Author Archive: Michael

Infographic: The U.S. Government’s Missing Money

Please read the text narrative, provided by the editors at Masters in Accounting Degrees, listed right after the infographic they created below.

Missing Money Infographic

 

The editors at Masters in Accounting Degrees decided to research the topic of

Missing Money

With a national debt approaching $17 trillion, Uncle Sam is tightening his belt and looking under the cushions for extra change. But a closer look at his pocket book reveals just how little he knows about where your money is going. Below are a few examples that will make you think twice about Uncle Sam’s accounting skills.

There’s No Business Like D.O.D. Business (2000)

2000 (From a Government Accounting Office Report): Several major departments are not yet able to produce auditable financial statements on a consistent basis. The most significan … is the Department of Defense (DOD), which represents a large percentage of the government’s assets, liabilities, and net costs, followed by the Forest Service, the FAA, and the IRS. While DOD has made progress and is working hard to correct its financial management systems and internal control weaknesses, it is not yet able to comply with generally accepted accounting principles and pass the test of an independent financial audit. For fiscal year 1999 GAO auditors reported that 21 of 24 major agencies’ financial systems did not comply substantially with federal accounting standards or financial systems and other requirements.

Unsupported Adjustments

By law, each federal agency and department is required as a minimum to balance its books at the close of each fiscal year and to submit audited financial statements. However, both Congress and the White House have continued to appropriate and pay government officials, bureaucrats, and government contractors who plug in dollar amount under the category “unsupported adjustment.” An “unsupported adjustment” is a plug figure for cash and assets that are unaccounted for and/or disbursed with no supporting records or audit trail.

Black budget

A black budget is a budget that is secretly collected from the overall income of a nation; the budget is kept secret for national security reasons. Bottom line: we may never know exactly how much is spent or how much is missing from a black budget.

Dude, Where’s my $2.3 Trillion (1999)

$2.3 trillion of balances, transactions and adjustments are inadequately documented, according to a 1999 Defense audit. Military money managers made almost $7 trillion in adjustments to their financial ledgers in an attempt to make things add up. Alas, the Pentagon could not show receipts for $2.3 trillion of those changes.

“According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it’s stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible.”

- Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld 9/10/2001

Tanks, Planes, and Javelin Missile Command Launch Units (2003)

Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, government reports suggest the Pentagon’s money management woes have reached astronomical proportions in 2003. A study by the Defense Department’s inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn’t properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A 2003 GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units.

Cash on a Plane (2004)

Back in 2003, Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq. By May 2004 they had sent $12-billion and eventually $20 billion. Despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion of that cash. The missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

Contractors Gone Wild (2002-2011)

As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending (Commission on Wartime Contracting ) estimates. At least $31 billion has been lost and the total could be as high as $60 billion. The commission called the estimate “conservative.”

Crude Awakening (2004-2007)

The U.S. Defense Department is unable to properly account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraqi oil money tapped by the U.S. for rebuilding the war ravaged nation, according to an audit released Tuesday. The audit found that shoddy record keeping by the Defense Department left the Pentagon unable to fully account for $8.7 billion it withdrew between 2004 and 2007 from a special fund set up by the U.N. Security Council. Of that amount, Pentagon “could not provide documentation to substantiate how it spent $2.6 billion.” The funds are separate from the $53 billion allocated by Congress for rebuilding Iraq.

The Money Tip (2003-2012)

An audit report released in March 2013, two weeks before the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the soon-to-be-defunct Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) found that incomplete data and inconsistent cost reporting have made it impossible to track a large portion of the $53 billion the U.S. spent to rebuild Iraq from 2003 through September 30, 2012 – “Nonetheless, based on the 390 audits and inspections and over 600 investigations conducted by SIGIR’s audit, inspection, and investigative staff since 2004, our judgement is that waste would range up to at least 15% of Iraq relief and reconstruction spending or at least $8 billion.”

The Hunt for Fed’s 9 Trillion

From 2008-2009, the Fed had placed $9 trillion onto their off-balance sheet. During a congressional hearing, the Federal Reserve Inspector General could not account for the money.

