September 24 2009|01.03 PM UTC

Stan Reybern

12 Outrageous Wastes of Taxpayers’ Money

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Most have heard the saying that no one takes care of a rental car like they take care of their own. Why not floor the gas pedal or track sand into the car – the reasoning goes – if you’ll never see it again after this week? In many ways, this is a perfect analogy to government waste. No matter which party is in power, spending other people’s money rarely compels one to be as prudent as if they were spending their own. Combine this with the typical politician’s time horizon (the next election) and it’s easy to see why so many government projects and initiatives have been swallowed by waste over the years. Here are 12 of the most outrageous examples.

The “Big Dig”


No project is more synonymous with waste and fraud than the “Big Dig”, the not-so-affectionate nickname given to the rerouting of Boston’s chief highway (Interstate 93) into a 3.5 mile tunnel beneath the city. Originally estimated to cost $2.5 billion in 1985, the project devolved into the most expensive highway project in U.S. history, costing some $14.6 billion in state and federal tax dollars by 2006. Countless contractor changes and environmental obstacles later, lamented in 2008 that the Big Dig’s crushing debt had “engulfed the state”, ballooning to $22 billion that will not be paid off in full until 2038 – at the earliest. This assumes no more hurdles for a project whose oversights have already killed a motorist and led a Massachusetts attorney general to demand $100 million in refunds to taxpayers as a result of “shoddy work.” (This last comment might qualify as the understatement of the century.)

The Superconducting Super Collider


In terms of sheer excitement and anticipation, the superconducting super collider beats out everything on this list. In essence, the project was a tunnel inside which scientists would rev up beams of subatomic particles to breakneck speed and crash them into each other. Foreseen as a way to simulate the conditions of the Big Bang and thereby “allow scientists to gain new insights into the very nature of matter”, the ambitious project was unable to get out of its own way, skyrocketing in allotted budget from $5 billion to over $12 billion on the basis of little more than speculation on what other uses (cancer and HIV cures among them) it might serve once it was actually built. After stalled progress, however, 1993′s blitz of budget cuts pulled the plug on the tunnel before it was even one third of the way built. After that, Neatorama reports that it was “used to store Styrofoam cups” before being sold to a private concern for “pennies on the dollar.”

The Vanishing $25 Billion


Many assume the government has extremely strict procedures for tracking the money entrusted to it by taxpayers. Believers in this view received a rude awakening in 2003, however, when it was reported that nearly $25 billion in government spending was totally unaccounted for. In typical fashion the mysterious disappearance of this mind-blowing sum was not publicly addressed. Rather,the only apparent record of the incident appears to be buried deep within the Treasury Department’s Financial Report of the United States Government of 2003, in a tiny section innocently entitled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position.” (Perhaps more outrage would have ensued if the section were more bluntly titled “Spending Unaccounted For.”) Put in perspective, $25 billion is enough to fund the Department of Justice for a full calendar year.



Like so many grand and visionary government projects, “Railhead” – an online terrorist database meant to disseminate information to counter terrorism analysts – was done in by cost overruns and mismanagement. Recalling comments from Representative Brad Miller, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, notes “”Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted, delivery schedules have slipped, contractor employees have been laid off.” Miller further stated that the net result was a database that “had been crippled by technical flaws”, replaced by “a new system that if actually deployed will leave our country more vulnerable than the existing yet flawed system in operation today.” While technical flaws have recieved the brunt of the blame for Railhead’s demise, contractor fraud played no small part. ZD Net, for example, reports that $500 million originally earmarked for Railhead actually went toward rennovating one of Boeing’s own buildings!

The $725,000 Pizza Machine


One all too common consequence of spending other people’s money is failure to think ahead. A telling example can be found in San Jose, whose unified school district approved the purchase of a $725,000 pizza machine it claimed would “churn out 800 pizzas a day to sell on various campuses in the district.” In reality, the machine reportedly produced only 2,000 pizzas in two years due to frequent breakdowns, which works out to roughly $360 per pizza. (Caltax jokes that they hope the kids “got extra cheese and generous toppings.) What’s worse, the San Jose school district eventually took pizza off its menus completely when it realized there weren’t enough trucks to deliver pizza to different campuses, all of which had the same rigidly enforced lunch time. The machine is mostly retired at present, trotted out only on Fridays at various elementary schools for “pizza day.”

$90 Billion Spent on Flawed Programs


Much government waste comes not from specific failed projects, but the very way in which programs are designed. In reviewing “just a sample” of the federal budget during one year, the White House concluded that at least $90 billion was being burned on the altar of “programs that were deemed either ineffective, marginally adequate, or operating under a flawed purpose or design.” Unfortunately, just as few of us clean the rental car, it looks as though the opportunity to recover enough wasted money to fund three Justice Departments was largely ignored except for being mentioned in a few abstruse memos that the general public did not read.

Limestone Tourist Park


In their article “Governments Fund The Darndest Things”, Neatorama remembers Bedford, Indiana’s ill-fated attempt to capitalize on its long-standing status as Limestone capital of the world. Undeterred by the fact that few outside of geology really care about limestone, Bedford Chamber of Commerce member Merle Edington concocted the idea of building a Disney World-esque “theme park” around the city’s proud limestone heritage. The main attraction? A 95-foot-high replica of the Greek Pyramid of Cheops built 100% from local limestone. Perhaps fearing that this alone wouldn’t spur an exodus of vacationers to Bedford, Edington took out all the stops in planning a 800-foot-long replica of the Great Wall of China. About $700,000 was committed to this disaster of a project, which luckily never got as far as Edington wished when local politicians came to their senses. Today, Neatorama says, the abandoned site is “little more than a giant rock pile.”

