Total recall…. Wisconsin style.

At least $63 million wasted. That’s good money that could have been used to create jobs, open businesses, invest, but instead it was flushed down the proverbial toilet.

I’ll go ahead and skip to the end today.  I’m talking about the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Not only did he defeat the recall vote, he actually increased his percentage of winning from the 2010 gubernatorial election. On November 5, 2010, Scott Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Burnett by 52% to 47%.  Yesterday, Walker won by a margin of 53% to 46%. While that seems insignificant, it is actually a really big deal.  More on that later.

Real quick…  The intrepid reporters here at CentsToChange do believe in the freedom to recall an elected official.  That is the ultimate check and balance within a representative Republic. It is also the belief of this organization that regular elections occur often enough for a bad politician (I know, redundant) to be booted from office.  Therefore, a recall should be held in case of criminal activity or complete, outright mismanagement. Disagreement with a platform or legislation is not just cause for a recall.

But I digress…..

On January 3, 2011, Scott Walker was inaugurated as the Governor of Wisconsin. A month later, February for those keeping score at home, Gov. Walker outlined his plan to get Wisconsin finances in the black and out from at $3.6 billion shortfall.

It’s at this point that I share a little history with you.  In 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to unionize public employees. The typical union mantra is that it takes a union to speak for the individuals.  That’s really at the core of unionization.  Individuals will never be able to get a fair deal and only through the collective will the worker be compensated properly.  Now, we could argue the need for unions in today’s society all day long.  I believe that in the early 20th century, unions gave workers the confidence to stand up for themselves. Once the individual believed they had a choice in their own future, the economy of the USA skyrocketed. As did personal wealth and standard of living.

Unions are no longer necessary.  Period. Everywhere unions have a strong presence, you will find higher costs, lower standards of living, and less ingenuity. You see, from a social aspect, modern unions have completely undone all the good they did initially. Unions of today have made the “members” believe that they are worthless without the union; that outside of the union umbrella of protection, they cannot achieve a fair deal.

I put “membership” in quotes because, generally speaking, when someone is a member of something, it’s voluntary.  I am a member of several organizations because I choose to be a member.  In a lot of states, union membership is required by law.  In Wisconsin, union membership was required to the tune of $1,100 a year.

Back to Gov. Walker….

He recognizes that unions are crippling the government of Wisconsin. He also recognized that the benefits package for public employees was way out of line compared to private industry. Additionally, Walker saw that collective bargaining was stifling local districts from making decisions that were in the district’s best interest. Lastly, he found it wrong that a teacher was required to join the union through the force of law and have union dues taken out of their paycheck even before taxes..

You got to wake up really early to beat the taxman to a paycheck withholding…  Really early….

So what doe Gov. Walker do?

He outlines a plan where government union (redundant) employees will actually contribute to their own pension.  Up until now, a pension was simply a benefit given based on years of service.  He asked that the employee put some skin in the game to the tune of 3%.  Keep in mind that very few, if any, private companies provide pensions anymore. In the “real world” people are required to plan their own long term investment strategy.  So the mere fact that they get a pension at all is a benefit way beyond private industry.

If you get a wild hair, do some searching on pension fraud and double dipping.  You’ll see that it is not uncommon for people to work to a certain point, retire for a day, get full state pension, and start working in a new position racking up a new pension.  Seriously…

Gov. Walker also saw health care as a possible way to save money.  State employees only had to pay 3% of their insurance premiums.  Not 3% of their health care bills, 3 points on the insurance premium.  That’s a sweet deal… Gov. Walker proposed making that 6%.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH      THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!!!!

Actually making people pay for things….  Remember to cue the “teachers are never paid enough” song in the background…  I’d say full pension and pretty much free health care adds quite a bit to what is already a decent salary.  The average salary for a teacher n Wisconsin is between $45,000 and $50,000.  Add in the pension and free health care and that turns into a pretty generous compensation package.

Just for grins, let’s do some simple math…  A general rule of thumb for saving is 10% of your gross.  If you do that, you will have a comfortable self financed pension. So let’s say the pension benefit is $4,500 per year.  A typical family health care insurance policy can run $1,000 a month.  I know. So that’s another $12,000 per year.  Add it all together and your salary is now $61,500 to $67,000.  Add in the fact that you only work 9 months out of the year and that prorates to $82,000 to $90,000.  Not to shabby for a profession that has the easiest major in college.

As far as the collective bargain goes, Gov. Walker saw that individual districts should be able to make decisions for themselves; that the local school boards know what’s best for their schools, not the union goons in Madison.  Think about like this…  You have a school, K-12, all under one roof.  The principal make a decision for the curriculum for the entire school, every grade.  These classes and material are taught irrespective to the age and knowledge level of the individual grades.

That’s how things were in Wisconsin under the goon based collective bargaining agreement.  Now each grade is allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to class material, schedules, and how to interact with the students.  Put the decision power in the hands of the people involved on a daily basis.  Makes too much sense….

Now…  I saved the best and most important reform for last.  Voluntary vs. compulsory union membership. This got the least attention, but is by far the most important reform when it comes to union membership…  By far…

Here’s how it works.  Every single teacher in the Wisconsin school system is a forced member. It costs $1,100 per year to be a member of this exclusive organization.  According to TeacherPortal.com there are 59,552 teachers in Wisconsin.  That means that every January 1st, the union goons count on $65,507,200.00 in their bank account.  They turn right around and donate huge percentages of that money to liberal and democrat causes because it’s the left that always gives unions more power.

Follow the money….

If teachers are allowed to opt out of the union, that’s $1,100 per member the union loses.  Read this op ed piece from a teacher in Wisconsin.  Pretty revealing.

Why this teacher chose the non-union option

So those are the reforms Gov. Walker proposed. As expected, Armageddon was predicted by the left. Union goons organized protests.  Teachers walked out of classrooms. And the Democrats ran away to Illinois to hide. Classy.

Remember all the while that Wisconsin voters elected a Tea Party candidate that ran on a platform of fiscal reform. And won.  Handily.

So, Gov. Walker simply does what he said he would do and the left goes nuts.  I mean, hide in Illinois?  Really?  To avoid a vote?  And how old are you?

My elementary school age son acts more adult than that…  Really.

The left predicts a financial implosion and that all learning will cease and children will die in the streets begging for knowledge.  Well, maybe not that far.  But pretty close….

So the left does what the left does best; organize….  In June of 2011, a federal lawsuit is filed against Gov. Walker for his collective bargaining reform.

The left continues to whine and formally announces a recall effort in November 2011. Now, let’s put this in historical perspective…  Since the formation of our good ole United Sates of America there have only been two gubernatorial recall elections. Two. In 1921, Lynn Frazier was booted out of the governor’s office in North Dakota, just like Gray Davis of California in 2003.  Think about how many governors there have been and only two were so bad that they deemed a recall attempt.

So the left organized and this is where union goons showed what makes them union goons…..  The petition effort was enormous.  By January 2012, enough signatures had been collected.  Democrat leaders claim that one million signatures had been collected. I have no idea of the actual amount.  You are welcome to count them yourself here: Wisconsin GAO. My gut says that the same accounting firm was hired for the recall petition signature count as was hired to count the participants in the Million Man March.

Regardless, there were enough for a recall vote.

The entire Wisconsin world was put on hold and the media descended like a flock of vultures (not seagulls, Dennis) for the recall election on June 5. Actually, that would be a venue of vultures. Sorry. So the state of Wisconsin was really a state of limbo as is the case in an election year.

