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As long as politicians continue looking up at a debt ceiling and forward at future spending, they will never have to confront the problem they so comfortably wallow in up to their necks today, a problem only they can fix: systemic waste.

Debate in Washington rarely turns to addressing the root of a waste problem which infects all levels of government. There are, of course, talks about how to cut spending, but cutting programs and funding does nothing inherently to cut waste.

Consider this sad-but-true illustration:

I work for a state government institution. Recently, I requested a piece of technology necessary for doing my job. The item retails between $150 and $200 from multiple sellers on Amazon, but since I work at a state institution, the item had to be purchased through an “approved vendor.” The idea is that these vendors will give the state the best possible price. What did the state pay for the item? Over $300.

Instances like that happen every day at thousands of state and federal institutions. If you started to do the math, you would see why our country is in such trouble–not because we spend, but because the system allows “approved” vendors and contractors to fleece the taxpayers. Immovable barriers of bureaucracy have been cleverly constructed to funnel taxpayer dollars right to where the political architects of those barriers want them to go.

The unethical (although not always illegal) and mutually beneficial relationships between the vendors and the politicians who approve them are what really need to be “cut” before operating budgets are sacrificed. If you simply cut funding to government institutions and programs, those entities will lay off employees and deny citizens beneficial services, not fix the problem of corruption at levels beyond their control.

For another example, consider what America is paying for a typical American defense contractor overseas ($150k/year) versus what a typical deployed US soldier makes ($50k). Keep digging and you will find how close the CEOs of the defense contractors are with the representatives who approve paying for their services with your money.

Republicans have for decades successfully sold the half-truth that the cause of government waste is a society full of lazy takers. Admittedly, there are far too many Americans receiving thousands of dollars in un-needed benefits across the country. However, focusing solely on social welfare as the primary source of big government waste has been such a successful diversion for Republicans that their fiscal support of big business and bloated military has gone unchecked—and where the constituents aren’t looking, the politicians are quietly allocating. The Democrats might be giving American welfare queens thousands, but the Republicans are currently giving hundreds of billions to foreigners by way of defense contracts (only a quarter of defense contractors are Americans).

For too long, freely elected politicians have determined what vendors and contractors get to financially rape the American people with impunity, and that is America’s fatal flaw now. The people chosen to fix the system are the same people who personally benefit by ensuring it stays broken.

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