Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Free Money

When Dave Chappelle famously screamed "They should have never gave you niggers money" during his now infamous impersonation of Rick James, he was really a prophet.

Not because black people should never be given money; that's an utterly ridiculous assertion. Rather, I think Dave's comment was powerful because it got at the core problems that occur when folks have access to large amounts of money they didn't have to work hard to obtain.

While Chappelle made Rick James yell those comments at Eddie and Charlie Murphy, they were really a damning indictment on the excesses James had embraced in his own life, as evidenced by his lifelong love affair with white girls of all shapes, sizes and purity-levels.

Some folks just can't handle a good thing.

I thought about Chappelle's skit when I read this article in the Washington Post.

This is the kind of scandal that gives late-night comedians Viagra-boners.

Seriously, governmental employees take the credit-cards they were issued as a way to save time and prevent waste, and instead use them to purchase lingerie, vacations and booze. It's like these people sat in their cubicles and tried to figure out the worst way they could eff up at their jobs, and then after figuring it out, turned to each other and said "Git er done."

Using scientific sampling, the report estimated that more than 40 percent of the employees who used the credit cards used them for unacceptable purchases. 40 percent!That means that right now a whole bunch of scared people in DC, Maryland and Virginia are berating themselves for putting that pair of Jimmy Choos or Jordans on the federal tab. Not only did the report find widespread abuse on all purchases, but it also found that people were more likely to abuse the credit cards if they were making purchases greater than $2,500. Now, that is just shameful.

Here are some of the high lights from the article:

In the fraudulent category, a longtime employee of the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon, Debra K. Durfey, wrote convenience checks worth more than $640,000 from 2000 to 2006 to a live-in boyfriend, who used the money for gambling, car expenses and mortgage payments, according to the GAO and the Justice Department.Really Debra? You're going to use the government's money to support your trifling boyfriend's gambling problem? But black folks are supposed to be the one's who can't see the big picture.

Another fraud case involved the U.S. Postal Service, where an unidentified postmaster used his card to charge $1,100 over a 15-month period for "various online dating services" while he was under investigation for viewing pornography on a government computer. The employee worked out an agreement to remain on sick leave until he retired in 2007 and paid back the money spent on the dating services, according to the GAO report and a Postal Service spokesman.Paying for love is never a good idea, but when you go orgasm shopping while already under investigation for watching porn at your desk, well you might have a problem.

In a case the GAO deemed "abusive," the Postal Service spent $13,500 in 2006 on a dinner at a Ruth's Chris Steak House in Orlando, including "over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold." The tab came to more than $160 a head for the 81 guests, the report said.This was probably part of the Post Office's new safety program since it's hard to aim a high-powered rifle at your co-workers when you're drunk and full.

This report highlights a stunning display of governmental mismanagement that unfortunately can't even be blamed on the Village Idiot since it has stretched across both Democratic and Republican regimes.

It's just mind-boggling that folks would be stupid enough to put these types of charges on their work credit cards. I mean, stealing office supplies is one thing, but when you're planning romantic getaways on the company's dime, you've clearly crossed the line. These people need to be disciplined just for their stunning lack of common sense, forget about the fact that they bilked taxpayers out of millions.

Some things you just don't do.

9 comments:

WNG said...

I honestly cannot understand this. It is simply stunning idiocy to me. How could any of these people think that this is acceptable behavior? What the hell is wrong with them? To me this isn't about whether or not you might get caught, but how incredibly stupid you would have to be to think this spending was justified in any way.
Good Lord.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Big Man, I work for the Federal Reserve Board here in DC, and they have our credit cards on a GPS tracking device.

If activity is showing up, and there's no travel authorization on file, in the system, to correspond, you're going to get an email from the travel and finance section of the Fed. If you don't pay it off and it shows up on a late payment list, your card gets suspended, you can't travel, and your boss is copied on the email you got saying your card was suspended.

I know because I had legit expenditures on my card, and it happened to me, but fortunately, I could produce email verification that when I submitted my travel expenses for reimbursement, I have it set up where the whole payment is sent EFT and I don't see the check AT ALL. I get the meal money that's left over (and I send that, too, because I clear my card every month I use it).

If you're out to dinner or something less than $100, you should be able to use your card knowing you're responsible for paying it off.

They act like CSI here in my office, and some of our employees got caught the same way these in the WaPo article did - but my own experience has made me too scared to even try something like that because if you're in the computer as having a card, someone in your Agency gets notified when you use it.

And our card have blocks on it - so I can't go shopping at Macy's or Bloomingdales when I'm visiting Wall Street, because the card is programmed to decline the purchase; I saw one of my collegues try it and she got flat busted for trying to buy a pair of panty hose at Bergdorf's (we were on our lunch hour when I was in NYC on business), because the card declined.

It seems that other government agencies don't have the same safeguards in place, even though the policy for personal use of the GTC is in writing in all of the Federal Agencies, and you're required to sign a document acknowledging receipt and that you've read the policy.

The Post Office is a trip - I don't think Chairman Bernanke would have tried to pull off a $200K dinner at Ruth Chris Steakhouse without being hauled before Maxine Waters to get ripped a new one!

Big Man said...

On one hand I was shocked at people's willingness to use a card they have to know is being tracked by the fedeeral government. Then, I realized that since it took so long for folks to get caught they probably figured that nobody was watching and just went crazy.

It doesn't make sense that this abuse went on for so long considering what CPL said.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Depends on the Federal Agency, Big Man.

Some are lagging in their policies - the Fed and the Treasury are the most stringent because our agencies are responsible for the Nation's economy and how can we do our jobs if we can't manage the GTCs?

The U. S. Forrest Service has long been suspect; that's nothing new there.

OTOH, every Fed employee knows that the GAO audits agencies that have the most employees with the GTCs, and like I said, I'm too scared to take anything from the guvmint that I didn't earn, cause they sho' love making "examples" our of offenders, even if the offender is a GS-4 Clerk-Typist.

What bugs me is when the Higher Ups do this same mess and get to negotiate their way out of it by going out in retirement, without catching a case.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Hmmm... that puts a whole new flavor to the term 'going postal.'
What kills me is that they often times don't even lose their jobs! It must be because they work for the government. As a retail manager, I know if I caught a staffer stealing ... they'd be canned. period.

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