US Government waste

January 6th, 2014 at 9:27 am by David Farrar

The Heritage Foundation highlights some of the more outrageous Government in the US. They include:

  • A $100,000 outhouse
  • A $1 million bus stop with heated pavement
  • $350,000 for a study that found out couples are happier if the woman calms down after an argument
  • $5.4 million of crystal glassware for the State Department
  • $1 million for a granite sculpture at an embassy
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31 Responses to “US Government waste”

  1. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    Well Auckland has a 4 million plus dollar mayor who is completely useless and there is nothing they can do legally to get rid of him.

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (3,222 comments) says:

    Why is $125k from NASA on research into 3D printed food (which I note is not actually mentioned in the link Heritage provides), waste?

    If NASA is tasked with putting humans into space, some for long periods, isn’t finding a good way of feeding them a good idea?

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  3. NK (918 comments) says:

    The better question Graeme is whether $125K from an economy that is worth trillions is actually waste.

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  4. Mobile Michael (367 comments) says:

    I wonder if there is any similar examples in NZ. Gold plated schemes are often approved when there are acceptable silver plated or bronze plated options.

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  5. mikemikemikemike (241 comments) says:

    vs how many trillion for a pointless war that no one wanted (except the oil barons and the weapons makers)?? They may be wasteful examples, but in an economy as big as the US hardly news of the day.

    Forest for the trees people.

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  6. Nostalgia-NZ (4,697 comments) says:

    ‘Joanne (24 comments) says:
    January 6th, 2014 at 9:42 am
    Well Auckland has a 4 million plus dollar mayor who is completely useless and there is nothing they can do legally to get rid of him.
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    Actually they can, if a DC Judge agrees to hear a petition out of time and accepts that misleading the electorate is an ‘irregularity.’

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  7. Ed Snack (1,539 comments) says:

    Mikemikemikemike, yes, nobody wanted it which is why Congress overwhelmingly voted to authorize it….

    Graham, 3D printed food, it does sound strange but I would be interested to read why printing of food makes sense as there could well be reasons although I can’t easily think of any right now. 3D printing though has come a very long way.

    But there’s always waste in government spending, and probably always will be. It is a useful task to point this out regularly though, to prevent it becoming endemic. It is a normal facet of crony capitalism, rewarding ones friends (and of course donors) with as much of other peoples (read taxpayers) cash as one can.

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  8. mikemikemikemike (241 comments) says:

    @Ed – Congress supported it because they get lobbied to do so. The US had no place going to Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. It was and still is an epic fuck up.

    Other than wanting some revenge for 9/11, they achieved nothing. Both countries are worse now than when they went in.

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  9. backster (2,000 comments) says:

    Still sending an Australian Icebreaker a Chinese Icebreaker, and now an American Icebreaker to rescue a Russian Icebreaker trapped by Ice while being rented by a loony Australian scientist to prove there was no ice there seems to rank right up there.

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  10. Fletch (5,726 comments) says:

    Add to that – several hundred thousand dollars for Michelle Obama’s return trip from Hawaii separately. Obama is letting her stay there a few weeks extra as a “birthday present” for her 50th birthday on January 17th. Of course, the American taxpayer will be funding it.

    First Lady Michelle Obama failed to accompany President Obama and their daughters home from Hawaii today, a decision that will likely incur taxpayers at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars in costs.

    The White House described the move as a “birthday gift” from President Obama to his wife,  allowing her to “spend times with friends ahead of her upcoming 50th birthday,” which occurs January 17. But for this gift, you are footing much of the bill.

    http://www.whitehousedossier.com/2014/01/05/birthday-gift-michelle/

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  11. NK (918 comments) says:

    I just calculated several hundred thousand dollars as a percentage of the US government federal spending of $3.6 trillion and it shows 0.000%. In other words, it’s so small it doesn’t register; ergo it’s not waste.

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  12. Don the Kiwi (1,338 comments) says:

    NK.

    Except that the USA is 17.5 TRILLION dollars in debt – so yes, it is grossly extravagant and a total waste.

    But to socialists, nothing to see there – we’ve run out of other peoples’ money, so we’ll just print more.

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  13. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    Mikemikemikemike there is a joke in that somewhere.

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  14. J Bloggs (100 comments) says:

    mikemikemikemike (217 comments) says:
    January 6th, 2014 at 10:46 am

    @Ed – Congress supported it because they get lobbied to do so. The US had no place going to Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. It was and still is an epic fuck up.

    Other than wanting some revenge for 9/11, they achieved nothing. Both countries are worse now than when they went in.

    I’d suggest that all three countries are worse now for that little adventure….

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  15. cha (3,539 comments) says:

    You want waste, here’s waste.

    In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.

    http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part2

    More money for the Pentagon, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.

    “According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” Rumsfeld admitted.

    $2.3 trillion — that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.

    “We know it’s gone. But we don’t know what they spent it on,” said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-war-on-waste/

    Two years later, with more monitoring and evidence of the true scale of the spill, NMED revised the estimate dramatically to 24 million gallons, an amount 240 times larger than the 2000 estimate.

    http://alibi.com/feature/45896/The-Environmental-Disaster-Youve-Never-Heard-Of.html

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  16. NK (918 comments) says:

    Except that the USA is 17.5 TRILLION dollars in debt – so yes, it is grossly extravagant and a total waste.

