August 26, 2003

Where Is The Money? Who Cares? Fix The Problem.

Reader Joey B asked me to look into the fascinating world of a missing $1.1 trillion bit of government mis-dollaring, or whatever made up word you want to attribute to it. Being the curious fool I am, I looked into it as asked.

First and foremost, it should be noted that this isn't an actual news story. Rather, it's an item from, which also features such noble petition campaigns as "Remove The Republican Burka," and "Petition in favor of a dog park in Vallejo." In other words, this is a forum for moonbat ultra left AND right wingers, and people with way too much time on their hands.

But, getting back to the supposed missing $1.1 trillion dollar thing. About the only useful link on the page, led me here, a housing and urban development (HUD) report that outlined the why's and wherefore's for accounting adjustments totalling $59.6 billion, a substantial amount, to be sure, but nowhere NEAR $1.1 trillion. Then, if you look closer, you realize that the page provided stops at page four of the HUD report. In order to see the actual reasons for the deficiencies, you have to go here. For the person, or persons, who authored the petition, this is referred to as "selective listening," paying attention only to the facts that most support their cause.

Although the HUD report doesn't, and can't, go into a detailed item-by-item listing of where $59.6 billion in 1999 actually went to, it does do a fair job of explaining WHY they had difficulty tracking the dollars. Here's the deal, brought to you courtesy of the raking rectal rod of reality: HUD is a huge government department, responsible for a massive amount of building and construction. Given the auditing problems outlined in the report, and the un-godly amount of money the department processes each year, you can kind of see how the dollars slipped through the cracks. Granted, some of the cash may have been pilfered, but the petition makes it seem as if a single fat cat Congressman sucking on a big cigar loaded up the billions in his gilded briefcase and slipped away into the night. Give me a break.

Besides, that only accounts for a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the supposedly missing $1.1 trillion.

Keep in mind, I do not discount for a second that the U.S. government is a wasteful entity that throws money down the toilet with a flippant attitude that makes Mike Tyson look frugal, and I'm not condoning budgetary malfeasance. However, I do know how difficult it is for me, Ryan Rhodes, to keep track of my own budget, which doesn't exceed $50,000 a year (though I wish it would, 20 times over). Given that, I can understand how the U.S. government loses track of the occasional buck or two, or $1.1 trillion. Okay, that's excessive, I know.

In a report issued by Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), who was ranking minority member on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in 2002, he said "Because of its size and scope, and the terrible way it is managed, the federal government wastes billions and billions of your tax dollars every year. The waste, fraud and abuse reported to the Governmental Affairs Committee each year is staggering. Of course, no one knows exactly how much fraud, waste and mismanagement cost the taxpayers because the federal government makes no effort to keep track of it."

A damning assessment, to be sure, and I don't doubt it. But, here's the deal: how much money do you think would be wasted trying to track down $1.1 trillion? I mean, think about it. Again, you have to remember that the money isn't sitting under couch cushions somewhere. That's an incredible amount of money to track down, and quite possibly most of it found its way legitimately to the hands of companies and individuals who earned it by providing goods or services, but their involvement simply didn't make its way onto the books, because government financial mismanagement is atrocious.

My point is, do you really think it's justified to try accounting for $1.1 trillion in a fruitless endeavor that will probably cost the government half that? All to find money that has already been spent and in all liklihood can't be retrieved. Or, is it wiser to get a petition, or better yet a lobby, organized that will try to address the spending mess in the future?

You decide. I have work to do, because I don't have $1.1 trillion to fritter away. But, you know, if I did, this blog would be WAY cooler.

Posted by Ryan at August 26, 2003 10:48 AM
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