TOTAL
- D.O.D. – 3.4 trillion
- Fed – 9 trillion
- Total – 12.4 trillion

These are estimates based on what is known about the unknown; nevertheless, 12.4 trillion is 73% of America’s entire national debt. That’s a whole lot of missing money. Maybe that’s why the Founding fathers said this:

“No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.”

- US Constitution, Article I, Section 9

Sources

- http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_1999_2013USb_14s2li111mcn_H0fG0f
- http://www.usdebtclock.org
- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/cbo-cuts-2013-deficit-estimate-by-24-percent.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
- http://www.gao.gov/pas/2001/d01241.pdf
- http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IB87201.pdf
- http://www.whereisthemoney.org/FAQ-detail.htm
- http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=44199
- http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=430
- http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Military-waste-under-fire-1-trillion-missing-2616120.php
- http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/07/27/pentagon-account-87-billion-iraqi-funds/
- http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/06/19/missing-iraq-money-may-be-as-much-as-18-billion/
- http://cybercemetery.unt.edu/archive/cwc/20110929213820/http://www.wartimecontracting.gov/docs/CWC_FinalReport-lowres.pdf
- http://www.sigir.mil/embargo/files/audits/13-006.pdf

Thomson Reuters: Unintentional Venn Diagram

From our friends over at FlowingData.

Most people probably wouldn’t think much about this poster that shows the values of Thomson Reuters. But when you think of the graphic as a Venn diagram, it’s hard to see much else.

Unintentional-Venn-Diagram

Infographic: Texas Trivia

Readers:

Tomorrow is my last day in Austin and I thought I would end this trip with a fun infographic from The Great State of Texas.

Here is an infographic of Texas Trivia from Cash1Loans from their blog site this past July.

This infographic is filled with trivia about the Lone Star State. If you live in Texas or are simply curious about Texas, then explore all the fun and interesting facts.

Here are some of the interesting statistics that you may not know:

  • Texas was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845. When it was annexed in 1845, it retained the right to fly its flag at the same height as the national flag.
  • The World’s first rodeo was in Pecos, TX and occurred on July 4, 1883.
  • The battle cry “Remember the Alamo!” is usually thought to be said by Sam Houston but was actually coined by Sidney Sherman. Sherman was a Texas general.
  • The most popular snack foods in Texas are Frito pies (a bag of Fritos mixed with chili, cheese, and onions eaten straight from the bag), peanuts in Dr Pepper, jalapenos, beef jerky, and corn dogs.
  • King Ranch, located in South Texas, is larger than Rhode Island.
  • More wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state in the United States.
  • If you live in North Texas and the Panhandle then you’ve probably seen quite a few tornadoes. With an average of 139 tornadoes per year, Texas experiences the most in the United States.
  • Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America’s only remaining flock of whooping cranes.

Best regards y’all,

Michael

Texas Triva Infographic

Infographic: Armadillos (Municipios) by Alfredo Vela

Readers:

I am back in Austin this week on business. I wanted to showcase another Texas-themed infographic and have chosen one from Alfredo Vela. I have always been fascinated with the Armadillo and found Mr. Vela’s infographic full of great information on our little animal friend.

Alfredo VelaAlfredo Vela has developed his career in the world of corporate training in the areas of ICT, IT, media policy and social skills. He has directed several companies in this field, and is currently managing partner of the Social Enterprises Media ICT and Training, a company that has 5 focus areas:. communication, training, social media, digital marketing and infographics. Mr. Vela has given more than 40,000 hours of training over 250 conferences throughout the Spanish geography and maintains several blogs, one in the journal Economic Castilla y León , another in ICT and training , with almost 5 million visitors and a third called Infografiasencastellano.com.  

He has worked for Renault , Michelin, General Council of the Judiciary, General Council of Lawyers, National Employment, Public Employment Service of Castile and Leon, coercio and Industry Chamber of Valladolid, Vallisoletana Confederation of Employers, University of Valladolid, University of Jaén, European School of Marketing and Business … among others.

