Defining deviancy down” was how the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan described society’s quiet acceptance of decline. His specific point was that New Yorkers had become docile about stratospheric levels of crime, but he could have said the same thing about Americans’ tolerance for government waste.
On that point, I humbly offer a wake-up call. If you’re still numb about bureaucrats wasting your tax dollars, read the inspector general’s report on the Las Vegas splurge by federal workers. If you don’t get steamed, you’re either dead or brain dead.
You probably heard about the report because the head of the agency involved, the General Services Administration, fired her top deputies, then quit Monday just before it became public. Case closed? Perhaps, but a scandal is a terrible thing to waste. This one is a mini-case study in the argument for shrinking government.
The hot button isn’t so much the total tab — $823,000, which is a pittance in an era of trillion-dollar deficits and $500 million grants to politically connected solar companies.
The outrage lies in the casualness with which 300 employees took their fellow citizens to the cleaners. Bosses knew and approved, with one saying the conference should be “over the top.” It certainly was. They spent months planning, with hardly a peep of dissent. If nothing else, the incident reveals the banality of chiseling.
The workers traveled, ate, slept and had cocktail receptions where they paid $4 for each shrimp. They tipped 22 percent and gave themselves awards and mementos. Some took family members. It was essentially a week’s vacation that they called work at a Las Vegas resort.
They cut corners on purchasing rules they demand of other federal agencies. They hid costs and made secret deals with the hotel. They used stimulus money to celebrate their use of stimulus money. They were entertained by clowns — and behaved like clowns. They hired a mind reader, yet nobody saw the fallout coming.
They were entitled to splurge because, well, they were entitled. They are our masters. We work for them.
$823,000 General Services Administration Las Vegas “conference” on taxpayers’ dime is a wake-up call on government waste - NYPOST.com