Enter in usual politics…  Mud is slung, truths and half-truths told…  Dire predictions and empty promises…  Oh, and Gov. Scott Walker campaigned as well as the Democrats.

Tuesday was the big day.  National political pundits went on record as claiming victory before the first ballot had been cast.  The same pundits also said that this election will be a foreshadow of the general election in November.  Other pundits said it has no bearing on November. Everybody picked a winner.  Now it’s time for the voters to choose their elected officials.  Again…

The recall efforts for the Governor and Lt. Governor failed, along with three of the four State Senate seats.  The fourth is still being counted and may result in a runoff.

In other words, nada.  Nothing.  Zero change.  And yet $63 million (at least) spent.  And that, my friend, is the true definition of the word waste.  To expend effort and energy with zero change.

The Democrats thought this was a slam dunk based on the number of signatures they collected. Yet they lost.  Here’s a little explanation…  You see, the petitions were collected in person.  Someone with a clipboard told you that you needed to sign this petition to recall a herd of politicians.  Or is that a gaggle? Never can remember. Regardless, you are making a declaration at the direction and under the eye of someone else.  If you are a teacher or other public employee, you sign just to prevent the backlash of not signing.

Then…..  In the privacy of a voting both, with no one watching, you share your true feelings.  You vote your conscience.  This is why we must keep union formation elections secret ballot.  If it were up to petitions alone, then strong arm tactics would win.  If unions are really good for a group of people, then it will pass in a secret ballot.  If not, it will fail.

Back to a comment I alluded to in my opening paragraphs.  The margin of victory.  This is a big deal.  When Walker first ran against Burnett, it was a general election.  Your run of the mill, every four years deciding on a obstinancy of politicians.  Or is that a battery?  I still can’t remember.  I guess you’ll have to look here and decide for yourself.

But anyway… The recall, was a mandate from the irate masses.  Voter turnout is what wins elections. You have three kinds of voters:

  • Always vote regardless
  • Vote when they are passionate
  • Never vote regardless

It’s the middle that change the course of elections.  If one side is very passionate about a cause, they will turnout in much higher numbers than those that see it as a typical vote.  No big deal.  It’s all about voter turnout.

In a case such as this, with as many signatures as was collected, you would think the passionate side would win handily.  Yet they lost.  And by a wider margin than when they lost in the general election. The left, so rabid about removing this awful man from office, lost ground to the side that put him there in the first place.

Very interesting.

In Other News of the Ironic, if a teacher opts out of the union, and spends the union dues on the added pension and health insurance premiums, they still have a net gain and more disposable income.

Interestingly enough, the reforms put in place by Gov. Walker are already working.  The Milwaukee School District is already forecasting an $11 million surplus thanks to the reforms. Of course, Walker was challenged by Burnett, a former Mayor of Milwaukee.

Lastly, the city of Madison, a very heavy left-leaning district, is reporting (unsubstantiated at this time) a voter turnout of 119%.  That’s odd because if every eligible voter voted, it would have been 100% turnout; which has never happened. I bet if they checked for identification the numbers would be a lot more believable.  Except there is no such thing as voter fraud, so there’s no need to check ID.  I forgot.

Anyway….  $63,000,000.00 wasted on a recall attempt that failed.  A state deadlocked into inaction.  Tens of thousands of man-hours wasted because the union goons got their panties in a bunch.

Here is my biggest fear and my biggest hope resulting from this recall attempt.  My fear is that we will have a never ending stream of elections.  When one side loses an election, they will promptly begin petitions for recall.  That will completely cripple the government.  Which, really isn’t a bad thing.  hmmmm. My hope is that when a group talks of recall, they think twice.  They really remember, or recall if I may, this attempt and base the effort on a real, substantiated just cause. And not simply on the grounds of disagreement.

What would you do with $63 million?

 

And the winner is…..

About this time of year, I start getting a little antsy.  You see, college football is approaching, and I love college football.  Always have.  There is something about Saturdays in the fall that just seems right.  The brisk weather, the smell of a grill working a delicious meal, the pre-game excitement, the environment of the stadium, and the joy in victory or the agony of defeat. All of these things go into a perfect Saturday in the fall.

*nothing like The Flats in the fall

I opine that American football is the perfect sport. I can safely say this because I have played, in a competitive arena, just about all the major sports.  So I have firsthand experience.  Baseball is long durations of boredom interrupted by a few seconds of excitement. Basketball is a game of thugs and soccer a game of whiners. Hockey is at least entertaining, but the season goes on way too long and no one cares until the playoffs start.  NASCAR, well don’t get me started on NASCAR…  Just don’t.

Football is a chess game.  In chess you have a lot of different, unique pieces and each has an integral role on the board.  There is only one king, but many pawns.  A couple of knights, rooks, and bishops, all with varying capabilities.  A good chess player thinks several moves ahead, all the while dealing with the moves from his opponent. .

If you look at a team photo of a soccer, baseball, or basketball team, they all look alike.  Nothing is different on a soccer team photo from the goalie to the striker.  They look the same.  As it is in baseball.  Look at a team photo of a football team and you see 350 lb men towering 6’-8” standing right next to the 5’-6” 150 lb player.

*nothing but clones

And each one is just as important to the success of the team.  Just ask Morten Andersen.  Andersen played 24 years in the NFL and is the all time leader in points scored and games played.  And he’s a kicker. Every player on a football team brings a unique talent that fills a crucial role.   If you think that quarterbacks are more important than kickers, go find a Buffalo Bills fan and watch as they implode in self rage at the mention of the name Scott Norwood.  It’s actually pretty funny.

*in his defense, it was a 47 yard field goal… attempt…

As I said, college football is almost upon us.  Summers mean an endless supply of experts ranking and re-ranking teams.  Choosing the pre-season favorite for this and favorite to win this game is a national pastime in and of itself. Which team will have the best defense, while which team will win it all.

Every college football fan is an expert, by the way. Myself included.  I love talking to anyone who has a passion for college football. I love talking about how I think my team will fare in the upcoming year.  I love talking about past games and past plays that changed a season.  I love the buildup until toe finally meets leather and the season starts.

*the original “toe meets leather”

This is similar to how the government works.  There is nothing but talk until a bill, plan, or initiative is passed. Everybody has his/her own ideas, thoughts, and pontifications.  Everybody makes his best guess as to how things will turn out.  Often times the rules are tweaked based on the previous season’s results.  Herein lies the difference.

In college football, the teams actually play the games and the season goes on until there is an end result.  Eventually one team is number one and deemed the best team in college football. More often than not, the team that wins it all is not the team picked by the pre-season polls.  In fact, that almost never happens.

This is where government is different.  Once they pick a favorite based on the pre-season polling and endless talking, the season is suspended and the winner proclaimed without a single snap of the ball.  You see, the government picks a winner and that’s final.  End of game.

When the government picks the winner, tons of money flow their way in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, and secured government loans. Just like in college football, the predicted winner seldom turns out to be successful.  Eventually the selected winner fails and every penny spent is gone. Never to be seen again. A giant waste.

In this specific case, I want to spotlight two government winners that ended up costing the American taxpayers a lot of money. Solyndra and Fisker Automotive.

The game in question is energy.  The players, both “green” companies.

*yes, it’s green, just not the green I mean

Both were declared winners and the government floodgates opened wide. For Solyndra it was a flood of money equaling $535,000,000.00.  Fisker Automotive was only given $529,000,000.00.

