Government Knows Best

Don’t they? They have the money waste enough of my money to provide me with hard, undeniable proof. Then, they use my money to sell me the idea we are getting progress in return, marketing their plans.

I just finished watching a John Stossel Special on Fox Business about freeloading; it should open many eyes. Stossel begins his report with a fake beard, dressing down and hitting the streets with a cup and a handwritten sign on a piece of cardboard.  In his written article he writes,

Some Americans actually make a living … begging for money. Professional panhandlers, they’re called, sometimes making more than $100 in a day. I tried it in Manhattan, and made over $11 in one hour—that would be $23,000 a year—tax free!”

Stossel says, “I’m a freeloader” and provides an account of his house he built on the beach, it was all enabled by our government. Hoards of rich people and corporations freeload. Government turns people and large groups of people into freeloaders. Freeloading doesn’t help the freeloader.

It would be great if enough people took an earnest look around to see what our Country has evolved into, it must be driving Libertarians nuts. Where is the outrage from the Liberal left demonizing big corporate bad guys when their own Democrat administration cozy’s up with General Electric in a private public partnership (new buzzword and strategy). The partnership has landed them on a pretty sweet spot paying zero taxes.  The governments GE relationship could be politely categorized as “corporate welfare/corporatism,” or more explicitly as “corporatist whoredom.” Stossel has a good point.

If you missed Stossel’s documentary special last-weekend, it re-airs this weekend at the following times, on Fox News Channel. (Not on Fox Business.)
SATURDAY , April 2 at 3 PM and Midnight
SUNDAY, April 3 at 3 PM and 11 PM
(All times eastern.)

I’ve found waste while looking up rental rehabilitation grants. When the private sector invests in large building projects and it ends badly or turns sour, the results chomp on the private investment (incentive to make good quality decisions). This is the risky part, it’s what development and investment is. If there were minimal risk, the payoff would be minimal also. When public sectors do the same thing and lose for whatever reason, we all lose. The government risk is what…public trust? Our recourse is a small window to disagree where most people feel either they can’t invest the time to monitor or their opinions ultimately have no impact.

This is one example of waste and a government faux pas of “build it and they will come.”

Local developers Richard deVito (left) and Robert Doucette pose in downtown Syracuse in front of the former Dey Brothers Department Store, which they recently purchased for $6.7 million. They plan to convert its upper floors into 45 apartments, and to place retail tenants, including a grocery store, on the first floor.

Partners Robert Doucette and Richard deVito bought the downtown landmark Dec. 31 from a city-owned entity, the Syracuse Economic Development Corp., for $6.7 million.

Doucette and deVito said they will begin work soon to build 45 apartments on the upper floors of the building, which was acquired by the city after the department store, then called Addis & Deys, closed in August 1993.

The city renamed the building Deys Centennial Plaza and spent $18.8 million renovating it into office space in the late 1990s. It received a $1.2 million federal grant for the project, but the rest of the money, $17.6 million, was borrowed from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development during the administration of Mayor Roy Bernardi.

That was $18,800,000.00 taxpayers ponied up right there. An Economic development corporation that invested (you invested) in building office space that wasn’t market supported. If it was, they probably wouldn’t have sold the building and new owners looking into converting the offices into apartments. Do you think it just looked better to sell the building so the new owners could convert them rather than saying, “oops, that didn’t work like we planned, let’s go for apartments now.”

This next segment is compliments of Brian M. Riedl – a Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Here is an example list of only two categories from one year.

