Dead and loving it

This is going to be short.  I have to be somewhere early this morning.


Yesterday was about dead people receiving benefits. So you could say that in death, they were grateful.  Today, it’s all about the Grateful Dead.


Now, I love a lot of music.  If I hit random on my music library, it could be anyone from Rush to Van Halen to Dire Straits to Johnny Cash to Depeche Mode to Abba to Johnny Lee Hooker to Cake to John Williams to John Denver to Run DMC to…  Well you get the picture.  So you could say that I really appreciate music; good, bad, or indifferent.  With the exception of the Rolling Stones.  I hate the *$&#@! Stones.  But that’s a different story.


Why do I suddenly have the need to hear some Devo.


Anyway.


Music is an important part of everybody’s life.  Since the dawn of man when we were banging rocks together, music has been everywhere.  So much so that we don’t even notice it.


Time for King’s X.


Apparently the IG (Imperial Government) is a big music lover as well…  Especially the Grateful Dead.  TO the tune of $615,000.  Tune…  Get it?


Next up, the London Symphony playing “Whole Lotta Love.”  Zepplin in symphony.  Priceless.


Where was I?  Oh yea…..  So the IG give the University of California at Santa Cruz $615,000 to digitize the Dead’s music, tee-shirts, concert posters, and other various Dead paraphernalia. So $615,000 was extorted by the point of a gun from American taxpayers to pay for a bunch of stoner college students in California to Google Grateful Dead stuff.


Nine Inch Nails is always good for early Saturday morning.


At a healthy $15/hour, that’s 41,000 hours.  And having known stoned college students, that’s probably three albums and a tee-shirt.


JOURNEY!


No mention of a Twinkie subsidy was in the report.




What would you do with $615,000?

The gift that keeps on giving…..

In the world of supply and demand, as the supply of a product increases, the cost decreases.  Pretty simple.  As the supply decreases and demand increase, the cost goes up.


So.  When unemployment is low, it takes more money and benefits to attract employees and thus the cost goes up.  When unemployment is high, the supply of workers is high and therefore the cost goes down.


Unless you are the government.


Since the beginning of the recession, government employment has skyrocketed.  As the size of the government has increase due to redundant, overlapping, and flat out unnecessary departments, more and more people have been hired.  One would think that with the huge number of people looking for work, the government would at least get a lower cost per worker.


Not the case.  When you add in benefits, government employees regularly make 50% more than their private counterparts. From December 2007 – June 2009 the number of government workers making north of $100,000 grew by 46%.  And that’s before overtime and bonuses.


But that’s not what I came here to talk about.  I came to talk about the draft.  Well, actually no.  It’s not Thanksgiving.


What I do want to talk about is improper benefits paid to former government employees.


According to the Office of the Inspector General, the government paid out an estimated $100-$150 million in improper benefits.  Of course that’s a pretty big range.  I could go on about how they can only estimate within $50 million, but I won’t.


In one case alone, improper benefits were paid to a former government employee from 1971 to 2011 to the tune of $515,000.  But that’s only $12,875 per year.  Why is that a big deal?  How can anyone live on that paltry sum?


The answer is very clear, they didn’t.  You see, the receiver of said benefits was actually dead.  Truly dead.  And not even grateful.


From 2006 to 2011, over $601 billion (with a B) was paid in benefits to deceased government employees.  As in dead.  Pushing up daises.  Not pining of the fjords.  


Now this link here fully describes the situation.


I love page 2, “THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.”  I’m just curious how much we spend in printing pages intentionally left blank.  But I digress.

Now the funny thing with the 40 years of payout to a dead guy was how the IG found out.  His son, who was happily taking the $1,072.92 a month and quietly depositing it, died.  I’m just glad we didn’t start double paying.

Now the money went somewhere.  And not back to the government.  Here’s a quote from the report:

“The improper payment was not recovered.”

Here’s my favorite line:

“When compared to other Federal benefits programs, the improper payment rate is arguably low.”

Huh?  $601 million paid out in improper benefits to dead people is low?  What in the bloody world is high?

And yet, this is ok with the IG.  No big deal.  A rounding error.  In Other News of the Ironic, proudly and boldly displayed on the home page of the Office of the Inspector General’s website (http://oig.hhs.gov/) are giant links for reporting fraud.

Me: “Well, I’d like to report $515,000 in improper payments made to a dead guy.”

Them: “Thanks for reporting the fraud.”

Me: “Well.  What are you going to do?  How about getting it back.”

Them: “Naw.”

Me: “Why not?  I thought I was supposed to report fraud here.”

Them: “You are. And we thank you.”

Me: “Why aren’t you going to do something about it?”

Them: “This service is just for reporting the fraud.  Another department actually takes action.”

Me: “Ok, then who will you share this information with so we can get our tax payers money back that was stolen.”

Then: “I don’t know. We just collect the reports of fraud.  Thank you for reporting the fraud.”

Me: “Really?”

Them: “I’m sorry, do you have another fraud to report?”

Me: “If I reported you as a fraud would it turn you into a programmatic loop that would cause instantaneous implosion?”

Them: “I’m sorry, would you please clarify your question?”

