Archive for government waste

Afternoon-Evening Links



The U.S. spent $3 million on boats for landlocked Afghanistan

#Plagiarism The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges

Clever Piece of Code Exposes Here-to-Fore Hidden Changes in Supreme Court Decisions

Why Americans call what the rest of the world calls 'football' 'soccer'.


‘Numb, speechless, sad’, Israel supporters grieve Cantor’s loss

Bergdahl writing, posts show frustration, struggle

Photo gaffes generate attacks in Kentucky campaign

Krugman on the Surprising and Disturbing Lessons from Eric Cantor's Shocking Defeat

Immigrants in Federal Prisons ‘Subjected to Shocking Abuse and Mistreatment’

Vermeer's paintings might be 350 year-old color photographs

The Freezing, Hungry Lives of NHL "Ice Girls"

Colbert's Brilliant Move To Strike Back At Amazon

Islamist Militants Aim to Redraw Map of the Middle East

The O.J. Simpson Saga Began 20 Years Ago Today — Here's Why His Son Should Be A Suspect

John McCain Tweets Congratulations to George W Bush on his 'victory' in Iraq.

Sarah Palin Threatens To Leave The GOP Unless Obama Flies Abandoned Kids to Mexico

Americans Will Tolerate a Variety of In-Laws. One Exception: Atheists.


The Great $16 Muffin Myth Debunked


Kevin Drum applies some common sense and checks the paperwork that spawned the "$16 Muffin" meme. Surprise!! It's bullhockey.

So did DOJ really pay $16 for muffins? Of course not. In fact, it's obvious that someone quite carefully calculated the amount they were allowed to spend and then gave the hotel a budget. The hotel agreed, but for some reason decided to divide up the charges into just a few categories instead of writing a detailed invoice for every single piece of food they provided. This is unremarkable. In fact, I'm here to tell you that this happens All. The. Time. I've been involved in what feels like a thousand conferences of this kind, and I'd be shocked if it happened any other way. Hell, I'm surprised DOJ even got that much of a breakdown. Far more commonly, your event person negotiates what kind of refreshments you'll get, and the invoice ends up looking something like this:

Refreshment table (bev/morn/aft) — 5 days....................$39,500

None of this is to say that DOJ didn't overspend on its conferences. In fact, it sounds like they did — though in some cases this was just an artifact of applying overhead costs to the food instead of accounting for it separately. But the $16 muffin? That's a myth. It'll never die now that it's been delivered to posterity thanks to some enthusiast in the OIG who broke out a calculator and mistakenly assumed they could calculate actual costs this way, but it's still a myth.