Thursday, June 30, 2011

Talk About Bad Priorities - State Level Political Class Insanity

It is no secret that state governments in this country are mostly in very bad financial shape. Revenue shortfalls, outsized pension and health benefit expenses for state government retirees, higher than merited state government employee wages, etc. have caused state governments and the politicians that operate them to cut back on essential services including medical, educational, and other social programs. One would hope that in the face of such economic straits, that all state level politicians were focused on solving the financial problems and finding ways to do more with less.

However, hope is never a good assumption to use when discussing the American political class. Today's post proves that again. It is an easy post to write since the bulk of it comes from an outstanding article by Esme E. Deprez, writing in the May 30, 2011 issue of Business Week. The article went through some recent state government actions which I have compared to the current financial crisis situation within that state:
  • Arizona is facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, which is about 11.5% of its entire budget, but recently passed legislation that named the Colt single action revolver as the official state firearm. This was after conducting debate on the Colt vs. other weapons.
  • Maine is about 16% short in its budget needs in fiscal 2012 but recently passed legislation that named the whoopie pie as the official state treat. This was a compromise name since the same legislators also wanted to make the wild Maine blueberry pie the official state dessert.
  • New York is in really bad shape with a $10 billion and 19% budget deficit but is working hard in debating whether sweet corn or the onion should be the state's official state vegetable.
  • North Carolina has a $2.4 billion and 13% budget deficit but the state government has been busy making NASCAR the official state sport and gold the official state mineral.
  • Not to be outdone, Texas, with a $13.4 billion and 31% deficit, has been really busy, naming western swing as the state's official music, the Mexican three tailed bat as the official state flying mammal, and the Dutch oven as the state's official cooking implement (you cannot make this stuff up!). By the way, the Dutch oven is also popular in Utah where the state legislature took time to make it the official state cooking pot.
  • Oklahoma has a half a billion dollar shortfall but has busy making "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" the state's official gospel song.
  • Wisconsin has a budget deficit of $1.8 billion and 13% deficit but is weighing the legislative option of naming the cream puff as the official state dessert.
Unbelievable but not unexpected. We have reviewed the bad priorities of the Federal political class many times. We have discussed how Federal taxpayer money has been spent to study when dogs became man's best friend, to replace windows in a visitor's center at Mount St. Helen's that has been closed for years and is unlikely to ever reopen, to study bugs on an island off the coast of Africa, etc. despite record levels of national debt. Expecting the state level political class to have the right priorities is just to much to expect.

The ship is sinking, financially speaking, but the politicians in state office either do not have the ability or stomach to fix the leaks. They would rather focus on the trivial rather than the traumatic. Pathetic. These are just another set of examples of why the political process changes proposed in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" are so important to implement. Those currently serving need to be replaced by people that will focus on what is important and pressing, even if it means the state has to go without an official flying mammal, an official dessert, an official song or a an official mineral.

Which leaves just on unanswered question: why are state level politicians so concerned about honoring Dutch ovens?

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Was Just Wondering...About Failing Public Schools, Government Waste, Airport Security And More

I was just wondering:
  • When will the American public and the political class get serious about our failed education processes, given that 70% of the finalists in the latest Intel Sciences Talent Search were children born to immigrants, most of whom were from India and China, even though children of immigrants account for only 12% of the population. (The Week magazine - June 17, 2011)
  • When will the American public and the political class get serious about our failed war on drugs, given that the Mexican government has discovered that Mexican drug cartels are building armored assault vehicles  equipped with battering rams, one inch thick steel armor, and gun turrets, especially since two of the vehicles were recently confiscated at a Mexican border town. (The Week magazine - June 17, 2011)
  • When will the Democratic wing of the political class finally understand that raising taxes in an economic downturn makes no sense, especially since we now know that Sweden has dropped tax rates four times since 2006, a time period that has corresponded with annual national economic growth in Sweden well beyond economic growth in most other nations, including an annualized growth rate of 6.4% in the first quarter of 2011 and 5.7% in all of 2010. (Business Week - June 20, 2011)
  • When will the California political class finally understand that some of the reasons why their state is a financial basket case is because it pays some of its lifeguards over $200,000 a year and that the AVERAGE salary of Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority (the light rail system that serves the San Francisco) employees is  $114,000. (Reason magazine - June 2011)
  • When will the political class finally convince the TSA to revamp its security procedures and stop the insanity so that they no longer force a 95 year old, cancer-stricken American grandmother to remove her adult diaper in order to get through airport security (various late June news reports including (CNN)  but somehow missed the fact that actor Garret Dillahunt accidentally walked through TSA security check posts with a pocketknife in his pocket. (CBS News online, June 27, 2011)
  • When will the political class finally realize that the entire Afghanistan venture is and will probably always be a disaster. Militarily, we have spent over ten years in the country, we have spent almost a half a TRILLION dollars, we have lost thousands of brave American soldiers to the fighting, the country is still grossly illiterate, astonishing poor, amazingly undeveloped, and as I am writing this, the Taliban have taken over a luxury hotel in the capital of Kabul. This takeover is happening despite ten years, half a TRILLION dollars and thousands of lives lost. Disgraceful.
  • When will the political class finally understand that Medicare, as it is structured today, has no chance of surviving unchanged since, according to Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post, it currently costs the American taxpayer over half a TRILLION dollars a year (about $5,000 per year per American family) and is increasing so much that by 2016 it will consume over 30% of the Federal government budget.
  • When will the political class finally understand that NATO is a broken, anachronistic, and dysfunctional military coalition that is running out of ammunition just weeks into its Libyan fiasco, requires the United States to pay for 75% of the organization's budget, and 23 out of 27 NATO members are in violation of the NATO treaty by not expending enough of their domestic budgets for defense. (The Week magazine - June 24, 2011)
I was just wondering... when will the political class get its act and pride together, finally start acting like leaders, and finally start resolving the issues facing America today.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Who Would Have Thought - President Explains How ATMs Cause High Unemployment

