September 29, 2009

How the U.S. government spends your money

Posted in government pork spending, Obama administration, taxes tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:21 pm by realitytax

Billions of tax dollars are going for a US-Mexico border fence, but is it doing any good?  Well, if you read the Christian Science Monitor article by Daniel Wood you’ll have more questions than answers.

In 2006 DHS awarded a “virtual fence” contract to Boeing for a stretch of the border in Arizona as part of President Bush’s “Secure Border Initiative.” The budget grew to nearly $1 billion just two years later. So far, no virtual fence; just a very real budget. DHS recently decided to extend its contract with Boeing for another year.

Several sites now report that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently predicted that $6.5 billion will be needed to maintain the rest of the actual, though still incomplete, multi-billion dollar non-virtual fence over the next 20 years, addding:

“So far, it has been breached 3,363 times, requiring $1,300 for the average repair.”

Just so you don’t have to reach for your calculator, the math works out like this:

3,363 breaches x $1300 = $ 4,371,9000

But the kicker is there’s no way to prove if it’s actually making any real difference – well, beyond fattening the wallets of the folks awarded the contracts and costing tax-payers money, of course. So, we’ve spent about $2.5 billion so far on construction, we’re seeing several new breaches each day (on average), and CSM interviewed one woman, Dawn Garner, who says that 40 illegal immigrants a day cross her small ranch.

Sound bad? Don’t answer yet.

Ronald Reagan famously urged Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. There was a lesson there we’ve somehow forgotten about what the effects and effectiveness of walls really are.

Yasha Levine, writing at The Exiled, reports he’s interviewed a Border Patrol agent who asserts that it’s not just breaches – in some cases ramps are deployed on both sides and smuggler’s caravans drive right over!  Levine has more bad news:

There is one thing we can be sure of:

the massive steel pylons have been a boon for Mexican scrap metal entrepreneurs, who are able to supplement their incomes by dragging off whole sections of the fence right under the nose of our beefed up Border Patrol.

And those we capture trying to make the crossing? We spend a bit of money to detain them, a bit to process them, a bit to send them back home again, and – you guessed it – start the cycle over. Because if there’s one other thing we can be sure of:

No matter which country they’re a citizen of, the folks who prefer the USA to Mexico aren’t likely to change their minds.

But DHS, born under former GOP President George Bush, sees no reason to change course, or deny money to Boeing or the other contractors.  They’ve got a mandate for, “more effective use of personnel and technology” and “physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry,” and so spend they will. But are we stopping the drugs and other smuggling? Honestly, nobody knows.

It’s past time to think about our priorities, particularly our spending/funding priorities and the role of the federal government.  It grew larger than ever over the early part of the 21st Century, but failed to address the needs of our nation.

Instead politicians awarded lucrative contracts as political favors. It’s no wonder the trust for Congress has plummeted – the scrutiny has them scurrying for cover, and some of them are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

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