Not one muffin more

Newest examples of government waste are enough to make you choke

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Since taxpayers are otherwise occupied, having to work to earn the money that is taken from them by the government, we don’t actually have the time and access to hold our bureaucratic friends accountable for how they spend our money.

But occasionally word seeps out.

Such as the recent Inspector General’s report that found the Justice Department had purchased muffins for $16 each at a 2009 conference.

Now, the $16 muffin has instantly become legendary, like the Pentagon’s hammer, which we’ve seen priced in both the $400s and $700s over the years. But both are just the tip of a mostly unseen iceberg.

Reading further just into this latest report, one finds that the Justice Department – and we’ll bet plenty of others – holds conferences regularly at glitzy resorts. Lunch at a conference
at a Hilton in San Francisco went for $76 a person. Cookies and brownies, you’ll be relieved to know, were a relative bargain compared to muffins: $10
each.

The Obama administration, to its credit, is taking steps to review all conference spending – and presumably a word to the wise has been sent. The administration also says the Bush administration was responsible for some of the event planning, which is entirely possible. The Bush administration was hardly a thrifty one.

But this is a reminder of how wasteful our federal government is – and at a particularly auspicious moment for such a reminder, with the congressional “super committee” poised to recommend ways to lower deficit spending. And, of course, with financial markets receding, unemployment high and economic projections bleak, there’s never been a better time to get government spending in line. By shaming it, if that’s even possible anymore.

The fact that we need reminders is just another indication of our out-to-lunchness: Back in March, we got another landmark report from the Government Accountability Office that, as Citizens Against Government Waste noted, “identifies 34 agencies, offices, and initiatives that provide similar or identical services to the same populations, along with 47 programs that are either wasteful or inefficient. It includes 18 nutrition and food assistance programs, 47 job retraining programs, and 80 economic development programs, along with $77 billion of waste at the Department of Defense and $125 billion in improper payments by government agencies, among many others.”

Yet, what has happened as a result of that report?

When are Americans going to be mad enough at all this waste to hit the streets in protest?

No time soon, apparently. In fact, it’s never been more fashionable in liberal and media circles to argue that the government just doesn’t have enough of our money! Billionaire Warren Buffett says the rich aren’t taxed enough, and Democrats and their cheer-leading media are more than happy to accommodate him. No regard whatsoever is being given in such coteries as to how responsible or accountable the government is with that money.

Report after report after
anecdote tells you that it’s not very.

The federal deficit and debt are so gargantuan that, at some point, additional revenues will undeniably be required to help balance the books. But the best way to increase revenues to the government is to get the economy going again and have more workers and vibrant companies paying more in taxes. You get there, first, by creating a climate conducive to job growth: with tax rates and regulations that allow a healthy flow of goods and services.

In the meantime, government spending must be cut in order to unburden the private sector – and, with any luck, trim the fat. Until that’s done, our leaders have no right to ask for one muffin more.

There’s a famous children’s book called If You Give a Moose a Muffin – in which a child finds that the more you give a moose, the more he’ll want.

The same applies to governments.

Comments (39) Add comment
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copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 09/25/11 - 10:24 pm
0
0
How the government spends

How the government spends it's money is not the concern of the citizens. They(government) know what is best for us. We need to turn over total control of our lives to our wonderful government-they are here to help us because we do not understand.

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 09/26/11 - 12:16 am
0
0
The nerve of these silly

The nerve of these silly taxpayers/voters thinking the government owes them some sort of explaination as to how it spends it's money-just shut up and pay your taxes!

Riverman1
103043
Points
Riverman1 09/26/11 - 02:03 am
0
0
Heck, $16 a muffin is

Heck, $16 a muffin is probably the going rate at a big San Francisco hotel there are so many unions, government regulations, taxes and zoning codes keeping out free market competition. Federal government conferences should be held in more economical places. Move them to Right-to-Work states along with the industry that's already coming.

carcraft
31274
Points
carcraft 09/26/11 - 04:40 am
0
0
Of course programs like

Of course programs like giving $500.00 million to Solyndra are also importaant. The government continuing resolution is now tied up with Harry Reid because he doesn't want to cut"green jobs" spending to pay for FEMA funding. Well just how well have green jobs spending worked? We also have company called "Light Squared" that want to put in a broad band communications that will screw up the GPS system and is being rammed through because of political pressure by
the Obama administration (a General under oath has already testified he was pressured to support the project). Guess who owns stock in Light Squared? Well that would be Obama and a bunch of his big money donors!

