Monday, October 03, 2005

For a Limited Time Only

Last week, a reader emailed me this article, published in Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post. My apologies for not writing about it sooner.

It's simply another example of government being overly generous with other people's money -- and still not providing the quality service that the private sector is able to provide. Why we continue to trust government with exorbitant amounts of our salaries is beyond me.

FEMA insists that the contract was necessary; however, many criticize it for its waste, noting that the contract was "a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract -- staunchly defended by Carnival [naturally!] but castigated by politicians from both parties -- has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina's strike and FEMA's lack of preparation." It's analogous to someone running into a car dealership and saying they must have a car by the end of the day. At that point, their negotiating ability has gone down and the car salesmen are seeing dollar signs.

However, FEMA received an offer from Greece for two free ships! FEMA spokesman, Butch Kinerney is quoted as saying "Our priority was to get the ships in place as quickly as possible." As quickly as possible and at any cost to the taxpayer. Is a few days worth $236 million?

Even those housed on the cruise ships are getting a bad deal. Rather than sit in a harbor, those temporarily residing on the ships could have received a nice cruise complete with meals and entertainment. "If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week ... A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person," noted Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma). But the ships are not at capacity; they are only at half capacity. The average price per person must be twice as much -- the price of four nice cruises.

The government's record on spending should be reason enough to take away its box of endorsed blank checks with our account numbers.

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