“Emergency Spending”: How Government Spends On Itself

Every once in awhile, you see news features about how charities or companies contracted by charities asking for your donations in the name of starving children or some other good cause are actually taking a great deal of your donation for themselves. The media and the public get extremely outraged by this seeming “bait and switch.” I’m not certain how to feel about some of this, especially when a company has been contracted to put out appeals and donation mechanisms. Someone has to do all that work and they expect to be paid. Also, I notice these news features never condemn the TV station itself for making money off these charities when they have to buy air time from them. I’m not saying the situation is good; I’m just saying I don’t feel confident in passing a verdict.

But what about the disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy? Congress voted to give the people and communities hurt by the hurricane billions of dollars in “relief.” At least, that is how it is reported. When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when nuclear on Republicans over not giving more, faster, he sounded like he was defending the poor and hurting. He claimed Republicans were “to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims.” He said such sins are “why the American people hate Congress.”

I can think of another reason: When Congress passes multi-billion dollar “disaster relief” bills it uses the hysteria and the sentiment to cover for the fact that they are dipping their hands into some of that money to spend on their own special projects. Does the Drug Enforcement Administration want some new vehicles? Does the BATFE feel they need some new furniture to rest their buttocks after a hard day’s work shipping weapons to Mexico gangsters to use for murder and mayhem? Maybe the Smithsonian wants some roof repairs? Let’s not use the normal budget processes within those agencies. No, lets take that money away from Sandy victims. What could be wrong with that?

All this and more is being perpetrated by Congress. As a McClatchy blog recently reported:

“Not everything in the disaster relief bill, aimed at helping victims of this fall’s Superstorm Sandy, relates to the storm. ‘The upshot is that there are billions of dollars in spending that is not Sandy related,’ according to a report released Thursday by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group.”

Other things that will be supplied by loot from the Sandy victims:

  • “$10 million for FBI salaries and expenses (this is more than double the $4 million requested by the President and in the previous Senate bill)”
  • “$118 million for AMTRAK – $86 million more than the President requested and will be used on non-Sandy related Northeast Corridor upgrades”
  • “$2 billion for Federal Highway Administration to spend on roads across the country (obviously not Sandy related).”

And the list goes on.

I’ve heard of people who try to bring aid to disaster victims in a third world country, who have to make sure they bring bribe money with themso that they can pay off police to get the aid to the victims. I was pretty enraged by the idea of people in government holding their own people hostage so that they could profit from their suffering and other people’s desire to help.

That’s what our government is, ethically: a third world banana republic where politicians posture about other people so they can get more loot for themselves.

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