Living Large in Istanbul

I came across an interesting factoid today concerning wasteful spending which epitomizes the Idiocracy known also as our government. Late last year, a Department of Justice report revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration spent $1.18 million dollars to host a conference in Istanbul, Turkey in 2008. That’s one-point-one-eight million dollars for 368 DEA agents to convene at the lavish Conrad Istanbul Hotel overlooking the Bosphorus Straits.

Summit Bar

Now, this article is particularly interesting because I have actually been to this hotel before. I didn’t stay there, because it was too expensive for my budget. The Conrad was simply a convenient place to meet a colleague of mine who lives in Istanbul. Instead, I chose to stay at the Crowne Plaza Old Town, which has at least two fewer stars than the Conrad and certainly no view of the Bosphorus.

A room at the Conrad runs about $400 per night.

1 King Business Terrace Suite

A room at the Crown Plaza sets you back about a $229 per night. And, I did not have rose petals on my bed when I checked-in, either.

Crowne Plaza Istanbul

Remember the news report last year about the GAO conference in Las Vegas that cost $863,000? Those guys ain’t got nothing on these DEA agents!

In closing, if $1.18 million seems like chump change, then perhaps you will be more impressed to know that the Department of Justice spent a total of $121 million on conference related expenses in 2008 & 2009. Remember those years? The stock market was tanking, the economy was in free-fall, and employers were shedding 500,000 jobs per month. Meanwhile, the government was spending money faster than they could print it.

According to last week’s WSJ interview with Speaker John Boehner, President Obama told Speaker Boehner during the Fiscal Cliff negotiations that “we don’t have a spending problem” and that “I am getting tired of hearing you say that.”

Really? No spending problem?

Note: The full report about the DOJ inquiry into the DEA conference can be accessed by clicking here.

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