Friday, July 10, 2015

July, 2015, Part 6, Political Class Insanity: Rich Politcians, Failing Bridges, and Failing Economic Policies

At the beginning of each month we take a week or so to review the latest insanity from the American political class. Insanity from them includes a wide range of very depressing actions which can include wasteful spending, idiotic quotes, an inefficient and ineffective government bureaucracy, failed economic policies, etc. Every month we continue to prove that we are being served by the worst set of politicians ever.

And as you will see, this month’s review and discussions do nothing to prove that this thesis is wrong in any way:

1) We have always made the case that our political processes have been corrupted so much that we have created a so-called “political class” in this country. While not royalty in the classic sense of the word, the members of this political class like to be treated as royalty and use every opportunity to take full financial advantage of their exalted position. 

They then convince themselves that some how, because they have rigged the political system to make themselves wealthy, that they have special powers to tell the rest of us to give more in taxes, make more sacrifices, etc. They also have the audacity to tell us that they feel our pain, that they identify with the little people, the working people in this country while they live well beyond the dreams of 99.9% of Americans. 

And I think that is what ticks me off more than just about anything else they do. I have nothing wrong with people getting rich by hard work, innovative ideas, determination, etc. I do have a problem with politicians like Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi telling me that they identify and feel for people like me. I can detect BS when it is being spewed and this type of lying is condescension at its worse.

Consider the financial good fortune of Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House and currently leader of the minority Democrats in the House, as reported by a recent National Review magazine:

  • Pelosi owns a multimillion dollar condo in Georgetown, D.C. which is worth between $1 and $5 million.
  • She owns a 16 acre vineyard in the Napa Valley in California which is worth between $5 and $15 million.
  • She owns a 3,700 foot home in the high end Pacific Heights section of San Francisco.
  • Her Congressional financial statements place her household in the top .1% of American households.
  • Those financial statements place her net worth somewhere in the broad range of $42.4 and $199.5 million on the Congressional statements in 2013, making her the richest member of Congress.
  • The Pelosi household is currently paying mortgages on seven different pieces of property.
  • While the average household income in California was $57,688 in 2013, the Pelosi household earned between $2.1 and $11.8 million last year.
  • She has all this wealth even though her annual salary is quite a bit less than $200,000 a year.
Again, if you earned your millions honestly, then more power to you. But do not expect most of us to believe the following type of hype that politicians spit out constantly: “We’re talking about addressing the disparity in our country of income, where the wealthy people continue to get wealthier,” Pelosi said in 2010 at a United Steelworkers’ event. “That disparity is not just about wages alone. That disparity is about ownership and equity. It’s all about fairness in our country.”

When she starts giving up some of those millions by paying extra on her income tax returns or making substantial donations to charities, then we can talk about fairness. I will especially start listening to you and others like you once you stop making legislation in Washington that benefits you personally, as we pointed out in the following post which highlighted the sleazy deal making of Pelosi in a “60 Minutes” investigation:

Until then it is insane to think you have any concept of income equality in your life.

2) While Obama and his supporters continue to proclaim how great the economy is doing, the numbers do not support anything close to that reality:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the end of May, 2015, there were 6,652,00 involuntary part-time workers in the country. Involuntary part time workers are people working part time that would like full time jobs but cannot find them in the Obama economy.
  • This was up from 6,580,000 in April.
  • About twice as many people got discouraged and left the workforce in June (over 400,000) than there were jobs created (just over 200,000)
  • There are still about 45 million Americans getting Federal food assistance every month, still about 50% higher than when the Great Recession started.
To even think that this economy is doing great is the height of insanity.

3) The above bad economic news is based on hard government statistics. But what are the feelings and attitudes of Americans in this economy? Are they in alignment with the hard facts listed above or do they believe the economic fairy tales of the Obama administration? The Economic Innovation Group recently released the results of an extensive opinion poll they did in eight political swing states on Americans' attitudes towards the current economic climate in this country. Their primary findings include:

  • 40% of those polled think the recession is still going on.
  • 30% think that there has been no local recovery in their local economy yet.
  • Only 34% think their kids will have better economic opportunities than themselves.
  • 68% say that good jobs are difficult to find in their local economy.
  • 80% say their local communities are trapped in a low paying job economy.
  • 43% of those polled said someone in their family lost a job or had to take an additional job(s) to make ends meet in the past few years. 
  • 46% said they are living paycheck to paycheck or are having problems paying their bills.
  • Only a third of those polled said they are more financially secure than they were a year ago.
  • A whopping 78% say that they disapprove of how Washington has handled the economic recovery.
We could go on but you can see the complete results of the survey at:

So, in conclusion, the real, hard core economic numbers are bad and this has likely resulted in Americans feeling really pessimistic about their own economic opportunities and situations.

And the real political class insanity here is that the Washington politicians had every going for them to forge a strong recovery. They spent over $800 billion on an economic stimulus program that failed miserably, they lived through an energy revolution in this country that reduced energy costs and which should have spurred economic growth, and the Fed printed trillions of dollars of paper money which should have set the economy on fire. 

Despite all of this help, they still blew it. That is what is so insane.

4) Over the years, the American taxpayer has paid tens of TRILLIONS of dollars to the Federal government. One of the functions we thought we were paying for was for the central government, the Feds in Washington, was to ensure that the physical infrastructure, bridges, roads, etc., were safe and viable. This should be one of the few valid reasons for having a government, a central entity to ensure that this type of need was efficiently fulfilled by government.

But as always, assuming that the American political class and the government it operates can be effective and efficient, despite being funded with TRILLIONS of dollars is a sure way to be disappointed. According to the June, 5, 2015 issue of The Week magazine:

  • Of the almost 610,000 bridges in America today, more than 61,000, about 10%, are structurally deficient.
  • It would take a whopping $115 billion to fix all of them, assuming that there were no inefficiencies.
  • But that is also a big and likely false assumption since we know that when the Washington political class used economic stimulus money to fix bridges, they used half of the allotted funds to fix bridges that did not need repairs but which brought unneeded work into certain political districts and states.
  • If that model of inefficiency and cronyism is still in place, it would cost about $230 billion to fix the 61,000 deficient bridges.
  • 215,000,000 vehicles cross these structurally deficient bridges every day.
  • The average age of an American bridge is 42 years old, meaning that a lot of them are much older than 42 years old.
  • But age is not a perfect indicator since over 2,000 bridges that were built between 2009 and 2013 are already structurally deficient or FUNCTIONALLY OBSOLETE! Obviously, some government worker was asleep at the wheel when these bridges were being built and inspected.
  • About 8% of the defective bridges or 5,050, are in Pennsylvania, the worst state for defective bridges.
  • 65% of the bridges in the Washington D.C. area are functionally obsolete, which I am assuming is worse than structurally deficient, so we know that for at least this one situation the Washington political class was not hogging highway funds for themselves.
Again, we are paying TRILLIONS of dollars in taxes every year for this type of horrendous performance. And you know what will happen. One day a bridge will collapse, Americans will die, the politicians will blame the other party, there will be a flurry of fake outrage and hearings, no one will get fired, no one will get blamed, and we will continue to pay taxes for nothing in return, in this area and every other area the political class touches.

Failing bridges, failing economic policies, and failed but rich politicians. Yuck.

That will do it for this month’s political class insanity. Six days of wasteful spending, failed economic policies, stupid quotes, delusional and effective politicians, and who knows what else.

Unfortunately, next month we will be right back here with another set of posts and another set of insane things that our politicians do to us and the country, none of which are ever for the good of either.

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