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.

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?

Voting….

Let’s take a step back from government waste and talk about an interesting subject.  Since this is a general election year, voter rights/non-rights/eligibility issues will, as they always do, make headlines in the news.

Voting is an important privilege to those living in a representative republic. Quick civics lesson.  We do NOT live in a democracy.  We live in a representative republic. In a democracy, everything is put up for a general vote. Under a democracy, mob rule generally wins.  This is bad. When the mob (majority) rules, there is no place for the minority. And by minority, I mean any classification of people that is smaller than another.  When compared to checkers, chess players are in the minority. When compared to all scholars, Spelling Bee winners are in the minority.  According to the 2010 Census, women make up the majority of the US population. So men are the minority. Not that men have a voice anyway, now it would be even less…..

The USA is a representative republic.  That means that we elect people who we believe to be educated on the affairs of state and believe to have their constituents’ best interests in mind. At least that’s the plan. And like Virgil always says, “Nice plan.”

Every so often we, as the citizens, have an opportunity to decide whether or not the elected officials are acting in our best interest and the best interests of our city, state, and nation.  This is where voting comes into the conversation. If we don’t see an elected official acting in what we believe to be the best interests, we vote for another candidate. If enough people agree, then the old is tossed out and in comes the new.

So you can see that voting is critical to the check balance system established by the Founding Fathers. Voting is the citizens’ opportunity to fire elected officials who are not doing their job.

So now I get to the real point of this rant….  Voter eligibility.

In my state, Georgia, there are pretty specific rules and laws to voter eligibility.  You can find them here: Georgia Voter Eligibility

Here is a quick rundown of the highlights:

To register to vote in the state of Georgia, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States.
  • A legal resident of Georgia and of the county in which you wish to vote.
  • At least 17 1/2 years of age.

Also, you may not register to vote if you are currently:

  • Serving any sentence imposed by the conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.
  • Judicially determined to be mentally incompetent.
So. You have to be a citizen of the US and actually live in the precinct where the vote is taking place.   That’s the law. Pretty simple.  And important.  Important enough that you would think that ensuring voter laws would be important.
Well…  Not so much if you are on The Left.  See, they do everything to stifle the enforcement voter laws by opposing voter identification laws.
I really don’t understand why this is even an issue.  Valid identification is the easiest and simplest way to ensure that only eligible voters are voting. Yet the left continually fights against any form of voter identification other than saying, “I promise that’s me.”
And yes.  This is a problem.  Not too long ago and undercover reporter reported himself as Eric Holder, our current Attorney General, and was given a ballot.  No questions asked. Interestingly enough, neither Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton were eligible for the Indiana Democrat Primary.
So why oppose enforcement of voter standards?  The Left has several reasons why voter identification verification is wrong:
  • it’s racist
  • it’s discriminating against the poor
  • it’s discriminating against the elderly
  • voter fraud isn’t a problem
  • I thought Republicans were against government regulations.  Hypocrite.
  • This was a real comment I received from a usually intelligent friend: “I moved a while back, registered to vote in my new precinct, but have not updated my driver’s license.  I might be turned away.”
Really.  That was a reason my friend is 100% any voter identification verification. His vote might not count because the address on his driver’s license doesn’t match the address in the voter roll.
Let’s continue with the conversation:
Me: Then how did you register?
Friend: By bringing a utility bill when I registered.
Me: So take a utility bill with you to vote to prove you live in that precinct.
Friend: They may not accept that.
Me: Why?
Friend: Because voter id laws are meant to stifle the vote from non-Republicans.
Me: Makes a lot of sense to me.
In Other News of the Ironic, the statistics on low voter fraud quoted by The Left are low because there is little to no ability for poll workers to detect voter fraud since we don’t ask people to identify themselves.
And just in case you forgot and still don’t believe there is anything fraudulent with voting and voter registration, just remember ACORN.
So…..  I’ve compiled an interesting list of things that require you to present some form of identification.  Granted, id’s are not always checked in these situations, but they are required, in some cases by law,  to be checked.
  • Drive a car
  • Buy alcohol
  • Buy cigarettes
  • Enter a casino
  • Buy a lottery ticket
  • Cash a lottery ticket over $600 (two forms of ID required)
  • Compete in American Idol
  • Receive medical assistance at Planned Parenthood
  • Apply for government housing
  • Apply for Medicare
  • Buy spray paint
  • Cash a check
  • Apply for a job
  • Fly on an airplane
  • Go to a bar
  • Get a library card
  • Rent a car, bike, canoe, etc.
  • See an R rated movie
  • Get married
  • Rent a hotel room
  • Buy real estate
  • Rent a video game with an MA rating
  • Buy over the counter allergy medicine
  • Pick up your children from school
  • Buy a gun
  • Test drive a car
  • Pay a cable bill
  • Buy a cel phone
  • Pick up a package from FedEx or UPS

