Missing Money and Lunar Lunacy

On Dec. 9, 2017, Forbes magazine released a report of some missing money. However, this information was not covered by any main stream media or picked up by anything like Buzzfeed or Facebook. This missing money was not some small time bank theft, but rather 21 trillion dollars unaccounted for by the US Government. As soon as I read this, I thought back to something that I had seen years ago. On Sept. 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld announced that $2.3 trillion had gone missing. Understandably, that statement was all but forgotten given the tragedy that occurred a day later. Since 2001, that number has increased to over 21 trillion (which coincidentally would be enough to pay off the national debt).

I don’t know why there wasn’t more follow up at some point during the 16 years since 2001. Well, I understand that the government probably wouldn’t be so keen to bring it up, but surely some oversight committee would exist in our wonderful American democracy, right? No. It took an economist at Michigan State University, some grad students, and a former government official to blow the whistle on this. They discovered the missing funds towards the beginning of 2017, but no mention was made until December.

Apparently the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1998 to 2015 misplaced $21 trillion.  An official document released by the Defense Department, which you can read here, states that the Army alone has $6.5 trillion in adjustments that are “not adequately documented or supported.” I have no idea what the Department of H&UD has been up to, (honestly I didn’t know it existed before doing some research on this) but with that kind of money they better have been furnishing the recently discovered and likely habitable lava tubes on the moon — or I will be very disappointed.

Opening into the lava tubes.
Image courtesy of NASA

On Dec. 7, 2017, the DoD announced it would be conducting an independent department-wide audit. The funny thing is that it makes absolutely no mention of the missing money or of any reason why they would suddenly conduct an audit for the first time. What boggles my mind is that Trump himself ordered the audit, but no one heard about why. If Trump makes a real estate deal, tweets, or swings his golf club it’s headline news on either CNN or Fox. Yet not one mention of Trump ordering an audit of unaccounted trillions was made on any mainstream media outlet that I saw.

In Bruce Kushnick’s book, The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net, he outlines how Verizon, AT&T, and Century Link were allowed to charge each American household about $5,000 dollars extra from 1992 to 2014. $400 billion were collected to upgrade Internet speeds and supposedly install fiber optic communication lines across America. However, they never actually got installed, but the companies were allowed to keep the money. America is 25th in the world for download speed and 40th in the world for upload speed. As one of the top tech giants in the world, this is pretty embarrassing for America. If you don’t believe that money controls our laws, you have to look no further than the recent congressional vote to repeal the Net Neutrality Act. Internet service providers are now allowed to slow down your internet until you pay more.

Five horsemen of the apocalypse. Courtesy of Beyond the Box Office

Money really runs the world, as those with access to funds control how our politicians vote. Much to my disappointment, Trump stayed silent while Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai (former CEO of Verizon) led the crusade against affordable Internet. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast donated $101 million to hundreds of members of congress to convince them to repeal the Net Neutrality Act. To our elected representatives, the Internet freedom of 323.1 million American people is worth about $50,000. Even good old John McCain has received $2.5 million of “contributions” from telecom companies in the last 30 years. (He voted to repeal the Act.)

But perhaps Congress just didn’t know what they were voting on. For example, as an April Fool’s Day prank in 1971, a Texas lawmaker introduced a bill to officially honor the Boston Strangler for his “unconventional techniques involving population control.” Both Republicans and Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously.

We live in a time where the legislative system is a joke, anyone can make up the rules as long as they have money, and companies are pocketing billions for free. Despite this dreary outlook I remain optimistic. As someone who attended the US Space and Rocket Center’s Space Camp when I was 11, I proudly wake up every day with the hope that we can colonize those lava tubes on the moon. I’m waiting, Department of Housing and Urban Development.


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