Monday, March 31, 2014

Your tax dollars at work - NOT!

Yet another example of Government waste.  This article is from September last year, but the aircraft it mentions is apparently still being funded, seven months later!

At an airfield in rural Georgia, the U.S. government pays a contractor $6,600 a month for a plane that doesn’t fly.

The plane is a 1960s turboprop with an odd array of antennas on its back end and the name of a Cuban national hero painted on its tail. It can fly, but it doesn’t. Government orders.

“The contract now is a ‘non-fly’ ” contract, said Steve Christopher of Phoenix Air Group, standing next to the plane. “That’s what the customer wants.”

The airplane is called “Aero Martí,” and it is stuck in a kind of federal limbo. After two years of haphazard spending cuts in Washington, it has too little funding to function but too much to die.

The plane was outfitted to fly over the ocean and broadcast an American-run TV station into Cuba. The effort was part of the long-running U.S. campaign to combat communism in Cuba by providing information to the Cuban people uncensored by their government.

But Cuban officials jammed the signal almost immediately, and surveys showed that less than 1 percent of Cubans watched. Still, when Congress started making budget cuts, lawmakers refused to kill the plane.

But then they allowed across-the-board “sequestration” cuts. And there was no more money for the fuel and pilots. So the plane sits in storage at taxpayer expense — a monument to the limits of American austerity. In this case, a push to eliminate long-troubled programs collided with old Washington forces: government inertia, intense lobbying and congressional pride.

. . .

... in 2012, the Obama administration officially gave up.

The federal Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which pays for the plane, asked Congress to eliminate it. The savings: about $2 million a year.

. . .

Congress preserved the funding. So from October [2012] to this May [2013], the administration spent $751,999 to operate a plane it had declared was not worth the money.

But then came sequestration.

This was a broad hack across the budget, which Congress made after it failed to agree on more targeted budget cuts. At the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, officials found their share of the cut was $1.4 million.

They kept the plane. They cut the flying.

Now, the agency still pays $79,500 a year to keep the aircraft in storage, paying money for nothing in a time when sequestration is causing painful cuts in other programs.

There's more at the link.

So we're adding to our already ruinous deficit by paying through the nose for an unneeded, unwanted plane to be parked unused.  I have a suggestion.  Let's take every cent of that expenditure out of the salaries paid to all those who keep pushing to retain the plane.  If they don't total enough to cover the costs, let's deduct it from their pensions.  That way they might develop a little more respect for the taxpayers they're raping in such an unconscionable fashion!



Murphy's Law said...

If they want to save some money, I'm willing to not fly my plane for just $5,900 a month, so they can subsidize me and take credit for a spending cut.

And in a couple of years, I'll have enough bread for a seriously cool new plane.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

+1 ML. I have a better offer. For just $,000 a month, I won't buy and plane and not fly it.

Paul said...

It would be interesting to go through the books and find all the assets funded into perpetuity and not used.

Jeremy Brock said...

From what little I can see, it looks like an old Grumman Gulfstream I. Phoenix seem to operate a disproportionate share of the remaining ones. They're neat old airplanes.

Old NFO said...

This shows just how HARD it is to kill ANY program... sigh

Coconut said...

I'll take it off their hands.

I don't know what I'll do with it; I don't have a pilot's licence, but I'm sure I could figure something out.

Have to wonder how much they'd save if they took some of those old planes in the various air force boneyards and flogged them off to private collectors.

Certainly there's people out there who'd be honoured to pay through the nose for the front half of an F4.

Anonymous said...

I think the only government program that they would be willing to cut is one one that documented all of the government waste of money.