Today is Tax Day, and all across America, people are taking a deep breath and signing over hundreds or even thousands of their hard-earned dollars to the U.S. government. It would be difficult enough if the entity we were all donating to were known for its wise spending practices.
We know, though, that this is hardly the case. So on this Tax Day, I thought it would be helpful to review some instances of just how broken government spending truly is. Some have been going on since the beginning of this tax year – or longer – while others, we’re just finding out about. The government, it seems, never runs out of ways to waste your money. Here are just five of the most egregious examples.
1. Nearly $1 Trillion on Broken Planes
It’s hard to make a list of wasteful spending without mentioning the disastrous F-35, which has been called “exceptionally dumb.” At times almost resembling satire from The Onion, these planes are so bad they sometimes catch fire when trying to take off and can’t even maneuver in combat because of major design flaws. It’s no surprise that other aircraft are being used in current military missions against ISIS. The F-35 system is simultaneously way behind schedule and already outdated.
What should surprise fiscal conservatives, though, is how much it’s costing us. This system is the most expensive in history, racking up at least twice as much as it did to put a man on the moon. It counts for an eye-popping 38 percent of Pentagon procurement spending and is expected to cost one-and-a-half trillion dollars over its lifetime. But, helped along by hefty campaign donations, Congress just keeps buying broken planes.
If you’re asking how it’s possible for such a culture of waste to exist, look no further than…
2. The $20,000 Lawnmowers
You read that right.
This isn’t the first time the Pentagon has paid questionable prices for everyday items. For example, the Department of Defense famously paid $8,000 per piece on helicopter parts that were worth only about $500. And let’s not forget the time U.S. taxpayers paid contractors $1,000 each – for $7 control switches used on buildings in Iraq.
The overspending at the Pentagon is so problematic that it has begun to cause other issues, such as the well-documented civil rights controversy after small local police departments were gifted leftover high-grade military equipment.
These instances – and many more – should give fiscal conservatives ample reason to raise an eyebrow next time someone claims that keeping us safe means we just have to hike spending.
But I should be clear: the Pentagon is hardly an anomaly when it comes to wasteful spending.
Consider for example…
3. $17 Million on Overpriced Homes for Border Agents
Last September, news broke that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had been paying, well, luxuriously on homes for agents.
An Inspector General report found that officials wasted around $680,000 each on homes that had sold for less than $100,000 the previous year. Meanwhile, around $2.4 million more in taxpayer money went to buy 20 mobile homes –18 of which sat empty.
Speaking of homes, we shouldn’t forget…
4. Farm Subsidies to Wealthy Penthouse-Owning Manhattanites
Problems with the Farm Bill are well-documented, but last year, the system hit perhaps a new low when it was revealed that wealthy New Yorker – and Bachelor star – Chris Soules had raked in nearly $400,000 in farm subsidies.
Although the USDA set out to fix this issue of city slicker farm welfare, the problems are hardly over. Rich corporate farmers continue to rake in the vast majority of subsidies originally intended to help struggling family farms. Meanwhile, you and I pay for it.
If the government were a business, it would be a bankrupt one. But unlike businesses, government agencies don’t operate with regular standards of accountability. We found out yesterday that…
5. Federal Employees Can’t Really Be Fired After Sex Parties
Yesterday, Representative Mick Mulvaney questioned Drug Enforcement Agency Commissioner Michele Leonhart about why she was unable to fire employees caught up in prostitution scandals. As the uncomfortable exchange revealed, Commissioner Leonhart does not appear confident which “deciding agents” could fire employees and how the complicated process would be carried out.
In fact, as reports show, it is nearly impossible to fire bad federal workers.
The problems with government spending are complicated and diverse. This list is just a small snapshot of the true scope of the problem. Watchdogs and activists on both sides of the political aisle point out that government money is too often spent very poorly.
The kicker, though, as we’re reminded every April 15, is that it’s not “government money” in the first place. It’s our money.
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Disclosure: This article was not written by Lorra B.