Friday, October 26, 2012

Citizen Ignorance And Government Spendthrifts


You've surely heard the term "dumb as sheep".  I've come to believe most Americans, when it comes to politics and government, really are just that dumb.  Why else would big spending politicians get by with the obscenely wasteful spending they do, and without consequence?  Why would anyone in their right mind approve of raising taxes for Uncle Sam after reading about massive government waste, fraud, and abuse?

For example, Democrats absolutely insist that we must raise taxes if we are to bring our budget into balance.  And while they give lip service to cutting out government waste, they never seem to want to do that when push comes to shove.   It is just so much easier to demand more money from the taxpayer.

Look, most people know how to balance their personal checkbook.  And most folks can look at their budget and know what they can easily cut back on in order to get by.  The feds never do it, whether it is a small budget item or a large one.  While you may opt to fore go your morning Starbucks in order to pay your rent, the federal government treats their small budget items as "rounding errors".

But when these "rounding errors" add up to tens of billions of dollars they are significant!  Let's look at some examples:

1)  Until they were busted last year for that $900,000 dollar Vegas Boondoggle, GSA was holding conventions at luxury resorts all over America.  When Congress began holding investigations on the matter they ask the Government Accounting Office to provide the dollar expense of GSA conventions just over the last decade.  The GAO was unable to provide an exact number but, when pressed, they admitted that GSA spent tens of billions of dollars over the decade, enjoying their $20 dollar morning muffins and $5 dollar shrimp cocktails...all on the taxpayer dime.  Were there no government facilities in Washington to hold these conventions?  Yes there were....which led me to discover this!

2) Jonathon Karl, of ABC news just this past June, did an investigative report on the cost to maintain government facilities.  Karl was shocked to learn that, in Washington D.C. alone, over 20 percent of government owned facilities are unoccupied, and they've been unoccupied for over ten years!  Annual cost to maintain these empty facilities?  $190 million dollars per year!  Mr. Karl also looked into where these building were located and found they stand on some of the most prime real estate in the nation's capitol.

3).  Question for the Sheep:  1) Why are GSA conventioneers flying off to Miami and Vegas and the Bahamas to hold their conventions, spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, when facilities are readily available in Washington D.C.?    2)  Why are we spending $190 million dollars a year to maintain and provide heat and air conditioning for government buildings that haven't been occupied for over ten years?  3)  Why aren't we selling that prime real estate and bringing billions of dollars back into the treasury?

Does anyone know Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma?  The guy is a deficit hawk that regularly flays the wasteful spending habits of both Republicans and Democrats.  Each year he publishes a list of wasteful government projects for really silly purposes.  Remember that $787 billion dollar Stimulus Program that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi regime rammed through Congress in January 2009?  Remember that it didn't work to stimulate the economy?  You might want to browse through the following to see just why:

