Tag Archives: Government

What Was the Rush?

Remember when the Democrats and the Obama administration told us it was urgent that we pass the $787 billion stimulus bill? Remember the “emergency” that resulted in Congress voted on it after only 12 hours for Congressmen to read the 1,100 page bill? Remember when it was such a crisis, that President Obama felt he had to break his promise to the American people that he would not sign any legislation for 5 days to allow time for public comment? Those who urged caution or suggested hearings be held to determine the likelihood of the stimulus strategy succeeding were shouted down – there wasn’t time for that we were told.

Why then has this government only managed to spend 6% of that money in the 3 months since the bill’s passage? A mere $46 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package has gone into circulation. Proponents of the stimulus will say the money is coming, it just takes time to get in motion. Fine, point conceeded. But, that does not begin to speak to the point. If it was always the plan for it to take months for the stimulus money to enter circulation, what possible reason was there for rushing the 1100 page legislation with 9000 earmarks through Congres and across the President’s desk? Why couldn’t our leaders show a modicum of responsibility and honor? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

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Filed under Financial, Government

Medicare and Social Security Running Out of Money

2017. That is when the Medicare system will run out of money at the current pace. Eight short years from now the federal government will have to begin borrowing money (on top of all the money it is already borrowing) to pay for its obligations under Medicare. The Social Security picture seems practically rosey by comparison with 30 years of solvency remaining. But, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security on that front. Social Security is the single largest government expenditure next to Defense costing roughly $650 billion annually. When it goes insolvent, and it will, the magnitude of that problem will be staggering.

So then, it makes perfect sense that while the government can’t fund the obligations it has, we should add more un-fundable obligations to the books in the form of national health care, right? ‘Cause if any one of us had a mortgage we couldn’t afford to pay what we’d do is run right out and buy a second home with a price tag 10 times the size, right? Let’s have a little common sense people. Anyone with even the slightest ability to reason, should be able to take one look at the chart below and understand that the jig is up, the game’s over, or whatever other cliche’ you prefer.

federal spending

Note that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending alone will exceed TOTAL FEDERAL TAX RECEIPTS in roughly 40 years. Now imagine that we tack on a new program larger than all of those combined (yes I said larger than all of those combined!); where will that put us? It is time for this government, this administration, to put the brakes on its giddy spending spree and first see if they can even figure out how to fund their exisiting obligations before they go saddling the American people with more.

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Filed under Financial, Government

Citizens Should Keep Their Eye On the Ball

In sales circles, they call it the bait and switch. Maybe a better analogy is the common shell game hustlers will often run on a city street corner. Whatever one calls it, in political circles it is frequently used and extremely damaging. Yet, much like the shell game, no one ever notices what is actually happening, not liberals, not conservatives, certainly not the ‘main stream media’. The politicians in Washington and around the country have the citizenry looking at the shells moving blindingly around the table; meanwhile the coin is, quite literally in some cases, already in their pocket.

Even the most voracious news hound struggles to follow everything going on these days; there’s simply too much information. But most Americans are not voraciously following the news, and many more pay no attention at all. The politicians know this and are perfectly willing, even happy, to use it to their advantage. Because if Americans ever stopped and really paid attention… very, very few of our elected officials, regardless of party, would keep their jobs.

There are only a handful of things the federal government is legitimately empowered to govern over. Things such as providing security to its citizens from foreign threats and/or domestic criminals; managing legal immigration (there should be no illegal immigration hence the word illegal); providing a centralized, stable banking system including currency; controlling the public debt. Other, more debatable but generally accepted roles of the federal government are providing some level of welfare for those who genuinely need public assistance (and this number is a tiny fraction of those on the public dole today); guiding an effective education system; over-sight of interstate commerce; etc.

