My tax dollars hard at work

The General Services Administration (GSA) evidently doesn’t realize times are tough and belt tightening is necessary. In October of 2012, the government agency spent $822,000 in taxpayer money…our taxpayer money…to send 300 federal employees on a conference at a luxury resort and spa casino in Las Vegas.

A whopping $700,000 price tag included money spent on penthouse suites, tuxedo rentals, a mind reader and, of course, a clown. In addition, $75,000 was spent on a team building bicycle training exercises and commemorative coins for conference attendees. The IG reports the GSA spent $44 PER PERSON for daily breakfasts, and one meal included 1,000 sushi rolls at $7 a piece.

But it didn’t begin when the attendees landed. Before they got there, $136,000 in taxpayer money was spent for “location solvers” to scout out suitable places for the conference. Of course, these scouts has to stay in luxury rooms at the Ritz Carlton so they could get a feel for it.

Of course.

The bleeding off of taxpayer money continues with another IG report that five GSA members were sent to Hawaii for up to a week in 2011. Why? To attend an hour-long ribbon cutting on space leased by the federal government for the benefit of the FBI. Hmmmm, a one-hour ribbon cutting = 7 days in Hawaii. Seriously? I’d go on an all-expense paid week-long trip to Hawaii to snip a ribbon. Of course, someone else should have to pay for it.

In 2011, The Social Security Administration spent more than $400,000 on an awards ceremony in Baltimore. According to JunketSleuth, our taxpayer money sent social security federal employees on more than 1,800 trips from 2008 to 2011 to participate in the grueling work of award ceremonies. How can this be? Isn’t Social Security almost broke? Isn’t this the same government agency that’s a sacred cow when it comes to budget cuts?

JunketSleuth discovered that over a three-year period, agency employees took 85 trips, to 23 countries. These included Canada, Great Britain, Poland, the Philippines, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, France, Germany, Hungary, Panama,Slovakia, Greece, Israel, Spain, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Norway and Sweden. I can’t for the life of me figure out what sort of official “social security” business warranted government officials to spend that much time out of the country. Evidently, I just don’t understand the inner workings of necessary government expenditures.

According to JunketSleuth, “the Office of Personnel Management cancelled a Retirement Systems Modernization program after investing years of work and $231 million. Also last year, the GAO report says, the Department of Homeland Security scrapped its Secure Border Initiative Network program after spending about $1.5 billion due to ‘cost effectiveness and viability’ issues.”

The website Dirty Spending Secrets reveals some of the lesser-know expenditures we probably won’t hear about on the evening news.
1. $2.6 million to educate Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job. Seriously?
2. $146 million each year for federal employees to upgrade their flights to business class. I’ve never flown anything but sardine-style coach.
3. $3 billion to re-sand our nation’s beaches. Sand that gets washed back and forth into the ocean at every tide?
4. $10 million to remake Sesame Street for Pakistan. I love Sesame Street…but why for Pakistan?
5. $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Really? We need to spend money on this?

A few billion here, a couple million there…it’s no wonder we have a grossly obese federal deficit. When are we going to be fed up with the wasteful spending culture of our elected officials who are suppose to be making decisions to benefit US, the American people?

Can’t cut the budget anywhere? I beg to differ.



5 thoughts on “My tax dollars hard at work

  1. When I was consulting, I associated with some GSA folks and their excuse for the questionable spending back then was that they were the only fed agency that brought in money annually. This gave them the “flexibility” over other agencies.

    Sounds like they finally pushed the envelope too far.


  2. …and yet they cut VA and retiree benefits to fix this problem!
    If I comment any farther I’ll get so high on my soap box I won’t be able to jump off without maiming myself!


  3. I think the Pakistani Sesame Street is an attempt (probably failed, based on our current relationship with the country) to win hearts and minds.

    The GSA thing, of course, is undeniably stupid, and arrogant, to boot.


  4. Oh, Lisa! How could you possibly believe these expenditures foolish? All those people up there that are authorizing these expenditures know better than you and I – it’s not these things, it’s the “entitlements” – you know, those funds we’ve paid into every working day of our iives, the ones to which we are “entitled”? The hair on my hackles is standing at alert!


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