For the past few years, the political class has struggled and groped with ways to fix the economy, specifically, how to reduce the persistently unemployment rate:
  • The politicians tried Cash For Clunkers but that failed to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.
  • They tried Cash For Appliances but that failed.
  • They spent over $800 billion on an economic stimulus program but that failed.
  • They dropped interest rates to historical lows but that failed.
  • They launched a mortgage adjustment program for struggling homeowners but that failed.
  • They gave billions of taxpayer dollars away through the First Time Home Owners Rebate program but that failed.
  • They gave billions of taxpayer dollars to mismanaged banks but that failed.
  • They passed a small business stimulus and tax package but that failed.
  • They watched the Federal Reserve Bank inflate the currency by hundreds of billions of dollars via quantitative easing but that failed.
Put these facts aside for a second and consider some recent statements from prominent members of the political class:
  • Last week, we reported on a Forbes interview with Federal Reserve Board President Ben Bernanke who stated that he really had no clue why the economy had no responded to all of the failed actions by the Fed and the political class.
  • A few weeks ago Vice President declared that the economy was improving, just before a dismal jobs report found that only 54,000 jobs had been created in the past month and over half of them were for McDonalds jobs.
  • Nancy Pelosi declared a couple of years ago that 500 million Americans were losing their job each week, pretty impressive since there are fewer than 350 million people living in the United States.
  • Staying with Ms. Pelosi, she also declared that unemployment benefits are one of the absolute best ways to create jobs, leading to the logical conclusion that the more people who are unemployed and collecting unemployment checks the more jobs would be created.
What happens when you put these two lists, failure and ignorance, together? You get the ridiculous interview that President Obama recently did with an NBC Today Show interviewer. The President said that there were two reasons for the high levels of unemployment. The first reason is that the country is still digging out of a deep recession.

The second reason why the economy is still sluggish on job creation? Let the President explain his insight on why he has been unable to bring down the unemployment rate:

There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.

Why didn't we have this insight and deep economic knowledge BEFORE we wasted several years and trillions of dollars of taxpayer dollars? All we have to do is get rid of ATM machines and airport kiosks. Those silly businesses were trying to be more productive, what were they thinking? Forgive me for being sarcastic.

Isn't increasing productivity one of the key components to economic growth? Hasn't gains in productivity freed us from doing the most mundane tasks throughout history and allowed us to move onto to other, more important endeavors?  

If productivity had not increased during our economic history we would still making cars by hand, and not by robots, significantly increasing the cost. If productivity had not increased during our economic history we would still be standing in a bank line, and wasting time, at banks in order to get access at our money rather than using ATMs. If productivity had not increased during our economic history we would not be as efficient harvesting food, resulting in higher food costs and more wideapread hunger.

The list goes on and on, productvity makes our lives better, easier, and less expensive. Throughout history, the increase in productivity allowed workers to move onto other areas that further expanded the economy and the benefits to society. Now this President comes along and rather than celebrating progress and advancements, he blames it and ATMs for his economic inabilities to reduce unemployment.

In his interview he states this as a root cause but then proposes no solutions. Does he want to outlaw ATM machines? Does he want to force businesses to be less productive? Should we outlaw computers and all go back to typewriters so that more people would have a job, no matter how boring that might be? 

Maybe the President wants us all to become ditch diggers, after all we would then all have jobs, as illustrated by a well known story involving renowned economist, Milton Friedman, that supposedly happened in one of his trips to China:

Prof. Friedman visited China in the early 1960s and was taken by a government official to see a public works project. Chinese workers were building a canal. Friedman was struck by seeing everyone digging the canal with shovels. Friedman asked the official, "why no heavy earth-moving equipment?" The official said, "oh, this is a jobs program." So Friedman then says to the official, "then why don't you just give them spoons instead of shovels to create even more jobs?"

The economic ignorance and arrogance of this Presidential administration, along with many, many members of the political class sitting in Congress, never ceases to amaze us. They have wasted TRILLIONS of dollars, unsuccessfully trying to boost the economy, and it is only afterwards, when we see the insanity portrayed in this interview, do we realize what fools we have been to trust these people to lead and grow the economy.

Which, unfortunately, brings us back to some of the same old problems that we have reviewed many times before in this blog. As laid out in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government," we need to make serious changes to our political and educational process in order to revitalize and change out the people sitting in Congress and in the White House. These changes include:
  1. Changing the financing mechanisms of election campaigns.
  2. Instituting term limits for political office.
  3. Requiring all new members of Congress take and pass a class on economic theory.
  4. Hold politicians accountable for such travesties of spending TRILLIONS of dollars but getting no positive economic results.
  5. Most importantly, improve our education system so that our kids can compete in a more productive world in the future.
When you think that ATM machines and airport kiosks are the culprits in a dreadful economy, you really need to take up another line of work, one that does not require you to understand economics or the role of productivity gains in history and the economy and one that certainly does not put you in a position of leadership anywhere in this country.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Maybe It Should Be Prince Obama Rather Than President Obama

As with most politicians, I have never been a big fan of President Obama. I did not vote for him in 2008 but was willing to give him a shot since many people who I respect thought he would be a great President. I had hoped that they saw some qualities of leadership and smarts that eluded me back at the last Presidential election.

However, two and half years into this Presidency, I am pretty sure that those perceived attributes and qualities of leadership and smarts will never materialize. In fact, if I look back to the report card of the President from the past two and half years, the following facts jump to the head of the list:
  • Obama set a record for most foreign trips in the first year of his Presidency, exceeding first year foreign trips of every other U.S. President that came before him.
  • In the first two years of his Presidency, he visited 42 countries (includes multiple visits to the same country).
  • He took time off from his job responsibilities to fly to Denmark and lobby for his home town of Chicago to host a Summer Olympics. This effort resulted in the United States being the first country being thrown out of the finalist pool.
  • He recently traveled to Ireland in the inane attempt to convince the Irish, both in Ireland and here in America, that he had a strong Irish background, and then flew off to England for tea time and a state dinner with the Queen.
  • In 2009, he took time off from being the President to film a television promotion spot for the George Lopez Show.
  • For the past three years he took substantial time out of being President to not only developing his picks for the March Madness NCAA basketball playoffs but also went on television every year to discuss, in detail, his picks.
  • In just the past year or so he has taken time out of being President to host visits by the NBA champion LA Lakers, the WNBA champion Seattle Storm, the NHL champion Chicago Black Hawks, the NFL champion New Orleans Saints, the NCAA Division I football champion Auburn University, the Division 1A football champion Villanova University, the NCAA women's cross country champion Villanova University, the NCAA lacrosse champion Duke University, the NCAA Division I men's basketball champion the University Of Connecticut, and the NCAA champion rifle team from TCU,
  • He took time out from being President to attend an anti-bullying forum.
  • He has taken innumerable vacations in the past two and half years.
  • He has played dozens of rounds of golf and played in dozens of basketball pick up games.
  • He has attended over thirty political fund raisers in the past few months in preparation for the 2012 Presidential election, about ten times as many fund raising events that George W. Bush attended at the same time in his Presidency.
  • In injected himself into a local police matter in Massachusetts, overreacting without all of the information that was available, and which resulted in a week's worth of distraction that culminated in the inane "beer summit" at the White House.
  • He has always been charming when appearing on day time television shows such as Oprah and The View.
In the meantime, what has been going on in the country and the world:

