Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Restoring America Draft Chapters

I'm writing a book, tentatively entitled Restoring America, with the central thesis that a restoration of American values begins with a restoration of fiscal limitations that limit government power and reach. One of the areas I examine is defense spending, and since some of you asked about accounting, I decided to present the two chapters below as an examination of what I've uncovered.  I hope you find it informative.

Jay Batman 

Fight Spending: File for an Extension!

Americans tend to agree amongst themselves that government spending is out of control, and that their government doesn't address the issues that Americans want addressed.  If anything has been settled by the past few elections, it is this: voting changes nothing.  Still, the average American trudges through life and pays their taxes, grumbling all the while.

The time has come for that to change. File for an extension on your taxes, people. Delay, deny, and generally obstruct your government when it comes to paying taxes, and you might get their attention.  Obviously, voting does little to accomplish change, but outright financial sedition just might.

Roundup: Fiscal Stupid

Ah, yes, it's that time of year again, when Congress and the President release budgets that have no chance of ever being passed into law, and Roundup is here to chronicle all of the fiscal stupid.  Progressives are angry with President Obama for daring to propose cuts to entitlements; while conservatives are irritated over his insistence that taxes go up.  The President is also advertising $1.4 trillion in spending cuts, but every one of those dollars comes from limiting the rate at which spending is projected to increase.  There are no actual cuts; the President is simply saying that he'll reduce the rate of spending increases.

It's not as if the president couldn't cut actual baseline spending, because the GAO has identified 173 overlapping science, technology, engineering, and math education programs.  There's also the news that the federal government pays $120 million in pensions each year to dead federal employees. There's the $1 billion in tax credits for energy efficients homes to prisoners, children, and others who don't even own homes. The Chinese, who are our largest creditor in terms of debt holdings, received our largesse in the form of $2.6 million to study the drinking habits of Chinese prostitutes with an eye towards teaching those prostitutes how to drink responsibly.  Social and environmental programs in China received $17.8 million.

There's the $25 billion in annual outlays to maintain unused or vacant federal properties. The 95 weapons programs audited by the GAO managed to collectively accrue $295 billion in cost overruns, but the Pentagon wasn't done: they 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.  The GAO further classified half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzlement.

Some $34 billion in contracts for the Department of Homeland Security were found by a GAO audit to contain significant fraud, abuse, and waste. One could save in excess of $50 billion annually simply eliminating the Department of Homeland Security, which has produced little in the way of advances in security, given that its grants are often used for clowns and treadmills rather than actual security.

In other words, President Obama has no reason to axe Social Security benefits, raise taxes on the middle class, or resist baseline spending cuts, because the above cited examples show that it ought to be simple to identify and implement spending cuts that could easily balance our budget.

Instead of doing this, the President and his cronies in Congress have decided to borrow at 2%, and lend at 6.8% to students financing their college and graduate educations.  This is occurring at the same time that the government is paying for Indonesians to earn their master's degrees at U.S. universities. While you can't spend U.S. education dollars at religious schools, the U.S. federal government is spending tax dollars at Indonesian Muslim schools to the tune of $167 million under George W. Bush and another $90 million under President Obama.  

This is the reality of federal spending.  It's not that there isn't room to cut non-essential spending, such as the $593,000 spent to study the brains of primates in order to ascertain which parts of their brains played a role in their decision throw feces; because there is ample room to cut items from the budget in order to avoid raising taxes for Americans while not cutting essential services to the most vulnerable members of our society.  What there isn't room for is compromise or flexibility, as was the case when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid became indignant at the idea of cutting the $50,000 in federal funds allotted each year to cowboys and cowgirls reading poetry at the Western Folklife Center in Nevada.

The fiscal stupid has led us to a destination where the government can't pass a budget at all, and cannot address the $17 trillion in debt it faces.  And that's the Roundup for today, Wednesday, April 10, 2013.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Roundup: Left Wing Stupid

Today's Roundup brings me an opportunity to take time out of studying for the pressing reality of law school finals and rant about left-wing stupid, which is always a good thing. To that end, our first story...

If there is a more chilling example of how the Left thinks as it relates to child-rearing and the rights of parents than Melissa Harris-Perry's recent Lean Forward commercial for MSNBC, I have yet to see it. In her promo for MSNBC, Harris-Perry says the following: 

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.  Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.  

Garrett Quinn over at Mediaite does a fine job of tearing apart Harris-Perry's statements on their lack of merit by pointing out that the United States outspends the rest of the world per pupil in education, while ranking fifth in education spending as a percentage of our GDP.  Back in March, Harris-Perry was busy mocking the idea that a fertilized egg could have personhood, and decrying the notion of collective input on the individual decision to abort a child, but this month she is fully in favor of collectivist interference as it relates to parental rights and child-rearing, at least as it relates to education spending.  

Harris-Perry's rationale, as asinine and factually bankrupt as it is, is typical of the Left.  First, we spend more money than we should on education, given the results we're getting.  Second, Harris-Perry has no critique of that result other than to presume that more money is the answer, despite the fact that other countries that spend less per pupil are outperforming the United States in outcomes. Finally, Harris-Perry's answer is to suggest that we need to change our philosophical notion that children belong to their parents, and that parents should be able to exercise their will as it relates to the best interest of their child.  

