Thursday, April 14, 2011

Big Dumb Government, Redux

I realize that the title of this post might be misleading, given the fact that Big Dumb Government never really went away.  However, it's a reference to this series of articles that I've written in the past, all of which were entitled "Big Dumb Government" or "The Week in Stupid."  I've been rather busy of late, given my obligations with law school and the recent acquisition of a Sheltie puppy.  However, in true Momus fashion, I saw a story the other day that really lathered me up.  And then I saw another story, and then another story, and finally I just had to author another acidic screed venting my spleen towards our Big Dumb Government.

In the interest of full disclosure to those of you who don't regularly read my blog, or to those who have just happened across this article, I despise government.  I'm an anarchist with a suit and tie, in law school pursuing a degree in the hopes of one day tearing the system apart from within.  At the very least, I'd like to offer my services to ordinary folks who have run afoul of their local zoning regulations with their tree houses and home improvement projects.  I dislike both major parties intently, and I firmly believe the Tea Party's biggest mistake was its willingness to believe that the Republican Party would actually reform itself.

In that spirit, I offer you the following review of a story you've all doubtless heard about: the $38 billion in spending cuts that somehow morphed into a mere $350 million or so in actual cuts.  That buys us a two hour and fifty-five minute reduction in spending.  Wow. That's progress. We spend $2 million a minute in this country at the federal level alone, and our elected representatives could only bring themselves to cut two hours and fifty-five minutes of that spending.  If you want proof that lying is a bipartisan sport, just look at the fact that both Democrats and Republicans touted that $38 billion figure before the American people as a sign of real fiscal progress.

And now we transition in the latest from Houston, Texas, a city that knows a thing or two about deficit spending and regulatory idiocy.  Houston has some of the worst air quality in the nation, a fact reflected in its extraordinarily high incident rates of respiratory illness.  However, that powers that be in Houston aren't so concerned with polluted air; instead, they've decided to go after the big criminals like Bobby and Amanda Herring, who are two kingpins of compassion in Houston.  The Herrings feed the homeless  by providing warm meals each night, no questions asked, to those who would otherwise have nothing to eat.  They did this for a year, even founding a non-profit to accomplish their goal of providing food to the hungry full-time.  Every night at 6 p.m., the intersection of Commerce and San Jacinto was the scene of their nefarious efforts to feed the hungry.   They were asked to relocate to Commerce and Travis Streets by the Houston Police Department, and they did so.  At that location, the Herrings met up with a park ranger and two other police officers, who informed them that they needed permits to legally feed hungry Houstonians.

In the meantime, the smokestacks of Houston continue to belch carcinogens and respiratory irritants high into the air over the city, leading to asthma, sinus infections, allergies, and other more serious ailments. But by God, the Great City of Houston will not have it said that the hungry were fed by those lacking the proper permits!  That would be wrong, and the Great City of Houston looks out for those who can't fend for themselves by denying them a provider of food.   Despite the fact that no documented instance of salmonella or E. coli poisoning can be pointed to as a result of the Herrings' efforts, the City of Houston and its establishmentarian charities stand resolute in opposition to the unpermitted efforts of the Herrings to, again, feed the hungry who would otherwise go without any food at all.

From that example we go to the Federal Reserve, recently given the go-ahead by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who went on record saying that he wasn't going to focus on the Federal Reserve or Ben Bernanke.  Mitt, you're damn right you won't be focusing on the Fed or Bernanke, because you have about as much of a chance of being elected President as I do.  You do, however, have more money to throw at your quixotic and ultimately doomed campaign.  

It has come to light that the Federal Reserve didn't just bail out banks and hedge funds over the course of the recent economic crisis.  It also provided over $220 million to Christy Mack and Susan Karches.  Now, why would the Federal Reserve give out $220 million in near-zero interest loans to two women who had no history in business whatsoever?  Well, Mack is the wife of a Morgan Stanley executive, and Karches is the widow of a Morgan Stanley executive.

Ladies and gentlemen, funding for Medicare and Medicaid is on the table for spending cuts.  Our national defense budget will be pared down.  But we can't touch the spending outlays mentioned above, because they came through a private central bank over which we have little if any real control to ensure accountability.   And that's not all: the Federal Reserve sent billions in loans and bailouts to the Cayman Island bank accounts of billionaires and millionaires.  What this had to do with the national interests of the United States is simply beyond my comprehension.  However, I can and will call it the way that I see it: nepotism in government and central banking is extraordinarily expensive.  $2 million a minute, to be precise.

However, the government did manage to do something of note this past week: it convicted Barry Bonds of obstruction of justice for misleading federal investigators about his steroid use and his affiliation with BALCO.  The price tag was a virtual bargain: just $55 million to put a Major League Baseball legend in his place.  That's more than we spent on finding out that Bill Clinton had a thing for fellatio from White House interns.  

BALCO founder and executive director Victor Conte went to jail for four months in minimum security prison after 40 of the 42 charges against him were dropped.  The one count that stuck was for money laundering, and Conte laundered a whopping...several hundred dollars.  $55 million to nail a guy for laundering a few hundred bucks, and to reveal Barry Bonds as a man suffering from testicular shrinkage.  And they say there isn't room to cut spending!

And speaking of spending, how much did we pay that TSA employee to invasively frisk and molest a six-year old girl in New Orleans last week?  Well, folks...that's a few of the many examples of Big Dumb Government. One day you might wake up and have an epiphany: Ronald Reagan was right.  Government is the problem, and until you get rid of it entirely, you'll continue to run into the same damned issues over and over again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

TSA Cops a Feel on a Six Year Old

If you or I did this, it would be called for what it is: disgusting, invasive, and utterly unnecessary.  But if the U.S. government does it to compensate for their failures on 9/11, the first WTC bombing, the U.S.S. Stark, Oklahoma City, the Shoe Bomber, the Underwear Bomber, and various other incidents, we just roll over and take it.  At the end of the day, who doubts for a minute that ordinary citizens will be the one to intercept and prevent the next terrorist attack, which begs the question: why the hell do we need the TSA at all?