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Submitted by Joseph G. Lolli, 7867 Russell Creek Drive, Edisto Island

Sir,
The Post & Courier on June 2, 2004 reported that the cost of the Iraq war "Cuts into social programs". The AP provided a whole myriad of social spending programs that "war spending" COULD have funded. For the cost of the Iraqi war, the Fed could have paid for [X] of a million people to go to Harvard or 2.8 million to attend a typical public university for four years, or provide rental subsidies for hundreds of thousands of low income people. But then, the only constitutional function of federal government of the items listed above is to protect the nation from foreign attack. So, what's the point?

If we are going to discuss the opportunity costs of misspent resources, let's look at some constitutionally legal government functions that are a little closer to home.

In a March P& Courier article, Jason Hardin reported that CARTA has 70% fewer riders now than it did the previous year. According to the D.O.T., there used to be between 1800 and 2200 people that depended on the bus service for their daily transportation needs. So that makes the current ridership figure between 540 and 660 people that depend on CARTA everyday.

Last April, Governor Sanford found $800,000 in state tax money to "loan" to CARTA, while Senator Lindsey Graham scraped up a million federal tax bucks for an outright grant to our local bus service to keep it alive until the next sales tax referendum in November. 1,800,000 of our tax bucks to support CARTA for seven months and assist approximately 600 CARTA riders. That's a cost of almost $430 per month, PER RIDER.

As far as alternative costs go, we could lease a new base model BMW, Jaguar or Lexus for around $300 per month and give one to each of those 600 bus riders, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.

According to the Governor's office, South Carolina spends $8,200 per student in our K-12 education system while our local tri-county Head Start program costs taxpayers over $7,600 per pre-school child while their four top staffers are paid almost $350,000 in combined salary. As an alternative, there are dozens of private and parochial schools in Charleston County that charge less than half what the state is charging us for either pre-school or primary education.

It's obvious that there are numerous alternatives to our government's insatiable desire for more and more of our tax dollars. Maybe we should try electing people that will avail themselves to some of these alternatives instead of simply demanding higher and higher taxes every election.