Government budgets

Use it or lose it

“California’s parks system stashed away nearly $54 million even as it was cutting services and threatening to close parks, a revelation that prompted the resignation of the department’s director Friday.

“The hoarded cash remained untapped while the California Department of Parks and Recreation painted a dire picture of the system’s health, soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations in what was thought to be a desperate scramble to keep facilities open.” — California parks department finds $54-million surplus

As the fiscal year ends, any government manager with a surplus rushes to spend it, because if he doesn’t it will be taken away from him. Taken away and given back to the tax payers? Of course not. The money will be reallocated: given to another manager across the hall who has used up his budget. This is generally recognized as a perverse incentive and a bad thing.

I’d guess anyone who’s worked for the government has done this. Here’s how it works: The battalion commander sys “spend the rest of the money in that account before the end of the fiscal year.” Yes, sir. Unfortunately the place most easy to spend it has already been picked over by one’s more active peers. So one buys a truly insane amount of cleanser, and paperweights for everyone in the unit – really nice paperweights made by the blind. Then one must build a set of shelves for the cleanser.

A liberal in government (and I used to be a big liberal) does unto others exactly what he does not want done to him. The essense of liberalism is to take money from a taxpayer who has done well, and give it to a wise man to reallocate to roads, bridges, and paperweights. But when a liberal government manager has a chance to give his budget surplus to a needy fellow, he does everything he can to avoid it, even to the point of buying things he doesn’t need. Just like a wealthy liberal with a tax shelter, who says he wants higher taxes.

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5 thoughts on “Government budgets

  1. So one buys a truly insane amount of cleanser, and paperweights for everyone in the unit – really nice paperweights made by the blind. Then one must build a set of shelves for the cleanser.

    Third set of boots for all of Supply, although almost no-one without a hookup on the ship has gotten a SINGLE new pair in a decade, that’d be too much work….

    • It’s funny, I could never have bought boots. Clothing was in another category, presumably “useful stuff someone might actually want.” I could only buy useless stuff, or stuff useful only as display items during inspection.

  2. Have I mentioned my “slush fund” strategy? It can’t hurt any more than the “spend it or lose it” idea.

    All funds not spent at the end of the year go into a slush fund for the department/section/office/whatever being funded. Future years can dip into that to fund approved, unexpected costs. At the end of three/five/ten/whatever years, the unspent funds from year one are returned to the general fund. Then up the punishment for fraud, waste and abuse.

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