Thursday, April 19, 2012

April Has Not Been Kind to the Federal Government

Last week I started developing a slight cough and respiratory infection. Like the good patient I am (wink), I ignored it and figured it would clear up. Several days later I was coughing enough to get pulled muscles in my stomach so, OK, time to call a doctor. Well, that lead to the obligatory appointment -and that, of course, involved dozens of questions about my medical history (back 2 generations), about how I feel and what medicines I have taken since my mother changed my last diaper. There was also the blood pressure test, taking of my temperature, looking in my eyes and ears, and listening to my heart and lungs. All of which finally lead to the conclusion that - I "have a bad cough". -Yeah, kinda makes you want to scream sometimes, doesn't it? 

Well, I managed to suggest some antibiotics which the doctor felt may be a good idea, but only if I agreed to go have a chest x-ray. I have no idea when my health care became a negotiation, but, well, it is what it is and I need to play the game to stay healthy. All this really got on my nerves and I began feeling that April was just not my month. Then I sat down to catch up on the news. -Wow. I thought I was having a bad month -but I am really having a very good month compared to the US Federal Government.

April may be the cruelest month on record for the federal workforce’s reputation. Two scandals involving waste and misbehavior within (what were) favorable agencies erupted: The GSA’s extravagant Western States conference is the subject of an Inspector General investigation and multiple congressional hearings, and now the Defense Department is investigating allegations that members of the Secret Service and military entertained prostitutes in Colombia (by the way, what started the trouble was not that they had prostitutes come to the hotel -it's that they had the bad taste to not pay for the service).

To make matters worse for the poor Fed's, Tuesday was tax day — meaning many Americans are acutely aware of how much of their money is going to fund the government’s work (and all that partying).

In the case of GSA, well that is so outrageous it is hard to know where to start. GSA is, after all, the agency that is supposed to audit Federal spending and protect us taxpayers from wasteful spending.... I don't know who started hiring the foxes and trusting them with the keys to the hen house but from what little that we have heard so far (you can bet the investigations will go on for a long time) -the misbehavior of the employees was inspired by the misbehavior of the managers.... a perfect storm of lack of responsibility or leadership.In fact, I can't remember this caliber of leadership since FEMA went to help Katrina victims (remember President Bush saying "Brownie, you're doing a hell of a job"?).

There has already been a lot of talk about criminal investigations and of long jail sentences. That, of course, goes over very well with the public. But, I wouldn't call the Federal Penitentiary and tell them to get some bunks ready. Not just yet, anyway. When was the last time you heard of a Federal Employee getting charged with a real crime, let alone getting convicted or actually doing hard time? For that matter, when was the last time you heard of a Federal Employee getting fired? I am not saying it won't happen -but I have a feeling that by the time it gets around to handing out pink slips and jail time, there will be very few people charged and they will be more likely to get a slap on the wrist (and naturally they will be able keep their pensions and retirement benefits).

In the meantime, President Obama did the right thing and said he will wait to get mad about all this until the investigation is completed and we know exactly what happened. Good for him!  --Besides, his staff needs time to figure out just who in the Bush Administration was responsible for all this misbehavior in the Federal Government.....

Live Long and Prosper....

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