Techfan
6464
Points
Techfan 09/26/11 - 05:30 am
0
0
Once again, lack of research

Once again, lack of research by the AC. THe DOJ spent $14.74 per attendee (which was 2 cents above the aprrove rate) for snacks. Of course , this was in Washington DC, where one might think that prices would be higher than Augusta.

Below is the price list for Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center

MORNING BREAK $8
Danish, muffins, coffee and hot tea
MORNING FIT FOR YOU $10•Meets diverse standards of dietary needs.
Sliced fresh fruit, yogurt, granola bars, assorted bottled juices, bottled water, coffee and hot tea
Al La Carte"
Colombian coffee per gallon $38
Hot tea each $3.25
Coca Cola products each $2.50 Choices are per person. A customary 20% taxable service charge and sales tax will be added to prices
So, in Augusta it would cost $10.27 per person for the first option, and $12.84 for the second. Not far off from what the DOJ paid. Of course, since this is Billy's hotel, I'm sure he cuts a price break for any government conventions held there.

Techfan
6464
Points
Techfan 09/26/11 - 05:47 am
0
0
LightSquared was granted the

LightSquared was granted the first license to deploy and provide terrestrial service in the L-Band spectrum in November 2004.

Deployed
413
Points
Deployed 09/26/11 - 06:23 am
0
0
I guess Columbia County

I guess Columbia County taxpayers should be happy that we only provide $22,000 worth of coffee for county employees. We could have to buy them muffins too.
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2011-06-21/columbia-county-exten...

AndrewLafa
27
Points
AndrewLafa 09/26/11 - 08:12 am
0
0
Wish ACES were this adamant

Wish ACES were this adamant about going after local thieves as much as the ones in federal government. But we know how the good ol' boy system works, right?

harley_52
29425
Points
harley_52 09/26/11 - 08:43 am
0
0
There is no excuse for it,

There is no excuse for it, but there is a reason. The reason is that it's not their money they're spending, it's yours. They have no reason to be stingy, or even frugal. It's not their money. And it doesn't happen only in the Obama Administration. It happens in all Administrations. The question is always 'what will be done about it?'

So....what's interesting is the reaction. From the elected leadership should come thunder. Heads should roll. People should be held accountable and their lives impacted. But what we get is diplomacy and rhetoric. They will be "asked to review" their policies......translation...."ho hum."

The reaction from the citizenry should be outrage. Democrats and Republicans alike should be insulted and disgusted by the obvious lack of concern for how tax monies are wasted on frivolities. Nope......Instead we get comments excusing it and rationalizing it as being 'not all that bad after all.'

Government waste is government waste regardless the Party affiliation of those doing it or those allowing it. And from the citizenry should come outrage, not excuses and acceptance. It's worse when the folks in power have made it such a big part of their campaign to promise how they'd be so different from "business as usual in Washington" and how they'd clean up government waste.

From where I sit, it looks like they're the all time champions of government waste and they've got a fan base cheering them on.

carcraft
31274
Points
carcraft 09/26/11 - 09:15 am
0
0
It appears there are others

It appears there are others interested in Obama's activities in relationship to Light Squared, who really cares if it screws up the US GPS system? thehill.com/homenews/...solyndra-and-lightsquared-watchdogs-increase-pressure-on-obama

carcraft
31274
Points
carcraft 09/26/11 - 09:20 am
0
0
harley_52
29425
Points
harley_52 09/26/11 - 09:28 am
0
0
I don't want government

I don't want government meetings held at the nicest hotel, motel, or convention center in town. I'd like to see them held in a government owned facility. I know they exist. I know there is lots of vacant space. I also know there's a government organization called the General Services Administration (GSA) whose job is to find the best deals on meeting space and even catering services.

We (taxpayers) actually pay people to find cost effective and adequate meeting facilities and catering services for use by our government agencies when they need to meet. Not to use them is supposed to require "special" permission.

You can see how it's working in the Obama Administration.

burninater
10527
Points
burninater 09/26/11 - 09:29 am
0
0
This is nothing compared to

This is nothing compared to private sector luxury spending. My girlfriend's consulting team was recently reprimanded by an executive in her firm for exceptionally reasonable expensing ($90/night for a hotel in a major metropolitan area, carpooling in the rental cars). They did a little tit-for-tat investigating and found that the executive had issued receipts for $4000 for THREE days, EXCLUDING airfare. You and I know ALL of the profligate spending in the private sector is passed on to US, the consumers, in product pricing.

