Friday, October 23, 2009

Sounds like real money

Last week we were in Washington, DC on a home school field trip. It was really inspiring to see all the monuments and historical artifacts.

Since I tutor several subjects for home schoolers, including economics, I have been watching the growing government debt with concern. On the train into DC one day, we met an accountant who works as an auditor for a private auditing firm.

His company is charged with overseeing the books of the General Services Administration. After telling a little about his story, he said, "There is a big margin for error," in his audits. He went on to say that a discrepancy of $130 million to $150 million doesn't merit much attention. "So they just write that off?" I asked. Yes, they do, he said.

To his credit, he was also appalled. He is an experienced accountant who has only been working in Washington for less than a year. It seems like he wants taxpayers to know what's really going on inside the Beltway. He still lives in Georgia and commutes to DC during the week.

His story tells about just one department of the government. All the other departments and agencies must also have huge "margins of error." Since I like to balance my checkbook to the penny, it makes me uncomfortable to think about undetected mistakes.

It shocks me to think that potentially billions of dollars can be written off in the accounting of all these government checkbooks. Can you imagine the temptation to embezzle? You could take a million dollars a month, and NO ONE WOULD KNOW IT!

Bi9 government has many drawbacks, not the least of which is that no one really knows all that's happening. Somebody must be supervising all this bureaucracy. The auditors are, and they are watching money disappear by the hundreds of millions.

No wonder we need to spend $1.4 trillion more than we have this year.