Saturday, January 15, 2011

Broken Government: Failure Is Rewarded & Taxpayer Money Wasted, Even As Debt Swells

The national debt has now reached a staggering $14 trillion.

As a result, next month, Congress will begin a huge political battle over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit, set just last year.

The 2010 election was largely about government spending, budget deficits, taxes, and that dangerous debt total, which could be the financial train wreck that ultimately destroys the US.

The problem with the deficit debate is that one person's example of government waste is another person's example of critical government spending.

Politicians and voters alike cling to certain programs and expenditures they see as vital to the nation, their state, or even a community.

However, there are examples of waste that are so outrageous they may make everyone want to stand up and scream.

Like this one, for instance, as reported by

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday ended a high-tech southern border fence plan that cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion but did little to improve security. Congress ordered the high-tech fence in 2006 amid a clamor over the porous border, but the project yielded only 53 miles of protection.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano informed key members of Congress Friday that an “independent, quantitative, science-based review made clear” the fence, known as SBInet, “cannot meet its original objective of providing a single, integrated border security technology solution.”

The fence, initiated in 2005, was to be a network of cameras, ground sensors and radars that would be used to spot incursions or problems and decide where to deploy Border Patrol agents. It was supposed to be keeping watch over most of the southern border with Mexico by this year.

Instead, taxpayers ended up with about 53 miles of operational “virtual fence” in Arizona for a cost of at least $15 million a mile, according to testimony in previous congressional hearings.

The Bush administration awarded Boeing [the contractor] a three-year, $67 million contract. But the fence had a long list of glitches and delays. Its radar system had trouble distinguishing between vegetation and people in windy weather, cameras moved too slowly and satellite communications also were slow. Although some of the concept is in use in two sections of Arizona, the security came at too high a cost.

So, based on this, one might expect that not only would the project be scrapped, but that the contractor would be summarily dismissed and even sued to recover the taxpayer money wasted on this utterly failed system. But that kind of rationale would be wrong.

Boeing was the contractor for SBInet. Despite the problems, the Homeland Security Department granted Boeing a second one-year option on a three-year contract to work with the department for maintenance and upkeep of the two Arizona sections that are operational.

In a statement, Boeing said it is proud of the accomplishments of its team and the “unprecedented capabilities” delivered in the last year to assist Border Patrol. The company said it appreciates that Homeland Security Department recognizes the value of the fixed towers Boeing built as part of SBInet.

Got that? Failure is rewarded, and Boeing is proud of its failure.

As a result of Boeing's "unprecedented capabilities", this albatross of a project had to be scrapped due to its abject failure.

This is an egregious example of our government at work, wasting our tax dollars in a time of fiscal crisis. It is the definition of government gone mad. And it defines the cronyism that is endemic in our government.

Entire industries, such as the Military-Industrial Complex, hold sway over our government. The government is the servant and industry is its master.

What's clear is that the bigger government becomes, the more wasteful, the more corrupt and the more entitled it also becomes.

Even as conservatives and Tea Party members in Congress — and across the country — scream about the size, reach and irresponsibility of government, outrages such as this continue unabated.

Like the Titanic, the US is sailing — full-speed ahead — into a fiscal and financial ice berg.

Sadly, this story will fly under the radar of the average, highly distracted American.

Meanwhile, our government continues to rot and our fiscal position continues to decay.

As the saying goes, we get the government we deserve.


  1. Anonymous12:43 AM

    I cannot believe such inaccurate information is allowed to be posted and actually presented as truth. The comments you make in this post are not only inaccurate but just flat out wrong! Comments such as "recover the taxpayer money wasted on this utterly failed system" Are you kidding me?? The two systems in Arizona have been credited with the apprehension of thousands of illegal crossers and, more importantly, hundreds of thousand of pounds of illegal drugs. And this has been while the system has only been in partial operation. I suggest you check your facts before forming such strong opinions about something you obviously know nothing about. Don't just swallow the drivel that the main stream media feeds you.
    It's time people knew the truth! The virtual fence has been a political failure, but definitely not a technological one. The BP agents, as a whole, love the system and the capabilities it gives them. It targets their efforts to secure the border and makes their job safer. Don't buy the hype. The system works and it works well, despite what the current administration and main stream media would have you believe!

  2. The system was such a failure that it was scrapped. It epitomized the term "white elephant."

    The radar system had trouble distinguishing between vegetation and people in windy weather. Cameras moved too slowly and satellite communications also were slow.

    And for this system that you praise, taxpayers ended up footing the bill for just 53 miles of operational “virtual fence” in Arizona at a cost of at least $15 million a mile, according to testimony in previous congressional hearings.

    I'll bet you work for the defense industry, the military-industrial complex or some lobbying firm.

    What's pathetic is that you defend the failed status quo. You're a shill.

  3. Anonymous6:53 AM let's pick your 'comments' apart, piece by piece.
    1) "The radar system had trouble distinguishing between vegetation and people in windy weather."
    FACT - The radar used was specified by the DHS, so any failure here is not a failure of technology, the contractor, or "the military-industrial complex" Additionally, radar detection (ANY radar) is based on the transmission and return of radio waves. It does not and cannot determine what object caused the reflection. Hence, the need for human operators to interpret the sensor data.

    2) "Cameras moved too slowly and satellite communications also were slow."
    FACT - Ok, in your defense, this was not adequately explained in MSNBC so you probably don't know about it...but...satellites are not used in the current SBInet system. This was used in the original P28 system and the problem was noted and fixed. Also, since satellites are not used as the primary communication for the system, camera response is at almost real time. (i.e. Not too slow...)

    3) "Taxpayers ended up footing the bill for just 53 miles of operational “virtual fence” in Arizona at a cost of at least $15 million a mile"
    FACT - Any new technological development has a high initial cost. Why don't you go as Verizon how much they spent to turn on their first LTE site. (Or group of sites.) Now ask them if they expect to incur that same cost per site as they continue to roll out LTE to additional sites. (Hint...the answer is 'No') The cost of Research and Development, per unit, is significantly reduced as you deploy more and more units. Now, (here's the part that going to sting...) since DHS decided to 'scrap the program' (actually, they're not going to scrap the program, they're just putting it up for rebid and implementing multiple forms of technology instead of just fixed tower sites.) they are going to have to re-fund the higher R&D up front costs instead of using technology that is already been developed.

    Just for good measure, I feel the need to enlighten you about the “military-industrial complex.” If it weren’t for this industry and the money it spends on research and development, the world would be a much different place. Here are some every day technologies that you and I take for granted every day that were developed thanks to the military industrial complex: modern day computers, GPS and the Internet; only to name a few. The fact that you post your comments on the internet shows that you benefit from the products developed by the military-industrial complex.

    As I said in my earlier post, do some research and learn your facts and don’t just swallow what the liberal media feeds you. You say I defend the status quo, yet you are unwilling look past your DirecTV to seek the truth. BTW…Satellite TV is also based on military industrial complex research and development.

    Also, what is a shill??