Stimulating the American Economy

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Lately, every news organization that I follow (primarily CNN, PBS, and Fox) has been going on at length about all the problems people are having registering on-line for Obamacare. And within the last few days, the administration has admitted what everybody already knew, namely that there are problems, so that now the focus has shifted onto who knew what when. But what struck me about all this was that the company the government hired to set up the website, CGI Federal, is apparently a subsidiary of the Canadian company, the CGI Group, Inc. The reason this stood out as the salient fact for me is that, first of all, I thought it would be prudent, if not incumbent, for the American government to hire an American company. I mean, given the current unemployment numbers, shouldn’t the government encourage American enterprise and the American economy by hiring American companies? Isn’t that common sense? It’s a little like the news investigation a few years ago that showed all the souvenirs being sold in the Capitol Building gift shop were made in China. It’s… Embarrassing, that’s the word I was groping for.

Apart from patriotic aspect, American entrepreneurs and American enterprise are responsible for Google, Bing, E-bay, Amazon, the computerized logistical success of UPS and FedEx, as well as an uncountable number of other dot-com success stories, so why not hire one of them? Hell, there are probably hundreds of sixteen year old kids from San Francisco to Long Island who could have set up the website as part of their regular homework assignments. So why did the administration go north to wave the maple leaf? I decided to read a little more about it.

No one should ever believe more than about half of what any news organization states as gospel truth and calcified fact, but even taken with an entire salt block, there are an awful lot of accusations out there. Just to review the bidding, as it were, it has been—and is being—alleged that the “troubled” Affordable Healthcare Registry is a paragon of all known government hiring criteria, those criteria being: hire the most incompetent and most expensive company in order to line the pockets of personal friends and supporters. Specifically, it is being alleged that:

– CGI Federal is a subsidiary of the Canadian-owned company that tried and failed to establish the gun-registry program for the Canadian government, something that might make one pause to consider their qualifications.

– CGI Federal was awarded a “no-bid” contract (meaning there were no other companies even considered), something I wouldn’t do if I were hiring a plumber.

– Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate Toni Townes-Whitley is a senior vice president at CGI Federal, a fact that, if true, looks just a trifle awkward.

– The same Toni Townes-Whitley was both a frequent visitor to the White House as well as a contributor to President Obama’s election campaign. If true, also a teensy bit awkward.

I have no idea what the truth is here—and if anyone does know more than I, please weigh in—but at the very least it still leaves the question: why not hire American? Who made that decision? Am I missing something here? Other than a paycheck, I mean.

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