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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Government waste must be uncovered

Sunday, January 16, 2005

In the world of politics, it's foolish to generalize. So, of course, that's exactly what I'm going to do. In very general terms, Republicans favor a smaller government with greater emphasis on personal responsibility and initiative. Democrats, always mindful of those less fortunate, favor a larger government with the ability to care for the needs of those unable to provide for themselves.

Republicans often bolster their argument by pointing out that government can cut inefficiency and waste and save millions if not billions of dollars. Democrats counter that it takes more tax revenue to generate the income to provide for the peoples' needs.

Well fancy this. State Auditor Claire McCaskill this week uncovered $1 million in brand new, unused computers sitting in a Jefferson City warehouse. The computers were ordered over a year ago by the Department of Revenue as part of a statewide effort to streamline vehicle licensing. Trouble is, that project has been in the works since 1995 and has yet to be implemented.

McCaskill was livid with the find. Newly-inaugurated Gov. Matt Blunt was "shocked." And the Department of Revenue was referring questions to those higher up on the ladder.

If those who made the decision to waste taxpayer money on unused equipment remain in state government, they should be fired. If they have already left state government, they should be identified and embarrassed.

For those who argue there is ample waste in state government to avoid many tax increases, this case is a poster child for government inefficiency. While taxpayers and parents worry about funding for education, we have $1 million in computers sitting in a warehouse. I'm no expert on computers, but I would assume a year in a warehouse doesn't improve the life of these costly computers.

Here's the bottom line. Don't every think that a bureaucracy as large as state government cannot tighten its belt. To assume so is foolish at best. Through time, tiny territories in state government are created then protected. These little turf wars are waged to carve as much of the budget as possible. That justifies their existence. Over time, the territories need more funds because their appetite for power and control is never-ending. And then one day, you lift up the skirts and find excesses that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

I'm proud of Claire McCaskill for her watchdog approach. Now the real story will be to find the culprit who took your money and mine and spent it foolishly.

The next time a politician tells you state government has been cut to the bone, tell him to look in a warehouse in Jefferson City. You never know what you might find.

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