$100 Million in Unused Flight Tickets


Some government waste stories are more excusable than others, but this one is tough to make many excuses for. In 2004, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the U.S. Department of Defense “spent an estimated $100-million in six years for airline tickets that were not used and failed to seek refunds” – even though the tickets they had purchased were completely refundable! Adding insult to injury the Pentagon then happily reimbursed at least $8 million employees who claimed to have purchased these unused tickets. Unsurprisingly, the reason that the unused ticket scandal (which spanned 1997-2003) took so long to be discovered is that the Defense Department relied on its employees to report unused tickets, which, of course, they did not.

Cross-Florida Barge Canal


Anointed the dubious honor of being one ofCNN’ s “largest, oddest, and most useless state projects”, the Cross-Florida Bridge Canal was a disappointment surpassed by few others. Originally envisioned as a way to connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico, the idea was picked up during the Great Depression, when politicians put unquestioning support behind anything that promised to “create jobs.” After being discussed and opposed by environmentalists from at least 1930-1965, the end result in 1991 was, as CNN calls it, “a $120 million partial scar across the middle of the state”, which was soon pronounced dead and converted into a greenway which, ironically, is now named after the very environmentalist who so adamantly opposed the Canal during the 1960′s.

Pentagon Credit Card Abuse


No recollection of outrageous government waste would be complete without mention of the U.S. Defense Department’s embarrassing credit card abuse. According to Fox News, some 36,000 DOD employees “had defaulted on $623 million in official travel expenses charged to the government cards” as of November 2001, and bad debts which had to be written off by banks were reported to have been “growing at the rate of $1 million per month.” Discovery of the eye-popping credit card abuse at the Defense Department triggered a flurry of Congressional hearings, especially amidst allegations that high-ranking officials were turning a blind eye to egrigious charges by personal associates and friends.

Medicare Buys Shoes For Amputees & Walkers For Paraplegics


Arguably the most inefficient and wasteful of all government initiatives is Medicare. Despite strong support from citizens across the spectrum of political opinion, the program has come under fire for several damning instances of waste and fraud. Perhaps the most outrageous surfaced in a 2008 MSNBC report, alleging “billions in questionable claims” including, amazingly, special diabetic shoes for amputees! Other claims included wheelchairs for sprained wrist victims and walkers for known paraplegics. Lest these be seen as merely anamolous incident, MSNBC goes on to explain that such waste (totalling over a billion dollars) was likely the result of Medicare paying out claims with “invalid diagnosis codes” such as “?”, “zzzzz.” One source was quoted as saying that “even smiley-face icons could have been accepted.”

The Teton Dam


It’s one thing when government waste simply involves money. When the cost extends to human lives, the matter takes on a much greater magnitude of seriousness. A case in point is the infamous Teton Dam debacle in Idaho. As CNN reports, the $100 million dam, built between 1972 and 1976, was intended to “provide irrigation, electricity, and (ironically) flood prevention for the thousands of people living in its 305-foot-tall shadow.” Small leaks began to appear in the dam following its completion, which were initially downplayed in the self-congratulatory glow typically accompanying completion of government projects. Before long though, the small cracks grew large enough to unleash 80 billion gallons of water that “eventually engulfed bulldozers and sent workmen fleeing in terror.” When all was said and done, 11 people had been killed, thousands of acres of land had been flooded and over $2 billion worth of damage had been caused by the epic dam failure.

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{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen September 24, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I don’t think it’s as simple as “the people in Washington don’t care”, it’s really our system in general. There is no long term thinking in Washington because if someone makes a stand for something like, say, cutting down emissions to prevent future global warming, the people will vote him or her out of office because it may mean a few lost jobs or a few extra tax dollars spent today, and honestly, most people don’t look at the future. It doesn’t pay for a politician to try to really do what’s right or better in the long term. I think a lot of them really do probably come in to office with good intentions but once they get there the reality of office and being re-elected and all that comes in to play.


don September 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Jen, , there is no global warming. You, like so many others have bought into ideas manufactured by liars. do you think that the ancient of days who lovingly made our world, did not have the insight to keep his creation from the ruin of man. this world will falter, but not by the hand of man, rather, in His just and rightious plan to see his kingdom come. Even secular science has proven over and over that the climate of this planet goes throuhg periodic changes. none of wich were created by man, nor shall any be. When God decides the fullness of time has arrived, then too shall we know. As far as government corruption, wake up girl. Its everywhere. I am more inclined to believe that career politicians begin playing in to the game early in thier careers in order to pad their own future coffers rather than to have concern for their fellow man. Perhaps I am a liitle too cynical in my thoughts concerning politicians, but they are none the less my thoughts. Jen, you say that most people dont look to the future, But let me assure you I very much look to the future. The difference is in how I look. I trust in the word of God. Not in a religious way, but rather in a way a son listens to his father. I have total faith that His word is true and can be counted on. I guesse it gives me an unfair advantage in the grander scheme of things, But I gladdly accept and use the comfort I am given in the truth to set my daily paths. I hope you too will find the truth soon……. With Love


Anonymous May 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

You’re so right, Don. Man’s pumping billions of tons of crap into the air has had no effect on the atmosphere…and if you ate nothing but fat and cholesterol and sugar, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, you’d be just fine. OF COURSE man has affected the environment. Shall we just sit around for another generation and wait until maybe it IS too late? Regardless of whether or not man is the main cause of global warming, doesn’t it still make sense to create energy that is healthier for ourselves as well as the earth? Whether or not we believe that we have a safe landing at the end of our lives in God’s care, that still doesn’t absolve us of trying to do the best we can for each other and our earth. As far as politicians go, they’re supposed to work for us, but we’ll never be organized enough to make sure they do. We’re too busy trying to eek out a living every day.