  • U.S. unemployment is still unacceptably high at about 9%.
  • Every week, over 400,000 Americans are usually filing for first time unemployment benefits.
  • The country is weeks away from defaulting on its debt and fiscal solvency.
  • The national debt is steadily climbing and accelerating under Obama, currently north of $14.3 TRILLION.
  • All of this administration's economic policies and programs have been failures.
  • Despite our dire economic times, he recently decided to stop getting daily face-to-face economic briefings from his economic team, opting instead for a daily written report and an occasion economic update from Joe Biden, someone who I believe has minimal economic training.
  • The housing market is still in the dumps with low sales and continually falling prices.
  • Gas prices, while having recently moderated, are still substantially higher than when Obama took office.
  • We are still fighting three wars, the last of which might, in fact, be illegal relative to our nation's laws, where American troops are dying every day.
  • Iran and North Korea are two and a half years closer to being nuclear weapon capable.
  • The Middle East is still a powder keg.
  • South Yemen is politically unstable and there appears to be no way to keep it from becoming a terrorist haven.
  • The country is as divided as ever with the President refusing to intervene when Americans expressing a difference of opinion with his policies are characterized by Democrats as being un-American, racists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, gerbils, a__h____s, and knuckle dragging Neanderthals.
  • The biggest legislative victory of the President has been his health care reform that is being shown almost daily to be a disaster in every imaginable way.
  • His second biggest legislative victory, the reforming of the country's financial markets, was an empty piece of legislation that omitted major segments of the economy (car loans and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgages) and left the details for implementation up to government bureaucrats, creating uncertainty in the private sector.
  • We are no closer to finding solutions to our failed war on drugs, the the illegal immigrant problem, our failing public schools, and the lack of a national energy strategy then we were two and a half years ago.
I do not begrudge the President some rest and relaxation time, it is obviously a high stress job.  I realize that he needs to visit other countries and promote U.S. interests around the world. But I believe he takes all of the frills, pomp, and pageantry of the Presidency much too seriously while dangerously neglecting the difficult, hard core responsibilities of being a President.

American citizens should come first. His many golf rounds, his many vacations, his many non-serious television appearances, his many foreign travels, his tolerance of name calling, his penchant for dinners and fundraisers, etc. are more befitting a Prince who has only ceremonial, trivial, and self gratifying duties, not someone who has serious responsibilities.

Given President Obama's shallow behaviors and non-performance on the serious issues facing the country, I propose that we make him Prince of the United States. In that way he can visit with any sports team he wants, he can visit any country he wants at any time, he can play all of the world's great golf courses, and appear on any television show at any time while not disappointing the voters and failing the country.

In his place, maybe we could finally find a Presidential leader whose ego is second to service, who busts his butt while in office to bring detailed and proper solutions to major problems, who strives to unite the country, who is seriously working the many economic problems facing the country, and who is actively engaged in international actions to improve the welfare and safety of the country. A Prince should not be weighed down by such heavy responsibilities, which makes this new position of royalty perfect for the current White House resident.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Friday, June 24, 2011

So You Want To Me My Latex Salesman - George Constanzaism Strikes The Political Class Again

The George Constanza character in the Seinfeld television series was a magnificent bumbler and a screw up in just about anything he was involved with. The epitome of his ineptness was the episode where he was trying to scam the unemployment office and could not even do that right. The highlights of the episode are at the following YouTube link:

George came to mind today as Constanza-like behavior from the political class keeps on rolling on:

- Let's start with the most minor but possibly the most symbolic of the new George Constanzaisms from the political class. Nine months ago, the Obama administration announced that it had decided to install solar panels on the White House to promote the idea of alternative energy sources. The logic was that if the most famous building in the world had solar power, it would symbolically make solar more popular and widespread in the country and the world.

Sounds like solid reasoning. However, the entire concept depended on the ability of this administration and the political class to actually install a few solar panels in one location. Unfortunately, they were not able to do that simple task. According to an Associated Press report from June 21, 2011, those panels have not yet been installed and there is no definitive date when they would be operational.

Mr. Bill McKibben of the climate activist group summed up the Constanza-like fiasco and frustration best: "Nine months is a pretty long time. You can have a baby in that time. On the list of things that get done, this isn't all that hard. It doesn't require Seal Team 6. It just requires a good-faith effort. You can just open the Yellow Pages and get page after page of solar installers." I could not have said it any better.

But it gets worse. After nine months, the installation has not happened but according to a Department of Energy spokesperson, the project is "on the path" but details and timing would not be shared publicly. Apparently, the competitive procurement process, after nine months, has not been completed.

Is it no wonder that almost forty years after the oil shocks of the 1970s, the political class in this country has not developed and deployed a coherent national energy policy? How could they develop any national plan for energy if they cannot even install a few solar panels in a reasonable amount of time? George would be so proud.

- The second George Constanza moment is quite scary and comes to us courtesy of Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, our national bank. Although this story is widespread, I am going to quote from an online Forbes article written by Agustino Fontevecchia on June 22, 2011. Quoting directly from the article: "Brutally honest, Bernanke admitted that he had no clue what was actually causing the current fragility in the U.S. economic recovery."

Come again. The most powerful financial Federal government employee in the country has no clue? This is a man who printed and deployed hundreds of billions of dollars to unsuccessfully jump start the economy, weakening the buying power of every American and he does not have a clue? This is a man that controls interest rates in this country and he does not have a clue? He is a trained economist who has been involved in this type of high financial and economic concepts his whole life and he does not have a clue?

Well, if he is clueless, how much more clueless is the rest of the political class that have nowhere near the education and experience of Bernanke? It is not like the United States just got formed, it has been around for over two hundred years. Have we learned so little about our economy over that time that we are being guided by cluelessness? Much like Geroge Constanza who seldom had a clue, it seems his disease has spread throughout the halls of Washington.

- Yesterday the Obama administration, in conjunction with about two dozen other countries, have decided to release 60 billion barrels of petroleum onto the market in a desperate attempt to lower the skyrocketing cost of gasoline. Of the 60 million barrels, 30 million barrels will come out of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

How Constanza-like is this move? Just consider some simple math facts:
  • The United States uses about 19 billion gallons of petroleum a day so this 30 million barrel release is equivalent to about only a day and a half worth of our country's usage, hardly enough to bring gas prices crashing down.
  • With 42 gallons in a barrel and about 115 million U.S. households, this 30 million barrel release would come out to about 11 gallons per household, about one tankful of gas for an average car. Again, hardly enough to make a significant difference in the market place or the price of gas.
  • This previous point is a best case since petroleum is used for a variety of different applications and uses beside gasoline so the 11 gallon per household calculation above is a best case.
This energy tactic is not a long term sustaining strategy, once it is gone, it is gone. It does not address any underlying root causes.

