Thursday, October 6, 2016

October, 2016, Part 4 - Political Class Insanity: Wasting Taxpayer Money on Pig Farms, Mexico's Border Wall and Small Business Busts and More Death and Violence In Chicago

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

The current monthly record for the number of posts that were needed to cover one month's worth of insanity is ten. We equaled that record last month when we needed ten days to cover one month’s worth of political class insanity. There is a very good chance that the ten day record could fall this month since as we get closer and closer to the election, the volume of ineptness grows almost exponentially. 

But today and for all of the posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson. Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy." 

He then burst out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) Earlier in this month’s series on political class insanity, we had to review the latest gun violence and drug cartel violence that has plagued Chicago over the past few years. We reported on how in a single weekend 24 hour period, 22 people in Chicago were shot and two died. However, the body count for that whole weekend is now available and the results are not good:
  • Nine Chicago residents were killed and 45 others were wounded over the latest weekend that stats were available.
  • Between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning six people died from gunshot.
  • The ages of those killed ranged from 19 to 54, most of whom were just going about their lives and were innocent bystanders.
As we have always pointed out, as the carnage continues to grow in Chicago, the local and Washington politicians appear to be useless in coming up with any kind of solution. Pathetic leadership and governing.

2) Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Federal bureaucrats should take taxpayer wealth and give it out to new businesses. That should be the function of banks, loan sharks, and family members, the govenrment should not be involved in the market by lending taxpayer out via the Small Business Administration (SBA). Adding insult to injury, the SBA does a very lousy job in lending out our money, as summarized in a recent article from the Heritage Foundation:

- Since the year 2000, the SBA has lost an amazing $17.5 billion on loans it guaranteed on 160,000 failed businesses. 

- This means that on average, over 16 years, the SBA sponsored about 200 businesses that failed EVERY week over those 16 years, an outstanding record of futility and ineptness.

- The article clearly points out why the SBA is such a failure: “The Small Business Administration is tasked with helping small businesses that can’t, for whatever reason, get financing from the private sector. But if the private sector won’t lend to a business, there’s usually a good reason. The lender must think the risk of failure outweighs the potential profit from the loan.”

- But things get worse, according to Adam Andrzejewsky, the CEO of Open The Books:
  • Despite the growth of digital communications, the SBA lent $412 million to paper and printing businesses, an industry that is in the latter stages of its life cycle.
  • The SBA guaranteed $25 million in loans to travel agencies despite the reality that most of the world now gets its travel arrangements done electronically via sites like Orbitz and Priceline, cutting out the travel agency business altogether.
  • From 2002 to 2008, the SBA guaranteed $60 million to video cassette tape businesses, a dead industry.
  • From 2002 to 2008, the SBA lent $3.8 million to three Blockbuster Video stores, a dead company.
  • The SBA also guaranteed loans to large and wealthy companies such as Beverly Hills diamond suppliers, Lamborghini car dealerships, private country clubs, luxury limousine companies and high end resorts.
So not only does the SBA lose money quickly and steadily over time, they lend money to big businesses that are not small or in need of taxpayer funds, doing something that they should not be doing and doing it poorly and expensively. Sounds like a typical Federal government organization.

3) It has been a while since we talked about the failure that was Michelle Obama’s attempt to manage the diets of American kids. As with just about every other Federal program, a one size fits all central government approach, the attempt by the First Lady has resulted in massive amounts of tasteless food being thrown away and major financial shortfalls in school cafeteria budgets across the country.

Victor Skinner, writing for the EAG website on September 13, 2016, reported on what a South Carolina school district was doing as a result of the Federal food dictates. Schools in Spartanburg County, South Carolina were faced with massive amount of food waste as a result of Michelle Obama’s food dictates. One of the school district’s teachers, Becky Carson, convinced school officials to enter a partnership with Atlas Organics to compost the massive amounts of leftover school lunch food that the kids refused to eat.

They turned a Federal program failure, inedible food from the students’ perspective, and repositioned the failure to teach students about “what being a positive environmental steward is.” The kids are taught how to separate their uneaten, tasteless food from other items on their trays in order to prepare for composting.

Since the Federal program was installed in 2012, school food waste has gone up by more than $1 billion annually as the new rules force kids to take a fruit or vegetable whether they want it or not. Often, the fruit or vegetable is prepared in the most unappetizing way possible. While these South Carolina schools are using a compost option, schools in New Mexico and Rhode Island have agreements to send their unwanted food leftovers to local pig farms.

There is a childhood obesity problem in this country, no doubt. But having bureaucrats in far away Washington dictate what kids have to eat in all fifty states is not working. This is a public health issue that needs to be addressed at the family level. Kids that do not eat fruits and vegetables at home are not likely to eat unappetizing fruits and vegetables at school. By not recognizing this root cause of obesity, we as taxpayers end up subsidizing compost farms and pig farms across the country which is a unique form of political class insanity.

4) American politicians are great hypocrites, do as I say not as I do is an art form for many of them. President Obama is no exception. He has pounded Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump for Trump’s call to build a physical wall on the U.S./Mexican border to cut down on human trafficking, drug trafficking, criminal elements, and illegal immigration. That is certainly Obama’s prerogative, to have an opinion on an issue facing the country today. 

But a massive dose of hypocrisy sets in when Obama turns around and gives the Mexican government $75 million of American taxpayer money to help Mexico build a wall on its southern border to keep out criminal elements and illegal immigrants from entering Mexico. This hypocrisy was highlighted in a recent Financial Times story cited by Newsmax, Mexico wanted to stop people from Central American countries like Guatemala from illegally entering their country via its southern border. 

Apparently, in 2015, 175,000 Central Americans that had entered Mexico illegally had to be deported and similar numbers will need to be deported this year. The money Obama sent to the Mexican government will be used to buy equipment and support training to help Mexico secure that southern border. 

That will do it for today’s political class insanity, another dose of varied and often unique ways for the government to screw things up: giving Mexico U.S. taxpayer money to build a wall on its border but criticizing those who want to build on our border, fattening up pigs around the country using taxpayers’ wasted school food dollars, giving taxpayer money to failing small businesses, and more death and violence in Chicago. More insanity tomorrow.

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