Lori June 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Yes, we should do our best to be responsible for the environment, but I agree, there is no global warming. At least not that we are causing. There many times in history where the earth has gone through heating and cooling. The current level of regulation based on this “science” is just yet another excuse for irresponsible government spending and control. It needs to stop and we need to restore common sense to both the government AND the people.


ken August 16, 2011 at 10:34 am

don dont the bible say in the last days you cant tell winter and summer only by the falling of the leaves sure the earth is warming but not by man

RAC August 16, 2011 at 8:07 am

Yes, human activity has and does “pump” a variety of gasses and particulates into the atmosphere. But natural activities “pump” considerably even more than humans. Fortunately (?) the earth’s atmosphere is both huge in volume, and very resiliant. For example, the alleged “villaneous” CO2 gas is a trace greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (water vapor is a significantly far greater greenhouse gas), and should human activities double the amount of CO2, it remains a trace gas; double its concentration agiain, and it is still a trace gas. What Don has written is scientifically correct about climate change. What he writes, though, is politically unacceptable because if politicians can raise enough alarm that humans cause global warming, then the government can invoke all sorts of controls and taxes over our lives–controls and taxes being the mainstay of liberal existence and governance.


Joe December 4, 2011 at 12:23 am

Very well put. Another point to add on to yours is that what kind of program is going to receive funding from the government? Would it be a lab that says humans are taking a toll on the environment and that greenhouse gasses are detrimental (and we need more funding)? Or would a lab that says no everything is fine and this is a normal fluctuation in the earths cycle end of story?

tracey July 27, 2011 at 9:28 am

Can there really be people so ignorant to think that they have NO RESPONSIBILITY to care for this earth or future generations? Believing that GOD has control over every aspect of your life and world events is simply an excuse to be LAZY and SELFISH! Your daily path should include a some respect and caring for the world around you. You, not GOD, are responsible for your actions.


Anonymous August 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm

very well said


inspcowboy August 16, 2011 at 9:07 am

Anonymous and Tracey,
There you go again! look nobody in there right mind is advocating outright pollution of the air and water! But to use Faulty science to further your own ambitions and wealth (AL Gore) is reprehensible. The truth is a stubborn thing. Facts are stubborn things. How can you believe somebody that tells you that anthropological global warming is destroying the planet when they cant even tell you reliably that its going to rain tomorrow? thirty years ago we were headed for an Ice age! its lies and propaganda to further the politicians careers and the bait and switch to keep gullible’s LIKE YOU busy while they have their hands in you pocket stealing you blind! Volcanoes spew billions of tons of Co2 into the air and the Oceans alone produce more Co2 than all the Co2 in one year than all the man made stuff ever produced. This fact alone should debunk you theory but hears another one. Carbon content in the atmosphere FOLLOWS temperature fluctuations. Temp goes up Co2 goes up, temp goes down Co2 goes down. If Co2 was causing Global warming (oops Sorry) Climate change then the Temperature would FOLLOW the Co2 Content. Stop believing the BS spewed by the politicians with an AGENDA and do some honest research.

Joshalen1 August 17, 2011 at 5:43 am

I don’t think that Tracey is outright advocating the “global warming” issue… It seems to me that somebody can be realistic about climate change, and still feel a certain need to be environmentally responsible. I don’t believe in greenhouse gases causing climate change myself, but I have seen and smelled the polluted air around our more heavily populated cities. To that end, I would still support measures to lower the amount of pollution we produce, but for a totally different reason. Personal Responsibility! I think thats more of what Tracey was trying to convey.

peg August 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Lori, you are right that we have to take Individual Responsibility for what we do – that is why we cannot take “blame” for what the government has claimed is Global Warming – when the real scientists have told us that does not exist. What we do have to do is to take individual responsibility for our own homes, property, our towns and cities, etc. and be concerned when something is totally irresponsible that damages any of those things. Government, (politicians and especially Liberals) have tried to make us feel guilty for breathing – for driving our cars, etc. when they (Pres. Obama, Al Gore, and many more who tout “green living”) are driving much bigger cars – have much bigger homes – use much more of everything than the average person, but they want us to “cut back” – “everyone has to give up something, do their fair share” – Give me a break. I have a deep abiding belief in God (not so much in organized religion) but I don’t expect him to do everything for me – I just know he does not see us as LAZY or SELFISH, if he puts it on our hearts to help others, do our jobs and be grateful for what we have.
We all need to stop seeing the “Lack” and start seeing the “Bounty” he has provided for us…..that means natural gas, coal and anything else that comes from the Earth.
Sorry for being long winded, but I am tired of those people who want to control everyone else — cut it out, Government!


Willowspring August 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Tracy.You have assumed too much when reading Don’s comment. My understanding was that he referring to the fact that the earth renews itself. There is no “global warming” as such. It has been unequivocally proven false. That’s why Al Gore changed the title to his faulty theory to “climate change.” If you want to better understand, just do your own research before commenting. It has been proven by ice core samples in Alaska that ferns grew there eons ago. The world is constantly changing, it’s just that it takes so long that no lifetime is really witness to it. Look at the shapes of the continents. It is also scientifically accepted that they were joined eons ago and separated over time. Earthquakes, volcanoes, pole shifting, comets hitting the earth; any number of things change the world. If you care to check there was a “little ice age” sometime around the 1300s. There was no industrial pollution and not even a very large world population to cause warming let alone an ice age. There have also been periods of warming caused by solar flares and the nearness and distance from the sun. It can all be explained, but believe me Don is right. There is a reason for all creation. Don’t let the deniers suck you in. Whether you believe in a God or another deity of some sort, something cannot come from nothing. There is a starting point. I choose to believe a loving God made me and all things from the stars in the sky to the cell that splits over and over to create a newborn human being.


