Oh, to be a Party Member with a Credit Card…

Just when I thought the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion could­n’t get any more cor­rupt, they actu­al­ly use anoth­er dis­as­ter to befall Amer­i­cans on their watch (Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na) to help them fur­ther their own crony­ism. This one even reached CNN:

About 250,000 fed­er­al employ­ees have gov­ern­ment cred­it cards, which typ­i­cal­ly have a pur­chase lim­it of $2,500.
At the request of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, Con­gress increased the cred­it line to $250,000 as part of a mas­sive Kat­ri­na recov­ery bill approved last week. The aim is to make it eas­i­er to speed aid to victims.
Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley, R‑Iowa, said the “out­ra­geous increase” was “slipped” into the bill. He is seek­ing to insert lan­guage in a Kat­ri­na health bill that would reduce the lim­it in most cas­es to $50,000.

Under the guise of ‘mak­ing it eas­i­er to speed aid to vic­tims’, all of the checks and bal­ances on abuse, the built-in encour­age­ment to help Women and Minor­i­ty-owned busi­ness­es and local busi­ness­es go out the win­dow if your expense is less than $250,000. This would­n’t obvi­ous­ly be the best ecom­merce strat­e­gy that one could imple­ment, because that busi­ness would require a lot of funds.
So, let me get this straight: With lit­tle to no over­sight, a fed­er­al employ­ee with a gov­ern­ment cred­it card could pret­ty much finance the build­ing of a house, if they want, no ques­tions asked. Or maybe they could charge a trip to tour facil­i­ties in, say, Las Vegas, to get an update on the lat­est con­struc­tion tech­niques (wink, wink). If we thought the rebuild­ing of Iraq was a gift to Hal­ibur­ton in no-bid con­tracts, try mul­ti­ply­ing that by 250,000 peo­ple, all with carte blanche (although I assume the cards they have are Visas or Mas­ter­cards). Appar­ent­ly there was a minor update to this after Grass­ley’s uproar, and they need a ‘sig­na­ture’ from anoth­er gov­ern­ment offi­cial for expen­di­tures over $50,000. Oh that changes everything.
Here in Cana­da there was a huge uproar over cor­rup­tion by the Lib­er­al Par­ty for fun­nel­ing about $81 mil­lion (CAD) in funds to an adver­tis­ing agency with ties to their par­ty for lit­tle or no work. To put that in per­spec­tive, Hal­libur­ton, which has pret­ty close ties to the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion, was again in the news about their con­tracts in Louisiana. And as for their ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion in Iraq:

All told, Hal­libur­ton has earned more than $12 bil­lion in Iraq. Pen­ta­gon audits released by Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty in June showed $1.03 bil­lion in “ques­tioned” costs and $422 mil­lion in “unsup­port­ed” costs for Hal­libur­ton’s work in Iraq.
— from a report pub­lished Sept. 22, 2005 by Prat­ap Chat­ter­jee, an inves­tiga­tive writer who is cur­rent­ly Direc­tor of CorpWatch.org.

All in all, I’d say that Cana­da has a lot to learn in the cor­rup­tion game. $81 mil­lion? Heck, I’ll bet that Hal­libur­ton has that kind of pock­et change fall out as they lean over their rigs in Bag­dad. As Croc­o­dile Dundee said: “That’s not a knife…”
Maybe if the Gov­ern­ment of Cana­da gave, say, a quar­ter of a mil­lion of their employ­ees a cred­it card with a quar­ter of mil­lion dol­lar cred­it lim­it, then we’d be talk­ing scandal.

Or maybe it’s just busi­ness as usu­al in the coun­try to the south of us these days.