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?

 

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 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?

I hope Santa can swim

This is a long one. CentsToChange is easy to read on a tablet or e-reader (The Kindle Fire is the single greatest piece of technology, ever) so cozy up on the couch, get a cup of coffee, and enjoy.

Dire warnings from the Great White North.  To quote a NOAA Monthly Weather Review:

The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen [an island 12 degrees south of the North Pole – ed.] and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The warmth of the waters makes it probable that the favorable ice conditions will continue for some time.

Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognizable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared. The change in temperature has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. There were few [white fish and] seal in Spitzbergen waters this year, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast. With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast. Shoals of smelt were also met with.

*I practice catch-and-release when smelt fishing

This is bad news.  Maybe Al Gore was right.  Maybe by powering a 14,000 sf home where he rarely stays while flying private jets around the world and driving big SUV’s followed by flocks of Secret Service, he is saving us from the impending collapse of a climate catastrophe due to carbon pollution. Yes, Al Gore has the carbon footprint of Mt. Pinatubo.

*not Al Gore

Vocabulary lesson:

Open Minded: Having strong convictions or beliefs yet willing to seek out opposing viewpoints with the intellectual honesty to change your view should you encounter evidence to counter your conviction.

I consider myself a very open minded person.  I have changed my views, opinions, beliefs, or convictions without remorse when confronted with new and enlightening information.  Ask Mark about the whole red light camera thing.

For years I have studied, read, discussed, sought, explained, and meditated on the whole climate thing. In 2001, I actually read the entire Kyoto Treaty, you know the global climate tax that was defeated unanimously during the Bill Clinton and Al Gore administration? Regardless of what I find,  I keep arriving back at my original hypothesis:

The Earth exists to serve human beings.  It is our responsibility to be good stewards of our home. The Earth is much bigger and more resilient that we can ever imagine. Soccer mom’s driving SUV’s will not change our global climate.  Coal fired power plants will not destroy the environment.  I would like to see cleaner and cheaper ways of generating electricity as power (combined with clean water) is the fuel to bring any society out of huts and into prosperity. Finally, history shows that climate alarmists are social engineers that use dire and impossible to prove predictions to manipulate society into their form of utopia.

There is more science in Scientology than in climate science.

*an actual Scientologist

But maybe I am wrong.  The quote above is pretty damaging evidence to the shrinking polar cap and the onset of global heating that may be irreversible. We may have found the silver bullet to the climate debate.  Looks like the skeptics were wrong and all the people at the IPCC, East Anglia University, Michael Mann and his Hockey Stick Chart, were right….

*neither Al Gore nor a Scientologist.  I believe his name is Phil

Whoops. My bad…..  I just looked at the date of the NOAA report and it was November, 1922. A full 90 years ago this Fall. You can read the original report here on the NOAA site. So maybe I am still correct in my assessment of the climate movement.

The climate movement is so convinced of mankind’s effect on our atmosphere that they look for any and every possible way to connect the two.  Even when it doesn’t make any sense.  Like this story about tracking the carbon footprint of wasted milk.  Really.  Wasted milk.

In Other News of the Ironic, our crack reporters did exhaustive investigative research and discovered that  the same people worrying about the carbon footprint of wasted milk were, in fact, crying.

*not the actual spilled milk, this image is from a reenactment of the event for the purposes of this blog.

So there you have it.  1922 predicted the end of the polar ice caps and a global warming that would cripple civilization.  All before the onslaught of SUV’s and the evil soccer mom’s who drive them.  (For the record, well intended environmental supporters drive SUV’s because they have too and therefore don’t make as big of an impact as the people who chose to drive those evil monstrosities).

I think it’s time for all the world’s climate scientist to gather in Bali for another meeting about reducing everybody else’s carbon footprint.  Or Bangkok. Or Bonn. Or Accra.  I guess climate scientist have never heard of GoTo Meeting.  I wonder if there needs to be a panel to put together a report of the carbon footprint of the people traveling to talk about carbon footprints..  Much like the study study study study from earlier..  Hmmm….

It works like this.  The Earth is a lot older than us.  We can debate exactly how much older, but regardless it is older.  Does it have naturally occurring weather and climate patterns that shift over time?  Yes. Can we really stop the Earth from changing over time?  Not a chance.

In Other New of the Ironic Part Deux, the very same scientists who say that The Theory of Evolution is the only way the Earth, all life, and the entire universe was created argue against the Earth naturally changing over time.  And that any changes to the Earth are man made… So on one hand, everything ever created was the result of random chance and natural evolution (changing over time), but any changes here on Earth are the result of a greater being forcing the environment to be altered.  Makes perfect sense.