I hope you enjoy his infographic as much as I do.

Best Regards,

Michael

Infographic: The Ebola Virus: Are You at Risk?

Zaire Ebola Virus is a great threat to the people living in West Africa. Since this past winter (2014), 1,323 people have been infected. The death rates are ongoing in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and most recently Nigeria. Originally spreading through contaminated bush meat, this deadly virus has caused alarm worldwide. Should you worry about Ebola?

View the HelloMD infographic below to find out and learn more about Ebola.

Ebola_Infographic

National Geographic: Food Desert in America

Readers:

In the past, I have encouraged you to submit your data visualizations on subjects that are important to you as well as would provide awareness to the rest of us.

Anna Kukelhaus Dynan, from The National Geographic Society, sent me an important graphic that National Geographic magazine has put together. It is a very insightful graphic regarding hunger in America, specifically on what a “food desert” (areas where households lack a car and are located more than half a mile from a supermarket) looks like. The graphic, below, running in this month’s issue of National Geographic magazine, along with a feature story on “The New Face of Hunger” (part of their 8 month series on issues of food security and sustainability), which depicts the food desert that is Houston, Texas (affecting 43,000 households). The graphic is startling, as the average person may not realize that the typical hungry American is not necessarily homeless, but employed, with a cell phone, and other “stuff.” The feature article explores why and how people become food insecure, a topic that recently made headlines due to The Washington Post article about the mother who drove her Mercedes to pick up food stamps.

I am honored that Anna reached out to me to run this graphic. This is a critical issue in America today that we all need to be aware of.

Best regards,

Michael

Help for the Hungry

More than 48 million Americans rely on what used to be called food stamps, now SNAP: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Hunger - US Map

 

As the face of hunger has changed, so has its address. The town of Spring, Texas, is where ranchland meets Houston’s sprawl, a suburb of curving streets and shade trees and privacy fences. The suburbs are the home of the American dream, but they are also a place where poverty is on the rise. As urban housing has gotten more expensive, the working poor have been pushed out. Today hunger in the suburbs is growing faster than in cities, having more than doubled since 2007.

Yet in the suburbs America’s hungry don’t look the part either. They drive cars, which are a necessity, not a luxury, here. Cheap clothes and toys can be found at yard sales and thrift shops, making a middle-class appearance affordable. Consumer electronics can be bought on installment plans, so the hungry rarely lack phones or televisions. Of all the suburbs in the country, northwest Houston is one of the best places to see how people live on what might be called a minimum-wage diet: It has one of the highest percentages of households receiving SNAP assistance where at least one family member holds down a job. The Jefferson sisters, Meme and Kai, live here in a four-bedroom, two-car-garage, two-bath home with Kai’s boyfriend, Frank, and an extended family that includes their invalid mother, their five sons, a daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren. The house has a rickety desktop computer in the living room and a television in most rooms, but only two actual beds; nearly everyone sleeps on mattresses or piles of blankets spread out on the floor.

Though all three adults work full-time, their income is not enough to keep the family consistently fed without assistance. The root problem is the lack of jobs that pay wages a family can live on, so food assistance has become the government’s—and society’s—way to supplement low wages. The Jeffersons receive $125 in food stamps each month, and a charity brings in meals for their bedridden matriarch.

Like most of the new American hungry, the Jeffersons face not a total absence of food but the gnawing fear that the next meal can’t be counted on. When Meme shows me the family’s food supply, the refrigerator holds takeout boxes and beverages but little fresh food. Two cupboards are stocked with a smattering of canned beans and sauces. A pair of freezers in the garage each contain a single layer of food, enough to fill bellies for just a few days. Meme says she took the children aside a few months earlier to tell them they were eating too much and wasting food besides. “I told them if they keep wasting, we have to go live on the corner, beg for money, or something.”

