School (Senate Roll Call Vote #264) on October 20, 2005.

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

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