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Is Washington killing us?

September 30, 2014

Ask any ordinary person on the street if they think that government is corrupt or wasteful, and they will probably say yes, but they will also say that is just how governments work.

Perhaps because we think there is little we can do about it, we just accept that state of affairs as normal.

It might be time to stop being so forgiving, before that attitude kills us.

Realistically, given the massive growth in the size of our Federal government, there will be a certain amount of duplication of services and other inefficiencies that waste money, but this problem goes far beyond simply $50 toilet seats, or paying for a few lap dancers.

News reports say that the new offensive against ISIS in Iraq and Syria will cost some $6 billion dollars a year if current spending levels are maintained, perhaps double that amount if operations are intensified. Given that the government always underestimates costs and overestimates income, that figure may be only 50% of the actual annual cost. Even in Washington, that’s a lot of bucks.

The administration is saying that the American people don’t want to fund another Mideast conflict, while at the same time requesting $500 million dollars to have other people fight that war for us. That amount is certainly  not close to what the government is projecting for annual costs, and at the current cost of $10 million a day, will barely last past the mid-term elections.

What then? Where does the money come from after the half-trillion is spent? Maybe from the money already on the books?

Other news stories of today report that an investigation by  the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed the IRS may have failed to even attempt to collect some $6.7 billion in taxes last year. CBS News reported that the agency paid out at least $5.2 billion in fraudulent refunds due to identity theft last year. The government can track every move we make, but can’t control identity theft, even when it is the victim?  Mah-velous!

In other words, the agency that is supposed to manage our national accounts receivable is responsible for enough overpayments and bad debt to fund the entire “terror campaign”, aka the war in Iraq and Syria for the next year, maybe even two years.

The mismanagement of our tax dollars is evident at every level. In a report filed on July 30, 2014, cost estimates for the healthcare.gov website were pegged at $840 million and climbing, and the website still does not have the capability to protect user information from hackers, among other shortcomings.

A few hundred million here, a dozen billion there and we’re talking about real money.

There are just so many times that the public is going to swallow the “oh, we are so surprised” or “we are studying it” excuse from Washington, and that time is here.

This level of incompetence, corruption or just plain laziness isn’t just politically uncomfortable, it borders on the criminal. If any business owner or board of directors discovered that magnitude of negligence or malfeasance, every single department head and the CEO would not only lose their jobs, but would face prosecution.

The one inviolate duty of our government is to protect us. There is no other reason to have a huge Federal bureaucracy. Anything else the government does for or to the country  could be handled at the state level. States can and do build highways, train and equip the National Guard, feed the hungry and educate our children, and if the money currently wasted in Washington stayed in the states, they could do a far better job of it than does the Federal government.

The government is expected to defend us from our enemies, both foreign and domestic. That isn’t a red or blue issue. It is the central mandate incumbent upon our over-fed and under-brained politicians from every political persuasion.

Incompetent and corrupt government is going to kill some of us. Not just those of us who are in the military, but who just go to work or for a drive and don’t ever come home. People like Colleen Hufford or Brendan Tevlin had a right to expect better than that.

We all do.

From → op-ed

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