Typical George Constanza behavior. Rather than do the right thing and just get a job, George goes through all kinds of wasteful contortions and misdirection to justify his bad behavior. Just like the political class. Rather than do the right thing and just address the underlying root causes of our energy problems in a straightforward manner, the political class goes through the hysterics of  a one time release of an extremely small amount of petroleum that solves nothing.

- And finally, one last example of cluelessness. Yesterday saw the publication of the weekly first time unemployment applications and the news is not good. 429,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, up several thousand from the week before and very consistent with other weekly reports for what seems forever.

The political class spent about $830 billion on an economic stimulus program that did nothing to stem the flow of unemployment. They gave hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to financial institutions and auto makers, and even though their management mismanaged their respective businesses, the political class rewarded them for their incompetence with such programs as TARP. They operated short term, tactical economic stimulus programs (e.g. Cash For Clunkers, Cash For Appliances, Cash For Caulkers, First Time Homeowner Rebate Program, etc.), all of which were failures and wasteful. These all sound like crazy George Constanza plans that never worked out as planned.

How proud we should be that those that are supposed to be leading us only conjure up visions of a TV series bumbler. Very sad. That is why several steps from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" are necessary in order to change our political processes. These political process changes have to start delivering people into office more competent than the George Constanzas we are stuck with today.

George was a fictional character, he could cause no real life damage. Which is what makes our political class so much more dangerous than George - our politicians live, operate, and make life affecting decisions in our real world but have no clue what they are doing: they are clueless when it comes to the economy's sluggishness, they cannot implement any kind of successful economic program, their energy program consists of adding a day and half's worth of petroleum to the market, and cannot even install a few simple solar panels. Not sure that Jerry Seinfeld would even hire them to be his latex salesmen.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.
Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Would Have Thought! The Department Of Education Apparently Has A SWAT Team

Today's post comes from the ABC television affiliate in Stockton, California, Channel 10. They recently ran a news story, both on their news broadcast and also on their website. The article covered a SWAT team raid against a home in Stockton earlier in June. Details from the news report include the following:
  • At 6:00 am in early June, a SWAT team broke down the front door of homeowner Kenneth Wright.
  • Mr. Wright does not have a criminal record and had no idea why a SWAT team would break down his door.
  • As the SWAT team rushed through the broken down door, they encountered a non-aggressive Mr. Wright in his boxer shorts who they quickly grabbed and took him outside his home.
  • The SWAT team also woke up his three kids, aged 3, 7, and 11 and placed all four of them in the back seat of a police car, with Mr. Wright bound in handcuffs..
  • The SWAT team then commenced to search the entire house.
  • Mr. Wright and his kids were left in the car for six hours, according to the news report.
  • The SWAT team left without accomplishing their objective.
Sounds like pretty serious stuff. It must have been a worthwhile, serious matter since there were 15 Federal SWAT team members involved along with a single Stockton police car. What could they have been looking for, especially since Mr. Wright has no criminal past?

Apparently, this raid was not about drugs. It was not about prostitution. It was not about terrorists. It was not about murders. The SWAT team was looking for Mr. Wright's estranged wife for... delinquent student loans. That is right. The U.S. Department has "a law enforcement branch of Federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations" according to the news report.

What's next, a Seal team for Headstart? An artillery unit for the Department of Agriculture? What ever possessed the political class to allow SWAT teams to track down student loan holders who do not pay their bills? Would it not be better to just have a U.S. marshal or two arrest the people who have not paid their loans? Are these perpetrators too violent to be handled by ordinary U.S. marshals, so violent that a full SWAT team needs to be deployed?

Trust me, I have no problem with bringing justice to those people that abuse taxpayer dollars but isn' this a little overkill? And really a little too over the top for the situation:
  • Given they were looking for Mr. Wright's estranged wife, why did they handcuff Mr. Wright and keep him in a hot police car for six hours? I would have thought that one of the 15 SWAT team members would have noticed that Mr. Wright is not a female.
  • Why did it take so long to search the house? If you look at the TV broadcast, Mr. Wright does not live in a mansion, it looks like a typical suburban home. Searching the house for the person they were looking for should have taken 15 minutes, tops.
  • Why was child services not involved to care for the young kids for six hours rather than throw them in a police car?
  • If the SWAT team was worried that Mr. Wright would contact and warn his estranged wife, why not take him to a secure location rather than sticking him in a police car for six hours in his underwear with handcuffs on?
But a another major atrocity, besides the obvious infringement of Mr. Wright's civil rights and the stomping of his freedom, was the issue of taxpayer cost. Let's do a little math:
  1. Given that the team arrived at the house at 6:00 am and kept Mr. Wright under custody for six hours, it is not a stretch to assume that the entire day was spent on this one event.
  2. At five days a week, 52 weeks in a year, each SWAT team member works 260 days a year.
  3. Without any data, I am assuming that the average SWAT team member costs $50,000 a year to the taxpayer.
  4. Thus, one day out of 260 days and $50,000 a year in salary cost equates to a daily taxpayer expense of about $192 per person or almost $3,000 for the entire SWAT team to spend an entire day on site.
  5. This assumes that the Department of education had a Stockton area SWAT team. If not, then the cost of transporting the SWAT team to Stockton for this notorious non-payer of student loans would have been much higher.
This outrageously high cost raises the question: how much did Mr. Wright's estranged wife owe the government? Must have been a lot since it cost the taxpayers almost $3,000 to come up empty, excluding any travel costs. Thus, it will cost even more to bring her to justice. Unless she owes hundreds of thousands of dollars, I question the logic of using heavily armed troops to raid a private citizen's home.

I also question the justification of having SWAT teams under the jurisdiction and direction of the Department of Education. There has to be a better way to apprehend non-violent student loan holders who do not pay back their loans. How inefficient is it to use 15 member SWAT teams to track down what is probably thousands of delinquent loan payers? No way this is cost efficient.

But should we expect anything more from the political class? Infringement of rights, endangering American lives, excessive costs, and inferior results. This could describe any of  thousands government operations. This is the type of inefficiency that Step 1 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" would directly address.

In the process of reducing Federal government spending by 10% a year for five years, Step 1 would do a ground up, zero based audit of all government functions. This massive audit's intention would be to identify waste, duplication, inefficiency, and outright abuse of taxpayer dollars. If we do not get spending and waste under control, and the insanity of allowing the  Department of Education to have SWAT teams, our freedom and our economic future is doomed.

