Mismanagement and its evil twin corruption

Weir thinking about it

The Bush White House is preparing for a post—inauguration effort to partially privatize Social Security. Supporters of the President's plan are gearing for battle against Democrats who view the proposed 'ownership society' as a GOP plot to dismantle what the Dems consider to be the most successful government program ever invented. Although there may be more fact than folly to that assertion, even the best inventions become obsolete as new ones take their place. With most projections indicating that Social Security will be bankrupt by the time anyone currently under 50 applies for it, there are only so many options available to provide retirement income for eligible recipients 15 or 20 years from now. Either the eligible age will have to be increased to about 70, or a lot more money will have to be taken from the paychecks of working people. Sadly, every time a news reporter asks which option is most favorable, the politician on the other end of the query avoids it.

Instead, we hear that SS is the only large federal agency that has been free of scandal and mismanagement, so it shouldn't be violated. Yet, it's well known that the program has been tapped over the years to cover other programs, leaving it with a sea of IOU's. Isn't that considered mismanagement? On its face, SS was, is, and will always be, a Ponzi—type scheme that was bound to collapse sooner or later. It's a formula that could only work if there was an endlessly growing supply of new workers paying into the system at roughly the same ratio of workers to retirees that it had when it began. In addition, if the life span of the average person had not increased by almost 20 years, there would be enough money in the system, since most of us wouldn't live to enjoy any retirement. With collapse a mathematical certainty, it seems reasonable to chart another course for this Titanic.

Speaking of mismanagement, if the United Nations were a US corporation or a democracy ruled by laws, Secretary—General Kofi Annan would have been forced to resign in disgrace, and might well be under criminal investigation for, at the least, tolerating massive corruption. Even with a less than inspiring probe by the major media in this country, the facts have indicated that Mr. Annan has presided over the largest bribery and embezzlement scandal in the history of the world. According to an ongoing senate investigation, Saddam Hussein is alleged to have skimmed $21.3 billion from a UN humanitarian aid program. In 1991, when the US pushed Hussein's troops out of Kuwait, the UN enforced an embargo on Iraq's oil to weaken the dictator and encourage efforts to overthrow him. Hence, the only Iraqi oil that was to be sold was through the UN program, and the proceeds were supposed to buy humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people. Annan's behavior appears suspicious inasmuch as he has done everything possible to impede efforts to get to the bottom of the scandal, which has implicated his son, Kojo.

There are many reasons why Americans should be outraged, not the least of which is that US taxpayers fund more than 20 percent of the UN budget, and the allegations are that UN officials, whose job was to oversee the Oil for Food program, took payoffs from Hussein to look the other way as he carved out a hefty piece of the huge pie for himself. Among those under suspicion of having accepted payments from Saddam in return for support against the US—led war are businessmen and politicians in France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council. Gee, it makes you kind of suspicious as to why they didn't want the US to remove the Butcher of Baghdad from power. Could it be that Chirac and Putin were afraid to lose the largesse and have the world discover their treachery? Is it any wonder why their relationship with the Secretary General appeared so cozy? In the unlikely event that Kofi Annan and company didn't know what was going on, he and his UN comrades are even more incompetent than their past reputations would indicate. Either way, they can no longer be trusted with so much global authority. 

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City policy department. He is the editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com

Weir thinking about it

The Bush White House is preparing for a post—inauguration effort to partially privatize Social Security. Supporters of the President's plan are gearing for battle against Democrats who view the proposed 'ownership society' as a GOP plot to dismantle what the Dems consider to be the most successful government program ever invented. Although there may be more fact than folly to that assertion, even the best inventions become obsolete as new ones take their place. With most projections indicating that Social Security will be bankrupt by the time anyone currently under 50 applies for it, there are only so many options available to provide retirement income for eligible recipients 15 or 20 years from now. Either the eligible age will have to be increased to about 70, or a lot more money will have to be taken from the paychecks of working people. Sadly, every time a news reporter asks which option is most favorable, the politician on the other end of the query avoids it.

Instead, we hear that SS is the only large federal agency that has been free of scandal and mismanagement, so it shouldn't be violated. Yet, it's well known that the program has been tapped over the years to cover other programs, leaving it with a sea of IOU's. Isn't that considered mismanagement? On its face, SS was, is, and will always be, a Ponzi—type scheme that was bound to collapse sooner or later. It's a formula that could only work if there was an endlessly growing supply of new workers paying into the system at roughly the same ratio of workers to retirees that it had when it began. In addition, if the life span of the average person had not increased by almost 20 years, there would be enough money in the system, since most of us wouldn't live to enjoy any retirement. With collapse a mathematical certainty, it seems reasonable to chart another course for this Titanic.

Speaking of mismanagement, if the United Nations were a US corporation or a democracy ruled by laws, Secretary—General Kofi Annan would have been forced to resign in disgrace, and might well be under criminal investigation for, at the least, tolerating massive corruption. Even with a less than inspiring probe by the major media in this country, the facts have indicated that Mr. Annan has presided over the largest bribery and embezzlement scandal in the history of the world. According to an ongoing senate investigation, Saddam Hussein is alleged to have skimmed $21.3 billion from a UN humanitarian aid program. In 1991, when the US pushed Hussein's troops out of Kuwait, the UN enforced an embargo on Iraq's oil to weaken the dictator and encourage efforts to overthrow him. Hence, the only Iraqi oil that was to be sold was through the UN program, and the proceeds were supposed to buy humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people. Annan's behavior appears suspicious inasmuch as he has done everything possible to impede efforts to get to the bottom of the scandal, which has implicated his son, Kojo.

There are many reasons why Americans should be outraged, not the least of which is that US taxpayers fund more than 20 percent of the UN budget, and the allegations are that UN officials, whose job was to oversee the Oil for Food program, took payoffs from Hussein to look the other way as he carved out a hefty piece of the huge pie for himself. Among those under suspicion of having accepted payments from Saddam in return for support against the US—led war are businessmen and politicians in France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council. Gee, it makes you kind of suspicious as to why they didn't want the US to remove the Butcher of Baghdad from power. Could it be that Chirac and Putin were afraid to lose the largesse and have the world discover their treachery? Is it any wonder why their relationship with the Secretary General appeared so cozy? In the unlikely event that Kofi Annan and company didn't know what was going on, he and his UN comrades are even more incompetent than their past reputations would indicate. Either way, they can no longer be trusted with so much global authority. 

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City policy department. He is the editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. BobWeir777@aol.com