For Solyndra the money flow started in September, 2009, and ended when the company declared bankruptcy in August, 2011.  They blew through over half a billion dollars in less than two years.  And that’s just the government money. I don’t know how much private money was lost on the gamble.

*this image has absolutely nothing to do with the surrounding context

Every excuse in the book, except for one, was given.  China was killing them price wise, raw materials have gotten too expensive, labor was too hard to find and expensive when it was found, global supply was too great and demand too low, blah blah blah.  Only thing missing from the excuse list is the truth.  Truth being Solyndra developed an inferior product that cost too much and built a business model based more on hope and pipedreams.

$529 million gone.  Never to be seen again. Just the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl…  But I digress….

In Other News of the Ironic, Solyndra lobbied really hard for this money during the Bush administration.  The Bush Department of Energy deemed the Solyndra product inferior and business model faulty and rejected the application for loan guarantees.  Interestingly enough, George Kaiser, the top investor in Solyndra, visited the Obama White House 16 times between March 2009, and July 2011, including three times in one day when it appeared that the Obama Department of Energy was arriving at the same conclusion as the Bush administration. Solyndra got the money.

In Other News of the Not So Ironic, George Kaiser donated at least $50,000 to the Obama campaign.

Next up is Fisker Automotive.

*wrong Fiskars

In April 2010, they were given an open line of credit from the US Department of Energy much like Solyndra.  The loan guarantee amount was a paltry $529 million.  The goal?  To design and manufacture two lines of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. I guess it is impossible to develop a hybrid vehicle without a huge influx of government money.  Oh, except for Toyota and Honda…

Fisker used $169 million to bring the $100,000 hybrid vehicle, Karma, to market. Of course it is manufactured in Finland and only 1,000 have been sold.  Oh, and when Consumer Reports did a study of the Karma, it crapped out. The car died during testing and Fisker Automotive blamed it on a faulty battery.  You know, the core of the car.  The thing that makes it go.  That part…. Insert joke about having bad Karma.

*quite possibly the worst karma of all time

And shouldn’t that be Carma?

And if Karma was lost without their friend Diego, would you say, “Where in the world is Karma sans Diego?”

Just curious.  And no, I’m not buying.

*not on boat

Anyway.

So where is Fisker Automotive and the 2,000 promised jobs at the Maryland manufacturing plant? Gone.  Somewhere else.  Not building a manufacturing plant in Maryland. At least the Imperial Government did one thing right and halted any more withdrawals on the $529 million.  Of course, over $200 million had been spent and the American taxpayer has nothing to show for the investment other that the privilege to purchase a $100,000 Karma hybrid electric vehicle.  But I thought people bought hybrids to save money?

But anyway.

So….. The IG picks winners.  They spend $735 million.  Almost a full billion on two projected winners.  Both lose.  And in reality, the biggest loser is the American taxpayer.

What would you do with $735 million?

It seemed like a good idea…

The law of unintended consequences. And I don’t mean the leading cause of death among redneck males ages 18-24.

*trained actors, do not try this at home

In case you are curious, the leading cause of death is the phrase, “Hey…  Y’all watch this.”

The law of unintended consequences is a simple social construct stating that while something may start out as a good idea with good intentions, something entirely different can be the result.  This is neither good nor bad, just a truism. More often than not, it ends up badly.

Adam Smith, one of the greatest economic philosophers, wrote about the law of unintended consequences in his opus,  An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth Of Nations in 1776.  He describes an “invisible hand” that can move society.

“…each individual, seeking only his own gain, is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. … It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, or the baker, that we expect our dinner,but from regard to their own self interest.”

*not a redneck

The unintended consequence is that the general public benefits from individuals working towards their own means.  It’s like this…..  A few years ago I was in a discussion with a social liberal (there are many kinds) that accused me of “…being selfish and only looking out for your own self.” I replied that I was, in fact, looking out for myself and my family.  She quickly retorted that “what would the world be like if everyone was selfish like you?”

To which I replied…  ”If everyone was selfish like me, and took care of themselves like me, then no one would need to be taken care of.”

*hmmm…

Let that resonate for a minute.  If people took personal responsibility for themselves, their actions, and their future, wouldn’t the world be a much better place?  That was the unintended consequence Adam Smith foresaw.

Unintended consequences often have more disastrous results. Social Security was originally intended to be a cost of living supplement to ensure that the elderly had enough to survive.  Since then, many have come to expect Social Security as their primary long-term investment strategy.  The lack of personal investment and personally funded retirements was a bad consequence.

In the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster, laws were passed that put an unlimited liability on oil shipping companies.  All that did was get the big, safe shipping companies to hire out to smaller, less stable, shippers.  So the intent was to make it safer to ship oil, it actually had the inverse because more oil is shipped with small, less insured, and less stable companies.  If a big spill were to happen again, there would not be a big company to clean up the mess.

*musty old claptrap

In 1936, the American sociologist Robert K. Merton wrote an article titled, “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action.” In it, Merton identified five sources of unanticipated consequences. The first two—and the most pervasive—were “ignorance” and “error.” Merton labeled the third source the “imperious immediacy of interest.” This is the one that we see most often in today’s government.

What Merton described was what happens when someone wants a change so much that they completely ignore any warning signs of negative unintended consequences. Like wanting hope and change so much that a populous is willing to elect a Socialist as President.  They wanted hope and they wanted change, unfortunately the hope and change we all got was bad on both fronts.

The government wants so badly to push the green energy movement, they they are completely blinded by the negative consequences.  They fail to even notice when Spain completely disbands any and all government spending on green energy because it has single handedly bankrupt the country.  In Spain, official unemployment is at 25%. How many more Solyndra’s do we need to realize green energy is a bad investment?

Now, I understand that talking about the law of unintended consequences in broad, general terms in regards to government makes it impossible to put a price tag on waste.  So what we have to do is look at smaller individual cases and see how money is wasted.

Enter in the Buffalo Public School System (BUPSS).  One thing to remember throughout this discussion, is that they are self insured.  That means when a member of the Buffalo Public Schools Insurance Policy goes to the doctor, it is paid directly by the taxpayers within that district.  Directly.

*notice their mission has nothing to do with teaching or learning

In the 1970′s, BUPSS union goons wedged into their contract plastic, cosmetic, and reconstruction surgery.  The good idea and thoughtful intent was to cover the cost of major reconstruction surgery to burn victims and disfigurement from accidents.  A noble cause.

And until recently, that was where the majority of spending went.  It wasn’t until that provision was threatened to be removed that it became a major benefit of working at BUPSS.  In 2004, spending on cosmetic surgery was at $1 million annually.  In 2009, that price tag went to $9 million.  That was spent on 500 employees receiving an average of $18,000 worth of work. Records show that by a wide majority, the work done was elective surgery.  A little botox here, a little nip/tuck there, some skin rejuvenation elsewhere.

*let’s do half now, and half later

Of the BUPSS employees, only 2% of the employees took advantage of the Hot for Teacher clause, yet these costs consumed 9% of the total medical expenditures.

The intent was to provide coverage for people who have suffered disfiguring accidents and it turns out that 2% of the employees are burning through 9% of the spending so they can feel better about themselves….

In Other News of the Ironic, one doctor, Dr. Kulwant Bhangoo (real name) billed the district $4.3 million in 2009, for cosmetic surgery and even advertises in local educational journals reminding the employees of BUPSS that the benefit is available.