That is why Step 1 is so critical to execute now. Who knows what the next step of insanity might be if we do not act now; could we possibly see the equipping the Health and Human Services Department with Apache attack helicopters to track down those Americans who ignore Obama Care's requirement that every American purchase health insurance? Seems far fetched but ten minutes ago didn't Department of Education SWAT teams also sound far fetched?

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two More Obama Care Insults - Will The Insults And Waste Never Stop?

Recently we summarized the many reasons why Obama Care, the political class disastrous legislation that is supposed to fix the our health care cost crisis, is doomed to failure and likely to cause severe economic problems as it heads for its eventual doomed demise. These reasons include the following errors in judgement and logic:
  • The biggest problem is that those who developed and wrote the legislation did not understand the root causes of our high health care costs. These root causes include the facts that Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of food, they do not exercise enough, they tend towards obesity, and they smoke too much. These root causes need to be addressed as public health issues. The political class approach, which resulted in Obama Care, is nothing more than a government bureaucracy and taxation approach, both of which do not address the underlying drivers of high health care costs. Wrong diagnosis and wrong medicine results in the wrong solution.
  • Although many states have successfully reduced their sky high health care costs by reforming their medical malpractice tort processes, Obama Care devotes virtually no resources and legislation to repeating those same state successes at the Federal government level. Proven solutions ignored by the legislation, how insulting is that?
  • America is getting older as the baby boomers move into the golden years. Unfortunately, those same Americans are likely to endure innumerable cases of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and other aging diseases, putting unprecedented cost and expense pressures on the nation's health care system. Simple root cause analysis, an analysis that received short shrift in the legislation. If you do not devote serious energies, research, and funding to address these dementia-like diseases, the bureaucracy and taxation processes that Obama Care has called for will have absolutely not impact relative to the aging of America and the related high health care costs.
  • The fourth insult to our intelligence is the poorly written section of the legislation that makes it much less expensive for companies to drop health care insurance for their tens of millions of retirees and employees than to continue their health care insurance programs. How can a law that is supposed to increase the number of Americans that have health care insurance be so inept that it results in tens of millions of Americans to lose their health care insurance?
Four major insults to our intelligence of why Obama Care is a failure. But we have covered all of these insults in detail in previous posts, naively thinking that all of the insults had played out. What other insults could the political class responsible for this atrocity possibly heap onto the country?

But, alas, two more insults have just surfaced this week. The first new insult comes for the Solicitor General of the United States. The Solicitor General is the government's top litigator in cases involving the Supreme Court. He is the chief legal advocate for the Federal government's legal stances. Neal Katyal is currently the acting Solicitor General and earlier this month he was arguing the legality of Obama Care in front of the Court Of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

The judges were conducting hearings on the legality of one of Obama Care's more obnoxious components, the fact that the law forces Americans to purchase health care insurance. The obvious concern is that if the government and the politicians that run it can force you to use your own wealth to purchase a product or service they want you to have, where is the limit on the power of the political class to force citizens to buy other products and services? For example, could politicians use this slippery slope to force citizens to purchase products or services from companies who are big campaign donors to politicians?

On a freedom level, this component smacks down the notion of liberty and freedom. Anytime the government "forces" Americans do to something, for better or worse, freedom suffers. This forced purchase requirement was the main topic of discussion at this judicial hearing.

According to a report by Phillip Klein reporting for the Washington Examiner, the arguments eventually got around to the "hardship exemption" in the health care law and applies to people who cannot obtain health insurance for less than 8% of their income. Kaytal responded to questioning by the Appeals judges by discussing the fact "that there's a provision in the health care law that allows people to avoid the mandate."

Kaytal went on to state: "If we're gong to play that game, I think that game can be played here as well, because after all, minimum coverage provision only kicks In after people have earned a minimum amount of income. So it's a penalty on earning a certain amount of income and self insuring. It's not just on self insuring on its own...someone doesn't need to earn that much income."

At this point one of the judges interrupted Kaytal: "That wasn't in a single speech given in Congress about this. The idea that the solution if you don't like it [mandatory purchasing of insurance] is to make a little less money."

Brilliant, way to encourage the American work ethic and expand the economy. Work less, earn less money and by doing so you will fall below the income threshold and force the government, and other harder working Americans, to pick up your health insurance tab. Imagine what would happen if everybody followed the Solicitor General's advice and strove to work less and earn less money in order to get a government handout for health care insurance.

This is truly a callous insult to us all. Don't like the provision and it's impact on freedom? Well, too bad, tough luck, adjust your life and family and your wealth to the law, just earn less money. Sounds like the "let them eat cake" attitude all over again from the political class.

The second new insult comes form an Associated Press article that appeared on June 21, 2011. Apparently this legislation was so long and so complicated that it resulted in a situation where millions of Americans could end up getting free government sponsored health care even though they have the resources to buy it themselves. According to the article, Obama Care has a provision that would allow several million middle class and upper class Americans to get nearly free insurance meant only for America's poor.

The article goes onto say that this loophole was discovered only after the legislation was passed, given further credence to the belief that no one in Congress read or understood this bill before it was passed. Up to 3 million Americans could qualify for Medicaid because, as a result of Obama Care, Social Security payments would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility for free Medicaid insurance.

How bad is the likely outcome if nothing is changed? The top Medicare actuary stated in the article that the situation keeps him up at night and "I don't generally comment on the pros and cons of policy but that [this Medicaid situation] just doesn't make sense." Even Obama's people realize the major screw up, according to a HHS spokesperson: "We are concerned, as a matter of law, some middle income Americans may be receiving coverage through Medicaid which is meant to serve only the neediest Americans."

Brilliant, a law that was supposed to reduce the Federal government deficit is likely to widen the deficit even more by providing government health care insurance resources to people that do not need it and who would not have gotten it without the passage of Obama Care. How stupid and insulting is this little wrinkle to American taxpayers: hey, we are going to waste more of you tax dollars by giving it away to your neighbors who do not need the help.

The real problem with this money drain and waste is how to fix it. Given that it is in the law already, until that law is amended, the atrocity and waste will continue. But you can be sure that Obama and the Democrats are not going to want to reopen any discussion on Obama Care since the Republicans will try to expand the discussion to defund, gut, or totally terminate the law. As a result, this insult is likely to go into effect and widen the deficit tremendously when you give free government health care insurance to an additional three million Americans.

What a piece of garbage this legislation is turning into. It will not reduce high health care costs, it will not address and fix the underlying root causes of high health care costs, it continues the political class contempt for Americans by telling them in a condescending manner that if we do not like the law, than just earn less money and affect your entire way of life, and it will give away billions and billions of dollars to citizens that do not need the money for health care coverage. Insult upon insult coupled with stupidity. Certainly no way to run a country or its government.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where Did Our Nation's Wealth Go?

