Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Katrina Waste

I was watching the local news tonight and there was a story about how much money is being wasted in New Orleans. The funds being squandered are FEMA funds sent to house, repair and in some cases rebuild the homes of the victims of Katrina's devastation. Overpayment for services that could have been secured elsewhere at a lower rate along with non-delivery of items that were earmarked to go to New Orleans to aid in the recovery. We are all aware that due to it's size, complexity and just plain ignorance, our government is very wasteful. We become complacent by the messages that come out of Washington regarding the spending of $400 for a hammer and yet this is indicative of how poorly things are run. I have worked for corporations where every expenditure had to be explained, justified, researched with other competitors and scrutinized by managers before one cent could be spent and yet we don't think these principles apply to how our government should be run.

An example of the waste that is going on in New Orleans was surplus ice that was acquired and organized for transport to New Orleans by FEMA. Only 40% of this ice ever made it to New Orleans. Ice that cost $6,000 was found to be sitting in tractor trailers with the engines running 24/7 at a cost of $24,000 per day. The story did not investigate why the ice never made it to it's destination, only that it was not where it was supposed to be.

Another example of the inefficiency of our government is evident in the cost of putting tarps on the roofs of houses that were damaged in the hurricanes. The tarps are provided free by FEMA but over $2,500 was being charged just to nail down the tarp to the roof. By most estimates, it would have been cheaper to reshingle the whole roof for that kind of money. Our government is failing us because they are wasting taxpayer money and we are failing our government by not holding them accountable for using these funds wisely and prudently.

Immediately after the disaster, FEMA paid $276 million to Carnival Cruise Lines to house victims whose homes were destroyed by the storm while mobile housing that was available to shelter these families went unused. In order to make sure that families had enough money to spend and to pay their bills, FEMA sent each victim a debit card with $2,000 on it. Many more were sent out than were victims of the hurricane, so where did the rest of them go?

First of all, I am appalled that our government gets away with this sort of madness and few people say anything about it. Our government is going to bankrupt this country by funneling tax dollars to special interest groups. These special interest groups are hoarding money and getting rich off of government contracts while much-needed resources to Hurricane victims never arrives. We should be storming out of our homes and driving to Washington and demanding that these problems be addressed and fixed. This is not acceptable. If I worked for a corporation and I was accused of diverting company funds to my buddies in exchange for kickbacks, I would be fired so fast that I would be standing on the street wondering what happened. Why should our government be allowed to get away with this? Why do we stand around and act like it's somebody else's problem? It is your problem and it's my problem and we HAVE to do something about it. It may be in contacting your Congressional representative or some other way, it's your choice.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

French Military Victories

Along with the "Miserable Failure" episode of google-bombing, you can now go to Google and enter the phrase "French Military Victories" to get a result that is rather comical.