A not-so-squishy post about a real waste of taxpayer $$$’s!

Back to ranting.

Check this out. In times where everyone in the Public Service is being asked to tighten their collective belts, the miliatry sees fit to give their slightly wacky ex-Grand Poobah a VERY expensive going away party!

$270 K to be exact! And $6,600 so his Holiness could track off into the sunset on a frickin’ tank!

Off into the sunset... and to get 20K per speaking engagement!

Off into the sunset... and to get 20K per speaking engagement!

Yeah, yeah – I can hear the military folks bleating (this is your cue, Squiddude) that this pomp and ceremony is an integral “part” of the military and is essential to maintain morale! But from my angle it seems that buying some new equipment for the soldiers may do even MORE for morale with the added benefit of helping them not get, uh, killed in that quagmire we like to call Afghanistan!

Gee, I wonder if Nortel threw a magnificent party for those thousand of folks that they laid off?

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Kinda looks like Napoleon?


14 Comments to “A not-so-squishy post about a real waste of taxpayer $$$’s!”

  1. Ken says:

    How’s this for a waste?

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2009/03/30/walsh-tsb-pay.html

    $300k over 2 years, and didn’t show up for work because he’s facing CRIMINAL CHARGES.

    The guy was appointed by the Liberals, showing that any government is capable of wasting our money.

  2. I see your point, but it\’s pretty difficult to argue that a quarter million dollar parade is anything but wasteful, and I\’m saying that as a soldier. I suppose there\’s an element of ass-kissing at the high levels (Hey rick, I gave you that quarter million dollar send off, now how\’s about finangling something for me), but that\’s still wasteful.

    The travel expenses I still think are a bargain. It *seems* wasteful because most people don\’t ever experience a job like that. If I was in her shoes… let\’s see.

    40 trips a year, of which about 3/4 are first-class. So let\’s say 10 trips at ~$2000 (full fare economy in north america due to changing scheds and short notice), and 30 trips at $5000: travel costs $170,000

    40 weeks in hotels. using the same general logic as the travel calc\’s, that\’s 30 weeks at European/asian prices ($500/night) and about 10 weeks at north american big-city prices ($400/night). Meals allowance about $40 per day for the entire time (less than what Trashee might see because entertainment expenses will cover some too): Living expenses $144,000

    Entertainment expenses… hmm that\’s a tougher one. Let\’s say one Canada-paid event/party/ass-kissing session/fancy dinner every 2 weeks, for a handful of people. A $5000 budget should cover it each time. Entertainment expenses: $100,000.

    Darin\’s estimate: $414,000. That\’s not being extravagant by any means.

    Seriously, her expense claims don\’t seem to be wasteful. The real question is whether or not her whole JOB is necessary.

  3. Ken says:

    I didn’t say I was outraged at the $400k spent by the bureaucrat. I’m in agreement that if you have to travel, then the employer should pay for it, and the employee shouldn’t be doing it on the el-cheapo.

    That being said, however, waste of taxpayers’ funds in many cases is subjective. I’d bet that there’s a lot of supporters of the military that would say spending $250k on the ceremony isn’t wasteful.

    $250k is a lot, but so is $400k, so the question we have to ask ourselves: Is there value for the money being spent? Once again, the answers to that are, in all likelihood, subjective.

    If the $250k was spent on preserving Lester B Pearson’s legacy, would you still be outraged? How about spending the funds on Pierre Trudeau or Tommy Douglas?

    My original comment was me acting as a devil’s advocate (which is what I usually do when people take an extreme view on something 😉 Just ask Darin about recent comments about the environment 😉 ).

  4. That particular captcha system is loathesome by the way. it fails a good 30-40% of the time for me, and I have good eyesight.

  5. Oh yeah… it\’s brutal. In my olde job I was on the road about 50% of the time. I finally got fed up when security guys at O\’Hare were on a first-name basis with me. You should not see baggage checkers at foreign airports so often that they recognize you and you can chat on a first-name basis… that\’s no disrespect for them either.

    MSN was the only way my friends and I could keep connected (2 of them worked for the same company, with the same travelling issues). We\’d have MSN chats with one guy in switzerland, one in texas and one in Japan. Ugh. On those rare times we\’d be in town and go out for dinner and suddenly realize \"hey, does anyone have canadian money?\"

  6. trashee says:

    It’s the perception of the bureaucrat that hurts. I travel – not as much as some folks – quite sensibly… taking advantage of early-bird registration, staying in resonable hotels, etc.
    But travel is NOT a perq and is a pain in the ass sometimes – especially if one has little kids – lotsa extra pressure on one’s spouse. And folks at DFO DO have to travel quite extensively. A buddy of mine is fairly high up on the food chain over there and he goes hither and nither working on stuff like treaties and catch quotas – pretty important things.
    One recent trip had him travel to Belgium and then Finland and back to Ottawa – in 2 days – no hotel cuz he slept on the plane… he could have justifiably and within regulation done a Saturday night stayover and seen a bit of Helsinki.. but he wanted to get back home to his wife and young son… plus, in his absence, he had an important meeting scheduled for him 1 hour after landing in Ottawa on the Friday afternoon. In all – even figuring in lost savings due to not have the stayover, he figgers he saved about 2 grand total…
    Definitely NOT a perq, eh?

  7. Bleah, I can’t edit the comment, the number I get is $462k, not $345k… I forgot to add in the airfare to the total number.