*I don’t feel tardy…

The money spent on cosmetic surgery in Buffalo could hire at least 115 new employees, thus reducing the teacher to student ratio, put more people back to work, and help the economy in a real way.  Instead, Dr. Bhangoo gets to keep $4.3 million himself.  Sure he employees people, but not 115. And they sure as heck aren’t helping our most prized treasure, our children.

So…  You can have a tummy tuck or 115 more teachers. Which is more important?

One other tidbit of info…  The BUPSS union contract has expired. Yet in the language of the previous contract, every employee is guaranteed an annual wage increase and all of the benefits from the expired contract until a new contract has been signed. I can see that the union goons have a lot of reasons to get that new contract signed post haste….

What would you do with $9 million?

 

Those who can, can…

Those who can’t, teach.  Those who can’t teach go into politics, and those who know where the bodies are buried, become lobbyists.

Education is often the sign of a higher form of civilization. Those who control the education, control the masses.  Look at North Korea.  While they have one of the lowest standards of living outside of sub-Saharan Africa they have a fanatical loyalty to those who keep them enslave.

*talk about being in the dark…

Speaking of North Korea, I highly recommend the National Geographic special on North Korea. As a matter of fact, my wife made our children watch this expose on North Korea.

But that’s not what we are here to talk about…  We are here to talk about education and job training.  The idea being, the more highly skilled the workforce, the more valuable and productive they will be.  That generally makes sense.  Until the Imperial Government gets involved. Then all logic goes out the window.

Here’s the situation.  The recession led to extremely high unemployment rates.  At over 10% of the work force categorized as “unemployed,” this country was in deep doo-doo. Technically speaking.

Check out current unemployment rates here.

In Other News of the Ironic, Nancy Pelosi is happy that unemployment is at 9%. Here’s the irony… On November 3, 2006, Pelosi said this:

“the worst jobs record since the Great Depression,”

when the unemployment rate was 4.4%.

*Person in photo is apparently not a mathlete. Even redneck puppy knuckledraggers know that 9 is more than 4.4

So what does our amazing IG do to help slow/decrease unemployment.  Why, train the unemployed, I tell you.  The reason they don’t have a job is obviously because they don’t have the right skills.  If they had the skills, they would have a job.  That makes perfect sense.

I opine that the reason they weren’t employed is because THERE WEREN’T ANY JOBS….. I don’t care how trained up, educated, and or productive a person is, if there isn’t a job for that highly skilled person, they are still unemployed. Besides, if I am an employer and I have my choice of a person who has experience in the industry and a person who just completed a government sponsored and paid for training class who do you think I will select.  The person who chose to enter into a field and took their own initiative to learn a trade or the person who selected that particular government sponsored class because it was free and didn’t conflict with Jersey Shores and American Idol.

Back to the story.

So the IG, in it’s infinite wisdom, realizes that the problem is not a lack of jobs, but skilled workers. Now, the IG has always has job training programs.  I believe that the only federally sponsored training program should be the military. But that is a different rant for a different time. As the spending on IG training programs increased, so did the ire of Sen. Tom Coburn.

And for the record, Sen. Coburn is a hero among the CentsToChange newsroom in the bowels of the International Worldwide Headquarters (IWH).  We don’t care about his party affiliation, we love his annual Wastebook which casts a spotlight on stupid government waste and spending.

Here is where the many facets of this complex story intertwine. By that I mean IG spending on training and Sen. Coburn’s never ending crusade against government waste.

Sen. Coburn teamed up with Sen. Enzi and requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate possible redundancies, waste, and failed programs regarding IG jobs training. In January of 2011, the GAO issued a report titled:

“MULTIPLE EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING PROGRAMS

Providing Information on Colocating Services and Consolidating Administrative Structures Could Promote Efficiencies”

Not even the GAO understands the concept of brevity.  But I digress…..

Just in case you feel like reading all 108 pages, I have secured a copy and stored it here on the super secure datacenter here in the IWH.

*simulated screen

Feel free to read the report in it’s entirety here. In case you don’t believe us, here is a link to the GAO page.

Since I doubt you have a lot of better things to do than read an IG report with 17 words in the title alone, I will be happy to extract some interesting tidbits.

In 2003, the GAO did a similar study and found 44 programs that spent $13,000,000,000.00.  In 2009, thanks to the Stimulus Package the GAO reported that 9 different agencies had 47 programs that spent $18,000,000,000.00.  An increase of 3 programs and $5 billion.

Two other interesting factoids…

“Almost all federal employment and training programs, including those with broader missions such as multipurpose block grants, overlap with at least one other program in that they provide similar services to similar populations.”

And neither one doing it with any level of success.  Remember, unemployment is still above 8%, even though we were promised that it would never be as HIGH as 8%.

Here’s the other thing that stunned me, then it didn’t when I remembered this was an IG series of programs.

“Nearly all programs track multiple outcome measures, but only five programs have had an impact study completed since 2004 to assess whether outcomes resulted from the program and not some other cause.”

So…  We spend $18 billion (which is more than the cost to construct an aircraft carrier) and there is no attempt to measure if that money is actually helping anyone find a job.  None whatsoever.  Here is the success or failure as decided by the idiots in office:

Harry Reid: “We would be a lot worse trouble if we weren’t around.

Really?  That’s all? So the plans and programs and government waste and over taxation is working because things would be worse if they weren’t there to do all these things?

And people vote for this guy.

So we have $18 billion spent in 2009, on 47 training programs that all intertwine with another IG training programs without any way to measure the true success and, here’s the best part, the majority of the money was spent on administering the programs, not teaching people new trades.

So if you want to work for an IG training program in any of the 9 agencies, where do you go to get trained?  Hmmm…

$18 billion on ineffective training that does very little good, if any and we are paying interest on the loans to fund these programs that spend more money hiring people to run the program than to tech workers useful skills.  Sounds good to me.

What would you do with $18 billion?  I’d buy an aircraft carrier. Then sail it to the French coast.  Just to watch them surrender.  It’s their national pastime.

SOLAR ENERGY—THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE TOTAL HYPE

Anyone who has been awake for the past several years has at least heard of all the “Green” construction, jobs and such being promoted by the government. This has become a major fad in the construction and product industries so people feel obligated to comply whether or not they have a clue as to what is going on.

It should be noted that there is a “Green Party” in politics which is in essence (and admittedly) a self appointed Communist party. That essentially means that it and its members and followers are anti capitalist and essentially anti free enterprise and anti freedom.

The similarity between the “Green Party” and the “Green movement” in construction, products and other hype should be apparent but to most it is not. Following is a very good example based on an absolutely true situation that occurred recently:

As an architect specializing in the commercial area I have been exposed to people touting the laurels of solar energy for decades and to a much larger extent in recent years. In analyzing these systems, even including all of the various tax credits, “writeoffs” and the like the length of time it takes to do no more than amortize (have the savings pay for) the system’s cost far exceeds anything a normal astute business person would engage in as a business venture, much less spend his personal funds.
I talked recently to a solar energy company who touted that their system would pay for itself in six years. As a self employed business person that time frame starts to make a bit of sense so I asked for more information. Long story short, they came up with a proposal which included six solar panels at a price of a bit over $11,000 installed. At first this sounded pretty good if indeed the savings in my power bill would recoup the $11,000 investment in 6 years………

In the analysis and explanation, a significant tax credit (Federal) was discussed and we bemoaned the fact that our State tax credit has already been used up by other folks trying to do the same thing. In any case, the relative bottom line cost when the Federal tax credit came into play became something over $7,000 (a nice drop)….

