So if you're a Liberal or a Democrat, you might run a scandal like this.
1. Create Sponsorship fund
2. Send millions of dollars in Sponsorship money to your buddies for no actual work.
The scam is costly, but the amount of money the embezzler gets is equal to the amount of money lost by the taxpayer. The taxpayer lost 10 or 100 million, all of which went to the embezzler. There were no side effects.
It's a scam and you should catch those people, fine them, put them in jail. In general, we do seem to catch them.
If you're a Conservative or a Republican, the way to scam the taxpayer out of money is more complicated.
1. Invest money in a Defence contractor, become a lobbyist for the Defence Industry, or get on the Board of Directors for such a company
2. On a trumped up pretence (WMD, terrorist links, spreading democracy), start a trillion dollar war in Iraq or expand a multibillion dollar war in Afghanistan
3. Of the massive amounts of money spent, skim a small amount off the top via stock options or later appointments to the Board of Directors or reinstatement as a lobbyist
First of all, the Republican way of embezzling money is fantastically inefficient. While Dick Cheney will undoubtedly collect millions, as will his pals at KBR and Halliburton, the cost to the U.S. taxpayer is in the trillions of dollars.
The second difference are the side effects. While a straight up embezzling scam might cost you some credibility with taxpayers, starting a pointless power-grabbing war in the Middle East can actually have consequences for generations. We're talking millions of dead people.
The third major difference is that the Republicans and the Conservatives don't get caught. You can't criticize what they've done - not in the mainstream - without getting shouted down for being unpatriotic or for failing to "support the troops". Mark my words, Bush and Cheney - for all they've done - will never be punished with jail time or fines. Gordon O'Connor will never be jailed for his switcheroo from lobbyist to Minister of Defence or be held responsible for permitting our soldiers to hand over their prisoners to the Afghan authorities who would torture them.
And that last one is the worst difference of all. Because just as aggressive war was considered the supreme war crime because it contained all of the other crimes within it, the failure to catch and punish those who perpetrate this type of embezzling contains within it all of the future debt and death of embezzlements to come.