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Opening Arguments

No credit crunch here

Our  tax dollars at work:

Federal employees used government credit cards to pay for lingerie, gambling, iPods, Internet dating services, and a $13,000 steak-and-liquor dinner, according to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, which found widespread abuses in a purchasing program meant to improve bureaucratic efficiency.

The study, released by Senate lawmakers yesterday, found that nearly half the "purchase card" transactions it examined were improper, either because they were not authorized correctly or because they did not meet requirements for the cards' use. The overall rate of problems "is unacceptably high," the audit found.

I'll bet the percentage of people calling themselves libertarian just shot way up.


Harl Delos
Wed, 04/09/2008 - 11:27am

I don't understand your last paragraph, Leo. Libertarians don't claim to be better at completing paperwork, and don't claim to be more honest. Spinning off the National Park Service into a commercial enterprise would be a good Libertarian idea, but the last time I looked, commercial businesses have the same problems in this area as the government has.

Suppose you're on a trip for company business. You run across flanges your company needs, in like-new condition, for $500 instead of the $1000 they'd cost new, but the seller doesn't take plastic. You grab cash from your personal account at a nearby ATM to pay for what the company needs. Later, you see another really good deal - a $500 iPod for $300. Your personal debit card, though, is flat from having withdrawn that $500, so you use the company card to pay for it. When you get back, you submit an expense account to your boss, and the company cuts you a check for the $200 a month later.

In theory, you shouldn't be using the company card for personal purchases, because it's embezzling, but in this case, you're not borrowing money from the company, you're loaning money to the company, and they save $500 in the process.

The auditor types will flag the transactions as not meeting policy, and that's their job. But if the purchases were truly "improper", then the employees that made those improper purchases should be hauled up before a judge and prosecuted. And it doesn't make any difference whether it's a commercial enterprise or a governmental organization that they work for.

The problem is with the Senate lawmakers. If the transactions were innocuous, there's no need to make a big deal over them. If they amounted to embezzling, the miscreants should be prosecuted.

And that seems to be a valid line of thought whether your frame of mind is Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Socialist, or Communist.

If the Libertarians had their way, you might see the National Park Service spun off as a commercial venture.

tim zank
Wed, 04/09/2008 - 11:59am

I think Leo's last sentence implied that a lot of people would in this instance think along libertarian lines with respect to the size of the government....less govt equals less stoopid sh*t.

And this is clearly stoopid sh*t.

Leo Morris
Wed, 04/09/2008 - 3:00pm

Tim is right. I wasn't talking about officials but about how many more voters might finally say, "Enough!"