Monday, July 23, 2007

Lose the outrage and get real...

How conveeeenient - a GAO report on payments to dead farmers smack in the middle the farm bill debate.
The Agriculture Department sent $1.1 billion in farm payments to more than 170,000 dead people over a seven-year period, congressional investigators say. [More of a rather formulaic story]
Some good questions to ask when you see articles like this.
  1. How much total money did the FSA hand out during this period? If we do a rough estimate of $20B per year, then the dead guys got about 0.7%. In other words, 99.3% of these funds were NOT dispersed to dead people.
  2. How does the above compare to other welfare programs of government (SS, Homeland Security, etc.)?
  3. How much are we willing to spend in staff, auditors, investigators, etc. to recover that $1.1B?
  4. Have you ever tried to close an estate in 2 years? I have and it's like trying to kill a zombie.
Of course, the obvious answer to this outrage: don't pay dead people; don't pay live people.


Anonymous said...

Here is a good explanation of the story from USDA/FSA.

There are good reasons for estates to stay open, FSA simply has not been as diligent as they should have been in reveiwing estatesto make sure they are not left open to avoid pay limit rules. No real smoking gun here.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry too much about payments to dead farmers until they start cashing the checks.