Times are tough for Americans, unless you are a government employee (via the WaPo):
Hurry, hurry, hurry. There still may be seats available on a spectacular U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trip that will send 28, that’s twenty-eight, senior officials to Mexico for a week of post-election R and R. It includes a tour of the fabulous Mayan ruins in Palenque in the Lacandon rain forest.
And make sure you don’t miss the wonderful two-day “optional extension” to Michoacan to see the butterflies. No, not just any old butterflies, but the spectacular monarchs, millions of them, so many that it’s said you can actually hear the faint hum of their wings as you approach their mountain sanctuary.
The trip is one of those “exchanges” that allow U.S. officials to get familiar with counterparts’ programs in Mexico. It’s unclear what benefit will be derived by the wildlife agency’s director, Dale Hall, who’s retiring Jan. 3, and Assistant Interior Secretary Lyle Laverty, who should be moving on after Jan. 20. The group includes most of the agency’s regional directors and various assistant directors.
And how much will this boondoggle cost?
Excluding airline tickets and the butterfly excursion, the trip will cost maybe $30,000 just in per diems, and with the wildlife agency’s chronic budget and staffing shortages, we called a former director of the agency in the Clinton administration, Jamie Clark, to see whether these sorts of trips were standard operating procedure — especially with the top officials virtually heading out the door.
“This is a goodbye boondoggle if I ever saw one,” Clark said after we went over the itinerary. “The entire leadership will be gone during the transition.”
I suspect, without any evidence but plenty of experience, that this is standard operating procedure. I think the average person could balance the budget over a long weekend just by getting rid of stupid stuff like this.