Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February, 2016, Bonus Post, Political Class Insanity: Restricting Viagra Sales, Taxpayer Money for Casinos and Prostitutes, and More

It is the beginning of another month which means it is time again to review the latest political class insanity from the American political class. Each month it takes us multiple posts to cover the wasteful spending, incompetent government organizations and employees, government programs that usually make a problem worse than resolving it, inane and idiotic politician comments, etc.

To review past posts on this insanity and idiocy, just click on the first few posts in each month listed to the right of this page. After reviewing just a handful of these insanity posts we think you will agree that we are currently being served by the worst set of American politicians ever to hold office in our entire history.

I thought we were done with this month’s insanity yesterday but a late flurry of insanity showed up over the past couple of days that deserves to be reviewed this month: 

1) According to the I Have The Truth website, if you are a man and living in Kentucky, if a Kentucky legislator has her way you will have to get your wife’s permission before you can buy Viagra. Yes, according to David McIntosh writing for the website on February 14, 2016, state representative Mary Lou Marzian is putting forth legislation to such effect in the name of “family values” and “to protect men from themselves.”

Her bill, HB 396, specifies only married men can get Viagra and requires a “man to make a sworn statement with his hand on a Bible that he will only use a prescription for a drug for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse.” What is interesting is that this legislator is a Democrat, you know, the political party that is always talking about sexual freedom and keeping the government out of our bedrooms.

In reality, Marzian is ticked off that there are currently several anti-abortion bills pending in her legislature and this is a frivolous, nonsensical reaction to those bills. Rather than have an adult conversation about the issues, she files this time wasting, taxpayer dollar wasting, embarrassing piece of legislation to get attention. These antics resolve none of the issues facing her state or the country.

2) The insanity and corruption of politicians does not exist only in Washington, if often extends down to local politicians also. The DC Gazette recently reported that almost the entire city council of a Texas town was recently arrested by the FBI. Vianna Vaughan wrote on February 8, 2016 that all but one member of the Crystal City, Texas city council was arrested under a Federal indictment that accuses them of operating an illegal gambling operation and taking thousands and thousands of dollars in bribes.

According to the indictment, the five arrested “used their official positions to enrich themselves by soliciting and accepting payments and other things of value” and “voting to award contracts in exchange for bribes, extorting payments from contractors, turning a blind eye to Nguyen’s illegal gaming business while taking action to shut down would-be competitors, and agreeing to reduce Nguyen’s taxes in exchange for him waiving debts, among other dealings.” If found guilty, they each face up to 10 years in Federal prison and a quarter million dollars in fines.

American political corruption, from town hall to the halls of Congress to the White House.

3) The national debt recently cross into the $19 TRILLION range territory and remains on a course to eventually crash our economy, our wealth, and our freedoms. When that happens, remember how a recent Heritage Foundation report showed where a million dollars of that growing $19 trillion went. Christopher Oleska and Romina Boccia, writing for the Heritage Foundation on February 8, 2016, reported that from July, 2013 until June, 2014, over 4,000 separate transaction totally $1 million in taxpayer wealth were incurred at gambling casinos using Defense Department government travel and credit cards.

But it gets even worse. Nine hundred more transactions were incurred, at an expense of $96,576, at “adult entertainment establishments.” And it gets even worse: as of May, 2015 only 41% of these transactions went punished.

But we should not be surprised. The Defense Department is not the only abuser of government credit and travel cards:

  • Employees of the State Department abused the cards by funding unauthorized first class trips to Hawaii.
  • Over $600,000 was used for golf and tennis lessons and other abuses instead of being used for the intended purposes of helping Hurricane Katrina victims.
  • IRS employees abused their cards by buying everything from diet pills to alcohol and pornography for their own personal use.
Disgusting abuse. But as the article points out, every law passed by Congress to stop the abuse over the past several years has been a failure, much like everything else Congress does.

4) Speaking of wasting taxpayer money, the Labor Department recently announced that it will spend $20 million this summer to create summer jobs and “career pathways” for young Americans. On the surface, this seems like a good thing. The unemployment rate among teenagers is very high and the lack of summer and other part time jobs does not give them the experience in the work force that would serve them well in the future. 

In fact, the unemployment rate for kids aged 16 to 19 is 16%, more than three times the overall unemployment rate. Up to $2 million will go to each of 10 local workforce development organizations to pump up existing summer job programs.

But if you do the math, this is really an insanely bad idea and waste of taxpayer wealth. Let’s make a few assumptions:

  • Assume the kids work for 12 weeks over their summer vacation.
  • Assume they work 40 hours a week.
  • Assume they get paid $10 an hour.
  • If we multiply 12 weeks times 40 hours times $10 an hour and divide that into $20 million, we find that this program will create, wait for it, about 4,000 summer jobs for the whole country or about 80 summer jobs per state on average.
Given that millions and millions of kids need summer jobs, this effort of 4,000 jobs is a nit on a much bigger problem and resolves nothing except wasting $20 million of taxpayer wealth. And this assumes that all $20 million is used to finance jobs, knowing how government works, a big chunk of that $20 million is likely to be lost in administrative overhead or criminal fraud.

A better solution is to have politicians who have some sense of how to put sound economic policies in place, reduce business taxes, and reduce the staggering burden of government regulation so that the market creates jobs naturally. 

But since the Obama administration in particular and Congress in general have no idea how to execute a well run economy we get stuck paying for these minimal piecemeal government programs that resolve nothing and just waste money.

5) But politicians do not only waste money on stupid ideas, they also waste time on stupid ideas.The state of Illinois is a financial basket case wasting to die. Their current expense streams and future expense liabilities are much greater than their current tax revenue streams. But raising taxes to help pay the outrageously high government expenses is likely to drive away businesses and families from the state, further reducing the tax revenue streams.

Things had gotten so bad last year from a revenue perspective and political gridlock perspective that for a while the state did not have the money to pay off state lottery winners or pay the claims of state workers’ health insurance plans. It was behind in payment to vendors for months and months. It is a state in dire need of leadership, focus, and strategic planning.

But instead of those traits, Illinois state politicians have recently been working on legislation that would establish a state holiday in honor of Barack Obama. Under the proposed state legislation, it would be a state wide holiday for which state employees would get the day off with pay, as if the state did not have enough financial challenges.

Talk about bad priorities. A state that was technically in default of its debt for a short time in 2015, a state that has bloated pension and retirement benefits for state workers, so bloated that it may bankrupt the state government, city schools that do not educate, a gun and homicide epidemic in its biggest city, and the political leaders are worried about establishing a state holiday for a President who should have been impeached years ago, a President whose administration has been a failure on so many levels. Insanity.

That will definitely do it for this month’s insanity, I cannot take anymore. But rest assured, more insanity is sure to put up by this time next month.

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