April 11 2012

Party In Vegas: Don't Let This Scandal Go To Waste!

Charlotte Hays

We envious taxpayers are still reeling from the stunning news that fun-loving GSA employees socked it to us with an $823,000 bill for their destination office party in Vegas.

And now Phil Kerpen gives us more bad news on the Daily Caller: We don’t really need the GSA. So maybe we should have given them affordable golden watches instead of spending nearly a million dollars on clowns (I refer to the entertainment) and other frills?

Kerpen writes:

Don’t feel bad if you had never heard of the General Services Administration (GSA) before the recent scandal over its lavish Las Vegas junket and other egregious misuses of taxpayer funds. This obscure, ridiculously out-of-date federal bureaucracy exists only to do a bunch of things that the government has no business doing.

Indeed there may be a silver lining to this egregious example of waste:

According to Martha Johnson, the now-former GSA administrator who resigned in disgrace, the GSA is a combination of Office Depot, Home Depot, an airline and a real estate agency. Considering that office supplies, building supplies, airlines and real estate agencies exist in abundance in the private sector, why not seize on this scandal as an opportunity to shut down this ridiculous agency? …

A few of the head GSA bureaucrats have lost their jobs over the scandal, but why are taxpayers picking up the tab for the other 12,729 employees of this unnecessary federal agency, with its F Street monument-to-bureaucracy in the midst of a planned $250 million renovation?

The GSA party represented a kind of utter contempt for the taxpayer. But that's nothing new for government many government workers. Evidence is mounting that many are paid for above what they could make in the private sector. As Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine point out, there is a moral dimension to this:

Basic fairness requires that public employees be paid for their skills at the same market rates as the taxpayers who fund their salaries and benefits. In some states accommodations have been struck, but in others further confrontation remains likely.  

The piece shows that the way pensions are calculated for public employees means that they are cushioned from economic realities in a way that those who send money to the IRS to pay their salaries aren’t.

 

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