This is kind of funny, but a small piece of a larger problem. The US Coast Guard Academy recently used a government charge card to buy a home brewing kit…and then brewed and consumed some 532 bottles of beer. Courtest of us, the taxpayer. According to Human Events, the brewery was made possible by a government charge card issued to an academy official responsible for “organizing social functions.” According to congressional testimony published last month by the Government Accountability Office, the official used the card to purchase a beer brewing kit and some ingredients and then “wasted government resources by brewing alcohol while on duty.” One of my favorite quotes though suggests that by brewing the beer actually “provided the Academy with both cost savings and a quality product for official parties attended by cadets, dignitaries, and other guests of the Superintendent.” Upon closer review the Government Accountability Office calculated the cost to be more like $13 for a six pack…this sounds all too similar to other government cost comparison studies I’ve seen! In jest, a colleague suggested that this is just another example of the government moving into competition with the private sector!
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.