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.

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