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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Eliminating fraud is not an easy task

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

If there's one issue on which all politicians can agree - and that's a big "if" - then surely it's the topic of waste, fraud and abuse in federal spending. A desire to eliminate or address fraud, etc., is about as bipartisan as you can get.

We're told that every problem has a solution but I am skeptical. Some problems actually defy a solution because the cure may be worse than the disease.

Politicians of all stripes preach constantly on the urgent need for reform in our federal programs to end fraud and abuse.

But to honestly and effectively address the issue, you would have to examine every social program and government contract individually. To do so would take an army of investigators far in excess of anything remotely possible.

So we tolerate some level of abuse and fraud. We look the other way on questionable disability claims. We accept cost overruns as normal business practice.

The prevailing attitude is this - everybody else does it, so why can't I? And this applies equally to individuals and those businesses which work with taxpayer money.

The right side of the political spectrum sees abuse in the welfare delivery system while the left sees abuse in corporate tax loopholes.

And both sides are right.

And while we're talking of waste, fraud and abuse, how can a community­ - especially a conservative-leaning community - reject federal dollars for questionable projects knowing that a rejection on principle will only shift those dollars elsewhere? One way or another, those dollars will be spent.

And the cycle continues.

As more people depend on taxpayers' dollars to provide for their needs, fraud and abuse will continue to grow. And as it grows, more dollars will be required to feed the insatiable monster.

I doubt if our economic woes would disappear if all fraud was eliminated. And it is truly a moot point since the utopian hope of a fraud-free federal government is a pipe dream at best.

We should elect those politicians who have a workable solution to eliminate just a part of that abuse. We should pick those politicians who can detail specific plans to reduce the numbers of those who game the system to their benefit at our expense.

Our society is often guilty of addressing the big issues when the real solution is in the details.

The downfall of a society sometimes lies in the smaller abuses that combine to create a larger problem. But increasingly, we have come to accept those small abuses as business as usual.

To accept that which is wrong is the first step on a scary journey. But look around - we're already there.

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen