Need a Unifying Mid-Term Issue? Curb Government Spending!

Call me crazy but I think if federal employees routinely waste millions of taxpayer dollars someone ought to be held accountable, criminally accountable if possible.

And anyone who signs off on obviously outrageous spending, like the person who approved buying coffee cups for the Air Force at $1,200 each or the one that okayed spending $3 million to study how shrimps perform on tiny treadmills, let them come before Congress and explain their actions. If their supervisor made them do it, I want to know that. Let’s figure out how high up the food chain these nutty expenditures are being approved.

According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) federal employees have been wasting our tax dollars for decades with no end in sight.

The CRS reports that over the last dozen years employees at 20 federal agencies have made payment mistakes or authorized improper payments of at least $1.2 trillion.

The CSR Studies Uncle Sam’s Improper Payments – Billions of Them Each Year!

Imagine – more than a trillion taxpayer dollars misspent, yet can you think of any major media outlet that is shining a light on this preposterous waste of our money? Can you name any politician who is campaigning to right this sinking ship? Me neither.

This problem knows no particular political party. Every year since 2009, federal employees have sent out erroneous payments totally more than $100 billion. Last fiscal year, which just ended in September, the total was $141 billion. In just one year!

I can think of no more serious dereliction of duty for a government employee than wasting taxpayer’s money. And, if it is the same federal agencies making these massive financial mistakes year after year when does the Justice Department step in, start investigating and file charges?

If this kind of repeated financial wrongdoing occurred in the private sector, say, in a bank, at a hedge fund or major accounting firm you can bet someone would be under arrest. So, when it’s a federal worker we just shrug our shoulders? That’s not logical thinking.

Here are more recent examples of how your tax dollars are being misappropriated:

Every year the federal government shells out about $1.7 billion to maintain empty buildings. Yep, instead of selling some of the 770-thousand structures Uncle Sam owns the feds keep paying for their upkeep. Sound like a smart idea to you?

The Pentagon spent $28 million on a really bad wardrobe choice for soldier’s uniforms in Afghanistan. When we outfitted the ragtag Afghan army someone at the Department of Defense okayed a camouflage uniform with expensive zippers (instead of buttons) that sported a lush green pattern. The bright green stood out – dangerously so – in the brown Afghan desert. Who thought that was a good idea?

And in the last month of each fiscal year the annual “September Shop-a-thon” takes place as federal agencies scramble to spend what is left in their budgets. As fiscal year 2017 came to a close last month 67 agencies, which apparently had operated just fine throughout the year without spending everything they were allotted, went on a last-minute orgy of spending totaling $50 billion. The Departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, State and Veteran Affairs each spent over $1billion each – in just one month. You see, wen an agency doesn’t spend its entire allotment its next budget is sure to be reduced.

As Adam Andrzejewski of the government spending watchdog group described it to Marketplace, “You can buy cars, vehicles, motorcycles, bikes and scooters….bombs, bulk explosives and grenades. You can buy fidget spinners, snowboarding equipment and booze for your liquor cabinet.” And when east coast-based agencies were not able to spend all their money before the midnight fiscal year-end deadline their west coast procurement officers continued the spending spree for another three hours.

Is this any way to run a government? Of course not. But don’t imagine that federal employees will suddenly volunteer to expose this monumental waste of money. Why would they want to put their paychecks and perks on the line?

Every year Washington spends more than $22 billion to pay for federal employees’ vacation and personal time off. The average federal bureaucrat gets 20 vacation days, 13 sick days and 10 paid holidays every year. That’s 43 days of paid time off. Such a sweet deal, and one I’m betting most readers don’t enjoy.

I know this is a lot of numbers to absorb. But we all need to realize how our money is being handled. Taxes are high enough.

This irresponsible spending is not going to end unless the policies and culture of federal agencies are eliminated. And nothing will be different without a persistent public howl for responsible spending. Consider this my scream into the wilderness demanding more accountability and real reform.

If President Trump, who sold himself as the consummate successful businessman, is looking for an issue to unite the fractured electorate before the mid-term elections here it is. Sell it with the slogan: “No more $1,200 Coffee Cups!”



  1. Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Reader Terry Wilmont writes:

    Ms. Dimond —
    How ‘bout we don’t encourage a deranged POTUS to be anymore dangerous or disgusting? They were probably tRump cups to begin with. He’s one of the only people fully capable of rigging such a deal to line his and his family’s pockets. And it’s exactly disgusting enough to be one of his caterwauling promotions. No question “$1,200 coffee cups” need to be addressed but tRump IS NOT THE GUY TO DO IT as he is busy operating one of America’s most corrupt administrations in history. I’m surprised you’re recommending him… for anything. There’s nothing “consummate” about him. In addition, as an aside, the same logic of criminality should be applied directly, with consummate accuracy, to many of the pharmaceutical companies and organizations currently operating in this country.

    Further, I don’t remember who is quoted but,
    “If you want to understand any problem in America,
    you need to focus on who profits from that problem,
    not who suffers from the problem.”

    • Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Diane replies to Terry Wilmont:

      Ummmmm, a bit off topic – but thanks for writing. DD

  2. Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

    If the politicians actually LISTENED to that & DID stop fraud & waste, all of them would be BROKE, because that would mean they would have to stop stealing OUR MONEY & be HONEST…….

  3. Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Facebook Friend Lex Roberts writes:

    Those in any government,in any country,are wasteful people, until they get caught out

    • Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      Facebook Friend Lyn Wheaton replies:

      We need an entirely different system of accountability. I have ideas. But don’t elect me.

  4. Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Reader Robert Dunlap writes:

    I applaud your efforts to shine light on the government waste we all pay for.

    A suggestion–harness the MeToo effort to attack the way the government wastes our taxes. After all, I consider that these gross wastes are an attack on all Americans–dare I say–the govs are raping us all every day…………….

    • Diane Dimond on October 15, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      Now, THAT is an intriguing suggestion! ~ DD

  5. Diane Dimond on October 16, 2018 at 11:50 am

    ABQ Journal Reader Robert Dunlap writes:

    I am an old white guy who lives in fly-over country. For many reasons, I do not understand the sound and fury that seems to be generated on the coastal areas, but do not address the real problems the country faces.

    I do not claim to be a representative of any party or faction, because I am unhappy with all the “powers that be” (and do not work on real problems because they are so focused on re-election).

    Americans should join together to demand that those “powers” do some real work!

  6. Diane Dimond on October 16, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Nashua Telegraph Reader Kevin Higgins writes:

    I enjoyed your column in today’s Nashua Telegraph on Curbing Government Spending.

    My father was Director of Contracts in the Electronic Warfare Division of Sander’s Assoc. (which was sold to Lockheed and is now BAE).

    He was also president of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) He once wrote a column for NCMA Magazine on government pricing. My sister had asked him why a coffee pot for the Air Force was $6,000? My father wrote that the pricing is partly based on the way the government requires government contractors to account for costs related to producing products for the government, which include engineering, overhead, and research. (Research being the most expensive part of this equation.) For example, if they are only producing 100 coffee pots and the cost is X, the cost is spread over the number of items produced. Also, and I think this is the real catch; an Airforce coffee pot (or coffee cup) may have to withstand a G-Force of one or more (G1 is 230 mph) and not shatter or crack at said speed. Shattered glass at that speed is lethal.

    I just thought I would point this out. That doesn’t mean government spending isn’t out of control, it is.
    I am an amateur JFK historian and chuckle now thinking about JFK losing sleep over a $12 billion budget deficit.

    Take care,


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