When I was in high school, my mom would set two dollars on the kitchen table every morning so I could get lunch.
However, I discovered that if I used only one of these dollars on lunch — by buying a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos and a Dr. Pepper and skipping whatever cardboard-flavored pizza was being served — then I’d have $5 left over on Friday, which I could use to buy a used CD at CD Connection, which were (almost) always $4.99.
I think I probably picked up change on the 3-mile walk from my house to the record store to cover the sales tax. I don’t remember exactly how the math worked.
When my mom eventually noticed my burgeoning CD collection — full of gems I still listen to like the Surf Punks’ “Locals Only,” The Buzzcocks’ “Trade Test Transmission” and “Hello Rockview” by Less Than Jake – she pulled the plug on my operation.
Realizing that the $5 weekly surplus could be discontinued and I could still technically get enough calories to live, she would set a single dollar bill on the kitchen table for me in the morning (though, sometimes she’d just leave four quarters and I suspect those were the days she was mad at me).
The authorities taking away money they don’t think you need is a lesson that government agencies must have learned long before I was socking away dollar bills to collect every album that Lookout Records ever put out.
According to a report by watchdog organization OpenTheBooks.com, the government spent more in the final week of the fiscal year than it did in all of August. Why? Because whether it’s used CDs or the taxpayers’ money, if you don’t use it you lose it.
“In the final month of the fiscal year, federal agencies scramble to spend what’s left in their annual budget. Agencies worry spending less than their budget allows might prompt Congress to appropriate less money in the next fiscal year. To avoid this, federal agencies choose to embark on an annual shopping spree, rather than admit they can operate on less,” the organization explains in the report’s prologue.
While on this use-it-or-lose-it shopping spree, the federal government spent $4.6 million on lobster tail and crab, over half a million on golf carts, over $300,000 on booze and about $250,000 on pianos.
While doing my taxes this year, I’ll be sure remember that I’m chipping in to support the government’s $24,993 addiction to candy bars. I may work my entire life just so that I can fully fund an almost $12,000 foosball table that the government apparently needed.
About $97 billion dollars was spent in the final month of the fiscal year.
The 32-page report can be found at www.openthebooks.com though there are no detailed statistics on how much money was spent on used punk rock CDs.