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn wants to shed light on the wasteful spending in the federal stimulus and his list includes projects in his home state of Oklahoma.
One of the 100 examples Coburn has compiled is $1.5 million in “free” stimulus money for a new wastewater treatment plant results in higher utility costs for residents of Perkins, Okla. Another is $1.15 million for installation of a new guardrail for the non-existent Optima Lake in Oklahoma. There is no lake - it’s a dry hole.
Coburn’s report, 100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion, is available in its entirely on his website.
“Why is the federal government wasting your tax dollars on a guardrail for a ‘lake’ that doesn’t even contain any water?” Coburn asked.
The 100 projects he lists- worth $5.5 billion - range from Maine to California.
“The American people have a right to know how their stimulus dollars are being spent. In too many cases stimulus projects are wasting money we don’t have on things we don’t need,” Dr. Coburn said. “Rather than growing our economy, the overall impact of stimulus spending may prove to be harmful to our economy. For example, Washington’s efforts to ’stimulate’ the economy are increasing utility costs, repairing bridges nobody uses, building tunnels for turtles, and renovating extravagant train stations in remote areas while widely-used bridges and roads in poor shape are passed over.”
Coburn said he opposed the bill because it just wouldn’t stimulate the economy.
“I opposed the stimulus bill because I was concerned that 80 to 90 percent of the spending would not be true stimulus,” Coburn said. “I hope I am proven wrong. Yet, our initial findings continue to show that taxpayers are not getting the value they deserve and need.”
Dr. Coburn said Earl Devaney, head of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board, estimates that at least $55 billion of stimulus funds may be lost to waste, fraud and abuse. However, the final number will likely be much higher. If stimulus funds do not promote economic growth, history may indicate that the vast majority of stimulate dollars would have been better off staying in taxpayers’ pockets, Coburn said.
Besides the two Oklahoma projects, Coburn emphasized the following eight projects:
• $1 billion for FutureGen in Mattoon, Illinois is the “biggest earmark of all time” for a power plant that may never work.
• $15 million for “shovel-ready” repairs to little-used bridges in rural Wisconsin are given priority over widely used bridges that are structurally deficient.
• $800,000 for little-used John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania airport to repave a back-up runway; the “airport for nobody” has already received tens of millions in taxpayer dollars.
• $3.4 million for a wildlife “eco-passage” in Florida to take animals safely under a busy roadway.
• A Nevada non-profit gets a $2 million weatherization contract after recently being fired for same type of work.
• Nearly $10 million to renovate an abandoned train station that hasn’t been used in 30 years.
• Ten thousand dead people will get stimulus checks, but the Social Security Administration blames a tough deadline.
• Town of Union, New York, encouraged to spend a $578,000 grant it did not request for a homelessness problem it claims it does not have.
“There’s no question that our economic situation required bold action when Congress rushed to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) - more commonly known as the stimulus bill,” Coburn said. “Unfortunately, the stimulus has yet to really stimulate anything at all. Our nation’s unemployment rate has continued to increase every month since the passage of the bill and now President Obama expects it to hit 10 percent.
The unemployment rate already reached 9.4 percent in May, but the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that true unemployment could be as high as 16.4 percent when adjusted for discouraged workers - those who would like to work full time but are discouraged from doing so.
“In my estimation, Congress chose the wrong approach to stimulating the economy by spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need,” Coburn said. “Real stimulus includes lowering the tax and regulatory burden on hardworking families and businesses, which creates good jobs for the long term.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that we keep fighting against wasteful government spending and instead focus on implementing legislation that will actually help grow our economy and create jobs for out of work Americans.”
Some projects funded by the President Obama’s Stimulus Package
Midwestern Region
 An Illinois county will spend $173,824 from a weatherization grant on eight pickup trucks
• A Wisconsin nursing home receives $2.8 million in stimulus money it didn’t need or request.
• Road signs costing $300 each are being placed at construction sites to alert motorists that the project is being paid for by stimulus money. In Illinois alone, the signs are expected to cost $150,000, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
 In Macomb, Illinois, $643, 945 was spent on a Prairieview public housing parking lot that no one wants.
• Illinois will spend $350,000 to build a four-person bunkhouse at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. The median price for a home in Marion, Illinois, the site of the park, is currently $71,000.
• Akron, Ohio will use up to $1.5 million to erect a suicide-prevention fence to keep people from jumping off the All-American Bridge despite concerns such a project would be wasteful, ineffective and ugly.
• Rather than help welfare recipients obtain jobs and escape poverty, $1 million will be used to study whether 300 people in Chicago are healthier when living in “green” public housing facilities.
• The National Institute of Health gave an Indiana University professor $356,000 to study how kids perceive foreign accents.
 The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve’s new visitor’s center and a pedestrian and bike project over U.S. Highway 75 in Kansas were some of the first projects approved for stimulus funds in the state. Failing to cite an economic benefit from the projects, officials noted that they chose “projects that strengthen the cultural, aesthetic or environmental value of our transportation system.”
• A National Forest in Missouri will receive $462,000 to replace toilets.
The Southern Region
• Memphis, Tennessee will spend $1.5 million to redevelop fairgrounds and $250,000 to rehabilitate a dilapidated laundromat.
• Stimulus money will pay for housing used by Soyono the Sumatran tiger and Luke the Lion at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Despite federal law that prohibits spending federal funds on local zoos, money will go to the National Zoo. The Smithsonian, which runs the zoo, is spending $11.4 of its $25 million in stimulus funds on the National Zoo and its Zoo research center in Virginia.
• Washington, North Carolina is using stimulus funds to pay for “project-funding manager” whose job it is to secure even more stimulus funds.
• Lexington, Kentucky, plans to spend $4.7 million on a trail connecting downtown with a horse farm.
• Virginia will spend $340,000 on a rural bridge that carries only 20 cars a day.
• The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will spend $1.7 million to grow oysters.
Western Region
• Washington State University (Vancouver) is receiving $148, 438 to analyze “the use of marijuana in conjunction with medications like morphine.” According to local reports, “this is the first ARRA funding received by WSU. The project is uniquely qualified to receive these funds because of its potential to stimulate the economy and create or retain jobs within the community.”143
• “Microsoft Bridge” in Seattle will receive $11 million in stimulus funds. Despite having nearly $20 billion in cash reserves, Microsoft will be the prime beneficiary of $11 million for construction of a bridge to connect the two campuses of its headquarters.
• Oregon will spend $4.2 million to raise railroad track 18 inches. In Scappoose, Oregon (pop. 6,200), drivers are tired of taking a detour to get past railroad tracks that are not level with the main road.
• Portland, Oregon, will spend $1 million in stimulus funds for bike lockers.
• Tualatin, Oregon, plans to spend $2.5 million on a “train-horn-free” zone.
• A Utah sheriff’s office is plans to purchase a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
• Montana’s state-run liquor warehouse will receive $2.2 million in stimulus cash to install skylights.
• A California skate park will get a $620,000 “facelift.”
• The Bureau of Land Management is using stimulus funds to study the impact wind farms have on the sage grouse population in Oregon.
Northeastern Region
• Pawtucket, Rhode Island is spending $550,000 on a skateboard park.
 Yale and the University of Connecticut are receiving $850,000 in stimulus for research “to study how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks.”
• Maine to spend over $1.3 million on “government arts jobs,” including $30,000 for basket makers, $20,000 for story telling, and $12,500 for a music festival.
• The National Institutes of Health is giving Yale University $680,100 in stimulus funds to study the effectiveness of diet and exercise at reducing obesity.
 Altoona, Pennsylvania is getting $819,000 for a homelessness prevention program despite local reports that the town may not have enough of a homeless problem to use it.
• Nantucket, Massachusetts, will spend $5.6 million in stimulus cash to resurface 6.4 miles of road and bike path, or roughly $875,000 a mile.
Source: 100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion

I don't want to pay a dime in more taxes until the federal government quits wasting what I give them now!


1 comment:

Joseph-Dolores Poliakon said...

Good Morning Vietnam…Veteran – I stumbled across your blog and blog post “Lost in America: Battlefield, Vietnam - The Great Beer Strike of 1969” via Googling “$2.40-A-Case Carlings Black Label beer” to verify that my cobwebbed “$2.40” memory was a true and sound one. Thank you fellow air warrior for your honorable service, and 1960s beer prices memory.

Great minds think alike. As regards, the term “Sheep” used in your “You've surely heard the term ‘dumb as sheep’. I've come to believe most Americans, when it comes to politics and government, really are just that dumb” comment, I entitled my personal memoirs, “Musings of a Citizen Serf…On Life in a Nation of Sheep©.” Yes, too many of our fellow citizens fit the “Sheep” Profile” when it comes to politics and selecting their leaders.

I put you and your Lost in America blog on the personal list of blogs I “Click On & Check On” every morning when I execute my daily, usually early morning twilight, Boot Up To Carpe Diem. Sorry to have to say, “Old Habits Are Hard To Break.” All those years of Zero Dark Thirty “Get Up & Goes,” early morning preflight and launch sortie-missions have permanently altered my circadian rhythms.

I maintain a few “Roadside Rest Stops” out on the WWW cyber-highway. FWIW FYI: I have a Blogspot “Green Picnic Table” e-campsite at . However, while it has some excellent and useful content, I have chosen to let it lay fallow, and do not actively post there.

My primary blog of activity is my Principauté d'Poliakonia Teleport Blog. This set of blog pages is located at . The main page of my focused activity there is related to my FIGHT IN THE WAR ON PETROL TERRORI$M - ONE GALLON (LITER) OF MOTOR FUEL NOT CONSUMED AT A TIME. I spend most of my time maintaining the Hybrid Hypermiling - Hybrid EcoDriving - Ultra High MPG page on that Pd’P Teleport Blog.

Have Fun, Keep The Faith… Drive Long, Conserve Fuel & Prosper!™ – Joseph Poliakon