Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fixing Government Spending A to Z

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be posting excerpts and/or summaries from the 1992 and 2000 editions of Martin Gross' book, The Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z. My goal in doing this is two-fold, to prove that it is not all that difficult to find enough waste in the government to virtually eliminate the budget deficit, and to garner support from readers of this blog to repost these messages and to pressure their representatives and senators to cut spending, beginning with waste.

This first post begins with the Letter A.

A is for Agriculture: In 1935, there 6.3 million farmers in America, and, despite the Great Depression, we were still the breadbasket of the world. In 1935, there were 20,000 employees at the Dept. of Agriculture.... Thanks to FDR, the number was nearly 7x the number of DofA employees just 35 years earlier when we had 5 million farms in America. By 1992, the number of farms in America was just 1/3 that of 1935...2.1 million farms. But did the drop in the number of farms inspire the D of A to reduce their staff? No. On the contrary, they tripled in size to 60,000 employees. By 2040, it is estimated that there will be mere 150,000 farms in America....and an estimate 150,000 federal workers at the D of A. Isn't that sweet? THE SOLUTION: cut the number of D of A employees in half and restructure the D of A to more efficiently handle the number farms we still have in America.

A is also for Aircraft - The United States government owned, as of 1992, 1200 airplanes. No, I'm not referring to the Air Force or Navy. I'm talking about various civilian style planes used by various agencies of the government to fly executives around the country and around the world. They have hundreds of pilots and staff on standby to fly these men and women anywhere they want to go. To think, we get on AIG execs for flying their execs around on private airplanes after the taxpayers have spent billions to bail them out. Wait, isn't it taxpayer money being used to own, operate, maintain and staff these 1200 a cost of BILLIONS per year? Indeed. THE SOLUTION: do a Sarah Palin and sell most of those planes and re-assign or lay off the staff at a savings of billions per year.

A is also for Airlines - that's right, besides the 1200 small planes the federal government owns, they also own 27 large passenger planes known as the 89th Airlift Wing. Although exact figures are not released by the government (another qu...estion for another story), information we do have tells us that, on average, there are about 800 flights per year, carrying some 10,000 people (often repeats, of course). There are 6000 employees paid to run this airline, which means, that the average cost per passenger to run this airline is about $25K to $50K per flight. THE SOLUTION: keep about 5-7 planes for the super VIPs in government and sell the other planes. Set up a deal with a commercial airliner to get us good deals on travel. It would save hundreds of millions to billions each year AND be a boon for one or more airline company.

A is also for Accounting - The Grace Commission reported years ago that the federal government was using 322 DIFFERENT and mostly IRRECONCILABLE accounting systems. A two-year study by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) determined that nearly the entire federal government was AWASH in bad bookkeeping. Of the 24 cabinet level agencies, the GAO determined that only EIGHT passed muster. The rest had serious "problems with fundamental record keeping, incomplete documentation, and weak internal controls."

Here's just one example: the DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) in Indianapolis was entrusted with distributing $20 million to help Desert Storm soldiers with debt relief. $15 million of it was found to have been sent to the wrong soldiers or to pay off the wrong debts. One such soldier, who was to be paid a mere $183.69 was actually sent a check for $836,919.19. By the time they figured it out, the soldier had spent more than half the money. On another occasion, a group of finance clerks were found to have created six fictitious soldiers and went on to embezzled their salaries...including making sure they received promotions, raises and tours to locations where they could not be discovered. The amount of money WASTED by antiquated, uncoordinated and inefficient accounting systems is incalculable. This waste alone could be costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. It's already known than Medicare fraud, alone, amounts to more than $50B per year.

Can you imagine...this is just the letter A. We may have finally discovered a way to eliminate our budget deficit completely. Care to help. Send me YOUR Letter A waste stories.

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