But what do the politicians do? They play the shell game. They have divided the voters, not on these important issues where there might be constructive debate. No, they have us screaming at each other about gay marriage, abortion, or whether the local High School should be allowed to call themselves “Indians” or not. Meanwhile, they are failing at virtually every task on their to-do list. The borders are as porous as a slice of Swiss cheese. Crime is far too high and our prisons are full of evidence of the governments failure to educate and employ. Illegal immigration is rampant. They all dropped the ball on managing the banking sector and then ran around blaming each other in an attempt to cover up their own ineptitude. Public debt is quickly reaching (if hasn’t reached it already) unsustainable levels that will likely bankrupt us. The American education system is an absolute joke! And the list goes on and on.

Our leaders from both parties have utterly failed. They have failed to accomplish ANY of the tasks assigned to them by the Constitution and the voters who elected them. We the People should be outraged. There should be riots in the streets or at the very least a complete housecleaning of all incumbents, regardless of party, at the next election. Instead, the citizenry is far too busy arguing about whether Adam should marry Eve or Steve. The shells keep flying around on the table and we keep watching, but as anyone who’s ever seen a street hustler in action knows, the game is rigged and the outcome is pre-determined – the “house” always wins.

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Filed under Government, Other Random Thoughts

Another Bail Out?

If you are at all like most people you’ve spent the past few months wondering who the Government is going to bail out next?” Well, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has your answer and it is… wait for it – the U.S. Newspaper industry. It seems many of the nation’s most well known newspapers are in serious financial trouble. The New York Times is a reported $133 billion in debt and its subsidiary, the Boston Globe,  is expected to lose $85 million this year. Major daily papers in Seattle and Denver have been shut down completely and the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and many others are seeking bankruptcy protection.

Whether one is in favor or opposed to the financial and automotive bailouts by our Government (and I’ll admit, I go back and forth), there is little doubt that there are complex issues at play and it’s a tough question. Perhaps the experts are correct and a collapse of the financial system was imminent, and potentially catastrophic, had the government not stepped in. Perhaps there is more to be gained than lost by saving the U.S. auto industry, although I doubt it. But newspapers Senator Kerry? Really?

Apparently Mr. Kerry wasn’t listening on April 15th when hundreds of thousands of American citizens took to the streets at 800 tea parties around the country to demand that this government stop throwing money away, money it doesn’t have to begin with. Although the incompetent U.S. media (some of the same ones who apparently now need a bailout) tried to portray these peaceful rallies as anti-tax, the key issue for these concerned citizens was out-of-control spending. Now Senator Kerry wants Congress to consider spending even more.

Consider the political ramifications of such an action. Afterall, journalists although they rarely act like it in these partisan days, were once known as the Fourth Estate for their ability to provide one more check and balance on government. So, I ask the question that is obvious to everyone except John Kerry; how does a newspaper honestly report on a government that is subsidizing their very existence?

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Filed under Financial, Government, Media

Eight Quarters, a Dime and Four Pennies

With much fanfare today, President Obama asked his Cabinet to dig deep into their individual budgets and come up with savings of $100,000,000 from the federal budget. Finally, Washington is going to stop the madness; finally there is some fiscal discipline coming from our leadership. Or is there?

You see, 100 Million Dollars, while a big number to almost any American, is just .00286% of the President’s budget for the coming year. Since a percentage that small is almost incomprehensible, let’s try to put it in perspective. For someone earning $75,000 a year, this is the equivalent of saving $2.14. No, you don’t need to check my math, it’s correct. This much hyped effort is roughly the same thing as you or I skipping tomorrow morning’s coffee. Now don’t misunderstand, restraint in Washington is always a positive and to be encouraged. But, it is wholly disingenuous to hold a press conference and announce your “ambitious plans” to save a cup of coffee.

This is so obvious that even Obama’s fan club (oops, that should read – the White House press corps) caught on as you can see in the first two minutes of this hilarious video. As these reporters correctly point out, the White House scoffed at Republicans just a few weeks ago when they suggested that billions in earmarks were frivolous in light of the country’s financial situation.  In Obamaland billions are small meaningless numbers we shouldn’t worry about, and millions are huge savings to call a press conference and pat yourself on the back about – NO WONDER WE’RE IN THIS MESS!!!!!!

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Filed under Financial, Government Spending

Be Careful, Your Government is Watching You!

