The following list is from the latest edition of Reason which is then followed by more political class insanity from some different sources:
- According to a June report from the Government Accounting Office, internal IRS computer systems which are supposed to track how much taxpayers owe the government cannot account for a $5.1 billion difference between the money it thought it collected and the money it actually took in. The report and the associated audit found 41 different ways to clean up the IRS's internal accounting system, citing one instance where the IRS computers failed to correctly record a taxpayer's $3 million payment. The report concluded that the IRS may actually be breaking the law established in the annual government appropriations act because of their accounting problems. Makes you wonder whether these are simple computer glitches or we just found another source of government and taxpayer funds leaking out the door via fraud.
- Not to be outdone by the IRS, the Defense Department recently announced that it could not find $9.1 billion of taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for Iraq's reconstruction. This money was from the sale of Iraqi oil and was earmarked to be used for electricity and running water projects throughout Iraq. However, according to the article, no one agency or government entity was ever specifically tasked with the responsibility of tracking the oil sale proceeds and as a result, about 96% of these sales never made it to the designated Treasury Department bank accounts. The audit also found that the Defense Department has no clue what happened to $2.6 billion that was supposed to belong to other Iraqi government entities. The audit concluded that " the breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss." You think?
- Town officials in Clearwater, Florida are being forced to expend taxpayer money to expand a two story structure that only life guards use. The reason? The state building commission ruled that they had to make the life guard stand handicap accessible. Remind me to not go swimming in Clearwater any time soon.
- In Michigan, a recent audit of the state's Medicaid accounting systems found that the state had made about $2 million in payments during the past two years for the care of people who were dead at the time they allegedly received medical treatment.
- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has banned state residents from transporting their own home made beer to a friend's house to drink since the state law says you can only drink your home brewed beer in your own home.
- In Illinois, Jonathon Schoenakase decided to do something good for his home town after his friend was killed by a drunk driver. In 2008, he decided to offer free lifts home to people who may have had too much to drink and were not sober enough to drive themselves. Although his service was free, he began to receive donations as demand for this service, keeping drunks off of the road, expanded and he was able to add another car and a bus to this valuable service. Since the town where he offers this service does not allow taxis to operate after midnight, he was driving drunk people in the early morning hours when no taxis were available. Nevertheless, the taxi owners lobbied the local government to change some rules, forcing Schoenakase to get a taxi license. However, the Chief of Police refused to issue a license since Schoenakase is charged with leaving the scene of an accident and will go on trial in October. In the meantime, his Good Samaritan service for dunks has been shut down and the drunks now have to get themselves home when the clubs and bars close, without taxi service and without Schoenakase.
- Fifteen years ago, Washington state resident Dan Wheeler had his wallet stolen. The thief was eventually arrested of a sex offense but booked under Wheeler's name off of the stolen wallet ids. That oversight landed Wheeler on the state's sex offender list, from which he is unable to extradite himself. The reason: The state officials responsible for the list are worried that the offender who stole his wallet might continue to use his id as an alias sometime in the future. Huh?
- Whenever the state government of California is late passing its annual budget, which is about every year, the state, by law, is required to knock down every state employee's pay rate to the Federal minimum wage level until the state budget is passed. However, the state controller says that it impossible to do from a payroll system perspective because the software is too old, dating from 1970. However, independent observers report that while the controller claims the software cannot be adjusted to reduce pay rates, it has been adjusted since 1970 to handle pay raises, union dues, changes to tax withholding and other software changes. Thus, from a taxpayer perspective in California, it is impossible to reduce wages of state employees because the software is too old but it is possible to raise their wages. At this point, given that the state has not passed a budget and pay rates have not been dropped, every state employee is now being paid illegally under California law.
Moving outside of the realm of Reason magazine, consider the following two instance of political class insanity:
- It has been reported this week in various news outlets that Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman has been named by the United Nations as the ambassador for extraterrestrial life forms. Thus, if aliens from outer space ever arrive, you should bring them directly to Ms. Othman. Talk about screwed up priorities at the UN, let's not worry right now about the sad shape of Haiti, many, many months after an earthquake ddevastated the country. those tents where many of the Haitians are living right now should hold up for at least another six months or so. Let's not worry about the genocide and suffering in Dafur and the Sudan. Those people are used to starving by now. Let's not worry about the nut cases in charge in Iran getting nuclear bomb capability, they're good guys. But, lets move immediately on this appointment in case those aliens from outer space arrive soon, we need a process to handle our relations with these unknown ETs.
- Earlier this week, four mayors from Mexican border towns met with the mayor of San Diego to discuss mutual problems their towns and cities face relative to illegal immigration and drugs. One of the outcomes from the conference was the observation from one of the Mexican mayors that the Untied States was responsible for a great deal of the violence going on in these border towns since this is where the U.S. deports illegal Mexican immigrants to. Let me get this straight: we round up violent Mexican criminals inside our borders, send them back to Mexico, and we are responsible for the violence and carnage that is currently going on in the Mexican drug cartel wars? Does he think it would be better to keep the violent and criminal illegal aliens in our cities? The statement did ask that the deportation of illegal criminals back to Mexico be done to send them to other places in Mexico, at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer, i.e. rather than busing the illegals across the border to Mexico, we should fly them back to wherever they originally came from in Mexico. It is unclear form the news reports whether we should use private planes or commercial flights to return the illegal criminals to their hometowns.
Unfortunately, screwed up priorities and bum accounting systems that always seem to shortchange the American taxpayer is truly the insanity that we deal with every day. Insanity that never gets around to solving real problems that real Americans face every day: unemployment, failing public schools, the failed war on drugs, high national debt, high taxes, etc.
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