Then the other shoe fell……The actual savings in our power bill was projected to be less than $21.00 per month or, $252 per year. Even without a calculator handy I could be quite sure that it would take more than 6 years to recoup the cost……(try 28 years).

Some of the conversation then turned to the possibility of the State having another tax credit which would help(?) AND factoring in depreciation to “massage” the bottom line to an even lower figure.
Lets now look at a few factors from the stage of reality:

1. Assuming that the savings in power bills was correct, the system would have to cost no more than $1,512.00 for the savings to pay for the system in 6 years.

2. If I took the original figure of $11,000 and invested it in anything (savings, T-bills, bonds, etc.) with a return of 2 ½ % or more I would make more money per year than I would save by having the system up, running and fully paid for.

So where does all this lead? It is really simple…..the whole energy conservation movement is pure hype promoted and backed by the mental giants running the Federal government and by the media they control. Granted, there are Federal grants, tax credits and the like as incentives which is why some companies and manufacturers are involved with this fiasco. In reality it requires our government to fund these systems in some way in order for them to make any kind of economic sense at all, even if that economic sense is superficial and totally false. Guess whose money the government uses to fund these grants and credits……..(This isn’t rocket science…..it’s OUR tax money!)

From my standpoint, even if I could get enough government credits, grants or anything else to fully pay for the system and its installation the hassle would not be worth the $21.00 per month savings. If I were to install a large enough system to cover my entire power bill the cost would likely be $176,000 (based on factoring the total number of panels required for the whole house with the original 6 panel quote). Of course there isn’t enough room for this sort of installation but it’s a nice math challenge. Given this information and if I could do it my savings would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 per month on average. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to see that it would still take well over 30 years to recoup that investment.
We are getting sucked in to the black hole of total government control including the control of how or if we think…..Wake up people!

Everyone gather round…

More from the management.

The main focus of this blog is to cast a spotlight on government waste and insipid government spending. When I set this site up, I wanted a topic that would provide new and fresh material in perpetuity. Writing about government waste is like writing about the sunset; it happens every day.

*actual sunset photo taken by the author

In reality, this blog is about two basic thoughts…

1. An avenue for my frustration at the overbearing and insane beast that is government.  I get so frustrated seeing a $2,700 sign telling me that they are spending my money.

*sign

You see, if I don’t get this out of my system, then my wife has to listen to me complain. And I like my wife. I like her a lot more when she’s in a good mood.  She’s never in a good mood when I’m complaining about government waste. Ergo, I blog.

2. To educate myself for when people ask, “I don’t see government waste, what are you talking about?” I can regale them with Wiccan chapels at the Air Force Academy, teaching Thai prostitutes the dangers of alcohol consumption, and putting televisions in remote villages in Vietnam.

Now, I often get the complaint that sometimes that amount of money wasted is such a small drop in a big ocean that it won’t help any to cut out the stupid stuff discussed here at CentsToChanges.com. Agreed, $3.4 million to build a turtle tunnel isn’t the reason this country is so in debt.  But it is a symptom of a much greater disease.

*no caption required

During the Great Depression, a subtle change happened in Washington. A change in philosophy that has caused the greatest free nation in the history of civilization to be $15,000,000,000,000.00 in debt. That subtle change was simple: Government spending fixed problems.

Let me repeat that:

Government spending fixed problems.

Well, it didn’t.  Only made things worse. Before the Great Depression, people were largely self supportive.  Flocks of immigrants rushed to the land of opportunity. Think about this, if a family was willing to uproot from their homeland, travel to an unknown country, without money, assets, or knowing the language, there must have been a pretty compelling reason.  That reason was freedom.  Free to make their own lives.  Free to escape the oppressive yoke of a fixed and permanent social structure and caste.  Free to make a life their own.

Enter the Great Depression and the Alphabet Administration of FDR. Government solutions to everything. Government spending everywhere.  High taxation. Miserable lives.  Interesting fact:  By Spring of 1930, before the government ”fixes” were in place, unemployment was still below 10% and the stock market was back up to pre-crash levels. Enter the Imperial Government.  Unemployment went to 25%.  Sure we got some dams and roads, but the Depression lasted 10 years longer than it should thanks to IG intervention.

*IG solutions

Since then, IG spending is the solution to everything.  And this is apolitical.  Every party in power has done everything they can to spend more money. Thanks to LBJ and his War on Poverty, we have spent $15 trillion on anti-poverty with no measurable success. It has to stop sometime.

Private citizens can, and always, do better than the government. I am convinced that if private citizens had decided to build a turtle tunnel it would have cost a lot less than $3.4 million.  I also know that a group of concerned citizens could have easily raised the money through voluntary donations and done a better job than the IG.

Perfect example.  A bridge in Kauai to Polihale State Park had been closed due to severe flooding.  The IG estimated that the cost would be $4 million to repair.  In a rare instance of fiscal restraint, the IG dragged their heels and never got to fixing the bridge. The bridge is a lifeline to many of the local residents and businesses whose economy is based on tourism associated with the state park. So what did they do? They volunteered their time and resources and fixed the bridge in eight  (8) days for free.  That’s right, free.  Didn’t cost the IG one red cent. Yes, it cost in terms of labor and equipment expenses, but those expenses were freely donated by the local community.  It wasn’t $4 million stolen at the point of a gun through force.

I love this quote:

“We shouldn’t have to do this, but when it gets to a state level, it just gets so bureaucratic, something that took us eight days would have taken them years,” said Troy Martin of Martin Steel, who donated machinery and steel for the repairs. “So we got together — the community — and we got it done.” 

*yes, CentsToChange.com would have written about this bridge costing $4 million

Private citizens acting on their own freewill always do better than the IG.

So we, as a country, need to realize two things…

1. Government spending will not solve fiscal problems. The IG cannot spend their way out of debt.

2. Government spending results in bigger problems.

There is a demotivational from www.Despair.com that says it best:

*If you think the problems we create are bad,
just wait until you see our solutions.

Is it realistic to lobby for zero IG spending?  No.  Don’t be stupid.  The Constitution clearly allows the IG to spend money. What we can do, is be pessimistic about IG spending. By casting a spotlight on the stupidity, it slowly erodes the credibility of our elected officials. And hopefully more people will start to ask questions and not just take politicians at their word.

Yes, we need to take big chunks off our budget to make an appreciable dent in our debt.  We here at CentsToChange.com get that.  But….  When you have two parties that fight a position simply because the other guy that said it first, you have to find common ground. And there is plenty of common ground.  Like the nearly $1 million spent by the GSA on a conference in Vegas that awarded some tool for making a video mocking how little fiscal oversight they had. This is common ground. Once you have some agreement, any agreement, it makes moving forward a lot easier. The key to any negotiation is starting with something on which both sides agree.

We need to solve the problem of Social Security and other entitlement programs.  Yes we can eliminate $15 billion (initially) by canceling one aircraft carrier. We currently have 10 active aircraft carriers with two in construction. The rest of the world has 10 combined with two in retrofit and four in construction. While I am a huge believer in “peace through superior firepower” I think we are ok with carriers. I’d rather put that $15 billion back into the economy through tax cuts.

”If you want peace, prepare for war.”
— Latin proverb

We will never solve big issues without coming to agreement on small ones. Just like a family budget that is in the red, you pick the low-lying fruit first and eliminate stupid spending. Dropping Netflix only saves me $8 per month, but it is a start. Dropping cable saves me another $30 (I have the super cheap cable).  Getting rid of my expensive cell phone and going with a low-cost provider (I love MetroPCS) saves me more.  Before you know it, I’ve culled away several hundred dollars a month and I am that much closer to being in the black.

