It has been a tough news cycle for taxpayers.Not only did we get a real-time look on April 17 at what we donate to the government, we also are getting a harrowing look at how the government spends it.The General Services Administration, often referred to as the government’s personal shopper, blew $822,000 flying 300 of its employees to Las Vegas for a four-day bonding experience that included a clown, a mind-reader and $7,000 worth of sushi.Members of the Secret Service, sent to Cartagena, Colombia, to secure the recovering drug kingdom for a presidential visit, spent their downtime drinking and visiting strip clubs and, at the end of the evening, they got to bring hookers back to the hotel as souvenirs.Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has spent $860,000 — or a little more than it takes the GSA to throw itself a party — to commute to his ranch in California in the flying command post he is required to travel in, post-Sept. 11.And in Maryland, the state’s General Assembly, held hostage by Senate President Mike Miller’s desire for a casino in his county, may ultimately have to return to Annapolis for a special session to complete its business, and taxpayers will be paying $20,000 a day for their room and board.This is a lot to swallow if you were looking under the couch cushions for the money to pay your taxes this year, or if you find that there is always month left over at the end of the money when it is time to pay the bills.And it makes me feel like a sap.It isn’t just about government waste. I remember the days of the Pentagon’s $500 hammers and $600 toilet seats. Everything costs more when the government does it. I was resigned to that.And I am not resentful because I don’t get to go to Las Vegas for four days and sit in a hot tub and drink wine, or go to South America on “business.”I just don’t like being played for a fool.Didn’t somebody in the GSA — perhaps the mind-reader they hired? — figure out that somebody was going to talk out of school after a such a junket?Did it occur to GSA administrator and party-planner Jeff Neely that someone might leak his email, which read, “I know I’m bad. But why not enjoy it while we can? It ain’t gonna last for ever”?(Even the Las Vegas visitors bureau seemed embarrassed by this extravagant event and asked future revelers to “visit responsibly,” much like the liquor ads that ask you to “drink responsibly.”)Mr. Panetta came to the Department of Defense with a reputation as a budget cutter. Couldn’t he have gotten himself an apartment in the Watergate and flown family into Washington for some quality time instead of dashing cross-country for the weekend 27 times? It looks like it would have been cheaper for everybody to meet in Las Vegas.Back here in Maryland, does Mr. Miller think anyone believes him when he says there was no link between the failure of the legislature to pass its budget bills and his failure get to the casino he wanted? Does he think taxpayers will be happy about footing the bill for his powerful petulance?And let me say this to those cheap Secret Service agents who wanted to split the fee for the prostitute both had used instead of paying double the $47 price tag: Really?It was her meltdown over the money that exposed this sorry business and brought low a branch of service that has always been held in the highest esteem by Americans.If they wanted her to keep her mouth shut, they should have paid her.And Mr. Miller should tell his constituents that if they want to be high rollers, they are going to have to go to Las Vegas.And then everybody could send the bills to the GSA.Contact Susan Reimer at email@example.com.