Thursday, February 3, 2011

Who are these people

who have absolutely no concept of value for money when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars?

It’s a trivial thing, and a trivial amount as far as governments go, but this is the kind of thing that really burns my ass (as reported in The Ottawa Citizen today):

As Canadians dug into their pockets for donations to Haiti last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs spent nearly $27,000 on backdrops used at a ministerial conference to co-ordinate response to the earthquake. According to recently released documents, the backdrops were used only once, when Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon hosted the Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Montreal on Jan. 25, 2010. The department paid $26,534 for the backdrops. The banners were in Conservative colours -medium blue, with red highlights -and bore the slogan, "Strength in union."

$27,000 is but a drop in the bucket when it comes to making ministers look good (and let’s face it, Lawrence “Loose” Cannon can use all the help he can get) but to spend even that much on a throw-away prop for a pol’s photo-op, especially one dealing with a huge humanitarian crisis that could have used that $27,000 for something useful, just shows how out of touch with the real world most of these ministers’ handlers are.

The problem is that when you and I see $27,000 we envision a large number of real dollars and consider it in terms of whether we should save all or part of it, or how to spend it in the most productive way. When a civil servant sees $27,000 they just see numbers on a page.

Sadly it was ever thus, and I don’t expect to see any changes in my lifetime. But it still pisses me off.

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