A story in today’s Washington Post (“$236 Million Cruise Ship Deal Criticized”) reveals why the folks at FEMA are so inept, and also shows how greedy capitalists at Carnival Cruise Lines are making a quick buck off Hurricane Katrina (although they deny it) and trying to escape paying U.S. taxes in the process.
Turns out your tax dollars are supporting hurricane victims on a luxury cruise liner. Conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) has teamed with liberal Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) to criticize wasteful government spending.
The Senate Federal Financial Management Subcommittee’s investigation into a six-month $192 million FEMA contract with Carnival Cruise Lines has discovered that taxpayers are paying, per evacuee, four times the amount a vacation cruise passenger would have to pay. Three Carnival ships are only half full and mostly occupied by relief workers. Carnival’s overhead costs in the FEMA operation are far lower than during normal cruises. The Carnival ships are docked. No fuel is being used and no entertainment is being provided to the relief workers. Yet, taxpayers are paying $2,550 per guest per week, which is four times the cost of a $599 per person “7 Day Western Caribbean” Cruise from Galveston, TX.
Why did the incompetent folks at FEMA enter into such a bad contract? Either they’re really bad at math and can’t cope under stress, or the suits at Carnival had their way with them. I don’t fault Carnival for getting the best deal possible, but when you have shining examples such as Wal-Mart doing so much to help hurricane victims, it’s disappointing to see Carnival raking in $236 million on a deal that’s bad for American taxpayers.
Given this news, I’m wondering if we’d be better off scrapping FEMA altogether. You’d never see a smart, savvy Fortune 500 company enter into such a bad deal as our government did.