  • Duplicative programs; and
  • Inefficiency, mismanagement, and fraud

50 Examples of Government Waste (2008)

  1. The federal government made at least $72 billion in improper payments in 2008.
  2. Washington spends $92 billion on corporate welfare (excluding TARP) versus $71 billion on homeland security.
  3. Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties.
  4. Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them — costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually — fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.
  5. The Congressional Budget Office published a “Budget Options” series identifying more than $100 billion in potential spending cuts.
  6. Examples from multiple Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports of wasteful duplication include 342 economic development programs; 130 programs serving the disabled; 130 programs serving at-risk youth; 90 early childhood development programs; 75 programs funding international education, cultural, and training exchange activities; and 72 safe water programs.
  7. Washington will spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.
  8. A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled. Examples of taxpayer-funded purchases include gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, iPods, Xboxes, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations. In one extraordinary example, the Postal Service spent $13,500 on one dinner at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, including “over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.” The 81 guests consumed an average of $167 worth of food and drink apiece.
  9. Federal agencies are delinquent on nearly 20 percent of employee travel charge cards, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
  10. The Securities and Exchange Commission spent $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
  11. The Pentagon recently spent $998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida.
  12. Over half of all farm subsidies go to commercial farms, which report average household incomes of $200,000.
  13. Health care fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $60 billion annually.
  14. A GAO audit found that 95 Pentagon weapons systems suffered from a combined $295 billion in cost overruns.
  15. The refusal of many federal employees to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 million annually in flight upgrades.
  16. Washington will spend $126 million in 2009 to enhance the Kennedy family legacy in Massachusetts. Additionally, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) diverted $20 million from the 2010 defense budget to subsidize a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
  17. Federal investigators have launched more than 20 criminal fraud investigations related to the TARP financial bailout.
  18. Despite trillion-dollar deficits, last year’s 10,160 earmarks included $200,000 for a tattoo removal program in Mission Hills, California; $190,000 for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming; and $75,000 for the Totally Teen Zone in Albany, Georgia.
  19. The federal government owns more than 50,000 vacant homes.
  20. The Federal Communications Commission spent $350,000 to sponsor NASCAR driver David Gilliland.
  21. Members of Congress have spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars supplying their offices with popcorn machines, plasma televisions, DVD equipment, ionic air fresheners, camcorders, and signature machines — plus $24,730 leasing a Lexus, $1,434 on a digital camera, and $84,000 on personalized calendars.
  22. More than $13 billion in Iraq aid has been classified as wasted or stolen. Another $7.8 billion cannot be accounted for.
  23. Fraud related to Hurricane Katrina spending is estimated to top $2 billion. In addition, debit cards provided to hurricane victims were used to pay for Caribbean vacations, NFL tickets, Dom Perignon champagne, “Girls Gone Wild” videos, and at least one sex change operation.
  24. Auditors discovered that 900,000 of the 2.5 million recipients of emergency Katrina assistance provided false names, addresses, or Social Security numbers or submitted multiple applications.
  25. Congress recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737.
  26. The Transportation Department will subsidize up to $2,000 per flight for direct flights between Washington, D.C., and the small hometown of Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY) — but only on Monday mornings and Friday evenings, when lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists usually fly. Rogers is a member of the Appropriations Committee, which writes the Transportation Department’s budget.
  27. Washington has spent $3 billion re-sanding beaches — even as this new sand washes back into the ocean.
  28. A Department of Agriculture report concedes that much of the $2.5 billion in “stimulus” funding for broadband Internet will be wasted.
  29. The Defense Department wasted $100 million on unused flight tickets and never bothered to collect refunds even though the tickets were refundable.
  30. Washington spends $60,000 per hour shooting Air Force One photo-ops in front of national landmarks.
  31. Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used government-funded credit cards to charge at least $102,400 on admission to entertainment events, $48,250 on gambling, $69,300 on cruises, and $73,950 on exotic dance clubs and prostitutes.
  32. Members of Congress are set to pay themselves $90 million to increase their franked mailings for the 2010 election year.
  33. Congress has ignored efficiency recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services that would save $9 billion annually.
  34. Taxpayers are funding paintings of high-ranking government officials at a cost of up to $50,000 apiece.
  35. The state of Washington sent $1 food stamp checks to 250,000 households in order to raise state caseload figures and trigger $43 million in additional federal funds.
  36. Suburban families are receiving large farm subsidies for the grass in their backyards — subsidies that many of these families never requested and do not want.
  37. Congress appropriated $20 million for “commemoration of success” celebrations related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
  38. Homeland Security employee purchases include 63-inch plasma TVs, iPods, and $230 for a beer brewing kit.
  39. Two drafting errors in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act resulted in a $2 billion taxpayer cost.
  40. North Ridgeville, Ohio, received $800,000 in “stimulus” funds for a project that its mayor described as “a long way from the top priority.”
  41. The National Institutes of Health spends $1.3 million per month to rent a lab that it cannot use.
  42. Congress recently spent $2.4 billion on 10 new jets that the Pentagon insists it does not need and will not use.
  43. Lawmakers diverted $13 million from Hurricane Katrina relief spending to build a museum celebrating the Army Corps of Engineers — the agency partially responsible for the failed levees that flooded New Orleans.
  44. Medicare officials recently mailed $50 million in erroneous refunds to 230,000 Medicare recipients.
  45. Audits showed $34 billion worth of Department of Homeland Security contracts contained significant waste, fraud, and abuse.
  46. Washington recently spent $1.8 million to help build a private golf course in Atlanta, Georgia.
  47. The Advanced Technology Program spends $150 million annually subsidizing private businesses; 40 percent of this funding goes to Fortune 500 companies.
  48. Congressional investigators were able to receive $55,000 in federal student loan funding for a fictional college they created to test the Department of Education.
  49. The Conservation Reserve program pays farmers $2 billion annually not to farm their land.
  50. The Commerce Department has lost 1,137 computers since 2001, many containing Americans’ personal data.

As you can see, just about every move the Government makes opens a gateway for fraud waste and abuse. The economists and so-called experts consider this as probably third on the list for fiscal ineptitude; I assume that nobody can completely grasp the vastness of this cancerous epidemic until the mess starts getting cleaned up. Stimulus packages were teaming with waste, fraud and abuse. I rather like this portion of an article written by Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education and president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

“The turpitude of the subsidy-seekers and handout con artists in Washington, D.C., should rattle Americans of conscience to their very core. At the most basic level, it’s simply and inexcusably wrong to rip off a dollar from the innocent or the responsible and pass it on to the guilty or the irresponsible. Does it somehow become right if we do it a trillion times? Quite the contrary. It simply becomes a trillion times more wrong if not worse because the sheer magnitude means we can’t dismiss it with the palliative that “it’s only pocket change.”

This is a sign of neither strong character nor a sustainable economy. It reeks of the same moral cowardice and fiscal insanity that doomed great civilizations of the past. The bread and circuses that helped mightily to bankrupt ancient Rome come to mind. Where are the men and women of courage and integrity who will keep their hands in their own pockets?

As the fiscal alarm bells are going off, even state governments that once jealously guarded their financial independence are hearing dinner bells instead. Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is virtually alone in resisting the “come and get it” mentality.”

At some point…soon I hope, we can rely on ourselves to get the cleaning materials out and start the daunting task. It only takes a small group to kick-start. Others will inevitably join in and before you know it, our work would evolve into a labor of love as we fundamentally transform the financial security for our children’s, children. We could all help each other with barn raising, respectively. Just the type of thing we need for community building too…who knew?

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