We will be willing to admit that some government programs begin with good intentions. However, somewhere between the time some legislator gets an idea, and the thing gets passed into law and then implemented, things often go very wrong. This is partly due to the fact that, unlike a business, the government is not required or even expected to turn a profit on its programs. Hence, the motivation to efficiency goes out the window, and is frequently replaced by waste and fraud.
This happens quite a bit with welfare programs as the idea that it would be good to make sure that people don’t starve to death mutates into a monster that not only does that, but gets abused as welfare cheats find ways to milk the system for benefits far beyond those to which they are entitled. This tragic scenario is repeated over and over, as taxpayers’ money winds up funding fraud.
The Obamaphone program is a terrific example of a government program gone very bad. What started out as a plan to make sure everyone had access to a telephone to summon emergency help turned into years of fraud and abuse.
“A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that the infamous “Obamaphone” program, meant to provide low-income Americans phone and internet service, is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse.
“GAO investigators sampled the program’s population and found that it had been paying for nearly 6,400 phones for people whom the government has listed as deceased; another 5,500 people were enrolled for two phones, and another group of people couldn’t prove they were eligible to receive their free phone.”
How does the government manage to pay for phones for dead people? Clearly those administering this program are complete incompetents, or just don’t care about doing their job. Such is the problem with government workers when they are difficult to fire, and their effectiveness as well as the effectiveness of the programs on which they work are not evaluated or audited.
“Originally conceived during the Reagan administration, Lifeline was initially meant to provide poor people with a phone in case of an emergency or, as time went on, to apply for a job.”
So there’s the good intention. And as the theory goes, if these people actually got a job, they would drop off the rolls for a free phone and start paying taxes, so the program should pay for itself over time. Hasn’t worked out that way at all, however.
“The three-year GAO investigation found that the program has put away more than ‘$9 billion, as of September 2016 outside the Department of the Treasury in a private bank account.’
“A spokesman for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who had already put the dubious program under review, said the ‘GAO report confirms that waste, fraud, and abuse are all too prevalent in the program.'”
Stop right there. “Programs” don’t put money anywhere. People do. So who diverted $9 billion into a private bank account? And who owns this private bank account? And how was this accomplished without being detected?
There are more questions to be asked such as what was the ultimate destination of this $9 billion in diverted funds.
It’s great that the GAO is on the job, although it seems to have taken them quite a bit of time to find all this fraud. Regardless, taxpayer money needs to be saved, and this waste of a program needs to be eliminated.