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

That charming excerpt can be found in the recently released Department of Homeland Security report titled Rightwing Extremism. So, if you believe the federal government has way over-stepped its boundaries with regard to state’s rights you are no longer a Constitutionalist, you are now a “Rightwing Extremist”. If you happen to feel strongly about a single issue, perhaps abortion concerns you or maybe illegal immigration, you aren’t a concerned citizen with an opinion, you are a “Rightwing Extremist”. Apparently community organizers are dangerous. But, only if you organize for conservative principles.

This follows on the heels of the shocking mid-February report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center, one of 58 “fusion” centers set up around the country by the Department of Homeland Security to gather and disseminate intelligence on domestic security.  Their report said many of the same things and went several steps further. It suggested police keep their eye on anyone with political bumper stickers for such radical candidates as the Libertarian, Bob Barr or the Republican, Ron Paul. Apparently, there is no problem with profililng if those being donttreadonmeprofiled disagree with the administration. It goes on to suggest that anyone proud enough of their country’s heritage to have the audacity to display the famous Revolutionary War flag shown at right or even the American Flag might also be a danger to the establishment. (I would not joke about something like this!)

Incredibly ironic is the fact that the new administration has spent its brief time in office tip-toeing around, trying to avoid offending any  islamic jihadists by actually calling them terrorists. They are not even willing to call the campaign to stop them a “war on terror” opting instead for the benign term, “Overseas Contingency Operation” (are they kidding with this drivel?). And yet, these same people are willing to call their fellow American citizens “Rightwing Extremists” for simply disagreeing with them! The “left” is amusing that way, they talk about tolerance and understanding and yet display none of either quality when it comes to those who disagree with them.

Some will label me a fear-monger for suggesting this, but I will point it out anyway; history shows us that tyranny begins with the populace losing its freedom to disagree with its government. Over-reaction? Really? A government agency has suggested the police should keep their eye on citizens who diplay an American flag or support someone they deem to be a “non-traditional” political candidate. Think about it!

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Filed under Government, Liberty

DIY Road Work

For those among you who think the inefficiency of government is over stated by conservatives, check out this story about a group of residents in Hawaii who completed a road repair in eight days for FREE that the state was claiming might take as much as two years and cost FOUR MILLION DOLLARS!

This is the same government Americans seem to believe can effectively over-see the financial sector, remake the automobile industry and perhaps in the months ahead could take charge of the health care of 300 million people in its spare time. All this while still handling all of the responsibilities it has been failing to handle for the past 50 years. Have any of my fellow Americans been to a DMV lately? The government can not even manage to renew your driver’s license effeciently!

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Filed under Other Random Thoughts

Big Brother Is After Your TV Next!

In yet another sign that all levels of government in this country have come completely unhinged from their faculties, the state of California is considering banning the sale of televisions that use, in their humble estimation too much electricity. The result would be the elimination of most models over 40 inches. Talk about lacking Common Sense!

First, let’s talk some facts. According to the federal government’s own website the typical flat screen television uses a whopping 120 watts per hour. By contrast a household coffee maker can use as much as 1200 watts per hour. Yes, making the morning coffee and watching ten hours of television are roughly equivalent in their energy consumption! Apparently, the California Energy Commission hasn’t learned to read, or use Google, or both; because it took less than three minutes for me to learn this. I should be careful – they’ll be after my morning cup o’ joe next.

No less maddening is the obvious fact that this government action is utterly unenforceable. Do the geniuses on this commission not think that California residents know how to order the TV of their choice via the internet, or failing that to drive across state lines and make their purchase? Are they naive enough to not understand that enterprising individuals will drive to neighboring states, buy a dozen banned televisions and return to California to sell them? The end result will simply be further erosion of sales tax revenues for a state already in deep financial trouble.

Of course, this doesn’t even address the rampant over-governing of an action like this. Coming into American homes and telling people what appliances they can and can’t own. Where does this slippery slope lead? Will Americans be washing their dishes and clothes by hand in the name of global warming? Or maybe we shouldn’t wash them at all to conserve water!

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Filed under Government, Liberty, Random Senselessness

How Do You Define Excessive?