If noone give's a rat about how much they spend, every day, to perpetuate wasteful spending in the private sector, who's going to get in an uproar over cupcakes and hammers?

I've been to corporate offices, and I've been to the DMV -- I think it's pretty clear which sector is spending more on unnecessary frills. And the argument that it's not our business because it's the private sector is BUNK ... it's all OUR money that's paying for it, public and private sector alike.

seenitB4
108518
Points
seenitB4 09/26/11 - 09:44 am
0
0
http://www.huffingtonpost.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/26/iraq-withdrawal-us-bases-equipm...

We are giving BILLIONS of dollars of equipment & bases over to Iraq...too costly to bring any of this back home they say......bless our hearts.....
Have another muffin....

justthefacts
28893
Points
justthefacts 09/26/11 - 09:51 am
0
0
A private company can do

A private company can do whatever they want with their money. It is after all, their money. At least until the left figures out a way to get it. The money, that it has already confiscated, spent by the gov't belongs to the people. At least in theory.

burninater
10527
Points
burninater 09/26/11 - 10:07 am
0
0
But JTF, it's their money

But JTF, it's their money because we purchased their products and services, and the prices of those goods and services are inflated to pay for their company luxury spending. They didn't grow this money in a secret money laboratory. WE pay for their $16 cupcakes as much as we pay for a government $16 cupcake.

We've been completely conditioned to believe it's the way of the universe when we give a for-profit EXCESS money to pay for their $16 cupcakes, but it's inexcusable when we do the EXACT same thing in the public sector.

And I argue it is the exact same thing because the private sector is not operating in a free market, but in a pervasive pay-to-play atmosphere. If markets were truly free, we would NOT be paying for someone's private $16 cupcake, because there would be a COMPETITOR whose prices were cheaper because they hadn't built in profligate executive spending.

Just think about it: how could a freely competitive system allow for the funding of the extreme luxury and waste occurring in our private sector? All of that is built into the pricing, all of it is paid for by the consumer, and yet there are few to no competitors to these companies whose overhead is NOT grossly inflated by executive compensation. How, in a free market, could that system persist? How can there NOT be competition that doesn't have us paying for these gold-plated titanium boondoggles with every product we purchase?

justthefacts
28893
Points
justthefacts 09/26/11 - 10:21 am
0
0
Burn, you don't think that

Burn, you don't think that you can buy cheaper cupcakes? My company has severely cut back on travel and other expenditures in order to keep our prices competitive. That is the norm. "yet there are few to no competitors to these companies whose overhead is NOT grossly inflated by executive compensation". I disagree with that statement. IMO, you are reading too many headlines.

harley_52
29425
Points
harley_52 09/26/11 - 10:24 am
0
0
burninater said... "If noone

burninater said...

"If noone give's a rat about how much they spend, every day, to perpetuate wasteful spending in the private sector, who's going to get in an uproar over cupcakes and hammers?"

I hate to say it burninater, buy you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between private and public sector finance and Economics 101.

The private sector works for profit. Profit is a function of revenue minus costs. If products are priced too high they won't sell, and if costs are too high compared to the price the market will pay the company won't make a profit either.

There are only a couple of instances where private companies have any incentives to incur higher and higher costs. One is when the company enjoys a monopoly in the marketplace. Another is when the company is working on a government contract on what's called a "cost plus" contract where their profit is agreed to be a percentage of the costs they incur in performing what the government wants them to do.

As a general statement, the private sector has every incentive to control costs while the government has no such incentives beyond ethics, job security, laws, and fear of voter reprisal.

The reason the Obamas jet around on family vacations and DOJ employees snack on sixteen dollar muffins has nothing to do with the private sector (except for the ones who receive the direct payments) and everything to do with the fact that they're spending YOUR money, not theirs. They enjoy living high on your hard earned money and can get away with it.

john.q.publius
0
Points
john.q.publius 09/26/11 - 10:54 am
0
0
Burn - the problem is that I

Burn - the problem is that I can choose to spend my money with Company A, Company B, or no company at all. I cannot choose not to spend my money with the government; that money is taken at the barrel of a gun. Therefore, since I have no choice but to pay taxes, I have the fundamental right to demand that the gov't not buy $16 muffins, or even $8 muffins. I do not wish to surrender my money in order to buy muffins for bureaucrats. On the other hand, if I believe that Microsoft spends too much money on muffins and ought to be spending that money on quality control instead, I can buy Apple products instead of MS. I can even choose to invest my money in Apple stock rather than in MS shares. I have none of those options with gov't budgets.

