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And yet another example of how the third party payment system is inefficient and fraudulent. When will we learn that the buyer-seller model is so much more desirable than the buyer-seller-receiver model? Today’s AP report on the VA is just the latest example of the failures of this bureaucratic model.

Veterans Affairs employees last year racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in government credit-card bills at casino and luxury hotels, movie theaters and high-end retailers such as Sharper Image and Franklin Covey — and government auditors are investigating, citing past spending abuses.

All told, VA staff charged $2.6 billion to their government credit cards.

The Associated Press, through a Freedom of Information request, obtained the VA list of 3.1 million purchases made in the 2007 budget year. The list offers a detailed look into the everyday spending at the government’s second largest department.

And,

At least 13 purchases totaling $8,471 were charged at Sharper Image, a specialty store featuring high-tech electronics and gizmos such as robotic barking dogs. In addition, 19 charges worth $1,999.56 were made at Franklin Covey, which sells leather totes and planners geared toward corporate executives.

On at least six occasions, employees based at VA headquarters made credit card charges at Las Vegas casino hotels totaling $26,198.

 When the buyer gets no direct value from the purchase and an unlimited supply of funds are available by which to make the purchases, corruption and fraud are soon to follow.

Quote of the Week

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." -- Thomas Jefferson