Anon January 12, 2012 at 5:33 am

Where is the starting point for GOD!! How did “HE” come from nothing?

Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 8:44 am

Don, Very well put. Global warming is just another scheme to take more money & jobs from taxpayers. (For reply to Don) That doesn’t mean we are not responsible for the earth. God put us in charge of it & the animals. Within reason, we should try to preserve species that becoming endangered but not when it comes at the expense of jobs so a person can support their family. Species are going to disappear to make room for people until God decides it is time to end the earth.


melonie August 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Well said!


peg August 16, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Don, I agree with you wholeheartedly, and Jen, wake up….just like Don said – there is no global warming – the highest temperatures recorded on many days happened in 1891 or 1913 or some other year long ago. Listen carefully – if the politicians get too adamant about “Global Warming”, you need to wonder “what is there agenda?” – don’t be sucked in.


David October 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

It’s people like you who will destroy the environment(not the boogie man in the sky you believe in). Bring something like scientific FACT and NOT the Bible to the table and then I’ll respect your opinion.


ron Bridgees April 18, 2012 at 5:08 am

David, people like you scare me. You can’t be stupid enough to believe that our earth is in peril. I am an A/C technician and know firsthand what polution is doing to our atmosphere. God will return and turn the Earth into an everlasting paradise then I will be glag that my family and I believe in the bible. Oh ye of little faith.


Josh Trammel September 24, 2009 at 11:48 pm

And yet Medicare is still more efficient and less wasteful than any private insurance company there is.

Maybe someone should make a list like this for the private sector. I can think of a few to start it off: Enron, Worldcom, AIG, …


Steve Landis December 7, 2010 at 7:33 am

A rediculous statement. Medicare spends about $2 billion dollars more annually on medications than would be spent by a private insurance company for the same drugs. Medicare faces about $12 billion annually in fraudulent claims and billing errors. Private insurance doesn’t come close to these numbers. Medicare sees a loss of about $7 billion annually in uncollected funds and fees. This is why Medicare and Medicade are Billions of dollars in debt. Any private insurance company run like this would have gone under years ago.


Robert August 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

Some citations for these numbers would be nice, My guess is you just randomly picked out of the air.


bc August 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Actually, President Obama stated that he was going to pay for part of his healthcare plan with over 100 million in annual savings when we eliminated Medicare fraud. It is in the budget he provided Congress along with the plan. That was of course 2 years ago and of course there has been no reduction in fraud, in fact it has increased.


FLChristyB August 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

What happened to those private companies when their ‘wastefulness’ got out of hand? Oh, yeah, they went out of business!! As they should, it is part of our free market system and what makes it work so well. But when government departments and programs become insanely wasteful and top heavy, do they go out of business? Heck no, we just subsidize them for ever and ever. Government can never, and will never, be as efficient and successful as private business because they can be as wasteful as they want and never have to answer to anyone. People complain about how much money some CEO’s make, but have they bothered to see what kind of money the hierarchy in Government departments are making, including benefits, all at taxpayer expense? And for what? The majority of what the Gov. does now could be done better, and more efficiently at the State or private level.


J September 25, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Agreed in part. Although I don’t agree with Obama on a lot of things, one thing he said is perfect, and has been forgotten by us the people for a long time. It goes something like “we are the change that we seek.” For the most part, the electorate don’t want to help solve the problem, giving it all to politicians, and then complain about the job done when there’s no citizen oversight. If people cared enough, projects like this wouldn’t get off the ground because they’d be more aware of what was going on in their country. If people cared more, there would be more of a market for govt info and less of a market for “reality tv.”

Thanks for this article, but jeez, this kind of thing shouldn’t be on random (no offense) websites and occasionally maybe on the big news stations for like 5 seconds. If people, us, really cared, it’d be all over, meaning it’d be all over the news, and it’d be not happening, because we would have stood against the non- and mis-management of our resources.


Erik Olson July 15, 2011 at 7:14 am

So how’s that “Change” coming along?


aj September 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

“The Big Dive”


N September 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Want an example which cost more money than any of these, killed more people, and had less benefits — arguably being a net negative?

The Iraq War. Cost is over a trillion last I checked. That’s a million million.


Neil October 26, 2009 at 12:44 am

People who see this and complain that it shouldn’t happen just don’t understand the nature of government. This sort of thing has *always* happened with big centralised beurocracy, and is really a defining characteristic of such systems.

The only way to halt this sort of thing is to defund the federal government entirely. All income should stop at a local level with each 100,000 or so people having their own local government that provides the services they want.

Of course, certain things such as tertiary education works better when you have larger populations, but in these cases the local governments join together and are very precise about the funding that is allocated to these shared projects.

It really is pointless and quite ignorant to sit there and ‘tut tut’ about the idiots in washington wasting money. Compared to the waste and abuse that occurs in less-transparent systems like communist Russia, Iran, and China, we have a very efficient and honest government spending program.

Big government is bad, it cannot be anything else.


phil April 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Soooooo right! the federal government in america was never supposed to be in charge of everything. The founders wanted governors to have more power than the president. The presidents only job was supposed to be national issues i.e. war, interstate trade, some issues that should be federal like military and such. And yet these days the feds do everything and the sates have no individual rights. Marijuana in cali for example. Californians have made it clear as day to the feds that they support medical marijuana yet federal investigators feel the need to enforce laws from washington. Power to small governments at least on a state level. Imagine state to state competition, competition is good for everything.


