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Fri Oct 31, 2014, 02:22 PM

Remember that lady the IRS decided to destroy because she structured her deposits?

Federal Government Made $20 Billion in Secret Purchases in Recent Months

I-Team review finds $30,000 in one agency’s Starbucks purchases kept confidential from public

The federal government has spent at least $20 billion in taxpayer money this year on items and services that it is permitted to keep secret from the public, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team.

The purchases, known among federal employees as “micropurchases,” are made by some of the thousands of agency employees who are issued taxpayer-funded purchase cards. The purchases, in most cases, remain confidential and are not publicly disclosed by the agencies. A sampling of those purchases, obtained by the I-Team via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals at least one agency used those cards to buy $30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks and products in one year without having to disclose or detail the purchases to the public.

...

A “micropurchase” is a purchase costing less than $3,000 in which a government-issued purchase card is swiped. The U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Defense, each made tens of millions of dollars of “micropurchases” in the past year, according to an I-Team review. But each agency said it does not make public an itemized list of its transactions, limiting the information to internal government reviewers and users of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Federal-Government-Made-20-Billion-in-Secret-Purchases-in-Recent-Months-280997562.html


We -- the peasant serfs -- are not allowed to structure deposits, even if the revenue was perfectly legal and ethical, to avoid the master's scrutiny but the master's minions are permitted to structure their expenditures, paid for by our money, to escape our scrutiny.

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Reply Remember that lady the IRS decided to destroy because she structured her deposits? (Original post)
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 OP
marym625 Oct 2014 #1
jtuck004 Oct 2014 #2
marym625 Oct 2014 #9
hfojvt Nov 2014 #36
Enthusiast Oct 2014 #3
Donald Ian Rankin Oct 2014 #4
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 #6
Ykcutnek Oct 2014 #5
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 #7
Ilsa Oct 2014 #8
Comrade Grumpy Oct 2014 #10
MaggieD Oct 2014 #17
De Leonist Oct 2014 #20
MaggieD Oct 2014 #21
De Leonist Oct 2014 #24
MaggieD Oct 2014 #26
De Leonist Oct 2014 #27
Dont call me Shirley Oct 2014 #11
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 #12
Dont call me Shirley Oct 2014 #13
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 #15
Dont call me Shirley Oct 2014 #16
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 #18
Dont call me Shirley Oct 2014 #19
yellowcanine Nov 2014 #33
billhicks76 Oct 2014 #14
quakerboy Oct 2014 #22
Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2014 #23
quakerboy Nov 2014 #28
Nuclear Unicorn Nov 2014 #37
quakerboy Nov 2014 #38
yellowcanine Nov 2014 #32
hedgehog Oct 2014 #25
quakerboy Nov 2014 #29
FSogol Nov 2014 #34
Progressive dog Nov 2014 #30
yellowcanine Nov 2014 #31
baldguy Nov 2014 #35

Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 02:35 PM

1. Getting really sick of all these

walls around the government. Don't they work for us? Or can't they at least pretend to?

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Response to marym625 (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 03:51 PM

2. "Don't they work for us" . No. They've been working for themselves for quite a while now.

 

Voters are just slow to catch on - what with trying to find a job and work, etc.

If they didn't have to work and had 24x7 to search for money and screw people over, like many politicians and banksters, maybe they could pay more attention.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #2)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:17 PM

9. Very true. Thanks! n/t

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Response to marym625 (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 02:02 PM

36. the gubmint is evil

Let's drown it in the bathtub.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 03:56 PM

3. Jesus Christ!

The government is allowed to know absolutely everything about the citizens but the citizens can know very little about the government. This cannot end well.

$30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks in one year? But we better cut food stamps.

I am fed the fuck up! How about you?

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:01 PM

4. It's called "the rule of law", and it's a damn good thing.

There are all sorts of things that "a democratically elected government" (i.e. "the master's minions" can and *should* be allowed to do, but "private citizens" (i.e. "the peasant serfs" *should* not be.

I'm afraid I think this article makes no more sense that complaining that "the master's minions" are allowed to arrest and imprison people they deem guilty of wrongdoing, but the last time you tried to kidnap someone and lock them in your basement because you didn't like what they were doing you got into trouble.

Note that I'm *not* saying that confiscating money deposited in forms suitable for concealment is justifiable. I *am* saying, though, that your analogy does not make the case that it isn't.

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Response to Donald Ian Rankin (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:07 PM

6. "It's called 'the rule of law', and it's a damn good thing."

Authoritarianism sucks.

Authoritarianism in service to corrupt power mongers sucks even more.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:05 PM

5. "Peasant serf" should never be a term used to describe someone who has enough money to

 

"structure deposits"

Just saying.

But don't let that get in the way of some good ole-fashioned anti-IRS propaganda.

Who needs all that silly revenue for the big bad gubmint anyway?

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Response to Ykcutnek (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:08 PM

7. She wasn't a tax cheat. But don't let that get in the way of good ol' fashioned subservience. nt

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Response to Ykcutnek (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:16 PM

8. I would imagine that those were gross proceeds.

Doesn't she have expenses to pay out of that? COGS? Utilities? Probably not much to structure deposits with after that. It wouldn't surprise me if she is a "peasant serf" after her bills are paid.

