Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December, 2016, Part 2, Political Class Insanity: Child Abuse, Food Assistance Abuse, and Fiscal Abuse at the State Government Level

It has been almost a month since Donald Trump has been elected which means at some point in the future we may run out of material to talk about. With the demise of the Obama administration, eight years worth of wasteful and excessive spending for nothing in return, foreign affairs blunders, Obama Care disasters, and assorted other administration and government blunders and screwups might end with the onset of a new administration. Trump may usher in a new paradigm of government actions that are limited, effective, cost efficient, and protective of the Constitution. If so, then this blog would run out of material to discuss and would have to be shut down.

But I doubt it. Even if Trump is truly a different type of President, he is still fighting over 500 embedded and entrenched politicians in Congress and thousands and thousands of government bureaucrats who will not go peacefully into the night for the good of the country. I wish him well and hopefully he can fix at least some of the myriad of problems the American political class creates everyday but until then, enjoy the latest political class insanity from Washington and beyond:

1) Yesterday we reviewed how over time many Washington politicians have been charged and found guilty of crimes despite being a member of Congress. But it is not just actual politicians that are downright disgusting and criminal, many times it is the people they hang out with that are just as despicable. According to Brett Deckwer, writing for USA Today on November 20, 2016, Democratic Party operative Terrence Bean, likely possibly into this category: 
  • Bean was recently arrested in Portland, Oregon and charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor.
  • Bean has solid White House and Democratic Party connections, having raised over half a million dollars for Obama’s 2012 election campaign.
  • According to "Bean has been one of the state's biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state. He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama."
  • Bean has flown on Air Force One and has made contributions to such Democratic politicians as Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Dick Durbin, and Congressman Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.
They are "good friends"

Of course, Mr. Bean is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But I would bet that a lot of politicians are thankful that the mainstream press has not pursued such a sordid situation. More details from the story can be accessed at the USA Today website at:

2) We have never denied that the obesity levels in this country for both adults and kids, are a major, major driver of the ever escalating nd ahigh healthcare costs in this country. Obesity causes all kinds of health conditions to develop including heart disease, diabetes, joint degeneration, and other maladies, all of which require health care usage and expenditures. This situation is one of the reasons that Obama Care has been and will continue to be a failure in that it failed at addressing this root cause of high healthcare costs. 

In probably its only attempt to address obesity, we have been subjected to Michelle Obama’s fight to force American school kids to eat a balanced meal by dictating what kids should eat in school. Rather than launch a public health initiative to address the need to eat right, it tried to force kids to eat right by dictating school menus. This has resulted in massive amounts of school food being wasted and thrown out and causing school budgets to be strained to comply with the Federal regulations, all for no gain since kids are not eating right anyway.

Maybe her efforts should have been more focused on the bad eating habits of American families receiving Federal food assistance every month via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Terence P. Jeffrey, reporting for the CNS website on November 22, 2016, discussed the buying habits of people under the SNAP program at a major national food retailer:
  • According to a new study from the Federal agency, the Food and Nutrition Service, more SNAP money is spent on soda at the retailer's locations used in the study, a major source of the nation’s obesity problem, than any other food product category.
  • A whopping $357,700,000 of SNAP money was spent on soft drinks at the grocer’s stores in the study, accounting for over 5.4% of all SNAP dollars spent.
  • This was almost 50% more than what was spent on milk ($253,700,000) and about 75% more than was spent on ground beef ($201,000,000).
  • In addition to bad purchases from an obesity perspective, over 3% was spent on bag snacks (e.g. potato chips), 1.54% was spent on “frozen handhelds and snacks,” 1.46% on packaged candies, 1.31% was spent on ice cream and sherbets, 1.19% was spent on cookies, and 1.04% was spent on cakes.
  • Thus, over 15% of SNAP money was spent on items that Michelle Obama would have NEVER allowed to be served in the nation’s schools for lunch.
  • Compared to non-SNAP money spent, only 11.47% of the money spent was spent on the above listed obesity related food, far below the 15% that SNAP recipients spent at the same grocer.
  • For example, SNAP buyers spent 35% more of their budget on soda than non-SNAP buyers and 25% more on bag snacks.
If we assume that this pattern is indicative of overall SNAP purchases, then we can easily see how the SNAP program is inducing behavior completely opposite of what Michelle Obama wants and what is good for the country from a health perspective. 

