Thursday, June 6, 2013

June, 2013, Political Class Insanity, Part 3: Dissing ESPN, Detroit Going Down, Chimps Living The Good Life, And More

This is the third in this month’s series on political class insanity. In the first two posts we learned that the Federal government has gotten so large that even when they try, the Washington politicians cannot catalog and track every Federal organization. We found out that the political class has spent money on a project to teach certain species of fish how to survive predator attacks. We have found out that the ATF was not able to secure a quarter of a ton of explosives that has recently been stolen by unknown robbers.

There were other instances of insanity and lunacy from the political class this past month and they can be found at:

But we are not done, as the following insanity shows:

1) The country has a national debt of about $17 TRILLION. There are over 20 million Americans who are unemployed or under employed. A very small percentage of this year’s college graduates are finding a job in their field, if they can find a job at all. Our schools still under educate our kids and our lost war on drugs continues to empower and enrich violent drug cartels. The cost of a gallon of gas is up about 80% over the past few years.

The country faces a lot of dire issues but what is a leading, long time Senator worried about, according to a short blurb in the May 26, 2013 issue of the Tampa Bay Times? Senator John McCain is upset, and plans to take legislative action, because cable and satellite providers charge their customers for receiving ESPN broadcasts even if they do not watch ESPN.

The Senator wants to pass legislation that would unbundle cable and satellite program offerings so that those that do not want ESPN do not have to pay for ESPN. If you asked Americans what are the most pressing issues for themselves and their families, do we think that ESPN bundling would make the top fifty or top hundred? Horrible set of bad priorities.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that the reason these politicians work on these minor, idiotic issues is that they do not know how to fix the real issues that affect most of us. Rather than work on issues whose solutions constantly elude them, they work on stupid issues that they may be able to affect but which have little impact on the lives of most of us.

2) The Institute For Energy Research reported on a Department of Energy (DOE) report on its website on May 8, 2013:
  • Remember that President Obama promised in 2008 to create 5 million “green jobs” by directing taxpayer wealth towards renewable energy companies and projects.
  • These 5 million jobs would be created over a ten year period.
  • However, the latest DOE report quantifies how that effort was going and the news was not good.
  • Since 2009, the $26 billion that the DOE has given out in its alternative energy loan guarantee program has created….wait for it… a grand total of 2,298 jobs.
  • This comes out to about $11.45 MILLION for each "green job" created.
Pitiful waste of taxpayer money. Even if the President was able to create 5 million jobs, at this rate the total cost to the American taxpayer would be over $57 TRILLION, more than three times the size of our current total national debt of $17 TRILLION.

But of course, at this rate, the President will never get close to 5 million “green jobs” in the next six years to meet his ten year goal. Just another example of politicians not having a clue on how economics works or how to be fiscally responsible with our hard earned money.

3) A May 13, 2013 Associated Press (AP) reported on how the inability of the American political class to understand economics or be financially capable may lead to the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The city of Detroit used to be the fourth largest city in the country. It used to have one of the highest per capita incomes of all cities in the country. But as the AP article points out:
  • The first report by Detroit's state appointed emergency manager finds that the city is broke and at risk of running completely out of money.
  • This would result in employees not getting paid, city worker retirees losing their pensions and current city residents seeing even deeper cuts in municipal services.
  • The city’s net cash position, the amount of cash in its accounts after the bills are paid, was negative $162 million in late April.
  • The current fiscal year’s budget deficit could be as high as $386 million even though just a few months ago it was thought to be only $327 million.
  • The city’s long term debt is $14 billion.
Let’s be honest, the financials of the city are not likely to improve much unless it declares bankruptcy. The political class in Detroit has taken a proud city with a great financial future and destroyed it in less than fifty years.

4) Political class insanity is not unique to the United States.

One of the big whines of President Obama is that the wealthy in this country do not pay enough in taxes even though a very small percentage of Americans pay the overwhelming burden of Federal taxes. As we have claimed and proved many times in this blog, we do not have an under taxation problem in this country, we have a government over spending problem in this country.

The cause of our national debt, and the national debt of most countries in the world, is that governments spend too much money on non-effective and inane programs and projects. Such is the case in France, which in 2012 raised the top marginal tax rate to the insane level of 75%. In other words, French citizens whose incomes exceeds a certain level have to give the French government 75% of the amount they earned over that limit.

This nonsense, of course, has led to many wealthy French citizens to just simply leave the country to avoid this tax oppression, leaving the French government with less tax revenue than before the tax increase but the same amount of spending. A recent report from Reuters shows the insanity and the logical conclusion of this class warfare and tax the rich idiocy.

Due to a quirk in the law that raised the top marginal tax rate to 75%, more than 8,000 French households’ 2012 tax bills topped 100% of their annual income. Reuters said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a retro tax levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).

Yes, the French political class is so insane and incompetent that it wants more than 8,000 of its citizens to give it over 100% of what those citizens actually earned in 2012. Even the American political class has not gotten that greedy or oppressive…yet.

5) Although not a great sum of money relative to overall annual Federal government spending, the following example from the Washington Guardian on February 9, 2013 is a great example of government spending that has gotten out of control over time.

According to the article from the Guardian, the National Institutes of Health, the government's medical research arm, is spending about $12 million annually to care for some chimpanzees that are currently and were formerly used for research,. This care is given to them in an animal retirement sanctuary in Louisiana.

Before going any further let me say I am for the humane care of all animals. It is probably a good bet that some of these chimps made contributions to society that were positive. They deserve to be treated well as they get older and are no longer needed for health related research.

However, in 2011, American taxpayers supported 713 animals at a cost of $11.6 million, according to NIH records. But in 2012, the price tag for their care rose to $12.4 million, even though NIH supported 40 fewer chimps at the sanctuary. Thus, the per chimp cost went up 13% in just one year, far beyond the rate of inflation.

But the cost rise pales in comparison to another measure. The $12.4 million annual cost is about half the annual cost to run the ENTIRE National Zoo in D.C. Something is wrong. Either the National Zoo is under funded and they do a remarkably efficient job or somehow the cost of running a chimp sanctuary in Louisiana is not being efficient.

Again, I am all for being humane to animals. But something is wrong when the cost of that humanity goes up more than six times the rate of inflation in one year and that cost is about 50% of the cost of operating a much larger government operation, the National Zoo. This is how government costs in any government organization gets out of control and how before you know it, we have a $17 TRILLION national debt.

Unfortunately, we are not done with the latest political class insanity. More to come tomorrow.

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