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Response to Ykcutnek (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:20 PM

10. IRS stole this lady's money over a paperwork requirement. That's wrong.

 

She was not accused of tax evasion, either.

Other than that, your post makes perfect sense.

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Response to Ykcutnek (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:09 PM

17. Yes, we know the extremists here hate all business owners

 

She was a restaurant that took cash only, and she would save up her deposits to help the bank do less paperwork. Do you know what the profit margin is at a mom and pop restaurant?

No, probably not. To you, she is a big time millionaire, regardless of the actual facts.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #17)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:40 PM

20. Anti-Capitalists don't hate business owners...

We just hate a system where economic inequality is necessary for it to work since it enables those who already have quite a bit to justify taking even more in the name of economic growth.

Not mention being a model of economics that is devastating the environment.

Also what you might be misinterpreting as hatred is actually extreme frustration with the business sector since it is the business sector that bawls like a spoiled brat who's parents no longer allow it to hog all the toys every time people want regulations that no longer allow it to pay employees shit wages, dump toxic waste into rivers, or some other "Sociocidal" offense.

Is it true that not all business owners are millionaires, certainly, hell there is large percentage that don't even bring home six figures.

But given the history of the American Business Sector and it's tendency towards what are often Authoritarian and Elitist attitudes and politics I think there are plenty of reasons to be critical of Private Businesses and those who own them.

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Response to De Leonist (Reply #20)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:47 PM

21. Well the person being maligned here doesn't have "quite a bit"

 

And she probably employs people too. As a business owner myself I am getting damn tired of this knee jerk nastiness to any and all business owners. It's damn insulting.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #21)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 08:03 PM

24. Well the nastiness certainly didn't come out of a vaccum....

The knee jerk nastiness that you've remarked upon while certainly not helpful to the over all discourse didn't just come out of no where. The fact is a large number of business owners have demonstrated an attitude of contempt towards the people who work for them for a rather lengthy period of time now. Hence the nastiness. A good example, this idea that anyone should "feel lucky to even have a job". Cause, ya'know if your getting paid shit you should be thankful that your employer even deigns to pay you that much at all.

Now having said that is anybody "entitled" to job ? Of course not. But employers aren't entitled to have all the cards stacked in their favor either.

Say if the people the people who work for her wish to form Union. Who the fuck is she to say that they can't ?

Now to be fair I know dick all about this woman and for all I know she could be as progressive as possible.

Look despite my tone I have small business owners in my family and I get for them things are pretty rough right now. So I'm not entirely oblivious to the sense of frustration that you, as a business owner, probably feel right now.

But at the same time in the employer-employee relationship it's the employer who more often than not has the advantageous position and as people are often wont to do, they use that advantage to get what they want at the expense of the less powerful person. Hence why people are so critical about business owners in general.(or anyone in any position of authority)

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Response to De Leonist (Reply #24)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 11:03 PM

26. That's a ridiculous rationalization, IMO

 

If people can't tell the difference between a hedge fund manager or the CEO of Goldman Sachs and an old lady that runs a mom and pop cash only restaurant.... Well I can't post what I think about their intellect or ability to reason things out because it would probably get hidden.

Put it this way - if some 50 year tea party white guy explained to you that it's natural for whites to hate on blacks because they've heard about those gang fights between the bloods and the crypts, would you say that makes their prejudices okay? I hope not.

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Response to MaggieD (Reply #26)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 11:20 PM

27. Okay....

Would you care to point out what part of my previous post is a ridiculous rationalization or where I am comparing the woman to a hedge fund manager ?

Because from where I'm standing all I did was explain why so many people tend to be critical of business owners in general. Not try to rationalize knee-jerk stereotyping.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:27 PM

11. I would love to have a $3000 micro purchase account!

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Response to Dont call me Shirley (Reply #11)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:36 PM

12. Perhaps some day you shall.

You don't have to be particularly good at anything; you just have to kiss enough ass to join the ruling caste.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #12)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:42 PM

13. Thank you for your words of confidence

Except I'm pretty bad kissing ass and I have difficulty keeping my mouth shut around people who of the ruling caste.......

Aghrrrr, maybe next life.

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Response to Dont call me Shirley (Reply #13)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:04 PM

15. Maybe you just need to start with manageable goals and build upon it.

Start out by slapping small animals three times a day and work your up.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #15)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:06 PM

16. Maybe not slapping small animals, how about slapping republicans?

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Response to Dont call me Shirley (Reply #16)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:12 PM

18. I married a Republican. He's an anarchist now, like me. We went together and we went big.

But I still loved him madly when he was a Republican.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #18)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 05:14 PM

19. Strange bedfellows make strange politics.

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Response to Dont call me Shirley (Reply #11)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 01:03 PM

33. Maybe if you were in charge of logistics for meetings and conferences at a government agency you

would.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 04:57 PM

14. Maybe If US Stormtroopers Didn't

 

Target Americans every day with jail terms and steal their money then people would accept these transgressions. But you can't have it both ways. You can't label people criminals and then act like one yourself. We need to reform the justice system because no one in this country wants the fight this is building up to. We can't let our kids down and hand them that.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 06:57 PM

22. While I cant see any reason for this to be secret

I do doubt the accuracy of the report. these things are invariably sensationalized and rarely are they fully accurate.

