You might have read that federal auditors are saying $6.6 billion in cash is missing from Iraq. After looking through all the accounting records and checking various shoeboxes sitting in desk drawers around Baghdad, the auditors have decided that it might — might — have been stolen.
It’s tough to get outraged about the federal government wasting money. Honestly, I suffer from a severe case of “outrage fatigue.” Too much money is taken from taxpayers and blown in ways that are obviously fraudulent, even by prevailing legal standards. After awhile, I just accept there’s nothing I can do about it — and I accept that the people with the power to stop it don’t care.
Even when the amount rises to $6.6 billion, I’m a bit numb about it. Why? It’s hard to get upset about money being stolen from the people who stole it from me.
Should I feel better if the money had been handed out to farmers and agri-business interests? Should I feel better if the money had been spent to pay teachers who can’t teach in schools where there’s no accountability and nobody has a choice about whether to pay for the services? Should I feel better if the money had been spent on another weapons system to kill people I don’t want to kill? Should I feel better if the money had been spent for bombs to kill Libyans? Should I feel better if the money had been spent on a million other things that I didn’t want to spend my money for?
It’s not news that the federal government wastes money and has lax controls. On seeing stories such as this one, people tend to think we need to “be more careful with the people’s money.” That’s not the real issue. The state needs to quit stealing our money, regardless of what it does with the cash. The money was stolen in Iraq, but it was stolen from American taxpayers first.