But forget all that stuff. Pay no attention to the fact that our government is bankrupt. The managers of our Social Security Administration needed to get out of the office, come together face-to-face, let their hair down and have some fun together, do some “team building,” and get trained on how to “reduce workplace stress.” And when William La Jeunesse of the Fox News Channel showed up at the resort asking to speak to the SSA, the childish incompetence of our public servants was put on display for all the nation to see.
La Jeunesse asked SSA Spokesman Peter Spencer about a matter that many Americans have not forgotten: the indignant tirade in Washington last Fall over executives of the AIG Corporation spending $440,000 on their own corporate retreat. AIG, of course, had managed itself into a financial crisis, and had accepted government bailout funds from the Bush Administration. The thought of a corporation feeding at the public trough, and still enjoying luxurious “corporate travel and entertainment” as millions of Americans on Main Street were losing their jobs, was, understandably, an outrage, and then-Senator Obama called for the executives involved in the “scandal” to be immediately terminated.
So La Jeunesse wanted to know why the SSA’s taxpayer funded retreat was okay, when the AIG Corporation’s retreat was not. “There’s a clear distinction between the two” SSA Spokesperson Peter Spencer explained. “They (the AIG Corporation) received specific bailout funds, we did not…”
Mr. Spencer was, of course, playing the American people for fools. Whether you call it “bailout funds” or an operating budget, government money is our money, the people’s money. All the money that government possess comes from our tax payments.
And while American workers in the “real world” face layoffs, pay-cuts, the elimination of expense accounts, and moratoriums on corporate travel and entertainment ( wasn’t the annual “holiday party” eliminated at your place of employment a year or two ago?), it is disgraceful that government employees think its okay to sit in the lap of luxury at our expense.
Neither the President nor members of Congress are able to control all the indiscretions of government bureaucrats, but they can certainly demand an investigation into the waste of our tax money. Republicans in Congress should demand congressional hearings on this matter, and demand them now.
But whether or not Congress acts prudently, the rest of us private citizens can not act like the ignorant fools that Mr. Spencer presumes us to be. Americans must stop turning a blind, passive, albeit cynical eye to agents of our government who insist on taking ever-increasing amounts of our private wealth and re-distributing it according to their own plans, all the while enjoying the spoils of our labor and using their positions of power for their own selfish purposes. This description applies to government bureaucrats, members of Congress, and the President, alike.
And as for Mr. Spencer - he should determine how Social Security will continue to pay-out benefits to American workers, rather than budgeting for stress-reducing retreats.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.