Here’s the secret.  Saving money is contagious. Just get it started.  Once you see there is hope of positive change, you are more emboldened to save more. You realize that you didn’t die and wither away when you cut cable TV; you still ate well despite cooking yourself and not ordering pizza four times a week. You sell your two cars that cost $400 per month in payments, and buy two older, less attractive, less comfortable cars in cash.

You realized that the things you counted on as necessary for existence were simply luxuries.

And while we are talking about cars, I know a thing or two in this area.  I had one car for almost 18 years.  Paid it off a year early. It didn’t even have power windows or a cup holder. Did I want a new car with fancy stuff? Sure. Did I get where I was going. Yep. How much money did I save over the long haul?  Well…  Considering $400 / month in payments for 14 years, that works out to $67,200.00 in savings. Because I took good care of my car, maintenance costs were really low.  repairs outside of normal, routine maintenance cost me less than $3000 over the life of the car.

So it is possible to live with less and still be happy. If your happiness is based on material things, then you will never be happy.  But that is for a different rant and a different time.

So, if we become educated and hold our elected officials accountable, then we can make real change. Then again, all I really care about is making my wife happy.

What comes before anything.  What have I always said is the most important thing?

Breakfast.

Family.

Oh, I thought you meant of things you eat.

Ghost in the machine.

1927.  An accident begins one of the greatest and long lasting pranks in history.  It began when William “Ed” Smith received his application to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Also know at GA Tech, GT, or simply the North Avenue Trade School.  Thanks to a strange twist of fate, Ed received two applications instead of one.  Being a jokester, Ed promptly filled out both applications, one for himself and one for a fictional person, George P. Burdell.

*At GT, physics is like cowbell.  Always need more.

At first, Ed was going to enroll his high school principal George P. Butler, a staunch UGA (sic) graduate, but got cold feet and wrote Burdell as the last name.  George P. Burdell was accepted to GT and Ed enrolled him in the same classes.  Throughout his career at Tech, Ed would turn in two homework assignments, take two tests, and in 1930, both Ed and George P. Burdell graduated.

The amazing feet in all this, is Ed doing everything twice.  Anyone familiar with Ma Tech knows the impossibility of this accomplishment.

*The Shaft

Since then, George P. Burdell has shown up all over the place. He was credited with 12 bombing missions over Europe in World War II.  He was leading the Time Man of the Year vote in 2001, until Time magazine took his name off the list.

George P. Burdell is a regular fixture on class rolls at GT.  I can tell you from personal experience the enjoyment of having a first time professor read through the class roll on the first day only to hear them read out George P. Burdell.  The quiet chuckle from the class until someone responds “here.”  In 1969, GT went to all computerized registration and thought George P. Burdell was a thing of the past. Of course he was enrolled in every class at the Institute.  Over 3,000 credit hours.  The Institute put in fail safe methods only to see George P. Burdell enroll in every class again in 1975 and 1980.

George P. Burdell served on the Board of Directors for Mad Magazine from 1969 to 1981, and was recently listed as a Production Assistant for the TV show, South Park.  I still remember fondly, receiving a rebate check and having it signed by George P. Burdell. He has his own Facebook page and Twitter account.  For all intents and purposes, George P. Burdell is a living, real human being.

Apparently he also went to school in Arizona. But I will get to that in a minute.

Since the beginning of time, the first words out of any public educator’s mouth is, “more funding.”  I don’t care what the question is, the answer is more funding. I remember growing up and hearing the argument that teachers are not paid enough. That local school systems need more money to attract good teachers. To which my young mind would question, “If we need money to attract good teachers, then the teachers we have must be bad.” Following a chain of logic only understood by a unioned government worker, the answer was always, “No, being paid more will make our teachers better.”

I still don’t understand that.  You are either a good teacher or not.  The amount of money you earn should not dictate the quality of job you perform.  But anyway…

So schools are always complaining about needing more money. In 1980, the Department of Education spent $14 billion.  Our president has requested $69 billion to spend in 2013. That is a 490% increase in spending over the last 32 years. If the price of milk followed the same curve, a gallon would cost $7.88.

*actual milk (not to scale)

We have thrown money at education.  Copious amounts.  Teacher student ratios have dropped.  Technology in the classroom has increased.  Teacher salaries have all gone up. Teacher’s Union benefits have skyrocketed. Every single category of education has gotten better, save one….  Student scores.  We have spared no expense when it comes to education spending and still our students are stupid.  Really, really, really stupid.

At best, American students are average. Globally, the US of A ranks 17th on the OECD PISA rankings. Behind Poland.

In Other News of the Ironic, jokes in Warsaw begin, “An American locked her keys in the car…”

*hair color changed to protect her identity

Let me get this straight…  We increase spending 490% and still can only muster average. Of course if you are a government employee, then average is better than you can hope.

At this point, you are ready for the big reveal on government waste.  This is where we go back to Arizona and tie together George P. Burdell and education spending.  You see, George P. Burdell was nothing more than a ghost that frequents the GA Tech campus. And apparently the state of Arizona has their own George P. Burdell.  Except they have 13,500.

Those ghosts cost Arizona taxpayers $125 million in 2009-2010.

Yep.  Due to the record keeping rules in Arizona, $125 million was spent on students that don’t exist.  It’s like this….  When a new student shows up at school, the district is able to request funds in near real time. Yet when a student leaves a school, they have a year to report the departure.

So here’s what happens. George P. Burdell is enrolled at Wile E. Coyote Primary School in Acme County School District.  Wile E. Coyote Primary School receives money from the state to pay for George’s education.  Makes sense.  During the year, a string of incidents involving rockets, roller skates, and dynamite forces George P. Burdell to transfer to The Roadrunner Academy, also of Acme County.  The Roadrunner Academy informs the state immediately of George’s attendance and receives funds.  Meanwhile, Wile E. Coyote Primary School does not inform the state and continues to receive funds.  Therefore Acme County School District is being paid twice for the same student.

This happened 13,500 for a grand total of $125 million in over payments. Theoretically, every student in a school can transfer out the first day of school, and the school would continue to receive full funding for an empty school.

So next time you hear about how we have to increase sales tax for the children, remember the 13,500 that Arizona paid for that don’t exist…  Besides, we’ve thrown enough money, when will we see results? How about giving families school choice? How about more charter schools?  How about banning teachers unions. How about focusing on the quality of education and not worrying about hurting feelings and celebrating each student and their own skills and talents.

*An “A” gets you ice cream.

I like at the bottom of the page, the author declares the program a success.  Not because of what it does for the students, but the fact that the administration worked together with the staff.

Life has winners and losers.  In the immortal words of the great philosopher Dr. Denis Leary, “Life sucks.  Get a *#$%ing helmet.”

*not a real doctor

So next time you hear about some teacher’s union crying about more money, just ask them what they did with the $125 million they were paid for students that don’t exist.

Besides, what would you do with $125 million?

-author’s notes: Police references intentionally omitted

The War on Intelligence

stu·pid

adj \ˈstü-pəd, ˈstyü-\

Definition of STUPID

1
a : slow of mind : obtuseb : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless mannerc : lacking intelligence or reason : brutish
2
: dulled in feeling or sensation : torpid <still stupid from the sedative>
3
: marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting :senseless <a stupid decision>
4
a : lacking interest or point <a stupid event>b : vexatiousexasperating <the stupid car won’t start>
— stu·pid·ly adverb
— stu·pid·ness noun
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

 

Blogging is easy when you copy/paste. No pictures today. Heavy stuff.

