Sunday, December 29, 2013

Retro Post, Wasteful Government Spending, Part 3: Robosquirrel, Presidential Golf Junkets, Circus Day Funding And Other Spending INsults

For the past several posts we have been re-presenting some of our most popular posts from the past as they related to wasteful government spending. Since many of these posts were written, the national debt of the federal government has grown to an unimaginable $17 TRILLION. This is over a $50,000 debt burden for every man, woman, and child in the country.

We are revisiting these posts now to once again prove how careless and stupid the Washington political class is with our hard earned wealth and to show what a disgrace the latest Congressional budget agreement is. We will delve into the details of this insult to the American taxpayer next month. The budget agreement promises to reduce annual Federal government spending by tens of billions of dollars in the future years while we really need to reduce spending by trillions of dollars over the coming years. Failure to do so will eventually lead to the collapse of our financial system, our way of life and our democracy.

Reducing wasteful spending in the name of reducing the national debt burden is not hard. We have showed how to that dozens of times. We have come up with a plan that would reduce Federal government spending by $9 TRILLION of ten years. 

However, the concept of living within your means and running a fiscally prudent, non-wasteful government seems to be a lost concept on politicians in Washington. That is why over the next few days we will restart the education process of how to get rid of wasteful government spending without creating hardships for the majority of Americans.

Today's post is from April of 2013 where we showed how the Washington political class was moaning about the so-called sequester cuts and how that was going to topple Westrern civilization. However, at the same time they continued to allow the Federal govenrment to pay for totally worthless programs and projects. These projects and programs had nothing to do with addressing the major issues facing Americans today. Some , in fact, used American taxpayer money to support the citizerns of far away lands, haivig nothing to do with supporting American citizens.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Chicken Little and The Washington Political Class, Part 3: Final Words On The Sequester And Wasteful Spending 

We wanted to stop this series at two posts but the hilarity from our political class relative to the meager sequester spending cuts just keeps on coming. As many know, the Federal government was recently forced to reduce its outrageous spending ways by 2% as a result of a budget deal that Obama and Congress agreed to in August, 2011. Rather than work together to rationally cut the incredible amount of wasteful spending that goes on in Washington, the politicians in D.C. did nothing for 17 months, resulting in across the board cuts of about 2% to Federal spending.

Rather than do his job, the President went off like Chicken Little, ranting and raving that the end of the world was near because of this minimal spending cut. Even worse, though, he decided to make even these meager cuts as evil and vindictive as possible to make life worse for Americans. His petty reactions to the sequester was to terminate the long tradition of allowing American citizens to tour the White House, also known as the “people’s house,” not Obama’s house. 

He also unnecessarily release thousands of illegal immigrants from custody, hundreds of which had been convicted of violent crimes and also threatened to cancel the long tradition of a White House lawn Easter Egg hunt. He made sure that Federal funding for Native American kids education was cut.

His vindictiveness was proven in the following two posts where we reviewed many cases of unnecessary, wasteful, and often insulting spending by the Federal government, spending that could have easily been cut with minimal impact to the vast majority of Americans:

However, he chose the opposite path and chose spending cuts that would impact far more American lives than necessary.

Since these two posts ran, we have identified additional sources of spending that should have been cut first, and cut long ago, from the Federal budget rather than the petty, vindictive cuts this President chose.

Details on these first six examples of wasteful spending can be found at:

1) A major component of a $27 million plan by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve the economic competitiveness of Morocco involved training Moroccans to design and make pottery for sale both locally and in international markets. Yes, we spent money traiing foreign citizens to make more competitive pottery. Even the Inspector General USAID concluded the training was "ineffective and poorly implemented." 

The better conclusion is why did we spend this money at all? $27 million would have paid for over 27 years of White House tours, having a far greater impact on far more Americans than training foreigners to make better pottery.

2) The U.S. Department of Energy, not the Russian Department of Energy, has spent $15 million on a program which has helped Russian weapons institutes recruit scientists. The DOE says the program has created nearly 2,800 private sector jobs… in Russia. The $15 million would have operated the White House tours for over 15 years or maybe it could have created jobs for American scientists.

3) Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire has annual sales of more than $5 million Why then did the American taxpayer pay it three quarter of a million dollars to buy three new brew tanks and set up sewage connections for a new location outside Portsmouth? Shouldn’t this be a company expense and not a taxpayer expense, an expense that could have operated White House tours for almost a year?

4) A similar example of corporate welfare is shown by taxpayer funds, about $500,000, being given to Sergeant's Pet Care Products, a company with $140 million in revenue, by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money was for capital improvements, like buying machinery to make pet toothpaste and shampoo, money that should have been a company expense, not a taxpayer expense.

5) The following may be the most outrageous waste of taxpayer wealth I have ever come across. Researchers at San Diego State University and the University of California, Davis spent part of a $325,000 National Science Foundation grant to make “RoboSquirrel,” a taxidermied rodent that can wag its tail. Why you ask? To help study interactions between squirrels and rattlesnakes. You cannot make this stuff up it is so stupid:

A Congressional report correctly came to the following conclusion, in somewhat of an understatement: "During these difficult fiscal times of massive deficits, paying $325,000 for a robot squirrel seems a bit squirrelly." Hopefully, other projects that are in the planning, equally ridiculous, including RoboSquirrel 2.0 and RoboKangarooRat, will never see the light of day.

6) The National Endowment for the Arts has given $84,000 over the last three years to the Circus Day Foundation, now known as Circus Harmony, for a one-year circus arts program that teaches students how to juggle, hula hoop, and other circus skills, probably because these skills are in such demand in today’s job market (sarcasm). 

Now, some people might say that these are not worth worrying about, they are too small in the big picture. However, I would counter with the following discussion points:
  • While these expenses might be small relative to a multi-trillion dollar budget, why spend the money if you do not need to? Just because you can does not mean you should. 
  • You cannot save a billion dollars in wasteful spending until you save a million dollars in wasteful spending until you save a thousand dollars in wasteful spending. You have to start cutting waste somewhere. 
  • These are just a small sample of bad spending priorities. Multiply these types of unnecessary spending instances thousands of times across hundreds of government entities and these small numbers in the sample become really large numbers in total. 
  • These are just the specific program or project costs. Remember, that there are embedded government salary and operating costs that also have to be allocated to these programs. For example, salary dollars were spent by National Science Foundation employees to review the Robosquirrel proposal, taxpayer wealth wasted beyond the $325,000 grant. 
  • And finally, better to spend $27 million in Morocco on a failed program or less than one million dollars a year to keep White House tours going on?
7) Charles Cooke recently wrote a sequester article for the National Review that was summarized in the March 22, 2013 issue of The Week magazine. According to the article, and other news sources, the White House no longer allows tours of the building but still keeps THREE calligraphers on staff. Annual cost: $277,500. 

In this wonderful age of computers, why in the world does the President need one calligrapher on staff, never mind three? Are we saying that a secretary could not fire up her Mac computer and knock out some fancy invitations or stationery, saving the almost $300,000 annual expense? 

It is a bit ironic that the President uses an Autopen machine to sign important legislation into law that usually affects every American but insists on having manual labor do far less important signing and writing.

8) In that same article we learn again that the White House employs a full time dog manager for the family pet at a cost of over $100,000 a year, more than double the average U.S. household income. Shouldn’t family members be responsible for taking care of the family pet, even if that family is the First Family?

9) And finally from Mr. Cooke, we learn that it costs the American taxpayer $181,757 an HOUR to keep Air Force One in the air. Thus, the single trip the President recently took to Florida to play one round of golf with Tiger Woods probably could have paid for a year or so of White House tours.

You get the idea. These nine examples of useless spending, combined with the previous two posts of useless spending, show that much rational budget cutting could have been done to avoid the blunt axe of the sequester. But the Washington political class, starting with and Obama and driving down through each freshman Congressman and woman, had neither the initiative, the intelligence, or the ability to make smart cuts to stupid government spending. 

As a result, the Chicken Little reaction of this Presidency, leadership by hysteria, resulted in the shutting down of White House traditions and the release of potentially dangerous criminal elements into the population. At least Chicken Little hurt no one but herself.

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