The Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Chorus – Sha Boom, Sha Boom

When you don’t know what to say, sing the Waste, Fraud, and Abuse song. It works sometimes and is getting more popular with old white folks, kind of like Lawrence Welk music.

The first time I heard the Waste, Fraud, and Abuse (WF&A) Chorus was over 10 years ago. It was at a forum at the Cobb Civic Center on the educational SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) that was about to be voted on.

Then as now, Cobb public schools were under funded. There were over 500 portable classrooms. Then as now, our public schools are the biggest asset that our county has. In order to fund Cobb public schools, Cobb had resorted to a series of temporary sales taxes known as SPLOST.

On one side of the Civic Center stage were Johnny Isakson and the head of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. They were there to explain why the SPLOST should be approved. They read through a long list of improvements and projects and explained why they were needed and important. Then they explained why the method of funding, a sales tax, would be the best way to get the SPLOST passed.

On the other side of the stage were 2 anti-SPLOST guys who sort-of explained why the SPLOST should not be approved. They were very brief. They said there was WF&A in the SPLOST and that it should not be approved.

Johnny Isakson asked for some information about this WF&A.

The anti-SPLOST altos sang another chorus of WF&A. They said it was there but did not volunteer any particulars.

This verbal tennis match went back and forth. Johnny would plead for a morsel about the alleged WF&A, so that he could address it, or leave it out if it existed. If there was a penny of WF&A in the SPLOST, Johnny wanted to know so he could remove it. The anti-folks could not be moved to deal in facts and sang another chorus of  WF&A.

I thought that Johnny was on the verge of getting down on one knee and begging, James Brown style, think “Live at the Apollo” (Please, Please, Please….). Either Johnny had too much dignity or realized that the “anti-team” didn’t have anything and begging would do no good. After all, they were all Republicans on the stage and Johnny probably knew what they were thinking even if they weren’t letting any of their thoughts escape over their lips.

One can only speculate what the real reason was for singing the WFA song. Did they not like quality public education? Did they not like any tax? Were they just contrarians?

Their patron saint, Grover Nordquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, is one of the few articulate Tea type people. He sings the WFA song because he says that "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Was Grover talking about dictatorial government, military government, theocratic government, or monarchial government? No, Saint Grover was talking about our democratically elected government, which most Americans like and have shed blood many times to defend.

My apologies to all the debate teams in Georgia who think that knowledge of the facts, use of logic, and nimbleness of mind are all that is need to win the debate. One day you may be defeated by the WF&A chorus which can sing on, and on, and on. Think of it as filibuster practice.

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Erik Fernald February 23, 2013 at 05:03 PM
I can think of many "no bid" contracts that filter through town and city governments as a prime example of how there is clear waste. For example, the city of Smyrna approved a $152,000 landscape project 4 weeks ago for the new school being built. It ran through the council with 4-2 vote. The 2 dissenters thought it might be prudent to have this not run through with 4 days notice to everyone. Maybe we could have our town do the work for considerably less was one valid argument, or it could be bid like it is supposed to be done. This is one example in one town of what happens in every district. It does actually happen, people who pay attention see it happen every day. Take a look around our new Cobb center. There are benches built and installed that nobody ever sits it 1/4 mile from the arena. Each bench costs $900. I counted them all, it cost $7200 to install benches that will never be used. There are 2 foot bridges that cost over $1 million each, one on Spring road and another one over 285. How many people actually go over them, maybe 25-30 people a day max. There is a superfluous sidewalk too. Go to any school and the money is spent on high priced catered lunches at over $800 a crack. That money comes because "it has to be spent or we will not get it back" mentality of government types. Watchful eyes have to be present, there is little trust or credibility in this area, just check the post office for another $16 billion a year in the red.
Mike Holzknecht February 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Dear Erik, You have some good facts there about non-educational matters in Smyrna. I hope you bring them to the attention of your local elected officials. You could run for office too but don't think that benches and sidewalks are the equivalent of our children's education. I bet there will be some SPLOST funds spent for education that aren't 100% efficient but it is either SPLOST or our children will be taught in trailers or under trees. Stay focused.


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