Thanks to a national obsession with walls and caravans, American government budgets are under serious scrutiny at the moment. This week, Donald Trump announced his latest plan to get funding for what is still being euphemistically referred to “border security”. The $4.7 trillion dollar proposal allocated a whopping $8.6 billion for the wall, while slashing budgets for departments such as the EPA and Medicare. When money is obviously of the essence, it would make sense that everyone in elected office to be keeping a close eye on the purse strings.
However, if a recent report is to be believed, the Department of Defence didn’t get this particular memo. According to a new investigation from government watchdogs Open The Books, the Pentagon managed to spend more than $20 million on lobster tails over the last 12 months, including $2.3 million in September alone. Clearly, not everyone is penny pinching.
Though these figures might seem unbelievable, there is a very good and seriously disturbing reason why government departments decided to buy seafood like it was going out of fashion. As Open The Books explained in the introduction to their report, “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.” This attitude leads to some seriously questionable expenditure.
Lobster wasn’t the only luxury item on the Defence menu. The report also reveals that, in September alone, the department bought an additional $2.3 million worth of Alaskan king and snow crab. This, as it turns out was just a drop in the ocean. In an interview with Fox Business, Open The Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski revealed that “We looked at the year, it was $22 million spent by the Pentagon on lobster tail alone,” adding, “Over the course of the past four years, on lobster tail alone it was nearly $55 million.”
Obviously, all that seafood had to be followed by something. Other edible, taxpayer funded treats included $293,245 of ribeye, top sirloin and flank steaks; $244,197 of pecans, walnuts, and mixed nuts; $25,000 of candy and candy bars; and a mere $17,118 of “various sweet sauces”, including honey, maple syrup, and white chocolate. Even for a nation that has spent more on its military than any other in human history, $17,000 worth of white chocolate sauce is seriously impressive.
Even the lowliest of government employees needs to be looked after properly. However, it isn’t a stretch to label an annual spend of $22 million on more than 200 tonnes of lobster tail as an epic effort to take the piss. Maybe once the border dispute has been settled, legislators can get down to the serious business of figuring out who has been ordering all the seafood.