    But if the 300,000 was applied toward debt reduction it would have zero impact. My point is there are bigger fish to fry. Focusing on 0.0000000001% of the total US spending budget is a distraction.

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  17. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    The golf course John Key played with Obama on wa a military one amongst hundreds set aside for generals.

    A case for cutting military spending on such wastage.

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  18. Fletch (5,726 comments) says:

    But if the 300,000 was applied toward debt reduction it would have zero impact. My point is there are bigger fish to fry. Focusing on 0.0000000001% of the total US spending budget is a distraction.

    As a wise person once said, ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’

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  19. rouppe (852 comments) says:

    How about seismic upgrade to the Wellington Town Hall costing $30,000,000 when the Huddart Parker building can be strengthened for $8,000,000.

    Why is that?

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  20. J Bloggs (100 comments) says:

    Our local primary school is having another classroom built, and I watched the firm doing the work show up with a truckload of scaffolding and planks that were so new they were still gleaming from the factory. I wonder if it is common practice for construction companies of long standing to buy brand new scaffolding on every job? or is just the jobs being paid for by the taxpayer?

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  21. Lance (2,311 comments) says:

    I worked with someone that was a research contractor to the US Navy.
    The waste he told me about was enough to bring tears to your eyes.

    High performance RIB and outboard motors destroyed after 6 months because the research project using them came to an end…it’s the friggin Navy.. one would of though they could use boats.
    Same with $20,000 hydrophones etc etc etc.

    The reason given was only approved items could be allocated through certain channels.

    Bureaucrats with vested interests everywhere.

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  22. Matthew Hooton (114 comments) says:

    Fletch – another phrase is “penny wise and pound foolish”.

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  23. Johnboy (13,424 comments) says:

    We have a $4 billion and plus complex about trying to civilise some cannibals.

    That to me is a major waste to a small economy like ours! :)

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  24. Yogibear (227 comments) says:

    My all time favourite example of US defence over speccing (not necessarily waste) is the original coffee machine on the Starlifter cargo plane. It would religiously brew pots of bland American filter coffee even when the plane was pulling G forces beyond human endurance.

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  25. Johnboy (13,424 comments) says:

    In our own small way we over hype Murri values at great expense to all of the rest of the populace even though they are the greatest drain on our economy in contributing to our lowest situation in the civilised world! :)

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  26. Johnboy (13,424 comments) says:

    “$1 million for a granite sculpture at an embassy”

    Pales into insignificance with the money we waste retrieving shrunken heads that the Murri flogged off themselves to make a bob or two. But don’t hold back folk. Tell me how much you all support our indigenous culture? :)

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  27. Steve (North Shore) (4,327 comments) says:

    “Murri flogged off themselves”
    They were stolen by their own and sold – yeah – stolen and sold for some guns, blankets, and alcohol.
    The stone age race had no idea about guns or alcohol. Blankets made from grass and feathers – not animal skins.
    The indigenous culture have become welfare dependant, a bit like feeding birds and they come back demanding more

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  28. Johnboy (13,424 comments) says:

    Funny you should say that Steve(NS). I’m up to four loaves a day and the little bastards are tapping at my windows as we speak! :)

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  29. LabourDoesntWork (278 comments) says:

    Gee, the US government is hardly short of cash, right?

    Meanwhile, the political gamesmanship by the Democrats is astounding. Rather than address government waste and debt by tightening spending and saving money, they succeed in fear-mongering over the sequestration and – horror! – government shutdown. Not to mention, scaring people on the debt ceiling about a mathematically impossible imminent debt default. All so government business can continue as usual, with the Democrats claiming victory over non-existent crises, that the GOP threatens should they get their evil way. For example: There’s no crisis threatened by the GOP plan to *not increase spending at as high a rate as the Democrats want*, but with the media they can create fear and alarm over high profile stunts such as shutting national parks and monuments.

    Being seen to be defeating the Republican party is all these clowns care about. It’s pure political gamesmanship. Meanwhile, nothing politically tough – i.e. responsible – is actually done, and the country goes further in the tank. Instead, Obama prefers to squander his (formerly) substantial political capital on stuff hardly anyone wants, i.e. Obamacare. As popular as it used to be was based on lies about it, with politically motivated exemptions lapsing after the jerk is out of office. It’s all just a big game that the pathetic Republicans don’t even have the wherewithall to join, and the American people are getting the shaft.

    They probably deserve it.

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  30. Sadu (123 comments) says:

    I’m not sure what they class as an outhouse, but my understanding is that public toilets in NZ regularly cost more than 100k, even small ones.

    The problem is that people are fuckwits, and if the toilet isn’t made out of military grade hardened titanium alloy then it gets smashed the first friday night it’s in operation. Same deal with all the door fittings, tapware etc.

    If people could be trusted with a porcelain bowl then I’m sure the councils could save some money here.

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  31. xy (130 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, useless religious sex education that doesn’t work is eating 100 million a year. The heritage institute is a firm supporter of that!

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