Back to my thought.

Does mankind have an effect on the environment.  Yes.  The very first caveman fart did that. *side note* Those in the Cents To Change newsroom deep in the bowels of the International Worldwide Headquarters (IWH) often accuse this author of having the single largest carbon footprint, due to flatulence.  This author opines that (a) he who smelt it, dealt it, and (b) everybody likes their own brand.

*still not as bad as pink nightmare from earlier in the week

All of this climate studying is extremely expensive.  And never ending.  Let’s look at Michael Mann, the chief propagandist.  For years he has toured the globe drumming up support for the global warming cooling climate catastrophe. He was the author of the 1999 report that debuted the famous Hockey Stick Chart showing global temperatures sharply rising in the 20th century.  Of course he has yet to release his source data or the computer code for the models he ran. He later became a pivotal figure with the IPCC and was responsible for reviewing the data included into the IPCC Climate Reports, including his own research.  No bias there.

So the big question is simple…  What would he (much less all the self appointed climate experts and Al Gore) do for a living without a catastrophic  global climate prediction? I took a recent poll and here are my findings:

1. Fry cook

2. Barista regaling customers with tales of the good ole’ days when he was king of the climate world

3. Set designer for the smash Broadway hit “River Dance on Ice”

4. Chuck E Cheese impersonator in an off-strip Vegas casino

5. Unemployable

Please remember, that Mann is considered the world’s foremost expert on climate.  Let’s look at his bio:

“Dr. Michael E. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University.”

<sarcasm> Lot’s of degrees dealing with the weather and atmospheric sciences. </sarcasm>   I’m sure his qualifications as a climate scientist stem from watching the news at 6 and 11.  They talk about weather.

So, in the often heard screams of the liberal environmental left, follow the money.  And it all leads back to the people who are claiming that something has to be done.  And by “something” they mean keep writing big checks to their research departments…

Really quick, back to the topic of volcanoes…  Read this, then come back.

NASA Volcano Report

*still not Al Gore

Two very interesting things jumped out.

1. According to Al Gore, the debate on man-caused climate change is over and done.  Without questions. Like here. Yet NASA reports that the effect of VOLCANOES on the climate:

“Volcanic eruptions [1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption] of this magnitude can impact global climate, reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, lowering temperatures in the troposphere, and changing atmospheric circulation patterns. The extent to which this occurs is an ongoing debate.”

So, it is 100% science that soccer mom’s are destroying the atmosphere, but we’re not sure if volcanoes have any affect.

2. Later in the article we accidentally see the truth in the climate left research. Read this:

“Man-made, or “anthropogenic” emissions can make the consequences of volcanic eruptions on the global climate system more severe, Stenchikov says…

“While we have no observations, the 1963 Agung eruption on the island of Bali probably did not deplete ozone as there was little atmospheric chlorine in the stratosphere. In 1991 after the Pinatubo eruption, when the amount of CFCs in the stratosphere increased, the ozone content in the mid-latitudes decreased by 5 percent to 8 percent, affecting highly populated regions,” says Stenchikov.”

So they are claiming fact, man-made emissions make volcanic eruptions worse, and then use a 1963 eruption as the control in their testing.  Yet they admit that have no observations, records, calculations, data, or accounts of any kind, but assume that the eruption probably didn’t have an effect.

 

In 2011, the Imperial Government spent at least $2,481,000,000.00 on climate research in no less than seven different departments.  With no results.  Nothing to show for the effort.  Nada.  And there never will.  Think about this… IF there is an actual problem then a solution will need to be found.  Once that solution is enacted the problem will be solved.  As long as the problem continually changes, there can’t ever be a real solution.  Thus never ending research that nets the tax payers nothing at all.  At least the space race gave us velcro and Tang.

And by nothing, I mean Solyndra.  But you can read all about that in a soon to be published post.

What would you do with $2,,481,000,000.00?

Redaction.

I made an error with a quote and I am intellectually honest enough to publicly apologize and print a correction.

In a post a few days ago, I quoted Virgil as saying, “Nice plan.”  In reality Virgil says, “Good plan.”  While the correction does not change the context or meaning, I sincerely apologize to Virgil and the other person who complained about the misquote.

Someone please wake Virgil and let him know a Matlock marathon is on and that the Golden Corral will hold his usual “Estelle Getty Memorial Table” for him and still let him have the Early Bird Special even though he won’t be there until 4:15.

That is all.

A dog and his tail, NASCAR, and GAO-12-480R…

Question…  Name three things that will circle pointlessly unless stopped by an outside force.  For dogs, that outside source is either boredom of they forget what they are doing and do something else. For NASCAR, I don’t know.  Never watched a race all the way through. And for GAO-12-480R, it’s voters standing up and complaining about our elected officials wasting too much money and voting them out of office.

