Tuesday, May 1, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Government Wastes Stuff

Angry Bear ("Slightly left of center economic commentary") has a post up where in they express shock and amazement that the federal government wasted untold millions of dollars in aid after Katrina. It consists mostly of quotes from this Washington Post article by John Solomon and Spencer S. Hsu.

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.
In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina's landfall
Overall, the United States declined 54 of 77 recorded aid offers from three of its staunchest allies: Canada, Britain and Israel, according to a 40-page State Department table of the offers that had been received as of January 2006.

It continues to amaze me when people continue to be amazed by the incompetence of government. Of course this is blamed squarely on Bush and his administration, and perhaps his officials are more incompetent than the average bureaucrat, but the failure of massive government projects is nothing new, and will continue no matter how much we will them to work, or how many good intentions we have.

The same people (although perhaps not Angry Bear, they seem to be sort of free market) who now bemoan this latest tale of waste and tragedy will soon begin calling for a new program to prevent school shootings, drug use, poverty, splinters in school children, giving offense to the cross-eyed, and reality television. When these programs fail, they will respond that, with just a few billion more dollars, it would have worked.


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