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Government Waste Spending

Updated on July 29, 2010


Allow me to inform you of some of our government’s abusive spending habits and mismanaged policies as I urge you to help reform government waste because it drastically increases the budget deficit and reduces benefits such as student grants, loans, affordable healthcare, and affordable living.

The Department of Agriculture has given a new meaning to their acronym DOA. Did you know that a report released by the Government Accountability Office revealed that over a seven-year period the Department of Agriculture sent $1.1 billion dollars in farm payments to more than 170,000 DEAD people? (Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt, 2009-2010, p. 429)

It may sound like a drop in the bucket, but that’s money that could have been spent on the homeless, energy conservation, policies to bring down the deficit or investments for future economic growth. Congressional investigators who reviewed payments from 1999 through 2005 found that the department did not conduct checks to ensure proper subsidy payments. Auditor reports have found that the USDA made farm payments to estates for more than 2 years after the recipients died without even knowing if the estates were still open to receive them. 19% of the payments went to those who had been dead for seven years or more. The problem is the government lacks an efficient system for comptrollers to streamline waste.

Republican senator Charles Grassley said, and I quote, "It's unconscionable that the Department of Agriculture would think that a dead person was actively engaged in the business of farming."

To quote another outraged Senator, former Agricultural Committee Chair, Tom Harkin said, "Given extremely tight budget restraints, it is no longer tolerable to permit billions of dollars in farm bill payments to go to individuals who in instances don't even farm or are no longer alive." But when is it ever tolerable to misappropriate funds?

Would you like to hear the DOA’s response? The deputy director, John Johnson said there was no indication that the payments were improper because SOME of their rules allowed estates to receive money after a 2-year grace period virtually admitting that the government o.k.’s ridiculous expenditures. The Government has a blatant disregard for bottom-line costs and their waste increases our budget deficit and reduces our American benefits.

Regardless of contributions taken from our paychecks, we have to wonder if social security benefits will be around when we’ll come to need it. I’ve already mentioned the jeopardy of our future grants and loans but if you think we are not presently affected by government waste today, just look at the condition of our public school system. Although a local government issue, teacher salaries have been cut, some have been laid off and some of our public schools have been forced to close. And as of July 5th, the public library where I do the bulk of my school work cut its operational hours in half due to a reduction in my county’s school budget. Let’s face it, we have plum run out of money thanks to waste and poor management decisions.

To further elaborate on poor management decisions, our government has implemented costly programs that aren’t as beneficial as should be. Our health care system is overpriced and underperformed. According to the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. health care system ranked 37th globally and of the 19 industrialized countries, we hold the highest infant mortality rate and ranked 15th in the preventable deaths rate. And despite those dismal numbers, we spend a whopping 7.3% on healthcare administration compared to France’s 1.9%, Canada’s 2.6% and the UK’s 3.3%. America spends so much more for its healthcare system than any other country yet as a whole, we’re in the poorest health.

Why are costs so high and results so low? Overpriced insurance companies and self-serving drug companies, because our representatives are not reading the fine print; so the real question should be, why have our policymakers allowed this condition? With a costly new and hopefully improved healthcare program at hand, we people need to demand accountability.

Yet another inadequately controlled government policy is privatization. According to the Reason Foundation, privatization is the transfer of business ownership or service from a government or public entity to a private entity. In other words the government hires private profit or nonprofit companies, usually through a job bidding process, to perform administrative and public works services. The jobs like human resources, information technology, security, clean up, construction and maintenance. Now because hiring specialty groups can save the government from long-term employee liability while providing expertise, privatization can be a feasible policy if controlled and IF the government hires qualified companies. But that hasn’t always been the case.

Government officials sometimes hire a friend of a friend, regardless of qualifications, or companies that have learned how to beat the bidding system or know whose pocket to line. To obtain the jobs or favorable business laws, those companies and their interest groups pay millions of dollars a year to former congressmen who still have influence on the Hill. Consequently, unqualified workers are hired, produce poorly and cost the tax payers more money because inadequately performed jobs have to be redone.

How many of you have ever been inconvenienced by a detour because of road construction that seemed to go on for years? And when they’ve finally completed the road 6 months later a big pothole shows up? Well, you can give all of your gratitude to the friend of a friend or to that company that knows how to beat the system.

Private companies have also been found guilty of misappropriation. Only a few weeks ago, a Georgia based army installation uncovered misappropriation in two privatized sectors. The military installation provides a free car-care service to military families in order to help lessen their maintenance costs and to help finance the service, the shop sells abandoned cars. But instead of selling the abandoned cars to support the auto shop, the workers were keeping the cars for themselves. Another group was trying to illegally drive government vehicles off of the installation for personal trips and using government gas cards to fill up their personal cars. Again, accountability and control is needed here.

The bottom line is it takes due diligence and careful monitoring to ensure the proper functionality of our government. We cannot allow the government to put the brakes on futile spending in 7-year increments for we see in one sector alone that it can cost us 1.1 billion dollars. I urge you to side with those who will stand for the welfare of the people and put an end to frivolous spending and mindless disregard of our hard-earned dollars. Tax reform, grants, student loans, car loans, house loans, affordable healthcare, and affordable living for all is possible if spending is streamlined. We need to hold those in office accountable. Contact the organizations that will show you how and where to submit letters of appeal to your local Congressman.

I dare you to make a difference and Google the many interest groups out there, powerful groups like the AARP will be only too happy to hear from you



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