Quickly…

The GAO is the Government Accountability Office. By the name alone one has to chuckle.  ”Government” and “accountability” is oxymoronic and I don’t mean just the idiots in office now, I mean throughout time….  Interestingly enough, every single form of government or social grouping ever created since the dawn of time has failed.  Without exception. Furthermore, with the amount of “accountability” in our current elected officials and government departments, you would think that the GAO is staffed by two well meaning accounts constantly pointing out the stupid obvious only to be laughed at and sent back to their cubicle.

*example of an oxymoron, not to scale

This article is not about spending money on the GAO.  I actually think the GAO is good to have within the Imperial Government.  Unecessary if the government runs as it should, but “people” are involved so you can guarantee that the IG won’t run efficiently.  As a result, we do need the GAO.

This from the GAO “About” page:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. *AUTHOR NOTE* I would rather they work for American citizens and not Congress *END NOTE* Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

And for the most part, they do a yeoman’s job of pointing out waste, fraud, and opportunities.  I especially like report GAO-12-740T, “Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale Development.”  In this report, the GAO testifies that:

Tapping the vast amounts of oil locked within U.S. oil shale formations could go a long way toward satisfying the nation’s future oil demands. Oil shale deposits in the Green River Formation are estimated to contain up to 3 trillion barrels of oil, half of which may be recoverable, which is about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.

Wow. Enough in one deposit to equal proven global reserves?  Makes sense why we are doing everything we can to prevent this field from being developed. Makes even more sense why the administration has stonewalled attempts at a pipeline to bring any of this oil to market.  Perfect sense.

But I digress….

The GAO report GAO-12-480R was requested by brass at the Pentagon in May of  2010. Apparently the Secretary of Defense noticed that a large amount of money was spent, are you ready, writing reports. So they commissioned, are your ready again, a report on the amount of cost writing reports. For real.  You can read the findings here: GAO Study of Studies

So what does the DOD do about this problem?  They require people to generate a report of the estimated costs of performing a study.  So the study found that completing a cost study of a proposed study was necessary to save money.  I am not making this up.  In addition, read this quote from the GAO Study Study:

In September 2010, the CAPE office, in conjunction with the military services, established the Cost Guidance Group to implement the Secretary of Defense’s requirement to estimate the cost of preparing DOD reports and studies and publish that cost on the front cover.

How much did it cost to get the memo out to everyone that there was a new cover sheet for the reports?

Stranger that fiction.  You can’t make this up. Great movie, by the way.  Will Ferrell has a lot more range as an actor.  But he could never pull of Frightened Inmate #2.

So here we have the IG spending two years and untold tax dollars to write a report on how much money it costs to write reports only to arrive at the decision that a tool is necessary to generate a report of the anticipated costs of writing the proposed report and report that estimate on the new cover sheet when the other report is done.

I like this line in the findings report referencing the report cost estimator:

The tool, also referred to as a calculator…

Wow.  Just brilliant.

Here’s where I am really lost…  Where is the idiocy?

  1. The volume of reports generated by the DOD is so great that the Secretary of Defense recognized this as a way to reduce costs. Then commissioned a report to find out.
  2. The GAO for spending two years to identify that writing reports is expensive, and putting these findings in a report.
  3. The solution is to to generate a report of the anticipated costs of writing the report.
  4. Cost of a new report cover sheet.  Did you get the memo?
  5. The post implementation report on how effective the report estimating report generator of the study study was working.
  6. The energy I’ve expending writing a report of the report generator cost estimator report of the study study study report.
  7. All of the above.  Except for the new cover sheet.  I’ll get you another copy of the memo.

At this point I am afraid of finding out exactly how much all of this cost.  Suffice it to say, a lot of money.  As we know, nothing involving the DOD is reasonable.

*The $436 hammer. The Left-handed version was even more.

In Other News of the Ironic, a by-product discovery of the GAO report was an new invention called “the circle” (photo below).

*you know, for kids.

I’m done.

Jazz hands everyone!

Jazz is one of the most important musical genres.  It encompasses so many different musical methods that it merely impossible to categorize.  Jazz is just as comfortable in clean precision as it is in free flowing jam sessions.  Jazz is akin to poetry, it’s never wrong.  There is good jazz, great jazz, but never bad jazz.  There is no such thing as bad jazz simply because jazz is a free expression of a thought or a feeling or an emotion.


Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fiztgerald, Quincey Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Chuck Mangione, or Squirrel Nut Zippers. Regardless of who your are listening too, jazz is always a good thing.


