Sunday, August 23, 2009
Waste, Waste, and More Waste
So I have been digging. I have been through books, magazines, websites, my sisters desk, and the White House's trash. All to find where the government is spending money that it shouldn't be. I have found that it is too much for one person to sort through, and is probably designed that way so it can never be truly brought to light. But none the less, I bring you examples of such wastefulness, and greed. Stick with me, this is a long article that I hope you find useful. The first comes from an article written by Michael Crowley for the January 2009 issue of Reader's Digest, for the article, "Outrageous." Mr. Crowley is a senior editor at The New Republic, and was very informative in his article. I will give you the highlights. The first section is titled, "Air Farce One" and describes how the Washington Post reported that there has been a request to set aside $16.2 million from the allotted money to fight terrorism to upgrade military planes for high ranking officials. These upgrades would include 37-inch flat screen monitors, plush leather seats, and full length mirrors. Air Force Generals also requested that the color of the leather seats and seat belts be changed at a cost of $68,240. Now I will give this one to Congress, partially. They said no. But they did tell the military to pay for it out of their own budget! We have troops that can't get the items they need to fight the wars like body armor and equipment that actually works, but Lord forbid a general has to sit on a cloth seat with no t.v. Next comes "Bigwig Bailout." Last October (read under the Bush regime, but also passed by a Democratic ran congress) Congress budgeted $700 billion to clean up Wall Street. And what price did the C.E.O.'s of these companies pay for such mismanagement? Nothing. The C.E.O.'s of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Daniel Mudd and Richard Syron earned $11.6 million and $18.3 million respectively. They then both set to retire, with an estimated $7 million retirement check. Once again, our government did step in, but not good enough. The Federal Housing Finance Agency demanded a review. But even with the review, Mudd will receive $5 million and Syron $2.3 million in retirement benefits. If they ruined their companies to the point where our taxes had to bail them out, then how can they afford such a lavish retirement check? That's out money! Speaking of money, the next section is called "Sex, Drugs, and Your Money." It sounds like a rock concert but it is really about how government officials are in bed with big corporations. Like we didn't know this already. According to an investigation by the Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General, a fraternity house style culture of substance abuse and promiscuity existed among employees responsible for managing billions of dollars in contracts with oil and gas companies. According to the report, 13 current and former employees in Denver and Washington D.C. indulged in drinking, marijuana, cocaine and sex with representatives of companies negotiating multimillion dollar deals with the government. There were also some golf and ski trips, snowboard lessons, and concert tickets involved. With behavior like this it is no wonder the gas prices were and still are so high. The last one I am going to discuss from this article is "Bad Credit." Federal Employees spent an estimated $18 billion in 2007 using checks, and credit cards that are issued to them to conduct legitimate government business. A N.A.S.A. employee bought expensive iPods to store data although cheaper ones were available. A U.S. Forest employee gave $640,000 in checks meant for government use to her boyfriend. A postal worker spent $1,100 to find a date online, and another threw a dinner party for 81 people at a steak house for $13,500, including $3,000 for alcohol. I know, those are old now. We have a new president. Things have changed. I found two websites I love. Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org) and Project on Government Waste (www.pogo.org). I have yet to be able to go through P.O.G.O. very much, as I just started accessing it recently, and it will take some time. But I do recommend it to you. You can look up contractors who have been found "guilty" of some misconduct, how many times they have been found guilty, and what they are guilty of. You can also report misconduct by government officials there as well. C.A.G.W. has just released a book, as they do every year that you can purchase, or view online for free. It is 58 pages long, so I ask that you read it yourself. There are 10,160 instances of waste according to them that total up to billions of wasted tax dollars. Here are some highlights. $3.8 million to the Old Tiger Stadium Conservatory in Detroit, $1.9 million for a water taxi service in at Pleasure Beach in CT., $1.8 million in swine odor and manure management research in Iowa. The total earmarks used this budget season raised to $19.6 billion. You need to read this book, see where all the wastefulness is going, and who is responsible. It is time we the people stop the earmarks to bills. It costs us way too much, especially in these tough economic times.