Linda July 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm

And don’t forget the one really important job the federal government is supposed to do….secure the borders. We all know how well that’s been going:o( Let’s face it, most of what government does these days is out of their Constitutional mandate….


joel watson August 16, 2011 at 8:50 am

You are obviously not a democrat AND you are absolutely right! The bigger any government gets, the inefficient and wasteful it becomes!


Ask the Kansas City Broker October 26, 2009 at 4:56 am

If i ran ran my business this way I would surely be out of business. Many things have shown that private business abuses money too however. As a small business person we should all hope there is oversight on govt and business alike.


Chris October 26, 2009 at 5:44 am

While I’m with you on Iraq, a trillion is a thousand million in the US. But look on the positive side : I’ve just reduced your national debt a thousand fold in the time it takes you to google it.


Dan June 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

A thousand million is a billion, but good try.


Anonymous June 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

chris, you fool. a trillion IS a million million…. or 10 to the power of 12…. that’s a bunch of zeros!!!


kyle February 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Actually fool, a trillion is a million million. A billion is a thousand million. So maybe you should go google that again.


X October 26, 2009 at 6:53 am

“And yet Medicare is still more efficient and less wasteful than any private insurance company there is.”
Josh Trammel.

Please explain.

Does Medicare make a profit?
Say two people lose an arm due to a bear attack and they both go to the same doctor. If the doctor get paid by a private insurance for one guy and Medicare for the other, is he paid less from either?
Does the doctor perform better with either because of the insurance?
How do we compare private insurance to Medicare when private insurers are self sustaining while Medicare need more tax payers or higher taxes to grow?
Are you just looking at what you can get out of the system and not what it will cost you?
I’m not attacking Medicare, but please explain why you think it is more efficient.


Keither October 26, 2009 at 7:53 am

Ha – these will be DWARFED by the newly voted in Bullet train in California. 10 Billion in bonds approved that do NOT include any construction!!!!
I can see it now, every election “Why give up now California? You’ve already spent 10 Billion on the project!!!” then…
Why give up now California? You’ve already spent 20 Billion on the project!!!” then
Why give up now California? You’ve already spent 90 Billion on the project!!!”
Why give up now California? You’ve already spent 200 Billion on the project!!!”

Before the end of 2100 California will owe 1 Trillion dollars to a Bullet train that will have yet to lay one foot of track.
watch and see….


ablecynic August 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

I am fairly sure that your predictions will be 100% correct given California’s current political climate.


Vake October 26, 2009 at 8:20 am

@Josh Tremmel: Did you seriously say Medicare is more efficient than the private sector? As in the program with 100 billion in fraud every year (more than the entire size of any private insurance company)? As in the entity that has run red ink every year? As in the program that is TENS OF TRILLIONS of dollars in debt, and set to go bankrupt in 7 years?

As for Enron and Worldcom, when private entities fail, their shareholders and creditors eat the losses, not the taxpayer. And for AIG, the Democrat Congress and the big-gov’t Bush should have never bailed them out.


jonathan October 26, 2009 at 9:04 am

“And yet Medicare is still more efficient and less wasteful than any private insurance company there is.

Maybe someone should make a list like this for the private sector. I can think of a few to start it off: Enron, Worldcom, AIG, …

-Big difference Josh. Guess what happens when a company in the private sector screws up, They are the ones who pay for the damages and if the misstake is big enough they dissapear from the market place. Now, guess who pays for the governments misstakes? We do, and who ever made the misstake is usually left in place to screw up again unless they are scapegoated. So bud there is a big difference.


Alex October 26, 2009 at 9:23 am

Ok you put the Super Conducting Super Colider, something that would advance basic science (which leads to new unforseeable technologies not to mention advances our understanding of the world around us), just because it was going to cost 12 billion dollars, even though it was going to have over twice the energy of the LHC (which cost 4.6 billion btw) and you didn’t put the ISS on there which was supposed to only cost a few billion but has ballooned to over 100 billion dollars and has damn well near zero scientific and applied importance. Oh and here’s the best part, the ISS is going to be decommissioned only a few years after being completed. Sure it will help us build space stations faster in the future, but canceling the SSC delayed the discovery of new particles and physics by almost 20 years and had the potential of finding things the LHC won’t. I don’t get it, the same BS “potential discoveries” can be made argument was used to justify the ISS fudning but when you have something that will actually advance basic science on the fundamnetal nature of the universe that goes over the line? I guess building a cool space station is worth the 100 billion whereas understanding basic science isn’t worth 12.


john October 26, 2009 at 10:36 am


Maybe you should check again before you cite incorrect information. The Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan and every war on Terrorism since 9/11 is below 900 billion.

And something tells me your vote went toward the President who passed 4 trillion in “stimulus” money.


L July 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I quess your equating the murder the 600,000 innocent people in Iraq with the stimulus package. I also think you should check your facts of 4 trillion. 850 million is what was needed to bail us out of the mess the previous adminastration put us in. Not only by the absence of regulation but also by a selfish war. I would hate to think about what shape we would be in if this kind of lazy and uneducated thinking still governed our country.


X October 26, 2009 at 11:44 am

Whatever happened to the “War for oil”?

I’m still waiting for 25 cent oil.


Erik October 29, 2009 at 11:12 pm

To Chris – A trillion IS a million-million. A BILLION is a thousand million. In the UK, a Billion is a million-million (our Trillion). You have them mixed up.

