Skip to comments.Federal Spending Has Always Been Wasteful
Posted on 02/11/2013 4:00:57 PM PST by Kaslin
A new article by Ivan Eland describes how wars have stimulated growth in the American welfare state. I was interested in his discussion regarding the overexpansion of pensions following the Civil War:
In 1879, the Arrears Act caused many veterans, who hadn’t realized they were disabled until the government offered $1,000 or more for finding aches and injuries, to flood the Bureau of Pensions with claims. Although, according to its commissioner, the bureau was the largest executive bureau in the world, it had few means to detect fraudulent claims, which were rampant. During election years between 1878 and 1899, Republicans used the bureau to dole out pensions rapidly and heavily in key electoral states.
In 1890, a quarter century after the Civil War ended, pension eligibility expanded to include any soldier who had served 90 days or more during the war and was unable to do manual labor—whether or not he was injured during the conflict, or even whether he had seen combat. Similarly, widows of soldiers serving in the war for 90 days or more got pensions, regardless of whether their husbands had died in the conflict.”
Republicans supported lavish pensions to groups in their political constituency (Union veterans) to justify continued high tariff walls to protect Northern industries, which were among the most influential supporters in their political coalition. The interests of such industrialists coincided with those of pensioner lobbies and the bureaucratic empire of the Bureau of Pensions to widen the program over time.
Politically driven overspending and waste is nothing new in Washington. In the 19th Century, there was tons of waste in federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was also a very troubled agency:
Fraud, corruption, and bribes were common in the BIA during some periods in the 19th century. One reason was because local BIA officials had substantial discretionary control over cash, goods, trading licenses, and other items handed out by the agency. In the years following the Civil War, “Indian rings” of government agents and contractors colluded to steal funds and supplies from taxpayers and the tribes. The New York Times railed against the “dishonesty which pervades the whole Bureau.” And the newspaper argued that “the condition of the Indian service is simply shameful. It has long been notorious that rascally agents and contractors have connived to cheat the Indians. … It now appears that a ring has long existed in the Indian Bureau at Washington for the express purpose of covering up these frauds and facilitating others.
By definition, all government spending is wasteful, in-efficient, and mis-directed at best. At worst it is corrupt, money laundering scheme to benefit politicians.
By definition, all government spending is wasteful, in-efficient, and mis-directed, at best. At worst it is corrupt, money laundering scheme to benefit politicians.
I remember after my husband and I got married in 1963 he made $200 per month as an E4 (Spec 4) From this we had to pay rent as we lived on the economy, pay water and light, plus telephone service which we needed. Plus we had to make car payments. We could buy 4 paper bags full of groceries for $25.00 at the Commissary, where today a bag can cost you easily $25- $50
Wasteful is putting that last bit of uneaten mac ‘n cheese in the trash instead of a tupperware container. What the government is doing now is off the charts larceny raised to a high exponent that puts all previous criminal activity to shame.
...after the standard boot camp expenses were deducted my first government paycheck still made me feel like a millionaire...
...it was tough wasn't it? But good times nonetheless.
Ain’t inflation a bloody wonderful thing?
Compared to today? They sure were
I went straight from high school graduation to boot camp and I think my boot pay was $69. a month. I was only at about $180. a month in 1965 as an E-4 with over two years longevity pay. I partied like a mad man on that!