I got to wondering the other day about what happened to all of our wealth. It is true that the United States still has the largest economy in the world. Our citizens, on average, are some of the wealthiest in the world. At one time, our wealth allowed us to dominate the world in so may areas include militarily, politically, diplomatically, economically, athletically, and culturally.

I am not sure I can make that statement of dominance today. One reason we may not be able to do that is we are much less wealthy, relative to our past, than we have been. Consider the many ways the government and the political class that operates it have allowed our nation's wealth to leak out of the country over time:

- Probably the biggest drain on our nation's wealth has been the political class' inability to develop and implement a coherent and strategic energy policy for the country. Despite the OPEC oi shocks from the 1970s that rocked the country and the economy, in 2011 we still have no energy policy that protects and retains the nation's wealth.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2010 the United States imported about 4.3 billion barrels of oil and petroleum products from other countries. These imports are needed because the U.S. economy goes through over 7 billion barrels a year. 

The political class has not found a way, or even tried to find a way, to close that gap over the decades, by either diversifying our energy sources away from petroleum or increasing domestic production to close or eliminate that gap of three billion barrels of oil. In fact, the gap has likely gotten larger since the 4.3 billion barrels of imported barrels is about twice what it was in 1980, according to the Federal government.

At $90 a barrel, 4.3 billion barrels a year roughly results in about $386 billion dollars of our wealth leaving our domestic economy annually. These hundreds of billions of dollars end up building the economies of other nations that feed our energy addiction, nations that are not always friendly to our interests or our safety.

- Another major wealth drain is due to the illegal drug market, primarily the Mexican drug cartels. According to a January 26, 2011 research paper developed by the Law and Public Policy group at the Wharton School at the University of  Pennsylvania, the Mexican drug cartels' revenue from the United States is between $35 and $45 billion a year. The majority of the revenue, according to several other sources, comes from marijuana but also includes amphetamines, cocaine and other illegal drugs.

We have seen Mexicans die by the thousands every year due to drug cartel violence. We have seen the police, judges, and government officials in Mexico corrupted by cartel money. And as a result of our politicians' forty year failed war on drugs, we have seen hundreds of billions of dollars diverted from this country into foreign gangs, who much like the oil exporting nations above, do not always have our best interests and safety in mind.

- While we have seen trillions of our wealth leak out over time because the political class has not acted and has not developed coherent strategies and plans for energy and drug addiction, the third major wealth drain has been the political class actually acting but acting poorly when it comes to military matters. We have deployed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops around the world over the past decades, most often in ill-defined and ill-executed wars or in places where there was no need to deploy them.

We have likely spent over a trillion dollars already in Iraq and Afghanistan with no clear, concise, and defined benefit in return. Between Europe, Japan, and South Korea, we have well over 120,000 U.S. troops deployed overseas or no reason at all, at a cost of probably over $50 billion a year. In return, the economy and the American public gets no tangible benefit, another leak of our wealth pool.

- According to the Cato Institute's government downsizing analysis, the American taxpayer would save over $100 billion a year of the U.S. Department of Education was eliminated. Why should it be eliminated? Consider the following "accomplishments" of the Department:
  • A recent Associated Press article indicated that almost 25% of U.S. armed forces recruits could not fulfill basic language and math skills needed to enter the armed forces.
  • Another recent Associated Press report showed that upwards of 40% of community college freshmen in this country need to take remedial courses in basic subjects before they can begin their college work even though most of them had high school diplomas.
  • A whole host of international student testing initiatives show that U.S. students almost always trail dozens of other countries' kids when it comes to math, language, and science skills.
  • And the latest bad news, a June 14, 2011 Associated Press report showed that only 13% of U.S. high school seniors have a solid understanding and knowledge of American history.
All of which raises the important question: couldn't the nation do just as poorly and not spend $100 billion every year to do so badly? Cato has done its investigative analysis and has shown that yes, the country can change and dramatically improve its educational policies and approaches without having a Department of Education, resulting in $100 billion a year in taxpayer savings.

If we add in additional waste that we have documented, waste that exists in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, we easily can see where over $200 billion a year leaks out of the productive area of the economy into the unproductive and often criminal areas of the economy.

So let's review:

- We allow about $386 billion a year to leak out to foreign oil exporters because the political class has not deployed an effective energy strategy.
- We allow about $40 billion a year to leak out to criminal drug gangs in Mexico because the political class has not deployed an effective drug addiction policy.
- We allow about $50 billion a year to leak out of the productive area of our economy because we continue to unnecessarily deploy U.S. troops around the world.
- We allow over $200 billion a year to leak out of the productive area of the economy due to an ill performing Department of Education and waste and fraud in our Federal social services programs.

If we add up these various wealth leaks out of the U.S. economy, we end up with a grand total of leaks worth about $679 billion a year. This figure does not include the more than trillion of dollars we have allowed to leak down the military drain that is Afghanistan and Iraq. It does not include the tax breaks we give U.S. companies to close domestic factories and move production to other countries. It does not include the tens of billions of dollars that illegal immigrants send back home to their countries, dollars that are not retained and spent in this country.

Thus, the $679 billion is probably a conservative estimate of how much our government and the politicians that run it allow these leaks to deplete our world and our economy every year. $679 billion is equivalent to an annual tax break for every American household of about $5,900, at a minimum. I believe that we would be much wealthier as a country if every household had at least another $5,900 a year in disposable income to spend as they see fit.

And the good news is that we would be just as safe as a nation, more economically independent, and probably raising smarter kids in the process. The steps to accomplish this wealth retention are laid out in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government," steps that address energy independence, education reform, military consolidation, and the changing of our political processes so that these processes eventually would produce elected officials that know how to fix a leak.

Until we take these steps, our wealth and our economy will die a little bit more each day, death by a thousand cuts. The problem with a thousand cuts is that eventually the leaks stop, not because they have been fixed, but because there is nothing left to leak out.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.
Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Anthony Weiner - Dishonored But Still Worth A Million

By now we well aware of the dishonor that ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner brought down on himself, Congress, the country, and his constituents. Finally, after weeks of not doing the honorable thing, the Congressman finally resigned and left behind his place in Congress.

As he left, I wondered what the American taxpayer now owed him from a benefits and pension perspective. Even though his behavior was despicable, I assumed that he was not immediately going to go into the poor house, given how the political class takes care of themselves.