To N – Bush lucked out that the 2008 budget year ended in Sept. 2008, so all the ridiculous sums handed out since look like Obama’s fault to the naive. Bush’s deficit still hit 454 Billion between Sept. 2007 and Sept. 2008 according to the Congressional Budget Office (before TARP, etc., and NOT INCLUDING the cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!), breaking all records to that date. And remember, he entered office with the country running 3 straight years of surpluses (see CBO)! Overall, the national debt grew by just over 1 Trillion between Sept 2008 and 09 (CBO). And the 2009 deficit hit 1.4 — not 4.0 — trillion, again according to the CBO. Curiously nearly half of that can be pinned on the prior administration and their TARP program. At least Obama has tried to put limits on how the banks can spend it (read: NOT all for fat bonuses!). Maybe YOU should watch who you cite — of course, you didn’t cite anyone, did you? I’m guessing you pulled that 4 Trillion from somewhere where you lack exposure to natural Vitamin D. Oh and lest we forget — what happens when the economy tanks AND you spend trillions on foreign wars AND you give out huge tax breaks at the same time? That’s right! MASSIVE deficits for decades to come! Thanks, Dubya!


Soquel by the Creek October 30, 2009 at 8:27 am

Josh Trammel wrote:

“And yet Medicare is still more efficient and less wasteful than any private insurance company there is.”
You might want to do a little fact checking before making such a claim. Medicare fraud is estimated up to $80 BILLION PER YEAR! The scary thing is that the government really doesn’t know the extent of the problem, which is not a good sign.

As for Medicare efficiency, yes overhead is low. However, Medicare and Medicaid costs have both greatly exceeded original cost estimates and now are both running multi-TRILLION dollar structural deficits.


Soquel by the Creek October 30, 2009 at 8:54 am

To Erik:

Here’s another chart that illustrates your point. When it comes to deficit spending, the Bush Administration was no winner either. He came into office with a surplus, hard won by the Clinton/Gingrich budget showdowns.

WARNING: The chart does not include the costs of Health Care Reform, Cap-and-Trade, any additional Stimulus Plans, or any unexpected costs due to Afghanistan or Iraq.

We all love to tweak President Bush over the financial disaster, but don’t forget that it was Congress had direct oversight responsibility for Fannie Mae and Feddie Mac. Their collapse due to subprime mortgages helped ignite the chaos.

Amazingly, the CBO originally forcast about a $1.4 TRILLION deficit, and the number came in about right. In a way, this was “good” news because interim estimates jumped to $1.8 TRILLION.

I don’t expect to see any significant improvements under the Obama Administration. Congressional overspending, some at the President’s request, is still rampant while tax revenues are down sharply.


Anonymous December 3, 2009 at 8:36 pm

War does not belong in these discussions, when war happens and it involves America, we needed to act. In this case for reasons of Homeland security, last I checked since 9/11 we havent been a victim of a full scale terrorist attack like that gruesome day.


Squoshua December 13, 2009 at 3:05 am

So I used to work for a major pharmacy chain, and here is how things went… In Tennessee (where I’m from), Hillary Clinton sponsored a similar “reformation of healthcare” in our state when Bill was in office… Keep in mind, though, that only about 15 percent of our population was enrolled in TennCare. Also note that at the time, there was a surplus in the state budget. Within just a few short years (less than 5), the state deficit was lower than ever, and the state government resulted in cutting education, raising taxes (9.75 percent sales now), starting a state lottery (which subsequently has somehow ALSO lost money), and increased government subsities – among others. What needs to happen is people need to stop using their insurance every time they get a runny nose. Can anyone on here imagine how high our auto insurance would be if everytime we got an oil change, we just told the service guy “oh, just file that on my insurance… I’ve got a 5 dollar co-pay”. Its insane, and irrational. We are, and were designed as a nation of freedom, kept safe by laws – not a nation of mandatory stifling ruled by regulatory programs. I’m only 24, and it honestly makes me sick trying to think about ANY future for a family I might start one of these days. The EPA came out and told legislators that if they don’t pass the Cap and Trade bill, that they would enforce it anyway. Say what??? Why are people not at the office of the EPA right now, battering ram in hand? What is happening to our country?


Kendra Georg December 14, 2009 at 11:57 am

This was very helpful to me for my Government Class!


Gerald Gallagher January 9, 2010 at 6:04 am

Every single item should be listed and voted on. If this takes too long,then so be it.No vote,no money.Our “elected” officials could free-up some time if they didn’t spend every waking moment campaigning.Maybe this sounds really stupid-DO THE JOB YOU WERE ELECTED TO DO. The important thing to remember is that most money comes from o’sama’s stash!Remember this-all politicians kneel down and kiss the asses of them with the money( it’s not us dumb-ass).Ass-kissing, ball-licking(barney,see they all do it),shit-sucking ,motherfuckers that also kill babies in their spare time. n.b.:these are their GOOD qualities.


William August 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

Gerald, Every single item should be listed and voted on AND TRUTHFULY PRESENTED IN CLEAR AND SIMPLE LANGUAGE!


Harvey January 20, 2010 at 8:19 am


1. I think, the big issue is the cost of federal, state and local employees and pensions the private sector is supporting… This is what is destroying the economic base of our country. Many of these government agencies are not needed or could be cut back…

2. All of this diversionary talk about healthcare and other so called main issues the media covers is a smokescreen…

3. I also think, the media wont really cover this waste and abuse in order to get interviews with top government officials or politicians…

4. The other reason the media may not cover this is because many of their friends and family are government employees… If so, I wonder how large the revolving door is between the government employees and the media?

5. If our government employees are truly compassionate and want to save this country then they should quit their jobs so we can move that money to help support the medical and social costs of our senior citizens and other needy people in the country.

