OP-Ed: It’s Only Money – Our Tax Money

By AJ Nett

I think a vast majority of us acknowledge there are a lot of issues within our government, at every level, that infuriate us.  We know there is a lot of corruption and mismanagement. We know there is a severe lack of efficiency and little regard for gross overspending.

But what is ever done about it? Pretty much nothing and it just keeps going and the stakes to us, the taxpayers, are getting greater and greater with the constant increase in our taxes to cover all of this. 

From the trip some of our legislators are on right now to avoid their duties to the many dinners, galas, and such held by our government officials, we are the ones footing the bills for all of this.

Did you know some of our state agencies even hold annual “Staff Meetings” where taxpayers get to pay for several nights of hundreds of hotel rooms, catered meals, drinks (including of the adult variety), other little niceties, including swag bags full of goodies like high dollar shirts, caps, expensive coolers and other top-notch lovelies?

Some of these events (probably most of them) are not truly doing anything productive for the agency other than providing a morale “rah, rah, sis, boom, bah!”.

Any of the actual information could easily be handled in email or facility meetings. This is a great waster of the taxpayer funding these agencies receive and it needs to stop.

It is one thing if a private entity chooses to spend their fortune in such a way, as that is privately held funds (although I still find that extremely wasteful and a better use would be bonuses to the hardworking employees), but what we are talking about is taxpayer funds that are forcefully taken from us via taxes.

We have the right to expect our government to function on a very lean budget and be fiscally responsible, as the majority of us have to in our personal lives. We also should expect they manage their funds and who is at liberty to do any purchasing for any state agency.

Anyone with spending authority needs to be vetted to ensure integrity and should be randomly audited on their purchasing to make sure there are no improprieties, including evaluations of vendor relations.

The integrity of these employees also extends to the relationships they may form with vendors they use for government purchasing. Sadly, some lack this level of integrity and will attempt quid pro quo types of relationships with vendors – you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

Imagine you have a person within one of our state/ county/ local agencies that goes to a vendor seeking material for a personal project on their home, they proceed to have a conversation where they tell the vendor, if they cut them a deal on their personal purchase, they will make sure more of the state purchasing business is directed their way via their agency/ facility.

I am sure many of you are not surprised this happens, probably even a lot more than we imagine, but the problem is we have come to a point where we have become so apathetic to this and just keep letting it slide. 

Why do we keep acknowledging all of this corruption that costs us so much every year and will cause even greater financial damage to our future generations, as we know our government fails to police itself on what should be crimes against the people, basically theft, taxation without any return on the “investment”?

When will we quit complaining about it, but then chalking it up to “that’s just how it is” and truly take a stand and demand accountability? We need a system of public audits that is trustworthy.

We need to tell our agency leaders we do not approve of wasteful spending and this needs to end. Taxpayers have had a hellish year and a half, and many are struggling, yet the amount we are paying in taxes continue to rise and these agencies keep spending millions upon millions of dollars every year on frivolous escapades and having a “spend it or lose it” mentality at the end of every fiscal year, so they buy things they don’t need just to maintain a budget level in case they might need it in the future.

And just wait, I may be working on a piece that will let you know of some of the other improprieties that are hidden by our government agencies in order to preserve public appearances.

Teaser: The state likes to claim they take a stance against things like sexual harassment and racism, but that may be just lip service. More on that later, so stay tuned and keep watching, because when the time is right, I will be writing another piece on this, based on information I happen to be privy to.  You will be so ticked off!

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