Thus, as we have often pointed out, the Federal government has gotten so large and out of control that one part of the government is working against another part of the government. In this case, the Department of Agriculture with its SNAP guidelines is causing the exact same type of behavior that Michelle Obama has railed against, soft drinks, candies, cakes, etc. when it comes to our kids’ eating habits.

Obviously, what Ms. Obama should be lobbying for is to make her targeted “bad” foods not eligible for SNAP and taxpayer subsidies in order to reduce the obesity levels in this country. Since in the first eleven months of fiscal 2016 (October through August), the average monthly participation in food stamps was 44,283,586 people and 21,815,990 households, taking soda, cakes, candies, ice creams and bagged snacks out of this process would positively affect a lot of Americans. In those months, the government paid out $61,110,832,720 in benefits. 

It would also save the American taxpayer well over $9 billion, money that could be returned to the American taxpayer or put forth into a real public health initiative to change the overall eating habits of all Americans, not just school age kids. So simple a change and yet so difficult for the American political class to do.

3) We have often pointed out how out of control the Federal government is when it comes to spending. Many times we have shown how the Obama administration has doubled the national debt in just the past eight years, adding more debt to the Federal government than ALL previous Presidential administrations combined. Each American household would have to put out over $100,000 each to cover the debt load today.

But Federal debt is not the only debt load facing every American household. The organization, Truth In Accounting, recently released its periodic study, "The Financial State of the States.” It’s findings are not pretty relative to the debt load that state governments have piled up:
  • To pay off their debt loads, state governments need to raise man additional $1,328,204,440,079.
  • 40 out of the 50 states currently do not have enough money to pay off their debts.
  • The study found that all 50 states have racked up over $2.4 TRILLION in debt but only have about $1 TRILLION in revenue to pay off the debt, leaving the $1,328,204,440,079 unaccounted for.
  • This state government debt load comes down to about $13,514 that each state taxpayer would have to put into the pot to pay off the debt.
  • New Jersey is the worst state with an unaccounted for debt load of $59,400 needed from each New Jersey state taxpayer to pay off that state’s debt. 
  • The total unfunded debt of New Jersey is a whopping $183 billion.
  • Other so-called “sinkhole states” with the most debt load per taxpayer are Connecticut ($49,000 per taxpayer), Illinois ($45,500), Kentucky ($33,700), Massachusetts ($33,300), and Hawaii, California, New York Delaware, and Michigan rounding out the top ten sinkhole states, with per taxpayer debt ranging from $18,200 to $28,500 per taxpayer.
  • There are ten so-called “sunshine states,” states that have no debt and actually have excess money that if spread across their taxpayers would give each resident of Alaska $52,600, North Dakota taxpayers would get $28,400, Wyoming - $26,400 per taxpayer, Utah - $4,800 per taxpayer, Nebraska - $3,500 per taxpayer, and New Mexico, Idaho, Tennessee, and Iowa taxpayers would get back anywhere from $3,300 to $1,100.
Three major takeaways from this in-depth study:
  1. Politicians in forty states have dug deep, deep debt holes for their taxpayers that will require cuts in services, cuts in pensions and retirement payouts, a rise in taxes or a combination of all three acts to stay fiscally viable.
  2. According to the study, these sinkhole states have hidden expenses and used accounting tricks to make their state look better financially than it actually is, essentially kicking the debt problem down the road to future generations of state residents.
  3. The 10 sunshine states prove that you can operate a fiscally sound state government if you want to.
Always keep in mind that paying off debt does not result in increased freedom, it does not make schools better, infrastructure safer, or state government more effective, it only pays off the errors and fiscal irresponsibility of previous political acts.

State politicians running up uncontrolled debt loads, a government program making Americans less healthy and more obese, and more scandals from the American political class.  More insanity tomorrow.

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