Then again, if Obamacare's individual mandate is upheld, I might be forced to buy lots of products I don't want, developed by muffin-munching incompetents. I wonder if the same liberals who favor Obamacare, who generally gush ecstatically over Apple products, would favor a federal law mandating that they purchase MS products. The company is, after all, "too big to fail..."

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 09/26/11 - 11:10 am
0
0
Speaking of wasteful

Speaking of wasteful spending. How about obama's 100th luxury vacation he is about to take? This is getting more than ridiculous and is costing taxpayers tens, if not hundreds of millions. Why doesn't he just go on vacation to his Chicago thuggery-style home like Bush did at his ranch?

Warren Buffett is such a fine liberal cheerleader. He's way behind on his taxes. He's owed them since 2002. Pay up Democrat Buffett.

Our economy is on the brink of major collapse. Read the linked article for an eye opener. And obama parties, vacations and spends like a maniac. Unbelievable.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/30-signs-that-the-u-s-econom...

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 09/26/11 - 11:21 am
0
0
justthefacts. ALL private

justthefacts. ALL private companies have cut back on travel and expenditures. It's what we do in difficult times. Liberals seem to not be able to grasp that concept.

The only folks not affected by this recession are govt employees (federal, state, county & city), politicians, retired govt employees (pensions), the super elite (who are paying off the politicians for special deals) and of course the welfare users. Life goes on as normal for all of them. For now. Hopefully they won't get to comfortable or cozy. When the govt is broke (and it is happening) they will soon fall like the rest of us.

harley_52
29425
Points
harley_52 09/26/11 - 11:39 am
0
0
Chillen said.. "ALL private

Chillen said.. "ALL private companies have cut back on travel and expenditures. It's what we do in difficult times."

Not "All" Chillen, most.

Some private companies are getting fat on government contracts where spending more brings them more in profits.

Happens all the time.

burninater
10527
Points
burninater 09/26/11 - 11:49 am
0
0
harley, you answered your own

harley, you answered your own objection to my point:

"...if costs are too high compared to the price the market will pay the company won't make a profit either.

There are only a couple of instances where private companies have any incentives to incur higher and higher costs. One is when the company enjoys a monopoly in the marketplace."

De- and self-regulation of companies has produced unprecedented oligarchies that directly access policy makers to the extent that they actively write regulatory legislation and staff regulatory bodies.

How much do you pay for power, harley? Is that the lowest rate you could get because you shopped around all of the available companies competing in the marketplace? Oh wait, there WASN'T any choice? Interesting. But you could get a gas generator I guess, and power your home that way, shopping for the cheapest provider. Oh wait, gasoline is, within a few cents, exactly the same price anywhere you go? Interesting. Well, at least you can shop around for medical care, right? Oh wait, you say your health care provider has negotiated standard rates in their network? Interesting. Well, at least this doesn't go on in our financial sector. I mean, in a fair market companies come and go dependent on their efficiency in delivering quality products, right? Oh wait, you mean a BIPARTISAN group bailed out financial institutions that were TOO BIG TO FAIL? I didn't think you could have such a situation in a free market.

I'm viewing and sending this over a Comcast-provided network. I HATE Comcast, but guess what? On my street, they are the ONLY provider. The ONLY one. This is a free market? This is how capitalism is supposed to work? Oligopoly and monopoly are TOTALLY out of control in this country.

I could go on and on and on. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to overpower the blindness to how unfree our private markets are, because their mouthpieces condition you over and over again to think that this isn't the case.

Consolidation in the services essential to living in the modern world has created a situation where companies can charge whatever consumers can BEAR, not the price that the blind hand of free markets set.

burninater
10527
Points
burninater 09/26/11 - 12:05 pm
0
0
Another example from j.q.p:

Another example from j.q.p:

"if I believe that Microsoft spends too much money on muffins and ought to be spending that money on quality control instead, I can buy Apple products instead of MS."

