Half a Million to Study the Mating Calls of Frogs? Your Tax Dollars at Work

(Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay)

Senator Rand Paul has come out with his annual “Waste Report” and, as usual, gives taxpayers plenty of reasons to become enraged.

Heading the list is $48 billion in improper Medicaid and Medicare payments.


Money and Markets:

Medicare spent $582 billion in fiscal year 2018, which is only second to Social Security, according to the report. Apparently, $48 billion the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid paid out wasn’t right. This isn’t a new issue, either, as the Government Accountability Office has labeled the CMS a “High Risk Program” every year since 1990, according to the report.

But the tendency to misallocate funds puts Medicare in an even worse spot than it already was. The CMS projects “Medicare’s costs under current law (will) rise steadily from their current levelof 3.7% of GDP in 2018 to 6% in 2043.” Spending $50 billion improperly isn’t going to help that.

Senator Paul fingers the real problem: “Perhaps the real improper payment is the giant amount of mandatory spending Congress allocates to CMS, allowing Medicare and Medicaid to grow unabated.”

Some other choice examples that will make your blood boil:

  • The LA school district diverted $158 million in school lunch money to buy lawn sprinklers and pay the salaries of employees at the district TV station.
  • $250,000 to teach Pakistani kids English at Space Camp and Dollywood.
  • $500,000 to the National Science Foundation to see if taking selfies makes you “happier.”
  • $450,000 to from the National Science Foundation to develop a “climate change video game.”
  • $356,000 to study cocaine and its effect on risky sexual behavior…in quails?
  • $29 million in “lost” heavy equipment in Afghanistan
  • $466,991 to study frog mating calls

This is what you get when the federal government is allowed to spend $4 trillion dollars. It’s not as if anyone is keeping track of it all. No one is in charge. No one person makes decisions.

Even a huge corporation has a lot less waste. That’s because employees answer to supervisors whose jobs depend on not making idiotic decisions like these. Those supervisors, in turn, answer to stockholders and a board of directors.

Obviously, you can’t run the federal government like a big business. But where is the responsibility? The transparency? Those principles should be no brainers for any good manager.

But the culture in government work does not encourage “good managers.” In fact, the culture requires that a manager spend as much money as possible, as quickly as possible. Why? Because if the money isn’t spent this year, the department will get less next year.

It’s convoluted, upside-down thinking and nothing is going to change until we demand a change in the culture of government work.


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