  8. Sorry for so many comments, but I want to drive home the $400k thing for Ken because it’s very different.

    As you may know, I went to work a week in Switzerland – a trip that got extended to 9 days. The lodging rate at the airport Hilton (a middle-of-the-road hotel) was 420 francs per night. Breakfast was typically 50 francs, lunch was usually around the same, and dinner was typically 120. 640 francs per day just on room and board. That’s 5760 francs for the week and at the exchange rate of the time, about $6900. Add in $5k for airfare (dude you fly business class for flight that long, it’s the standard in industry and a civil servant should expect the same) and you have an expense claim of just shy of $12k for little more than a week with NO extravagance and no entertainment expenses required. Now multiply that by 40 weeks of work. Now add in, say, 25% (which is probably skimping) because the DFO person is required to entertain heads of state, high ranking officials. let’s see… I come up with $345k as a back-of-the-napkin calculation.

    I’d say $400k shows remarkable restraint.

    The question should be whether or not we got anything for it? Are our treaties, obligations and relations better for the money spent? If they are, then it’s a job well done.

  9. In 1983 my “bad attitude” got me assigned extra drill that made me march the equivalent of about 120 miles.

    I was base duty officer at a certain Canadian base so often that fully 2 years after I left the military, I was able to free finangle temporary officer’s quarters. , I was with some friends and we blew a tire on the highway. We showed up at said base and because people recognized me or asssumed I was on duty again, we got rooms as “transient officers”. I filled out all the paperwork (with no names of course) and left early in the morning to avoid the MPs. 🙂 That boosted my morale 🙂

  10. As a sidebar (thus a separate comment)… when I was serving, I often fought the morale battle. People senior to me (irrespective of my rank) always seemed to think that a parade boosts morale. I had a lot of conversations like this:

    OCdt / 2Lt / Lt / Capt Squid: Sir, I really think we could do something more useful on Friday than a parade. The men are overworked and cranky.
    Lt / Capt / Maj / Col PITA: No, the men will love a parade… gives them a break, raises morale. Get ’em formed up at 0630.
    Squid: Sir, 3 promotions ago, did you enjoy staying up all night to polish your boots and then forming up at 0-dark-30 so some gold-wearing jackass can look at your butt for lint?
    PITA: No, but i don’t see where you’re going with this.
    Squid: Did it improve your morale?
    PITA: I liked being outside.
    Squid: That’s not what I asked. Give the men the day off. Hell, tell them to wash your car, do your wife’s laundry and give them the day off and they’ll still be happier than a $)#(*#($* parade. They’ll respect you for giving a shit and morale will improve. Or at least do nothing. A parade is like a punishment.
    PITA: You have a bad attitude Mr. Squid.
    Squid: No sir, I think I’m the only sane person in the air force.
    PITA: Well you can think about being sane on duty for the next 3 weekends.

    My whole career was like that 🙂

  11. The difference between the parade and the DFO exec should be obvious, but let me spell it out:

    1. The parade is wholly frivolous
    2. The DFO person’s job is to travel to other countries and schmooze to get treaties, agreements, and just feel out the opinion of the world.

    Spending a quarter million on the former is obviously, and clearly wasteful – and I don’t need to see details because I have lived the adventure. Spending half a million on the latter might just be the deal of a century – I’d need to see a lot more details.

    People who sit in some cube farm doing paperwork all day often lose sight of the fact that other people have hard work that comes with a certain amount of responsiblity for greasing wheels and buttering people up. Add to that the fact that business travel is really sucky (I’ve lived *that* adventure too), that we can’t make Canada look like a bunch of skinflints on the international stage, and $400k for an international liaison’s hotels and meals seems amply reasonable to me.

    My last job that had travel (ex: 200000 FF miles in a year, lowest in my group) caused me to rack up around $100k in travel and living expenses, all billed to the customer (sometimes governments). I was just a drone and I travelled less than the DFO person.

  12. trashee says:

    Wow Squid dude – you continue to climb in my books… I am a peacenik but know that there is, sadly, a need for standing army… but man, equip our forces properly or just give it up! It is freakin’ shameful!
    Ken – I don’t disagree with you but I too serve my country faithfully. The fact that I have haven’t carried carried a gun should not diminish from the fact that my contribution is just as important. We all choose our paths.
    I am outraged by any abuse of public money by anyone. whether DFO, DND, or whereever… but this is flagrant and unmerited. Pure and simple.

  13. Ken says:

    At least he served our country faithfully and did a good job while serving.

    Where’s your outrage over the $400k that the bureaucrat over at Dep’t of Fisheries & Oceans spent for hotels & food?

  14. You’ll get no disagreement from me. I thought such things were bullshit when I was a soldier – 9 years worth. I can assure you that almost every soldier on parade could think up 50 places they’d rather be. The Snowbirds would be the exception – they’re pilots and at least it’s training for them. In that picture are air force guys… I’m sure they loved spit-polishing their boots and going through all the prep so a retired general can stroke his own ego one last time.

    I don’t believe for a second that those sorts of things improve anyone’s morale. Any morale benefit could have been had by a very low-key parade. Out of respect, it’s something that makes sense in the military context. But a big, pompous, quarter million dollar send-off when our soldiers don’t even have basic modern equipment? That’s bullshit and someone should be called to account.

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