Lincoln said…
and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth…

Now, the real truth is…
and that this government of the government employee, by the government employee, for the government employee, shall not perish from the earth…


Chris May 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I love this even better…straight from the “CBO”…the government is stealing your money…I guess that’s not anything new but read this…

“…enacting the legislation would increase revenues by $873 billion over the 2010-2019 period and would increase direct spending by $864 billion over that 10-year period. In total, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce future budget deficits by about $4 billion over the 2010-2014 period and by about $9 billion over the 2010-2019 period…”

The study also indicated that the tax burden on individual households would be limited:[7]

“…the net annual economy-wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or about $175 per household…households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020, while households in the highest income quintile would see a net cost of $245. Added costs for households in the second lowest quintile would be about $40 that year; in the middle quintile, about $235; and in the fourth quintile, about $340. Overall net costs would average 0.2 percent of households’ after-tax income.”

…Don’t you love how they will come out on top 4 billion in for years, or a billion per year…and yet it costs the taxpayers 22 Billion per year in 2020…even if it costs less earlier, why don’t they estimate that in the taxpayers money, since we are paying that tax for that bill? It’s like going out to eat but never getting your change back!!! Fucking assholes! I’m sure it went to make up for all the bullshit over-expenditures such as in this article.


Dave May 31, 2010 at 9:50 am

Hoodrobin, hood-robin, noun. Derived from the name Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Being the opposite, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. Such as a Government employee, politician or public servant who wastes taxpayer dollars or time, effectively robbing the taxpayer of his tax dollars.
Verb, the action of a government employee, politician or public servant of taking or diminishing the assets, peace or security of a community, or “hood” in common slang terms.


R Carstens September 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm

FEMA’s budget in 2008 was roughly $5.8 billion dollars. That is $16.57 for every man women and child in this country. I say cut FEMA’s budget by $5.2 Billion, and give every man women and child in this country coupons for tents, water purifiers and bulk rice and beans. You can get a 25 pound bag of rice for $11.50 and would go a lot futher if the S— really hit the fan. Like a currency meltdown, or nuclear event or massive terrorist action. I say don’t have the government borrow the money and rack up the debt, let the people of the US finance the aid. Fema’s effort should be to coordinate logistics and help channel donations to fix water supplies, sewer, electric and temporary relocation, and rebuilding.


R Carstens September 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I was taught in civics that only the house of represenatives has the authority to spend money. With the exception of war powers act of the executive branch.


Andrew March 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Why isn’t the Post Office on here. It has not profited a single PENNY, yet has cost tax payers billions. Now that we have E-mail and FedEx/UPS (faster shipping). There is absolutely no purpose for USPS


Jamison Galt April 16, 2011 at 6:46 am

The main goal of government (all governments) is to create an increasingly complicated Gordian Knot that even they cannot undo. Thus allowing them to hide their motives behind a mask of lies that cannot be proven false. So, steal from them, lie to them, treat them with distain and never, ever trust them. Your only hope is to be a bigger criminal that your own government.


albert cherry June 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Folks I hate to be the barer of bad news but here goes. Our government is fundamently flawed in that we have the corrupt policing the corrupt! In our most recent elections the tea party made some gains but there was so much fraud and polling errows(by design) that it,s a wonder we elected anyone! We only need to read history 101 and see our destiny When our elected representatives become bullet-proof due to the power and MONEY that is used by the lobbyist to gain control of the rep that can swing the votefor t he group the lobbyist represents then it becomes a done deal. I bring to mind a person that was elected from the state of calif. with a modest net worth but look at this person”s net worth now. Come on now, on a reps. annual income?.


Hondo69 July 25, 2011 at 5:22 am

Funny how everyone wants to chime in when tax cuts are proposed, but those same people just roll their eyes when you talk about government waste. Doesn’t matter which side of the aisle, no one seems very concerned about waste, which includes fraud and abuse.

We’ll fight like hell to spend a 100 billion on project A, but when someone mentions oversight of that money lips go silent. Then project B pops up and those mute people suddenly find their voice again. Hell, just spend the money. Don’t pay any attention to where it goes, how it’s used or if it even does any good at all. Just spend the money, now damnit. We don’t have a second to waste.


Larry the K July 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Let’s talk about SALARY. Can WE THE PEOPLE vote ourselves a raise? NO! Well representatives can! AND THEY DO…ALL THE TIME. WE THE PEOPLE need to pass legislation so ANY changes to their salary must be approved by their constituents and have a CAP of 10% UNDER the average American wages. Let’s see how good an idea it is THEN to farm work out of this country. Maybe this would be a REMINDER that being an elected rep (at ANY level) means you SERVE your constituents. A rep who makes so much more than most of the people they represent might tend to think they are BETTER (or as George Orwell said “more equal”) than the rest of us.

These people are living the high life making 6 digit salaries while their constituents have LOST THEIR JOBS because of LEGISLATION designed to encourage outsourcing of American work to other countries. Our representatives need a REALITY CHECK!


friend of freedom August 16, 2011 at 8:13 am

I like the idea of having every government expenditure going to a public vote since it is our money they want to spend. To make it more assertive, only those who pay taxes get to vote. After all, none of us would hand our check books over to a group of strangers and think they would use it wisely. Just look at the spending by Obama and his cronies. For example, three busses for a pointless bus tour at $2.2 million each, plus gas, meals, etc. That is an expenditure outside of our Consitution. If every tax payer had a chance to vote on that, we can be assured how the vote would go.


William August 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

Well if no way is developed to make those accountable for pushing these things through like the Japanese did and do-they were publicly embarrassed and or taken out to jail or shot for allowing these kind of thievery to happen causing many to lose lives or incomes-sol et’s once again COPY Japan!