In order to operate efficiently in the modern economy, EVERY company needs to have computing capacity, ranging from one laptop for a mom-at-home-business to huge outlays in computing networks. EVERY COMPANY.

And there are TWO operating system options?!!? TWO?!!?

How can we POSSIBLY say with a straight face that free, open markets are operating in our country.

You are right, j.q.p., you can be a survivalist that chooses not to engage in market consumption (assuming of course that you somehow were able to secure sufficient land to support your independence from the modern economy). But EVERYONE else is required to participate, it is no more a choice than whether or not to pay taxes. It really isn't.

And what we're getting here in this country, is basically, a company town. You are paid by the same groups that you MUST buy from. You've got a choice of one? (Comcast. Utilities. Negotiated health network rates. Gas prices. etc.) Two? (MS vs Apple. etc.) How can you POSSIBLY think we live in a free market? I know Chillen doesn't believe so, he's said it many times before.

So again, my question is, if you really DON'T have choices, how is a private market $16 dollar cupcake any different than a public sector one? WE'RE PAYING FOR BOTH, and we have no real option not to!

I'm not saying give the public sector a free ride for wasting your money. I'm saying get mad at them. But get mad at the fact that we're living in a company town also. Don't keep giving these oligopolies and monopolies a free pass because they represent a "free market". They don't.

harley_52
29425
Points
harley_52 09/26/11 - 12:08 pm
0
0
burninater, I didn't have a

burninater, I didn't have a question, I was actually trying to help you.

No, I don't think cable companies and power companies represent a "free market." They certainly don't. I spoke of monopolies, not delving into semi-monopolies or "regulated" monopolies just because I didn't want to confuse you.

You were making the incorrect observation that private companies had no reason to control costs and I was trying to help you understand the folly of that thinking. Now, you say you already knew better so I guess I'm confused by your original comments.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 09/26/11 - 12:18 pm
0
0
Freudian Slip. Seems obama's

Freudian Slip. Seems obama's having a bit of trouble even reading the teleprompter lately. I've heard rumors that he's severely depressed which could lead to the point of complete incompetency (though I contend that he's been at that level since January 20, 2009).

"If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a Jew, uh, as a janitor makes me a warrior for the working class, I wear that with a badge of honor. I have no problem with that." ~Barack Hussein Obama~

Jew-Janitor; Corpsman - Corpseman; 57 states; 2008 date in Westminster Abbey; his daughter's age. He truly might be losing it.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 09/26/11 - 12:21 pm
0
0
harley, so true, I left out

harley, so true, I left out the GEs, the Unions, the GMs, the Solyndras, the Serious Materials & the plethora of "green companies who are being richly rewarded with my hard earned tax money. Crony capitalism at its finest. Mixed with a hefty dose of socialism.

Some "Change" we've gotten huh? None of the good stuff, just more of the bad stuff times 100.

justthefacts
28893
Points
justthefacts 09/26/11 - 12:23 pm
0
0
So, we are going to focus on

So, we are going to focus on a few "monopolies" when the vast majority (what..millions?), of the private companies are the norm when it comes to competitive pressures?

burninater
10527
Points
burninater 09/26/11 - 12:36 pm
0
0
jtf, notice that the

jtf, notice that the monopolies occur in the services where demand is the least elastic, that is where we have the LEAST choice in whether or not we will purchase them. Energy. Computing. Healthcare. Transportation.

And notice that these sectors are the profit LEADERS, with the highest executive compensation and associated waste built into the pricing.

The monopolies and limited-competition industries also make up the MAJORITY of discretionary spending in the lower and middle classes.

To continue the company town analogy: I'm saying that price-fixing and monopolistic pressures occur in our energy, healthcare, transportation, and necessary technologies purchases, and you're saying ya, but look at how many bubble gum choices we have!

harley_52
29425
Points
harley_52 09/26/11 - 12:45 pm
0
0
Chillen, also most of the

Chillen, also most of the Management and Operations companies that run places like the Savannah River Site around the Country and other companies that provide services to federal agencies. It's rampant.

Federal spending has always been problematic. There used to be a Senator (Proxmire, I think) who gave away a "Golden Fleece Award" once a month to highlight the most egregious examples of government waste he could find to try to highlight the waste and embarrass the offenders. Now it's "let's review" by the administration and "ho hum" by almost everybody else.

The really sad part is that it's all part of a bigger plan. Wasting more only lends support to the larger purpose of bringing down our government and our capitalist economy.

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