I still choke up when I hear Louis sing It’s a Wonderful World.





Not only is jazz pretty darn good music all by itself, but many other genres of music find their roots in jazz.  Where would blues or rock be without jazz?  Just try to imagine life without Elvis, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, or Led Zepplin.


Although, not everything turns out roses in the music industry.  Bieber, Gaga, and American Idol are all the result of an omnipowerful music industry forcing consumers to spend good money on complete garbage.  How in the world did anyone take this serious at all?


Really….  How did this get any attention other than pity and sorrow that a life has been wasted.

Regardless, Jazz is an amazing artistic expression.  So it’s places like Jazz at Lincoln Center (http://www.jalc.org/) that helps keep the spirit of the genre alive.

Their mission is:

“To enrich the artistic substance and perpetuate the democratic spirit of America’s music. From down home and elegant concert performances by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra… to entertaining educational programs that bring the sound and feeling of jazz into the lives of thousands of kids and grownups…”

Buried in their mission statement is this sentence:


“Welcome is our motto.”


I would kindly and respectfully request of the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mr. Wynton Marsalis and the Chairman of the Board Ms. Lisa Shiff that they change their motto from “Welcome” to “Thank you.”  You see, almost 13% of their operating budget was paid for by government grants…


$3,619,100 in fiscal year 2010 alone.  


Seriously.  $3.6 million.


And they have over $190,000,000 in assets.


For real…..  Here is their non-profit financial data:


http://www2.guidestar.org/PartnerReport.aspx?partner=justgivews&ein=13-3888641#


So why in the world is the IG supporting a musical center?  So let me get this straight…


A person or group of people study music.


They become a solo artist or start a band.


Many miles in beat up cars, vans, and pick-ups playing in nasty dives for beer money ensue.


Somehow they make a connection and strike a deal.


Trade in the beat up van for a private jet and the smoky dive for stadiums around the world.


Time comes to support Jazz at Lincoln Center and they can’t be found.


Why worry, the IG will pick up the tab….


Do I like jazz?  Yes.  Without a doubt.  Do I think Jazz at Lincoln Center is doing a good thing? Sure.  Music education and performances is a necessity for building a well rounded populous.  Is it the responsibility of the IG to make Jazz at Lincoln Center a viable business?  Absolutely not.  If they can’t make it on their own, they have a lot of options.  They can raise the fess a couple of dollars for a session.  They can cut down expenses.  They can solicit more donations from private citizens who choose to have their money spent in that fashion.  They can reduce the number of performances. They should do anything except run home to mommy and complain….


I know it is a tiny sum compared to the overall budget.  But you have to start somewhere, and eliminating spending on the completely insane is a great place to start.


Maybe they should raise the price of Bieber or Gaga and use that money to fund Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Maybe that will help balance out the travesty that is the disease of Bieber Fever.


What would you do with $3,619,100?

Raining money in Hawaii

I’m reading through some House budget appropriations (exciting, I know) and I can’t believe the waste I’m seeing all over the place.  It’s pretty disgusting.  Especially when I see this all over the place:


“The bill includes $272,800,000 for the programs and administrative expenses of the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which is $149,168,000 above the request.”

Above a budget request?  What you are saying is, a government department dreamed up how much money they could spend.  Then they passed that number on, and the amount that was budgeted was GREATER than the amount requested.

And it’s all over…

“The bill provides $90,621,000 for this account, which is $500,000 above the budget request.”

Although, the Census must have made someone unhappy…

“The bill includes a total operating level of$3,139,850,000 for the Bureau of the Census, which is the same as the budget request.”

We are running a TRILLION DOLLAR A YEAR deficit and we are over funding government budgets?

Sorry, someone just threw a flag on the play.  Overuse of italics… Sorry.

Here is the document I am having so much fun reading:


I’m reading away and I love how casually they throw millions here and there without even a full sentence to describe where my tax dollars are going.  Here’s $1,000,000 to The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, “to create, develop, and commercialize new technology for advanced materials.”  I wish I could sum up a million dollar business plan in a sentence fragment.

And then I find this line item.  In the NOAA (http://www.noaa.gov/) budget is $360,000 to “purchase, install, and maintain” rain gauges in Honolulu Co, HI.

$360,000 for a $2 item…. Rain gauge


With that many, you could plant more rain gauges than there are palm trees.  I mean seriously, how many rain gauges does Honolulu Co. need?  And besides, doesn’t the Weather Service have a bunch of those?  Or the Navy?  Why do we need to spend $360,000 of your money for more?  The Weather Service could send NOAA an e-mail ever hour on accumulated rain fall and not spend $360,000 in 10 lifetimes.

What would you do with $360,000?