Not many Americans noticed, but this week the House of Representatives passed legislation giving the Treasury Secretary authority to regulate excessive pay at any company that takes government bailout funds. The fact that this legislation passed on April Fool’s Day, unfortunately, doesn’t make it a joke. No, it’s very, very real.

At first blush, you may take this legislation for entirely reasonable, after all, they are getting taxpayer money and we wouldn’t want them to waste it. But, there are so many problems with this action it’s hard to know where to begin. First, and most obvious, Congress doesn’t bother to define “excessive”. Gee, does anyone think that might be problematic? What a joke this government has become! And, I’m not picking on the Democrats, both parties are absolutely worthless. Pass a law that hinges on a totally ambiguous term like “excessive compensation” without bothering to define even the general parameters of your legislative intent behind the word “excessive.  Are they serious? Really?

The intent of the TARP money was to stabilize U.S. banks to prevent the economy from collapsing. To that end, it would be wise for a bank to keep the money until certain it has avoided any calamity. However, another problem with this action by the Congress is the incredible pressure it places on these financial institutions to pay the money back early, perhaps too early, in order to get out from under government control.

Many of the banks who took TARP funds are now expressing concern that with these compensation restrictions they will struggle to attract the best talent. Their competitors in the U.S. who didn’t take TARP funds and foreign banks, whose governments aren’t so short-sighted, will not face these same restrictions and will have a competitive advantage over the TARP recipients. I know what you’re thinking, “Who cares, they failed and now they’ll have to suffer the consequences”. Well, you better think again. As a taxpayer your money is on the line. Taking any action that hampers the competitiveness of the TARP recipients puts taxpayer money in further unnecessary jeopardy.

So in the end, we have yet another  poorly written law by an inept Congress which will restrict the ability of the banks to hire and/or retain the appropriate talent decreasing the likelihood of eventual repayment of the people’s money. And need I remind you, this government can hardly afford to waste any more of the people’s money.

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Filed under Financial, Government

The Check Is In the Mail

Can there be a more blatant example of the stupendous incompetence of government bureaucracies (and there are soo many to choose from), then the latest news that they have somehow managed to run the U.S. postal system into the ground. Think about that – even with a federally mandated monopoly they cannot operate profitably. The USPS lost $2.8 billion in 2008 and are seeking financial aid from Congress in order to stay afloat. Now before you say it, let me remind you that neither GM, AIG nor any of the other bailout recipients had the post office’s luxury of zero competition and forced consumer usage.  Sure, there are FedEx and UPS if you’re sending a package or an overnight envelope, but in this country, if you are mailing a letter, bill, advertisement, magazine or even ‘junk’ you have no choice, you must use the post office.

With all this guaranteed patronage, the unfettered discretion to raise prices whenever it suits them (not surprisingly, it suits them often!) and the monumental competitive advantage of tax exempt status, they still can’t make it work. Meanwhile FedEx and UPS are going strong, FedEx most recent quarter ended with a $97 million profit. Of the three, the post office has by far the lowest customer approval rating as well.

For those of us in business, the idea of having the federal government force the entire population to use our product exclusively and still not be capable of operating profitably or satisfying our customers is unimaginable. We operate in the real world where you have to earn your customers patronage and loyalty, where price increases come with an inherrent risk of lost business, where a competitor could open a new location or develop a new service and take market share away.

In the end, the USPS, with none of these worries, and with the backing of the U.S. government, still can’t manage to run its business effectively. And with that we see the demise of the last example of a service or function the government performs better than the private sector. The government can’t balance its budget, but expects its citizens to do so. Can’t educate the country’s youth, but refuses to allow parents a choice in what school their child will attend. Can’t protect its borders and yet has the audacity to allow illegals to sue an American who protects his property since his government won’t. And, now we find that the government can’t effectively run a monopolized business. Yet the administration has the audacity to take over GM and expect to survive going head-to-head with all the world’s succesful auto makers. I wish them luck with that. Common Sense and experience tells us this can’t possibly turn out well.

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Filed under Financial, Government