It did not take long to find out. An article on June 17, 2011 by Jack Hough at Smart Money's website explained how well the ex-Congressman will do at the expense of the American taxpayer. According to Mr. Hough, Mr. Weiner will eventually receive over a million dollars worth of pension benefits despite his pathetic and childish antics. The article lays out the details of his compensation quite clearly:
  • Weiner is covered under the Federal Employee Retirement System which provides a defined benefit pension plan.
  • The plan is a minimal cost to Federal employees and politicians, requiring a covered person to pay less than 1% of their annual pay into the system.
  • The ex-Congressman was in Congress for only twelve years and was earning the standard Congressional salary $174,000 in 2011.
  • Weiner can start taking a discounted pension of about $25,000 a year starting at age 56 (he is currently 47) or he can take a full pension of $35,000 a year at age 62.
With the average 10 year Treasury yield currently at 2.9%, a regular American would need to have $1.2 million worth of assets in order to generate $35,000 a year in retirement. How many Americans have that kind of money in their possession that would be needed to match the Congressman's pension benefit? Probably not very many.

Not too shabby. The article contains another comparison to a regular American trying to save for retirement:
  • The example assumes that this regular American saves $12,000 of his own money each year in a 401k plan.
  • These savings are matched up to $3,000 by the American's employer and generates an annual yield of 3.8% a year (the average stock market return over the past 12 years).
  • After 12 years, this regular American would have $231,000 in their 401k plan.
  • If they somehow were able to get their investment return up to 5% a year until they were 56 years old, this American would be able to draw down $15,000 a year in retirement funds (40% below what Weiner will get) at age 56 and $20,000 a year at age 62, more than 40% less than Weiner. And most of these regular Americans have caused far less anger, hurt, and dishonor than the ex-Congressman.
But there's more! As the article points out, not only does the average American get 40% less than the Congressman, the average American had to get that lower stream of retirement revenue using his or her own money. The Congressman invested very little of his own money, the American taxpayer funds his pension. This allows the Congressman, and politicians like him, to use their own money to open their own retirement 401k retirement accounts in addition to the virtually free pension programs for politicians.

But the fun doesn't stop here. They also pay into and receive Social Security benefits and get the best health care coverage possible, all at the taxpayer's expense.

Not a bad deal, over $1 million in benefits despite his actions and expulsion. But it gets better. Weiner's benefits are inflation protected. If inflation goes up, his benefits go up annually, courtesy of the American taxpayer. Many regular Americans who receive a pension never get a cost of  living increase, their pension payments are usually fixed for life when they start drawing their pension checks.

However, some insightful person might observe that comparing the ex-Congressman's benefits to the average American is not fair, given that his services are valued at $174,000, almost three times higher than the income of an average American household. He should be able to receive higher retirement benefits than the average American. The article provides no insights into this observation.

However, I have worked in corporate America and know many people that were or are in corporate America and one of them volunteered their retirement plans and details. We can use these details to standardize pension payouts of average, middle management corporate employees to political class pensions. In order to get to a common baseline for comparison, we need to account for differences in the working situations of both people and index them to a common base:
  • My friend worked for 29 years to get their pension while the ex-Congressman worked for only 12 years.
  • The Congressman's final salary was about 50% higher than my friends.
  • My friend starting taking retirement at age 52 so their discounted annual payments had to be increased as if they had waited until 56 years of age like Weiner will have to do.
  • My friend's pensions payments never increase for inflation, it is fixed for his entire life while the Congressman's pension payments will increase very year, based on inflation.
As a trained statistician, I believe that I properly and honestly took all of the available information and adjusted the variables to come up with a standardized comparison, the details of which I will not share here but which are available if desired. This approach and these results support what Mr. Hough found, i.e. the political class has given themselves a sweet deal:
  1. If inflation averages 2% a year, Weiner will receive 18% more in value than my corporate friend, all other variables considered including life expectancy.
  2. If inflation averages 3% a year, Weiner will receive 31 % more in value.
  3. If inflation average 4% a year, Weiner will received 46% more in value.
No surprise no matter how you cut the data: the political class has taken a "let them eat cake" attitude towards the American taxpayer. No matter how much you dishonor the country, no matter how low your approval ratings go (recent Rasmussen polling shows Congress with an abysmal 9% approval rating), the political class has rigged the system to force the American taxpayer to overpay for their missteps, wasteful spending, moral shortfalls, and childish behavior even though they never seem to solve any major problem.

Several steps from "Love My Country, Loathe my Government" would finally end this charade and plundering of the taxpayer till by our politicians:
  • Step 9 - this step would terminate the Federal pension program for newly hired Federal workers going forward in time. Given that a small and diminishing portion of most American workers do not have access to a traditional pension, it is not fair for them to fund something that they cannot get as they fund a rich pension program for Federal workers, including politicians.
  • Step 39 - this step would impose term limits on all Federal election positions so that people like Weiner cannot serve a relatively short number of years yet receive robust pensions and health benefits for life.
  • Step 41 - this step would prohibit any politician with a net financial worth over $3 million from drawing a paycheck while in office. It makes no sense for multi, multimillionaires in Congress, such as John McCain and John Kerry, to draw a salary in this time of financial distress. In addition, although not listed in the book, this step should have been expanded to also include pensions and health benefits. These politicians can afford to cover their own retirement needs and not burden regular Americans for their lavish retirement perks.
I wish there was a step that somehow covered sexting and obscene tweeting but when "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" was published I and the rest of the country had no idea how low a Federal politician could go. But the bigger issue is the contempt and aloofness of the political class in their attitudes towards us. Our politicians continually demonstrate how their welfare and careers take precedent over any other issue facing the country, no matter how major those issues are.

Mr. Hough's final paragraph pretty much sums it up: "The point here isn't that politicians don't deserve decent retirement plans. The last thing America needs is financially insecure lawmakers. But Weiner is getting the equivalent of a $1.2 million exit payment after serving just 12 years on the job." His behavior and dishonor is certainly not worth a million dollars.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Friday, June 17, 2011

You Cannot Spell W-a-s-t-e Without A Involving A Lot From W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n

Just when you think you know about all the waste that is generated by the American political class and the government that it runs, more wasteful spending, and the taxpayer money used to support it, comes tumbling down the road and into the storm sewer, never to be seen again.

In past posts to this blog we have reviewed the Federal government's estimate that it wastes between $60 and $90 billion a year in fraud and erroneous payouts in its Medicare and Medicaid programs. Earlier this week we reviewed a Senate investigation of the National Science Foundation that had actually spent research dollars investigating on how to ride a bike, estimating when dogs became man's best friend, and measuring how racist are users of online dating sites.

But it does not end there, if you consider some recent identification of more government waste that has just been found and publicized over the past few weeks:

- An Associated Press article by Stephen Ohlemacher on June 14, 2011 documented how the Social Security Administration (SSA) made $6.5 billion in erroneous overpayment's to people not entitled to the payments in 2009. The $6.5 billion included $4 billion in bogus payments from a single SSA program, supplemental income program for the poor. This $4 billion was a whopping 10% of the program's entire budget.