William August 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

Go get a copy of -Report from Iron Mountain” (not Iron Mountain Report) and you’ll see the “holes” created so they do not have to return monies spend on completed projects-it’ll open your eyes!


Scott Harvey August 16, 2011 at 9:03 am

I’ve always been an optimist, but I’ll tell you what– I’m scared shitless about what this country is going to look like and be like for my 6 and 8-year-old granddaughters! I think we’re in too deep, and there’s no way out other than a cataclysmic economic collapse and deleveraging that badly hurts tens (hundreds?) of millions of us.

We may come back, because of the strengths of our society, but it’s going to be scary for a while.


g.r. August 16, 2011 at 9:52 am

If the top brass of each of the ” projects” was fired if it could not account for the money being well spent and the project deemed successful, I bet there would be better accountability!

The Gov’t. that is suppose to be protecting us, is in reality, screwing us.


CB11 August 16, 2011 at 10:05 am

The Big Dig: It was just revealed a few weeks ago that there are large sinkholes forming in the tunnel due to ground settling. They can fix the problem, of course, at a price tag of 30 billion additional dollars!


Michele August 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

The mathematical formula for waste is quite simple. Massive Federal bureaucracy + incompetent Congress + dilatory presidential performance x corruption = taxpayers grief.


Peteriffic August 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm

It all comes down to accountability…..and there is none of that for anyone in government. When has any government employee or program ever been terminated for incompetence or poor performance? There is no incentive or self-preservation motive as exists in the private sector. Now this group has become a significant percentage of the electorate and with the pervasive incremental encroachment of ever growing beaurocracy, like a cancer will eventually overwhelm the host. Little wonder the bizzare results of this insanity. The basic laws of nature will of course eventually prevail, as it was for the man who pissed in his pants to stay warm on a cold winter day.


Phil F August 20, 2011 at 5:48 am

And we keep sending the same morons back to Congress and wonder why we continue to see our money wasted. Politicians are liars and thieves. It’s time for Americans to get mad and demand reforms of smaller government, less regulations, lower taxes and accountability from these clowns.


Rocky September 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Term limits is the only answer with NO lifetime pension or free medical. They would still find a way to scam some $ to family members but this would slow it down..


david September 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Who is Stan Reybern and why is someone linking this ridiculous post as ‘evidence” of wasteful government spending? I suppose this is the price we pay for net neutrality and freedom of speech, people wasting my time with this nonsense.


Jamison December 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

yeah don we do have something to do with we are supposed to cherish the planet that God gave us which means we do have the power to destroy it, if your gonna be on here talking about God and his word make sure your accurate and dont be so hateful you give us christians a bad name.


Andy Johnson December 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

I am all for efficient government. I am all for putting a halt to waste. And some of this info above is useful. Some of it. But the Cross Florida Barge Canal is the single most important and the single most cost-effective incomplete public works project in the U.S. ALL the allegations have possible environmental harm have been studied and all have been disproven. The Canal was killed because most of the benefits were not allowed to be considered in the most recent cost-benefit analysis update. Recreational benefits, national defense benefits, area redevelopment benefits were not considered. And…the savings in transport of coal would have paid for the canal without anything more, but these savings were not considered. Any peninsula as substantial as Florida cries out for a transportation canal. And…our canal is of unusual importance because not only does it connect the Gulf to the Atlantic but it connects the Mississippi and the Gulf Inland Waterway to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. One thousand years from now people will look back and wonder why the canal was not built long before now. The ironic thing is that I am largely motivated to support the canal because of my own belief in environmentalism and the need to save energy and to avoid pollution. The canal, despite outrageous claims to the contrary, would save energy and reduce pollution. It is unforgivable that so many liars have made so many false allegations about the canal. When I was a member of the legislature in Florida I was forced to contend with SILLY politicians from Miami who claimed the canal would cause South Florida to drift into the ocean,…and other SILLY politicians and editorial writers from St. Pete who genuinely believed the canal would have detrimental effects on St. Pete drinking water. There is absolutely NO truthful environmental claim against the canal other than the claim by some that Florida is prettier without the canal. That claim I also dispute but I do admit that arguments on this one claim might be made either way. As for me, I think canals are beautiful. I have seen how they add much to the visual environment in the U.S. and in Europe.

I am sad this article just regurgitated the attack on the canal without any research.

Andy Johnson
Former member, Florida House


Vanessa January 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Wow… I agree with Don….


Robin February 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm

The only one I don’t agree with is the walkers for paraplegics. I am a paraplegic and I walk with a walker.


derek March 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Man, thank god we killed the super conducting supercolider; I was getting sick of hearing about how the USA was the world leader in science.

Now that all of our best scientists, physicists and innovatiors have moved to Switzerland, maybe we can celebrate America’s previous 50 years of prosperity and technological progress with another 50 years of mediocrity and gradual decline. We’ll start by spending the money that would have gone to the SCSC to failed car companies.


Phillip April 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

2 words… NO ACCOUNTABILITY. As long as governemnt officials/employees are not held accountable, this fraud/waste/abuse will not only continue.. but will get worse!!!!


Randy April 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

Science versus relgion. Perhaps if we invested in clean evergy and ended up with a more efficent world because of it, and maybe even stopped emiiting so much CO2, perhaps we would have a better world FOR NOTHING. Wow, I never thought people were so against a brighter world. God does not make you loose 30 or 300 pounds if you ask him to make you thin, YOUW ORK FOR THAT. So if you want a more independ U.S. and a healthier planet, You WOULDNT care about Science OR Religion AND YOU WOULD GET TO WORK.


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