Congressional Conceit Is Flying High

If you currently sat on the board of directors for a Fortune 1000 company and the CEO asked for approval to buy a new corporate jet -- not any old jet mind you but a new Gulfstream G550 -- how might you vote? Probably no, but maybe yes based upon compelling arguments such as stellar recent corporate performance, replacement for an outdated and fully depreciated model and solid numbers showing useful life savings. Now imagine coming back to the board room after lunch and approving not one, but three new Gulfstream G550s. Welcome to lala land, a.k.a. the United States Congress.

According to Roll Call, "The Air Force had asked for one Gulfstream 550 jet (price tag: about $65 million) as part of an ongoing upgrade of its passenger air service. But the House Appropriations Committee, at its own initiative, added to the 2010 Defense appropriations bill another $132 million for two more airplanes and specified that they be assigned to the D.C.-area units that carry Members of Congress, military brass and top government officials." What little justification was given for this decision included "the security and efficiency they provide to high-ranking public officials". This act of hubris on the part of the House Appropriations Committee "is also part of a larger trend for the Appropriations Committee to simply decide that big-ticket items are program increases, not earmarks, so they require less public disclosure [according to] Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense".

Perhaps Another upstart said it best in a comment to Jason's Rant last Friday morning: "The problem with government and procurement is that politicians are not rewarded for saving money. Politicians are rewarded for spending money, or for directly or indirectly steering commerce to large companies or individuals who in turn provide re-election funding. There is no pot of gold for a politician who balances the budget ..." Further proof that unless we figure out how to incent our "representatives" to act responsibly for the public good and outside of their own blind self-interest, a sustained solution to our current economic malaise -- to say nothing of solving our longer term challenges as a world leader -- is still a long ways off.

William Busch

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