Thursday, August 02, 2007

Your tax dollars at work.

I'm a grad student in a department at the University of Arizona that'll go unnamed for now.

In a building full of high-tech equipment, one thing stood out: the old, 1960s-vintage Western Electric model 2500 phones, in a dingy cross between tan and Pepto-Bismol pink. I took their continued presense as a sign of (much appreciated) fiscal austerity, given the department's seemingly endless budget crises.

There are still old folks out there leasing their phones, and I just found out that the department is one of them. The phones were still being rented, for over $20 per month! Assuming 50 phones in the department, this comes to $1000 per month, or $10000 per year! So much for fiscal austerity!

A young office assistant came around today with replacement phones that cost less than two months' rental on the old ones, and told me this when I asked where the old Western Electric models were going. It was so outrageous, I had to confirm it in the business office.

It would seem that a little slice of Soviet efficiency lurks wherever your tax dollars are at work!

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