It is not generally known, but one of the things the General Services Administration (GSA) does is train foreign bureaucrats in how to administer the housekeeping chores of their own governments. Now that the multimillion-dollar scandal is breaking in the agency. I keep wondering what some of these foreign government workers learned.
I take you to a GSA office where Amu Tiki has been assigned to study the latest methods used in servicing the U.S. government.
"Now Mr. Tiki, when you take charge of running the housekeeping of your government you will have to lease buildings, see that they are kept up through paint and repairs, purchase and dispense millions of dollars' worth of office equipment, run hundreds of supply stores, handle government transportation, and provide all the services that will keep the bureaucracy running smoothly and efficiently."
"It sounds like a lot of work."
"But it pays well."
"Yes, if you learn it right. Now let me give you an example. You walked through the halls of this building before you came here. Right? What did you notice?"
"They needed paint."
"Of course they did. Now your job would be to paint those walls. How many coats of paint would you say they needed?"
"At least three."
"Good. Now what you would do is give out a contract to paint the halls three times, but the contractor would only paint them once."
"What about the other two coats of paint?"
"They would go into the pockets of you and your contractor."
"I don't want paint in my pockets."
"Not paint, Mr. Tiki, the cost of the other two coats of paint."
"I see. One coat for the walls, one coat for the contractor and one coat for me."
"You learn fast. Now let's talk about furniture. You don't happen to have a brother-in-law in the office furniture business, do you?"
"No, he grows rice in his paddy."
"Well, put him in the furniture business fast."
"But where would I get the money?"
"From your coat of paint, dummy."
"Hee hee, I forgot about that."
"Now, once he's in the furniture business you will contract him for all your desks and chair."
"My brother-in-law doesn't know how to make furniture."
"All the better. When it falls apart you'll have to order more."
"Why should I make my brother-in-law rich?"
"Because you'll be a silent partner in the furniture company."
"Hee hee. I'm going to like this job."
"All right, Tiki. The next thing you have to do is open office-supply stores in your government buildings. If your government is like ours, nobody knows how much paper it uses. You order twice the amount of paper that you think you'll need. Then you sell what isn't used to the private sector."
"Wait, suppose somebody finds out?"
"Then you give him some money from your furniture company to keep his mouth shut."
"This is getting complicated. Can I take notes?"
"NO NOTES! Never take any notes. If you want to be in your government's GSA you have to keep everything in your head."
"Please forgive me for wanting to take notes."
"Okay, that's enough for today. We'll talk about leasing space from private landlords tomorrow. Are there any questions?"
"If my president wants his palace painted, do I only use one coat?"
"No, dammit. Presidential palaces always get three coats of paint. The one thing you have to learn in this business is not to be greedy."