Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Katrina victims sell military rations on eBay :: ABC News

Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, said the online sale of government rations is an outrage. "It is absolutely outrageous that people are going to exploit a national disaster to make a buck. It's food that could have gone to other volunteers or victims who were in bad shape and in need of those products," he said.
Why can't gifts-in-kind be converted into cash? Were the MREs given under proviso that the victim could never resell them? Didn't the government transfer ownership when it gave away these durable meals? If the meals aren't going to be consumed by the victims are they supposed to send them back to the government? And is the government going to restock them in its inventory? I doubt it. What if you ended up with more MREs than you used - isn't it better to sell them than to dispose of them?

But if you expect the government to take care of you, you should expect the government will tell you what to do.

Tangential aside. I once served on a jury in the trial of a member of the US military who worked in a military storage facility and had access to used uniforms. He was accused of selling used uniforms to Army & Navy stores across the Southeast. The guy had the same last name, different spelling, as Senator Strom Thurmond. Every day at lunch time the jury would go out for lunch and walk past the defendant's Jaquar auto parked illegally in front of the court house, with his last name on the vanity plate. The car was never towed or ticketed.

UPDATE: Should we be upset when cash gifts are not spent the way we'd like? Besides what's there to complain about if you give your kid cash to buy lunch, he uses the money to buy cigarettes (which he was going to buy anyway), and he still buys lunch but with money of his own?


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