It tends to boggle the mind of those of us out in the real world when we are confronted with occasional reports of the amount of national debt the United States has accumulated. It was last reported at over $24 trillion – yes with a T.
My feeble mind is unable to comprehend a number that large, but divide it by the estimated population of over 320 Million, it still becomes a staggering amount that is really owed by each and every citizen. Perhaps it would be well to attempt to locate areas where there has been substantial waste – which if gathered together would ultimately add up to the final figure.
And the beat goes on, with overspending and out-and-out waste continuing daily or by the minute.
One glaring example recently surfaced in a morning radio show on KFAQ (formerly KVOO). The regular host was on vacation the week between Christmas and New Year and his sub had a guest, by phone, who recounted that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) had been purchasing trailers for dispossessed people to live in for $150,000 each. FEMA only allowed them to be used for 18 months before selling them at auction for normally less than $10,000.
The guest stated that some had minor exterior damage, some had missing furniture, and some had experienced water on the floor. As far as he knew, the project cost had exceeded $100 million and was continuing. He further said that there were still over 8,000 people displaced from their homes by the recent hurricane in South Texas that would be happy to have these instead of living in temporary shelters and FEMA-funded hotel rooms. It surfaced during the discussion, and seemed logical to me, that the high initial cost per unit could be an indication of possible fraud or collusion in the purchase contract.
Remember the U.S. Department of Defense scandal of multi-thousand-dollar toilet seats, and oft reported other excessive equipment cost overruns. In fact, one of the first things accomplished by PRESDT, possibly even before inauguration, was to obtain a cost reduction from the manufacturer of the new F-35, to save several billion dollars over the whole purchase.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, at least to those familiar with the make up of the members of the bureaucracy. For the most part, federal and most state full-time employees are individuals without free market employee experience whose supervisors are of the same background. The idea of profit and economy does not seem to be of any consideration in their decision-making process.
As the pay scales have risen to exceed those of the private sector, especially when the fringe benefits and almost absolute job security are risen. They seem to simply ignore orders from the “replaceable” presidential appointees and do whatever their political persuasion leads them. That began with the “Civil Service” laws enacted in the early days of the FDR Administrations (beginning in 1933).
Such wastefulness is not limited to the federal government at all, but has drifted down to most, if not all, state governments. Several years ago, a former Oklahoma state senator, who was running for a different office, stated that he had found, if memory serves correct, that the state was leasing, – on a year-to-year basis with higher rent – seven large storage buildings.
He stated that the buildings were full of furniture and equipment, some new but unused, and that he could find no office that had an inventory of the contents of even one building. That was back when the total annual budget was hundreds of millions of dollars, rather than the several billion now reported.
When a candidate for state senate in 1996, it came to my attention that the fund for the teachers retirement was only funded to about ten percent, leaving a shortfall of, if memory serves, about $5 billion. Being appalled at that information, correcting it became one of the main themes of my campaign. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful as it was against a two-term incumbent with financial backing exceeding ten times that available to me.
There was no expectation of victory, but this and other issues were brought to light and may have assisted in future elections.
We the people are, as usual, still kept in the dark about such goings on.