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Ruling-Class Travel Perks

Wednesday August 28th, 2013   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 8:59am PDT   •  

Free_c-37_squareThe recession has been tough on American workers but overall rather kind to the federal ruling class. The Obama administration, for example, has not eliminated any federal agencies but did create a new one, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. But now comes a story that, due to the sequester, much of the U.S government is “grounded” and unable to conduct essential business.

Most federal government travel budgets, that is, have been cut by 30 percent, hardly a draconian reduction. So the Secretary of Defense will travel to Afghanistan only twice a year instead of four times. And instead of sending 75 scientists to lecture at the Seismological Society of America, this year the government will send only 14. Most of the travel by federal employees is, of course, not essential and simply another ruling-class perk, like higher pay, better retirement, and superior benefits.

When he was Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta made nearly 30 trips home to California on C-37 military planes costing $3,000 an hour, which even the Washington Post said was “a bit excessive.” No TSA gauntlet for Secretary Panetta. Obama adviser David Axelrod defended the expenditures, but waste through travel perks is not limited to the federal government.

An employee in the risk management department of the California State University toured a giraffe center in Kenya, stayed at upscale hotels in London and Tel Aviv, and made overnight trips to San Francisco, St. Louis, and New York City “that left no time for conducting business in those cities.” CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White said all this was an “inappropriate use of dollars by an employee.” And that was just one employee, who conveniently remains unidentified and, true to form, on the California State University payroll.

That’s how it works in ruling-class circles, where perks abound and waste is inherent in the system. Taxpayer dollars must trickle down through multiple layers of bureaucratic sediment. Instead of clearing away the sediment, governments add to it, even in tough economic times.

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August 2013