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A Billion Here, A Billion There

Cut up the Government Credit CardThe late Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen once proclaimed that “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” In an era of multi-trillion dollar budgets and trillion dollar deficits a billion or even a million may not seem like real money anymore but it’s still real money.

The red ink that our government is awash in is just a symptom of the problem, it’s not the problem. The real problem is spending. Now spending on productive programs is to be expected but spending like a king is unconscionable.

The message hasn’t arrived in Washington yet. Office holders and bureaucrats alike seem to be oblivious to the fiscal issues that this country faces. They continue to spend taxpayer dollars at a prodigious rate seemingly unfettered by the sorry budget situation. You sometimes wonder if they’re on the same planet as the rest of us.

Let’s take the example of the Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller flying everywhere on private jets for non-mission purposes.  Between 2007 and 2011 these two guys and their predecessors spent a combined $11.4 million a year to ride the friendly skies in style.

“These luxury jets were supposedly needed for counterterrorism, but it turns out that they were used almost two-thirds of the time for jet-setting executive travel,” Senator Charles Grassley said. “Nobody disputes that the Attorney General and the FBI Director should have access to the secure communications, but, for instance, there’s no reason they can’t take a less expensive mode of transportation, or cut their personal travel.”

Then we have the stimulus grant for correct condom use. You can’t make this stuff up. Indiana University was awarded a grant for $423,500 for a study, titled “Barriers to Correct Condom Use.” 

Under the title of “Are you kidding me”, we had the IRS funding parodies of Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island as training videos. Produced in 2010, they have just come to light. The incredible thing is that no one was disciplined for this irresponsible waste of taxpayer’s money.

Not to be outdone in October the head of human resources for the  Department of Veterans Affairs resigned after an inspector general’s report found that the agency spent $6.1 million on two weeklong conferences, one of which included $49,516 to produce a parody video of the late-Gen. George S. Patton.

Then we have the Department of Agriculture paying farmers in one county $2.1 million not to farm their land. Of course, that’s only the tip of the farm subsidy iceberg that America’s ship of state is crashing against.

Then we had the National Institutes of Health contracting to lease 1,076 parking spaces in Bethesda, Maryland, NIH employees at a cost of almost $6 million.  This breaks down to $1,115 per space per year. The cost of $93 per space per month is at the high end of the comparisons provided in the market research section of the contract, but since the parking lots are on the property where the NIH offices are located, HHS had little choice.

Then we had the United States Army spending $5 billion on camouflage uniforms that made soldiers more visible. Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it’s been worn.

Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a “fiasco.” Army researchers said the brass interfered in the selection process during the last round, letting looks and politics get in the way of science.

In the “nice work if you can get it category”, we had the USDA spend $2 million to employ one intern. Yes, you read it right, one intern.This startling fact was unearthed by the inspector general’s report on the USDA security-enhancement program.

The same audit also found $3 million was spent on technology hardware that was never used and that $235,000 was spent on a project that was later cancelled, according to the foundation.

Cutting spending is always preferable to raising taxes. However the current office holders and the entrenched bureaucrats simply don’t want to do it. That would mean that they would have reduce the size of government. Something that they are loathe to do.




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Name: Richard Billies

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