Me: “Don’t bother.”

Them: “Thank you for reporting the fraud.  Please call back anytime you see fraud.”

All right, so I got a little carried away.  But it was fun. So now time for the big question…..

What would you do with $1,072.92 a month for 40 years?

Rock solid spending

On this blog no one is exempt.  I mean no one.


Today I want to take a look at what I would consider to be wasteful spending by the Air Force.  Now let me be clear that I have an extremely high regard for our armed forces.  I believe that America is the greatest country to have every existed and that is due to the bravery and sacrifice by our military personnel. Starting with the volunteers who fought freezing temperatures at Valley Forge to our men and women fighting Islamic Radicalism around the world.


Then I read about this….


The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, is one of the finest universities in the country.  Although Annapolis and West Point might argue, but nonetheless the Air Force Academy is a fine institution.  (Of course the greatest Institute is on North Avenue, but I digress) 


In an effort to appeal to a certain sect of the student body ( and I mean a group of people, not an elbow) the Air Force Academy took $51,474 of your hard earned money and spent it on this….



Well, not exactly.  But kind of.  It looks smaller than I expected.


Anyway.


The Air Force Academy built a small version of Stonehenge complete with a fire pit in the center as a chapel for more Earth-Based religions.  Like Wiccans, Druids, and Pagans.


Really.


Now, for this to have happened, there must have been a huge outcry from said student body (most likely the armpit) for the IG (that’s Imperial Government) to have spent $51,474 on a pagan chapel.


In Other News of the Ironic, wouldn’t an Earth-based religion be satisfied with Earth as a chapel?  Wouldn’t a tree work as a chapel? Or a big rock?  I know that would be really hard to find out there in the Rocky Mountains, but I digress again.  (I tend to do that quite a bit.)


Well, out of the 4,300 students int he student body, a grand total of * drum roll please * three identified themselves as pagan.  I would wager good hard earned money that greater than three students listed Vulcan as their religion. Or Jedi. (This way I don’t alien-ate one party or the other) That is less than one student per class.  If I walked into the DMV and every Air Force Academy Pagan was in line in front of me, I would think it was my lucky day.  


So the IG spent $20,491.33 PER STUDENT to construct a chapel for paganism.  I guess the so-called “separation of church and state” is only enforced if it’s a Christian trying to freely express their religion.


Aside from the religious insanity that is this mini-Stonehenge,  really?  $51,474 on this?  You’ve got to be joking.


What would you do with an extra $51,474? 

In 2012, the Federal Government is expecting to spend $3.819 trillion, trillion with a “T,”.  That’s a lot of money. Written out long wise, that is $3,819,000,000,000.00.  That equates to $121,099.70 every second for the entire year.  Every second.


The numbers are staggering.  Too big to even comprehend.


In a very simplistic view, the money can be broken down into three categories: well spent, well intended, and wasted.  Now we can argue about the first two categories all day long.  So let’s ignore those and focus on wasted.


To qualify for this classification of Federal spending, it has to pass the “eyebrow test.”  That’s where your face shrinks up and your eyebrows point down while you mutter something obscene or something questioning the existence of any intelligence in the person(s) who made the decision that spending money on this was a good idea.  Common symptoms of a failed eyebrow test include statements starting with “What the…” and often end with “…you’ve got to be joking.”


Let me be very clear about one important concept, waste knows no color.  Waste is not specific to a single color of politician.  Red or blue, waste doesn’t care.  The only color I care about is green.  The green of the hard earned money of the American public.  I’m talking about the $1,800,000.00 confiscated from your paycheck to fund a neon museum in Las Vegas.  Walk down the sidewalk in Vegas, that’s more than enough of a neon museum.  So I really don’t care what party affiliation spent the money, just that it was thrown down a hole and never recovered. 


As a rational human being (at least most of the time), when the recession hit me personally and affected my family finances my wife and I took a hard look at our outgoing and modified it to our income.  It was pretty simple to see that if we increased our spending, we would increase our debt.  And do so without a clue how to pay the debt, ever.  We made tough choices that weren’t always fun or popular, but the right thing to do.


But first and foremost, we cut waste.  We looked at where the money was going and eliminated the low hanging fruit.  We hadn’t received a phone call on our house line in as long as we could remember.  So we asked, “why do we even have a landline?”  The answers was because I had a second number to receive faxes. So I asked, “When was the last time I received a fax?”  I couldn’t remember, so we canceled the fax line, canceled the landline and eliminated waste from our budget.


The easiest way to give yourself a raise is to spend less.  


Now project this to the Federal Government.  Their answer to eliminate debt is to spend more.  Hmmm.  Doesn’t make cents.  So how about the Imperial Government take a hard look at spending and cut waste just like I did as a responsible person.


The reason the IG (Imperial Government) continues to support insane spending is because they can.  No one knows how the money is spent so they spend more.  The only solution is an educated populous to get fed up and complain.  So I am embarking on an education of anyone who cares.  This blog is about shining light on how our elected officials are wasting our hard earned money.  Hopefully you will then make your elected official accountable as to why they spent $442,340 to study male prostitution in Vietnam.  Really….


What would you do with $442,340?