I get flack from some of you when I write about what is considered to be a drop in the federal cesspool of spending. A million here, a few hundred thousand there, doesn’t make a big difference in the overall spending. So today I am going after a big one. Maybe you will stop complaining.

How about $15,200,000,000,000.00. That’s $15 trillion for those of you that got lost counting zeros. A lot of money. It works out to spending $9,902.53 every second for 48 years.

Every second.

Or $594,151.62 every minute….

For 48 years.

In 1959, 22.1% of Americans lived in poverty. Enter in LBJ’s famous “War on Poverty” in 1964. An admirable idea as no one wants to see anyone live in poverty. The Imperial Government felt that it was their responsibility to confiscate money from the remaining 77.9% and redistribute that wealth to the 22.1%.

By 1969, the poverty rate had dropped to 13.7%. So it must be working. The population in 1969 was 198,059,959 according the Census.gov. So 27,134,215 Americans were still living in poverty. But that is less than the 38,682,626 that were living in poverty in 1959.

Now, we could argue the definition of poverty and what other influences were involved in the decrease, but for the sake of brevity let’s give the IG the entire credit for the 8.4% decrease in percentage of population or the 11,548,412 fewer people living in poverty.

But that would be a stretch.

Since 1964, $15 trillion has been spent on anti-poverty means-based welfare. Means-based welfare is defined as meeting a certain criteria to qualify. That’s a lot of money.

In 2010, 15.1% of the population was considered living below the poverty line. So $15 trillion later we have increased the percentage of population by 1.4%. Now, that number is deceptive. Because the population has grown as well. In 1969, 13.7% of the population meant 27,134,215 people. In 2010, 15.1% of the population means 46,621,936 people are considered to be in poverty. So not only did we spend $15 trillion, but added 19,487,701 people to those already living in poverty.

I’d say we lost the war. It’s almost as if the United Nations Peacekeeping Force was responsible for planning and fighting this war. At least France surrenders. The UN simply loses.

Now is when we talk about the idea of “good money after bad.” We spent $15 trillion with no change. More people living in poverty then when we started regardless of how you look at the data. Simply throwing a lot of money at the problem is not doing anything positive. So what will?

Easy answer. Freedom. Remove the oppressive yoke of an over dominant and omnipowerful Imperial Government and teach the poor that their own success is in their hands; that they can be successful. Remove the glass ceiling of taxation from the poor and tax consumption, not productivity. See, here’s a nasty secret the IG doesn’t want you to know. At a certain income threshold, the disposable income goes down considerably. The poor are given thousands of dollars annually for being poor. Not only do they pay nothing in taxes, they actually get a check for being poor. Factor in all the free health care and you have a pretty substantial compensation package for doing nothing.

But……. Once they cross the poverty line, those welfare checks stop. The tax checks stop. AND they have to start PAYING taxes… Not to mention the fact that they have to start paying for their health care along with the health care of the people still poor.

Someone making $24,000 a year has more disposable income than someone making $60,000 a year after you factor in all the welfare. So where is the incentive? Let me get this straight, I do nothing all day. Live in free (or heavily subsidized) government housing, I get money automatically added to my WIC and foot stamp debit card, I get checks at tax time, and all I have to do is nothing? Why would I get a job? Why would I care….

Poverty will never be cured until the poor have incentive to be successful. And this country has spent $15 trillion in federal, state, and local taxes fighting a battle that it won’t win nor will ever win because the system encourages poverty.

Then again, promising poor people more free stuff or claiming “the other candidate” will take free stuff away is an easy way to keep in office. But that would be cynical of me.

What would you do with $15 trillion?

Links:

Poverty 2008-2010

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/people.html

Poverty 1959/1969

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/census/1960/index.html

20008 population

http://www.census.gov/popest/data/historical/2000s/vintage_2008/index.html

20008 population

http://www.census.gov/popest/data/historical/2000s/vintage_2009/index.html

2010 population

http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb10-cn93.html

The Parable of Fred’s Bank

I recently refinanced my mortgage.  Not because I was upside down or in trouble, but to pay it off sooner. By taking advantage of really low rates and mortgage companies looking for qualified buyers with high credit scores and 46% loan to value ratios, I was able to reduce the time left to pay off my mortgage by 30%.  That makes me happy.

This is good news all the way around as I will soon own my home outright and I’m saving a ton of money on interest.  That means more money back in my pocket, sooner. From a philosophical standpoint, I will no longer be a slave to debt. And uncontrolled borrowing is the #1 reason this country is in this ginormous pile of doo-doo. Technically speaking.

Freedom…  Free at last..  Talking about freedom..  Freeeeeeee….

*not on boat

 And no, this is not a column about swimming in debt.  That’s for a different time and place.  And a much longer read.

So my mortgage broker sold my loan to a real lender.  We’ll call them Fred’s Bank, where their slogan is, “Hi,I’m Fred,I have a bank. You got $1500? … ahhh, I’ll put it here …” Either that or Security First Trust and Federal Reserve. Thank you Steve Martin.

I’ll go with Fred’s Bank.  Less to type out each time I make a reference.

Now let me tell you a little about Fred’s Bank.  They are ruthless to their employees.  The management enjoys a lavish lifestyle while their employees live in abject poverty.  And I don’t mean the USA version of poverty where you only have last year’s iPhone, a 5 year-old car, and only basic cable.  I mean grass hut poverty. I’m talking work 80 hours a week for food and a roach infested room.  Once you are born into Fred’s Bank there’s no leaving.  You are there for life.  Trying to leave is punishable by death.

And it’s been like this for a while; over 60 years. Yet to the consumer, they are the best.,  Always gracious, always providing the lowest possible cost, and mass quantities…  Sometimes the quality suffers, but the costs are so cheap Fred’s Bank customers are willing to put up with a little lower quality occasionally….

Fred’s Bank has so much money as a result, they they lend lots of money out.  To other banks, to people like me with my home mortgage, auto financing, etc…  Yet their employees still live a substandard lifestyle and are constantly malnourished, disease ridden, and without any rights as human beings. Despite all the profits of the bank.

So what do I do…  I’m already paying a ton of money on the interest to borrow the money, but as a concerned citizen of the world I can’t take a blind eye to the blight of Fred’s Bank employees. Just not right….

I will tell you what I did…  I took out a bigger mortgage loan than I needed and used the extra money to send to agencies that were helping provide the basic necessities of the poverty stricken Fred’s Bank employees. So now I am mortgaged for more than the value of my home and I’ve done the right thing and sent that money to Fred’s Bank employees.

Except it’s not enough.  They need more.  It’s not like they can eat once. They eat every day.  It’s not like they only need medicine once, they need it a lot since they are in such poor health.

Besides, now that I am sending a lot of money to Fred’s Bank employees, I don’t have enough to meet my own bills, so I call my handy dandy Fred’s Bank customer service representative and listen carefully because the menu choices have been recently changed:

press “6″ for English

“3″ for borrow money

“1″ for time share

crap, wrong selection

“9″ for previous menu

“2″ for add to existing loan

“#” to repeat menu, none of those sounded like what I want

“#” repeat again

“0″ for the operator

punch in my loan number

punch in my maternal great-grandfather’s high school mascot, The Fighting Wheels

Thank you.  Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received, your current wait time is approximately October. Thank you for holding

Yea… I’m here.  My account number?  I just punched it in. Oh, to verify that I’m still the same person.  I was on hold quite a while and I have grown emotionally, so I guess I’m not the same…  Huh? Ignore that, here’s my account number.  993948374757829959482671685902-009389487583B. Huh? What was after 9? 93948374757829959482671685902-009389487583B. no..  B.  Not C.  As in Bravo. No, that’s a D.  Where did you get M?  No..  It’s B, as in Bieber.  Got it?  OK..  I want to add more to my mortgage.  How much?  Just make it a bunch.  I’m sure I’ll need it. Am I good for it?  Of course I am.  When will the funds be available?  Great.  I can go ahead and start writing checks.  No, thank you very much.

