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Kent Conwell: Booze, Mangoes, and Dead People


Last updated 11/21/2012 at Noon

It’s over. ‘And in more ways than one,’ remarked one of the old boys during lunch the other day, referring to the election. He pretty well summed up all our feelings on the subject.

I’ll make no bones about it. I was disappointed in the outcome of the election. I still find it hard to believe that my conservative values are now in the minority in this country.

On the other hand, when I look around at the state of welfare today; the garbled mass of new regulations being put on us, I don’t guess I should be too surprised.

Thomas Jefferson said it a lot better than I ever could when he proclaimed that ‘democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.’

Maybe if it were just welfare, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, we could get a handle on it, but when you add deliberate waste of tax money to the entitlements, then the country’s asking for trouble.

There’s one guy who takes the time to point out this waste, Senator Tom Coburn, M.D, from Oklahoma.

On your 1040 tax return, have you noticed the little box that asks if you want to give $3.00 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund? Your insignificant three bucks morphs into over thirty-five million by the time all the returns are in.

This year, according to Senator Coburn, $17.7 million was given to each major political party for its convention to help pay for the stage construction, confetti, balloons, food, and booze during the three or four day affair.

That’s $35 million of our taxes for wild parties. If the high rollers want such a gala, let them dig into their own pockets, not mine. Why not let the Super PACs pay for the bacchanalian event? Really, what was the need for them? Was there any question Obama would not be chosen as the Democratic candidate? Or Romney the Republican?

That’s the reason I never check that box. If I have to pay taxes, I want it to go to the general fund. (where Congress will find other ways to waste it)

According to Senator Coburn, in 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) undertook a four-year, $90 million effort to spur hiring and sales among Pakistani businesses.

You read right. Pakistani businesses. To hell with U.S. small businesses struggling in the recession. Let’s help foreign countries, which I might add is simply an extension of the present administration’s intent.

Two years later, the USAID Inspector General found ‘no measurable increases in sales and employment in four of five product areas the USAID had targeted, leather, livestock, textiles and dates’. The agency then abandoned its efforts on those products and focused on funding the fifth product area, mangoes.

Mangoes! Can you believe that nonsense?

So, how did the mango production project go?

It failed.

Why? Good old bureaucratic planning. It seems like of the thirteen farmers picked for the mango project, only one had received the promised equipment, but could not operate it because of a design flaw.

And to add insult to injury, the bungled project hurt the farmers by forcing them into default on loans they had taken out against expected sales that now would never take place.

Ninety million down the drain.

It gets worse.

Over the last five years, the federal government has sent $601 million in retirement and disability payments to deceased former federal employees.

That’s right.

In a September 2011 report, the Inspector General for the U.S. Office of Personnel reported that every year for the last five, payments averaging $120 million have been paid to dead people.

In one example, wrote Senator Coburn, an annuitant’s son cashed his dead father’s checks for thirty-seven years. The only way the Office of Personnel learned of it was when the son died.

Now if that doesn’t illustrate just how cumbersome and ineffective large government is, maybe the next example will.

What do you think about the government wanting to spend $398 million on a bridge to nowhere. The Gravina Island Bridge was to connect Ketchikan, Alaska to Gravina Island, which had 50 residents so they would not have to use the ferry any longer.

How about almost a million for generators for Vietnamese villages so the University of Pennsylvania State could research ‘the causal link between television and family formation and reproductive health?’

I don’t even know what they’re talking about, but they got over $700 thousand to do it.

There are hundreds of more examples of government waste, spending our taxes for frivolous nonsense.

Yep, the election’s over, but not our troubles.


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