Will the hypocrisy and wasteful management of American taxpayer money ever cease in Washington? One could answer that question with a "no" if the answer was based on the actions exhibited by some agencies in Washington right before the government shutdown and those shortly thereafter.
In a brilliant maddening move by the State Department, "a five-year contract was awarded to a man named Simon Pearce for $5 million dollars to create more than 12, 000 high-end custom crystals and barware for US embassies."
As Downtrend.com reports:
A maddening example of the Obama Administration's complete disregard for the nation's fiscal woes has come to light thanks to a story in a local Vermont paper. As Congress and the Administration were struggling to come to an agreement on a budget and the government was on the verge of shutting down, the State Department went on a spending spree.
A five-year contract was awarded to a man named Simon Pearce for $5 million dollars to create more than 12,000 high-end custom crystals and barware for US embassies. Mr. Pearce is, of course, thrilled with his luck to get such a lucrative contract just under the wire. However, the rest of the United States is struggling to see the logic behind this move.
At the end of the fiscal year, federal departments and agencies rush to finish off their allotted funds. They operate under a policy in Washington known as "use it or lose it." When a federal entity does not use part of its budget, it loses it forever. So, they waste away instead of being forced to slim down. That's what happened in the 2012 fiscal year when government contracts ballooned from $45 billion prior to the last week in September to a whopping $100 billion in the final days of the fiscal year.
While it may be standard practice, this wasteful spending feels more like the band playing while the Titanic sank. The Administration's cries about fairness and responsibility do not apply when it is shoveling millions of taxpayer dollars out the door for fancy crystal.
According to the Valley News:
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies, which oversees State Department funding, was instrumental in helping Simon Pearce get the contract. Leahy wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in support of the bid by Simon Pearce, a news release says.
"It is wonderful to have such an exquisite example of Vermont craftsmanship on display and in use in our embassies around the world," Leahy said in the release. "Marcelle and I have visited many of those embassies, and knowing that Simon Pearce's products will be there is something that all Vermonters should be proud of," Leahy said.
Yes, Vermont residents can be proud of their Democratic Senator who supported wasteful spending by a federal department in Washington; taxpayer money these Vermont residents contributed to the federal waste pot along with the rest of us.
While I understand it is important to have nice stemware and china at our embassies in order to host diplomats and dignitaries from other countries, $5 million dollars for custom crystals and barware is very extravagant. It boils down to an average of $416.67 for each piece. Lenox.com sells some very beautiful and eye catching stemware for all occasions with prices ranging from $19.95 to $60.00 each piece. Their barware and barware sets are also stunning and reasonably priced per piece. Any number of the designs selected could be etched with a custom design for each embassy, bringing the cost per piece still well under the average price per piece of this $5 million fiasco.
If I recall correctly, Nancy Reagan ordered 4,320 pieces of Lenox China which amounted to enough place settings of 19 pieces for 220 people. By the time of the Reagan presidency, state dinners had grown so large, the china at the White House could not accommodate the number of guests. Mrs. Reagan was criticized for her spending of a little over $200,000 for the china; however, the china was not furnished with taxpayer money but was paid for by the J.P. Knapp Foundation.
I'm sure my simple economic solution to their extravagance would be laughed at as kings and nobles tend to view any idea or opinion by a simple peasant as unworthy of contemplation. Such is the state of our government at the present time. Refreshments and drinks must taste better when served in custom crystals and barware. I, personally, would not know since being a simple peasant from the south, we sometimes partake of the House wine of the South from the Mason jar or the jelly glass.
Imagine if the State Department had used that $5 million dollars to provide additional security at Benghazi or used that money to enact a rescue mission. Things would have certainly turned out differently. But, none of this was the case as it was more important to squeeze those pennies til they squealed so they could in turn be squandered on an extravagant expenditure at the end of the year.