More distressing than the $6.5 billion, which is bad enough, the SSA Inspector General has estimated that the entire Federal government doled out $125 billion worth of improper payments in 2010 for all reasons, fraud, incompetence, etc. This is $15 billion more than what were improper payments in 2009, a 14% rise in waste in just a single year. The trend in curbing government waste is obviously going in the wrong direction.

For comparison purposes, without the $125 billion in waste, last year's budget deficit would have been reduced by more than 10%. Put another way, if this wasteful spending had been sent back to the taxpayers, every U.S. household would have received over a $1,000. Disgraceful.

- A June 8, 2011 news report from Kevin Drawbaugh of Reuters was titled, "Prisoners, The Dead Got 2009 Car Tax Break, Report Shows." The Qualified Motor Vehicle (QMV) program was better know as Cash For Clunkers. People could trade in their older cars and get a government rebate and other tax benefits relative to the purchase of a new vehicle. The two fold purpose of the program was to jump start the auto industry and get people into more fuel efficient vehicles.

However, according to the report, it does not appear the IRS ran a very tight operation. According to the article, taxpayers who claimed the deduction were not required to provide the independent proof that an auto had actually been purchased. Obviously, a criteria like this opens up the entire program to fraud. The Inspector General for the program found the following:
  • The IRS failed to qualify 4,257 individuals who made QMV claims.
  • These 4,257 claims were for $151.1 in QMV benefits. 
  • 439 claimants were actually prisoners in jail when they claimed a total of $955,843 in sales tax as part of the program in 2009,  "even though they were behind bars for a full year in 2009 when the vehicle was purportedly purchased."
  • Another $36,490 worth of claims were for people who were dead before the start of the program.
  • And adding insult to injury, 18 people who were under the age of 15 also got $31,139 in QMV benefits.
While these are smaller numbers relative to $125 billion, it is still waste. And this is what the Inspector General has somewhat confidently identified. Who knows how much other waste in this program exists that was not identified.

- Speaking of autos, consider another wasteful auto government program that involves the General Motors Volt electric car. General Motors convinced the political class to basically subsidize the purchase of a Volt since the company could not make the electric car cost efficiently. Thus, they got a corporate welfare benefit from Washington in the form of a taxpayer funded rebate. Theoretically, an American who buys a Volt will get $7,500 Federal tax credit.

Sounds simple enough, buy a Volt and the taxpayer rewards you with $7,500. But nothing is simple when it comes to wasteful government bureaucracies and programs. According to an LA Times article that appeared in the June 4, 2011 edition of the St. Petersburg Times, General Motors dealers are scamming the process in two ways. The most egregious scam involves the dealerships actually selling the car to themselves and keeping the $7,500 tax credit for themselves. They then sell the Volt to regular customers as a used car.

Since the rebate applies to only first time buyers of the Volt, the regular customers cannot now claim the rebate since the car is technically "used" even though the mileage is minimal. Thus, a government program designed to help an American own a new electric car, essentially funnels free taxpayer money to dealers, not end users, defeating the whole purpose of the rebate.

The second scam regarding the Volt is the rebate itself. If a product cannot stand on its own in the marketplace, it does not deserve to exist in that marketplace. General Motors should be making cars that can successfully compete on their own features, quality, and price, not on the generosity of the political class to waste taxpayer dollars on a private company's inferior products. All corporate welfare such as the Volt rebate is waste, pure and simple.

- In a June 3, 2011 report from CNN, it was reported that a new government report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting warned that billions of taxpayer money may be wasted because of the inability of both Iraq's and Afghanistan's governments to keep American financed programs and projects operating. Specifically, the Commission chairman, Christopher Shays stated in the report: "Unless government officials identify and address sustainment requirements and change or kill doomed programs, an enormous amount of taxcpayers' money will turn out to have been wasted.

After ten years in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq, we still do not know how to effectively spend taxpayer dollars in a non-wasteful manner?  Apparently that is a correct assumption. The CNN report goes on to state that over the past decade, wartime contracting in both countries has already identified specific programs that have wasted tens of billions of dollars. The investigation forecasts  that past billions of waste "could pale in comparison to additional waste developing from [current and future] unsustainable projects and programs."

Over a hundred billion dollars from domestic Federal programs wasted annually, tens of billions of dollars already wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan with the potential for much more waste ever present, government programs that incorrectly pay benefits to dead people, imprisoned people, and underage people for their non-purchase of a car. It never ends.

There are several drivers behind this waste. The failures of these programs sometimes happen because the host country cannot supply trained personnel to continue the program, the host country may not be able to financially support the program, or the host country does not have the ability to perform essential maintenance on the bridges, schools, or other such efforts.

They also fail because of the standard government waste causes: incomplete analysis, overly ambitious objectives, poor planning, weak coordination, and inadequate follow up. Sound familiar? Probably the same reasons why Cash For Clunkers and waste in SSA programs exist. But as the title today says, you cannot spell w-a-s-t-e without a lot of W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n.

How do we get Washington out of the waste business? A number of recommended steps from "Love my Country, Loathe My Government" would go a long way:

- Step 1 - this step would reduce government spending in all entities by 10% a year for five years. Included in this step is a ground up, zero based approach of looking at every facet of every government operation in order to wring out waste, look for expense synergies, and kill unsuccessful or unneeded embedded government programs, projects, and departments. If government operations were streamlined and simplified, the chance of lowering waste, defining accountability for waste, and eliminating waste is greatly increased.

- Step 34 - hold members of  Congressional committees accountable for waste in their areas of control and responsibilities, removing them from their committee posts for their inability to rein in wasteful spending.

- Step 37 - base annual pay treatment for Congressional members for their actual performance during the year, with a major part of their annual performance review being a component on how well they did or did not eliminate wasteful spending.

- Step 44 -  do not use Federal tax dollars for any program or project that does not substantially affect a significant number of Americans from at least five states. Anything less than this criteria becomes the responsibility of the state governments.

This step would downsize and focus the Federal government to a much smaller set of programs and projects, hopefully saving money on local pork barrel programs and focusing attention on a smaller set of more important priorities.

- Step 46 - impose strict accounting, accountability, and audit procedures on every facet of the Federal government's budget, much like the Federal government has imposed on private industry under the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, with the same penalties for not fulfilling these rather strict reporting and budget management duties including fines, imprisonment, and termination from their job.

Wouldn't it be nice if w-a-s-t-e was not such a big part of  W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n?  H-a-s-t-e is also a big part of Washington, it's about time that the political class used a little haste within Washington to finally get the TRILLIONS of dollars of wasteful spending under control.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

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