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US Government "misplaces" trillions of dollars

In June 2001, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee published a study, “Government at the Brink” describing the failure of government agencies to maintain reliable financial systems and/or to publish audited financial statements. President Bush's initial 2002 budget (before increases for 9/11) proposed that 85% of federal appropriations be awarded to the very same agencies criticised by the study. The Department of Defense has failed to produce independent audited financial statements since 1995.

The US Constitution says: "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law." According to a New York Times article (July 22, 1999), however, "Congress says in a new report that the Pentagon defied the law and the Constitution by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on military projects that lawmakers never approved."

Is anything being done to stop this? According to Catherine Austin Fitts, the company credited with an accounting "misplacement" of $59 billion at HUD has been awarded the contract to redesign the Pentagon's business processes.

Let's put these figures into perspective. $59 billion would pay the total cost of UK unemployment welfare (£5bn/year) for 7 years. $3.3 trillion would cover it for 420 years. How do you "misplace" an amount that size?

Meanwhile, "black," or classified, or "don't tell the public," programs requested in President Bush's 2004 defense budget are at the highest level since 1988 (source: Washington Post, 27/8/03). As John E. Pike, director of, says, with amusing understatement: "It's puzzling. It sets the mind to wondering where the money's going and what sort of politically controversial things the administration is doing because they're not telling anybody".

And, meanwhile, as an example of the wage levels most unprivileged US workers can expect, the odds against a typical US welfare recipient landing a job which pays at least $8.89 per hour (the minimum needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless) are about 97 to 1. (Source: Preamble Center for Public Policy, reported in Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Nickel and Dimed').

Of course, the quality of life of the "typical" unprivileged employed/unemployed person has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that $11,700 *per person* of public money disappears into a black hole every few years. Of course. People should take responsibility for their own livelihoods and not blame the government. Of course.

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