Stranded in a Food Desert

Tens of thousands of people in Houston and in other parts of the U.S. live in a food desert: They’re more than half a mile from a supermarket and don’t own a car, because of poverty, illness, or age. Public transportation may not fill the gap. Small markets or fast-food restaurants may be within walking distance, but not all accept vouchers. If they do, costs may be higher and nutritious options fewer.

 

Hunger - Houston_map_web

Jacqueline Christian is another Houston mother who has a full-time job, drives a comfortable sedan, and wears flattering clothes. Her older son, 15-year-old Ja’Zarrian, sports bright orange Air Jordans. There’s little clue to the family’s hardship until you learn that their clothes come mostly from discount stores, that Ja’Zarrian mowed lawns for a summer to get the sneakers, that they’re living in a homeless shelter, and that despite receiving $325 in monthly food stamps, Christian worries about not having enough food “about half of the year.”

Christian works as a home health aide, earning $7.75 an hour at a job that requires her to crisscross Houston’s sprawl to see her clients. Her schedule, as much as her wages, influences what she eats. To save time she often relies on premade food from grocery stores. “You can’t go all the way home and cook,” she says.
On a day that includes running a dozen errands and charming her payday loan officer into giving her an extra day, Christian picks up Ja’Zarrian and her seven-year-old, Jerimiah, after school. As the sun drops in the sky, Jerimiah begins complaining that he’s hungry. The neon glow of a Hartz Chicken Buffet appears up the road, and he starts in: Can’t we just get some gizzards, please?

Christian pulls into the drive-through and orders a combo of fried gizzards and okra for $8.11. It takes three declined credit cards and an emergency loan from her mother, who lives nearby, before she can pay for it. When the food finally arrives, filling the car with the smell of hot grease, there’s a collective sense of relief. On the drive back to the shelter the boys eat until the gizzards are gone, and then drift off to sleep.

Christian says she knows she can’t afford to eat out and that fast food isn’t a healthy meal. But she’d felt too stressed—by time, by Jerimiah’s insistence, by how little money she has—not to give in. “Maybe I can’t justify that to someone who wasn’t here to see, you know?” she says. “But I couldn’t let them down and not get the food.”

 Sources
—————————————————

Tracie McMillan is the author of The American Way of Eating and a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Photographers Kitra Cahana, Stephanie Sinclair, and Amy Toensing are known for their intimate, sensitive portraits of people.

The magazine thanks The Rockefeller Foundation and members of the National Geographic Society for their generous support of this series of articles.

Maps and graphics by Virginia W. Mason and Jason Treat, NGM Staff. Help for the Hungry, sources: USDA; Food Research and Action Center; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Stranded in a Food Desert, sources: USDA; City of Houston; U.S. Census Bureau. Crop Subsidies, research: Amanda Hobbs. Sources: Mississippi Department of Human Services; Environmental Working Group; National Cancer Institute.

 

 

Infographic: A Guide to Austin Food Trucks

Austin Food Trucks

Infographic: Austin City Guide by Loku

Readers:

I am in Austin, Texas for some training. Here is a neat infographic that was created for SXSW 2012 that depicts what to see that is the best of the city while you’re in Austin. Find out what the locals do and the favorite Austinite hotspots with this infographic guide created by Loku.

Enjoy!

Michael

loku-sxsw-guide_5029153325c31

Infographics Related to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from The Daily Mail Online

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2697010/Faces-innocent-victims-Melbourne-real-estate-agent-wife-student-leading-AIDS-doctors-confirmed-dead-Flight-MH17-terrorist-attack-killed-298-people-board.html

Click on images to enlarge

article-2697010-1FC63B5100000578-793_964x1618 infographic-map-flight-mh17

 

Infographic: Facts about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine yesterday, carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members from the Netherlands to Malaysia.

The infographic below from the UK website, The Conversation, shows confirmed information as of 8:24am BST today.

Ukrainian authorities had closed airspace up to 32,000ft. Despite this, the aircraft’s flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). MH17 was flying at 33,000ft when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

The aircraft did not make a distress call.

Facts About MH17 Infographic

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