So now I am flush with new cash and what do I do?  Pay my bills? Certainly not.  I send more money to the Fred’s Bank employees.  Because they really need it.

Rinse and repeat until your debt equals $15,700,000,000,000.00 and counting.

So how does this parable tie into the CentsToChange mission of exposing Imperial Government waste?  Simple…

Let’s replace Fred’s Bank with, um, how about China.  Yea, that will work. And we replace the horrible working conditions with a Communist state. For instance, The People’s Republic of China.

Not to be confused with THE Ohio State University.  I can’t imagine why that is a big deal.  I was born in Ohio, but couldn’t wait to leave. It doesn’t make sense why more than one university would care about that title.  It’s like watching a mule and a donkey fight over an apple.  No one cares.

End digression.

Currently, the IG owes Communist China $1,200,000,000,000.00, yet since 2008, the kind and generous US of A has given China $114.6 million in aid money.  Given.  And guess where we got that money?  CHINA

Really.

So..  We can’t afford to pay our own bills. On September 30, 2000, our debt was $5,674,178,209,886.86.  Right now? $15.7 trillion and counting….  It took us 224 years to amass $5 trillion in debt, and 12 years to add $10 trillion.

Spending is out of control.

Yet we still find the money to give $114.6 million to our biggest debtor…  How often do you include a crisp $100 bill with your mortgage payment to be given to the employees of your mortgage lender?

And that is exactly what we, the taxpayers, are doing with China.

What would you do with $114.6 million?

 

The answer my friend, is not blowing in the wind….

Here at CentsToChange we believe that the Global Warming Super Cooling Climate Catastrophe is a bunch of garbage.  The “scientists” who have been pushing this sociopolitical agenda for the last 40 years have proven to be frauds.  That’s why Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace with a PhD in Ecology, resigned from said environmental organization saying this:

“around the mid-80s, after 15 years in the leadership of Greenpeace, [he] found [himself, being] one of five international directors, the only one with any formal science education. Basically, Greenpeace was hijacked by political and social activists… who began adopting extremist positions on a number of issues. I saw the writing on the wall.”

Time after time, reports of falsifying data, peer reviewing their own work, and the same group of researchers referencing each others work in an endless circle has become the norm for the Global Warming Super Cooling Climate Catastrophe crowd.  I finished reading The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for he World’s Top Climate Expert, by Donna Laframboise not too long ago and it frightened me to see the innerworking of how the IPCC generates their climate reports and how quickly the reports are considered the gold standard for environmental studies.  When you realize that grad students with no experience outside of academia are writing major sections of the report, you have to wonder why some kid is writing about weather patterns 200 years from now when they haven’t even experienced 30 years of weather themselves…

*buy this book

But…………

To say that we at CentsToChange don’t believe in the environmental left using baby seals and stranded polar bears as a way to guilt society into a Utopian civilization by their design does not mean we are against alternatives to fossil burning power generation.  On the contrary…. As stated before on this blog, power coupled with clean water is the fuel to modernize any society.  The biggest problem with fossil burning fuel is infrastructure.  So the goal is to find a way to generate power (because with power you can have water well pumps) locally with minimal or zero infrastructure needs.

I personally believe the answer is hydrogen.  It’s the most plentiful element in the universe and what fuels the sun.  Yea.  The sun. Interestingly enough, the byproduct of hydrogen fuel cells is pure water.  Power and water.  So we develop hydrogen fuel cells in a box that uses solar power as the catalyst, drop them into a village in Africa and you have instant sustainable, clean power and clean water. Honda is really close to solving this problem…

*I want one, although my aircraft carrier will still be nuclear powered

So I’m thinking..  Hmmm…  The US military have bases in remote regions of the world.  Like Alaska. And maybe they would be better off by providing locally generated power through renewable resources that don’t require any infrastructure.  What a brilliant idea…

Apparently I’m not alone.  In 2008, the Air Force erected a wind turbine in Tin City, AK.

*not as remote as Gilligan, but pretty close. I wonder if the Harlem Globetrotters accidentally stumbled on Tin City…

Anyway…

The wind turbine was constructed without the benefit of a prolonged wind study.  Not even a single 4th grader and a kite.  Zip. A study of wind patterns would have found that the area is extremely turbulent when it comes to wind conditions. As a result, an Inspector General report of the facility found that it produced “sporadic, unusable power.”

More from the Inspector General about Tin City:

“As of July 29, 2011, the wind turbine was still not operational and continued to incur costs. DoD cannot quantify actual cost savings generated from the wind turbine until the contractor completes all modifications to power production and 611th CES personnel measure overall operational performance.”

Over $3 million was spent on this turbine. But this isn’t the Imperial Government waste I’m talking about today.  Just the back story….

Enter 2009.  The year the IG spending floodgates opened wide and every politician stood at the door competing to see who could get the most.  Not surprisingly, California won by a wide margin.  Wyoming got the least.  Check it out at Recovery.gov.

*California is the big line on the left

So we have a wind turbine in Tin City, AK that provides sporadic and unusable power at best, continues to cost unreasonable amounts of money to maintain, constructed on a site without a single feasibility study, built on a premise that “it gets windy sometimes, maybe we should have a wind turbine.”  Awesome.

Those are perfect reasons to build three more.  Yep…. Stimulus award number FA3002-08-D-0005 commissioned the construction of three more wind turbines using Tin City as the case study in other remote locations in Alaska.

Side note…  If you look at the Recovery.gov listing for this project you’ll see that under “Funding Agency” it says: “Department of Defense (except military departments)” Huh?  I though the DoD was one big military department…  Anyway..

So $14,087,078.00 was confiscated from the hard working taxpayers of this great country to build wind turbines in a regions when they don’t work or generate consistent, usable electricity. Awesome.

In Other News of the Ironic, Alaska is one of the few remote locations where fossil fuel is readily available, nearby, and not that expensive.  You could buy 3.4 million gallons of gas in Alaska for the same $14 million.  And that’s at gas station prices, not direct from a refinery.  Of which three are located in Alaska.

*proof that we care about baby seals

As expected, construction costs quickly exceeded those budgeted on two of the proposed sites by $1 million.  On the third site, the project was cancelled altogether. Each facility is currently estimated to coast $5.7 million.  So if they canceled one of the three and two cost $5.7 million each, then there should be $2,687,078.00 of the Stimulus money not being used and therefore returned.  One would think…. Yet the Pentagon has said that the unused money won’t go back to the Treasury but, “spent on additional, appropriate project(s) yet to be identified.” Sure…  I believe you….. Just like the GSA spent money on appropriate projects…

Doesn’t this just make you sick?  We spend over $14 million on a project destined to fail because it was based on a pilot project that failed only to have unused funds absorbed into a project to be named later….

Adding insult to injury, Recovery.gov reported that this Stimulus money generated 1.3 jobs.  Wow…

What would you do with $14,087,078.00?