 

And this is a small list.

Yet, it’s racist, hate speak, anti-American, extremist Right-Wing, vote stifling when I simply want someone to identify themselves as an eligible voter when they choose the elected officials that determine the fate of my country. Why is that so difficult?  What is so wrong with enforcing the law?

And don’t even get me started with the whole “get out the vote” drives.  If someone doesn’t know that it’s important for them to vote and doesn’t take the initiative to get registered, nor finds a way to get to a polling precinct or cast an absentee ballot, then I don’t want them voting.  Chances are they are really stupid, uneducated, and incapable of making an intelligent decision based on the facts of which candidate to choose.  I’ll even go so far as to mentally categorize these people as lower on the human being food chain than my puppy lovin’ rednecks from Athens.

Yep.  That low.

Remember, it was in Chicago, home of our sitting President, that the phrase was coined, “Vote early and often.”

I’m just saying…….

 

In the words of Mark Twain…

…”The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Welcome to the new home for Cents To Change.  I finally registered a domain and set up a WordPress engine.  The consumed almost 20 minutes.  Since then I have been busy with travel and work including a three week business trip to Cordoba, Argentina.

I love Cordoba.

Unfortunately Argentina is just ahead of the good ole’ US of A in terms of socialism and government pandering.  The recent nationalization of YPF by stealing the company from Repsol.

In Other News of the Ironic, the nationalized copper mines in Chile are underperforming according to President Sebastián Piñera thus proving that only the government can take a thriving industry and turn it into a hapless, wayward, and highly inefficient business in short order.

But anyway….

One other example… Last Tuesday, May 1, is a world wide workers celebration.  Many different countries celebrate May Day in different ways.  Argentine President Christine Fernandez instructed the country to take Monday, April 30, off as well as a “Bridge Holiday.”  As she loves to pander to the populous, anytime a Holiday is on a Tuesday or Thursday, she also calls the corresponding Monday and Friday a Bridge Holiday to give everybody a long weekend.  Earlier this year, there was a holiday on Monday and Friday of the same week and she called for a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to be Bridge Holidays as well….  In 2012, Argentina has 18 national holidays where everything is shut down.  Completely…

So they celebrated “working” by taking the day off, and because they are so dedicated to “working” they took off another day so they could have a longer weekend.  That’s government for you.

Regardless, Argentina is a beautiful country full of wonderful people.  Aside from continuing to allow that idiot to be president, I don’t blame the people of Argentina.

While I am talking about the people in Cordoba, my favorite place is Tiendo Belgrano.  It’s located in Centro near the intersection of Graf. Manuel Belgrano and Achaval Rodriguiz. The food, drink, (you must have the Sangria with Malbec wine), atmosphere, and especially, the people…  Just perfect.

So the upshot is, I’m back.  Not that anyone cares, it’s just therapeutic for me to write my frustrations down here so I can stop bugging my wife with tales of insane government spending.

Redundant, I know…

Now onto the topic of my frustration and the government waste for the day.

GSA.

That was too easy.  More later….