The gift that keeps on giving…..

In the world of supply and demand, as the supply of a product increases, the cost decreases.  Pretty simple.  As the supply decreases and demand increase, the cost goes up.


So.  When unemployment is low, it takes more money and benefits to attract employees and thus the cost goes up.  When unemployment is high, the supply of workers is high and therefore the cost goes down.


Unless you are the government.


Since the beginning of the recession, government employment has skyrocketed.  As the size of the government has increase due to redundant, overlapping, and flat out unnecessary departments, more and more people have been hired.  One would think that with the huge number of people looking for work, the government would at least get a lower cost per worker.


Not the case.  When you add in benefits, government employees regularly make 50% more than their private counterparts. From December 2007 – June 2009 the number of government workers making north of $100,000 grew by 46%.  And that’s before overtime and bonuses.


But that’s not what I came here to talk about.  I came to talk about the draft.  Well, actually no.  It’s not Thanksgiving.


What I do want to talk about is improper benefits paid to former government employees.


According to the Office of the Inspector General, the government paid out an estimated $100-$150 million in improper benefits.  Of course that’s a pretty big range.  I could go on about how they can only estimate within $50 million, but I won’t.


In one case alone, improper benefits were paid to a former government employee from 1971 to 2011 to the tune of $515,000.  But that’s only $12,875 per year.  Why is that a big deal?  How can anyone live on that paltry sum?


The answer is very clear, they didn’t.  You see, the receiver of said benefits was actually dead.  Truly dead.  And not even grateful.


From 2006 to 2011, over $601 billion (with a B) was paid in benefits to deceased government employees.  As in dead.  Pushing up daises.  Not pining of the fjords.  


Now this link here fully describes the situation.


I love page 2, “THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.”  I’m just curious how much we spend in printing pages intentionally left blank.  But I digress.

Now the funny thing with the 40 years of payout to a dead guy was how the IG found out.  His son, who was happily taking the $1,072.92 a month and quietly depositing it, died.  I’m just glad we didn’t start double paying.

Now the money went somewhere.  And not back to the government.  Here’s a quote from the report:

“The improper payment was not recovered.”

Here’s my favorite line:

“When compared to other Federal benefits programs, the improper payment rate is arguably low.”

Huh?  $601 million paid out in improper benefits to dead people is low?  What in the bloody world is high?

And yet, this is ok with the IG.  No big deal.  A rounding error.  In Other News of the Ironic, proudly and boldly displayed on the home page of the Office of the Inspector General’s website (http://oig.hhs.gov/) are giant links for reporting fraud.

Me: “Well, I’d like to report $515,000 in improper payments made to a dead guy.”

Them: “Thanks for reporting the fraud.”

Me: “Well.  What are you going to do?  How about getting it back.”

Them: “Naw.”

Me: “Why not?  I thought I was supposed to report fraud here.”

Them: “You are. And we thank you.”

Me: “Why aren’t you going to do something about it?”

Them: “This service is just for reporting the fraud.  Another department actually takes action.”

Me: “Ok, then who will you share this information with so we can get our tax payers money back that was stolen.”

Then: “I don’t know. We just collect the reports of fraud.  Thank you for reporting the fraud.”

Me: “Really?”

Them: “I’m sorry, do you have another fraud to report?”

Me: “If I reported you as a fraud would it turn you into a programmatic loop that would cause instantaneous implosion?”

Them: “I’m sorry, would you please clarify your question?”

Me: “Don’t bother.”

Them: “Thank you for reporting the fraud.  Please call back anytime you see fraud.”

All right, so I got a little carried away.  But it was fun. So now time for the big question…..

What would you do with $1,072.92 a month for 40 years?