Yes, ideology can be wrong-headed, and catering to small special groups can merge into corruption, but often the questions are not so clear cut. Take unemployment insurance for example. One could accurately say that this is more favored by the political left than the right, and hence has an ideological element. One could also say that it favors special interests: those that tend to be unemployed frequently. UI has no value for the wealthy, or those in secure, lucrative, professional positions. It has no value for retirees or those that do not work. The political football is in the air.
There are a great many conservatives around today who think it quite wise for governments to pick winners and losers, and funnel massive amounts of money in response. It's just that they want themselves, or their colleagues, to be anointed winners, because their financial future depends on it. So we have seen the bailout of faulty financial institutions in recent times, while these same conservatives lament the (much smaller) resources given to UI programs (losers to their way of thinking, I suppose). What is waste and nonsense? It varies. Maybe you can give some specific examples.