However, if we take it at face value, the IRS spent $30,000 at Starbucks.
The IRS has 89,500 employees. So that's about 33 cents per year per employee. Not exactly a widespread issue.

Then we take into account the probability of meetings. if even 1/10th of the employees of the IRS each went to a single meeting during the course of the year, where they each had one snack or coffee brought in from Starbucks, that would be your 30k right there. Mind you that's one coffee or one snack, not "and" nor refills, and it covers the full amount.

And then we have travel. Again, if even 1/20th of the employees of the IRS were sent on duties that involved traveling and provided a card to cover a meal stipend while away from their homes, and had coffee at the airports out of that stipend, again, that by itself would completely cover the amount mentioned.

So, all in all, I will still choose to be a bit more upset by us literally burning up a million dollars each time we throw a cruise missile at the middle east rather than a few cups of coffee.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #22)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 07:58 PM

23. "Not exactly a widespread issue."

If they want Starbucks they have salaries. If you or I took $0.33 from our employers without permission we would be absolutely guilty of theft.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 04:12 AM

28. And what leads you to believe they didnt have permission?

I believe I addressed.. Meetings. and Travel. I dont know about yours, but my employer provides a meal stipend when I travel for business. That would definitely cover a couple cups of coffee over a few day trip. with 90k employees it really doesnt take too many of them to hit that 30k mark while remaining well within the bounds of reasonable spending.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #28)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 02:03 PM

37. Oh, I've no doubt their supervisors have little trouble buying stuff on our dime.

By the way -- there are 43,000,000 Americans on food assistance. The $20 billion spent would have given each man, woman and child another $465 AFTER the GOP cut ~ $10 billion from the program.

But let us pity the bureaucrat slaving away at a grueling meeting without top-of-line gourmet coffee.

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #37)

Mon Nov 3, 2014, 09:59 PM

38. Yeah. 1 cup of plain black coffee for every 6th employee, once a year.

Figuring a cup of drip coffee is 2 bucks, the number of employees, and the amount spent per the op, you get one cup of plain ol drip coffee to share between 6 employees once per year.

Such government overreach!

When the government is firing off million dollar missiles to literally blow up sand, I think we have much larger concerns than some coffee, and I find myself very suspicious of anyone who would chose that as their focus. In particular, the effort to turn this into a contest of the needs of Americans on food assistance vs government employees reeks.

I also think that calling a cup of starbucks "top of the line" and "gourmet" coffee pretty much ruin any chance of this particular post having credibility. I don't even drink coffee, and I know better than that. Its roughly on par with asserting that a McDonalds patron is indulging themselves in top of the line gourmet beef products

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 12:54 PM

32. Starbucks is an approved vendor for government sponsored functions in Maryland.

And probably many other states and the federal government.

They deliver boxes of coffee to events where people are doing official work. They are not mixing up latte's etc. These are approved purchases. Receipts are required. Attendance lists are required.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #22)

Fri Oct 31, 2014, 09:21 PM

25. I agree- this type of micro purchase is set up to ensure that routine minor purchases

such as coffee and donuts for meetings don't have to go through 14 levels of approval first.

Do people think these people were buying Starbucks coffee on the government dime and re-selling it on some sort of black market?

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #25)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 04:15 AM

29. No, they've just fallen for the RW "hate the gubmint" schtick.

In my opinion, anyway.

The government does plenty of things wrong that we should be critiquing. This hardly looks like one of them to me.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #29)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 01:23 PM

34. +1 Yup GOP memes. n/t

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 12:22 PM

30. How were these purchases secret?

The headline claims they were, but the paper obtained them by a foil request. That kind of contradicts the BS about being secret.

Did the paper make the numbers they got "public"? Of course not, they cherry picked the stuff that looked sensational--oh look, someone bought coffee at Starbucks with your tax money.


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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 12:48 PM

31. Does the public have to know about every coffee break at a workshop or meeting?

Seriously this is kind of stupid. All of these expenditures are strictly monitored by the agencies involved. I have a purchasing card. If I buy coffee etc from Starbucks for a meeting I have to submit a list of the persons who attended the meeting with the receipts for the purchase and have my card reviewer sign off electronically and on paper. Then it gets electronically reviewed by someone in purchasing at the state office. If any flags get raised an auditor from the state audits the paper trail of the individual transaction. Does the public have to know that I spent $30 on coffee and pastries for a breakfast meeting? No. If it is a large agency $30,000 doesn't seem like so much to spend on coffee etc. in a year. You can make just about anything sound suspicious if you aggregate expenditures of a large agency over a year. Besides, if they were able to get the information using FOIA, what is SECRET about it?

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Response to Nuclear Unicorn (Original post)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 01:59 PM

35. That $20 billion goes mostly to small local businesses throughout the country

 

Putting small purchases on GSA purchase cards actually save the taxpayer money - otherwise everything would need to go through the fed govt's bid process.

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