I praised the IRS for their useful web site. Today, I’m going to point y’all at the USDA. So don’t tell me I can’t ever find anything nice to say about government agencies.

The USDA has designed, tested, and made available a set of diet plans for different expense levels that are easily-prepared at home and that provide all the healthy, balanced, nutritious meals a family needs. The “thrifty” version of the plan would feed me for about $168 per month (according to their expense estimates, which they dutifully update monthly with fresh data). A family of four could get all of their USDA-approved recommended daily allowances of this-and-that for about $425–$500 per month (depending on the ages of the children).

The purpose of this “thrifty” plan is “to demonstrate how a nutritious diet may be achieved utilizing a modest budget or food stamp benefits.” It can be a help to people who, like me, are trying to lower their budgets but who don’t know a whole lot about nutrition.

A great deal of work went into this. And if you’ve been a taxpayer, you helped pay for it. So go download (or order) a copy of the cookbook, and the companion guide: Preparing Nutritious Meals at Minimal Cost.


And more of what we’re paying for…

[I]f the Soviet Union ever springs back to life, restarts the cold war and designs a new MIG fighter more advanced than anything now in the skies, the United States Air Force is ready. Unfortunately, when it comes to fighting today’s war in Iraq, the Pentagon is still struggling to get enough armor into the field to protect its exhausted and badly stretched troops and rebuild their battle-damaged equipment.

There are few more telling symbols of the Pentagon’s disastrously misplaced priorities than this week’s debut of the F/A-22 Raptor, the most expensive fighter ever built. This gold-plated cold war plane enters service some 23 years after it was first designed and at four times its originally projected price, even after adjusting for inflation. Every F-22 will cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a billion dollars. The Air Force plans to buy 277.

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