The answer for Harris-Perry is to fundamentally change how we view parental roles, and parental authority over children, not to ask any fundamental questions about why we're spending so much money on education to receive a subpar result from school bureaucracies that condescend to parents and blame them for not being able to make up at home for the failings of the classroom.  And that's it, really: the answer is not to address the concerns of parents, but to bludgeon them into changing their minds about whether or not their child is actually theirs, so that they don't question your assertion that you should give up more money to a failing educational system.  

Speaking of left-wing stupidity, the Mother's Nutritional Center is now advertising the latest and greatest in social welfare: personalized grocery shopping for women with food vouchers.  The way it works is simple: a mother brings in her children to the Mother's Nutritional Center, and submits her shopping list. The staff does the shopping for her, and assembles her cart full of groceries so that she doesn't have to.  In the meantime, if you're a working mother without food vouchers because you have a job and an income, you have to load your own cart full of groceries.  

So, let's review: not only is the food free, but the shopping is done for the welfare mother, because she's busy with...well, she's not busy, because she's on welfare.  If the ad is any indicator, her kids are in a childcare area playing with toys while the staff gets her groceries for her.  What, exactly, is the mother busy with?  But that's not all, because the WIC Income Guideline table indicates that households at 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible for WIC benefits that will enable the moms to head on down to Mother's Nutritional Center and have their shopping done for them.  A family of four is eligible for WIC with $20.50 an hour in income.  Not surprisingly, Mother's gets rave reviews from customers, who avoid the long grocery store lines! 

That family of four that's eligible for WIC with an hourly income of $20.50 may also receive up to $663 a month in food stamp benefits! However, they can only have an income of 130% of the federal poverty level, or $2,422 a month, unless they have an elderly or disabled member in their household, at which point their monthly income can be as high as $3,047 a month. That's in addition to the housing benefits one can receive for earning 30-50% of the median income in their given area.  

The Left has changed the minds of Americans as it relates to indolence, and nowadays businesses like Mother's Nutritional Center openly advertise their services for welfare recipients, including the fact that they will do the shopping for you.  Not a bit of this strikes the businesses or the recipients as being unwise, because after all, who would object to making it easier for someone who already has their medical care, housing, and food paid for? Why shouldn't they be exempted from doing the grocery shopping, or wheeling their cart out to their car afterwards?  

Our final example of Left Wing Stupid is that of Matty Yglesias, erstwhile writer and editor at The Atlantic, activist at ThinkProgress, and present writer of the Moneybox blog at Slate.  He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Harvard, which, as you might have guessed, qualifies Yglesias to write about economics and business for Slate.  Graduating magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in Philosophy does not demand spelling skills, as Yglesias is notorious for his inability to spell even though he has written for national publications like The Atlantic, American Prospect, and sites like TPMCafe.  

What Yglesias possesses in abundance are the right ideas to fit within the left-wing echo chamber, along with the ability to claim some right-wing credibility by admitting to voting for...Mitt Romney, who isn't on the right at all.  In fact, at the time Yglesias voted for Romney, during his gubernatorial campaign, Romney was a full-on liberal supporting gay rights and forcing Catholic hospitals to dispense prophylactics.  

Nevertheless, like many left-wingers, Yglesias is fond of citing this position or that action as a sign of his independence and less than completely slavish devotion to left wing ideals.  What Yglesias neglects to do, however, is indicate that he understands how inherently contradictory the positions he stakes out on the right are to the actual right.  Yglesias supported the Iraq War, for example; he never once comprehended that the war was itself the byproduct of former Trotskyite neoconservatives who were all lapsed liberals with bedrock convictions about the efficacy of Big Government action in foreign policy even as they decried it in domestic affairs.  Straussians are akin to Derrida followers with automatic weapons and missile launchers; nevertheless, Yglesias believes that neocons are truly on the right and therefore his alignment with their war in Iraq makes him independent of the Left.  

He's a stupid man.  

Back in February, his stupidity was on full display as he navigated the perilous business environment of Washington, D.C. to start his own enterprise as a landlord.  After realizing that he had to fill out numerous forms, traipse to three separate government offices, involving one trip through a sketchy neighborhood that no graduate of the Dalton School should have to endure as an aspiring entrepreneur, Yglesias was inspired to write about his experiences with regulatory strangulation of entrepreneurship over at Slate.  The resulting post, Starting a Business is a Huge Pain, lamented the ridiculous barriers erected by local governments and the ways in which those barriers inconvenienced aspiring landlords like himself.  

A little over five years ago, Matty was extolling the innovation creating catalyst of regulation, in his Atlantic post Regulation Breeds Innovation.  However, when it came time to actually start his own business, the philosophy major met the world of concrete realities and his abstract ideals fell by the wayside.  

Matty's thoughts on innovation include advocating for deceit in order to procure government funding for high speed rail, a position that earned him the ire of Washington Examiner writer Mark Hemingway.  Lying, according to Yglesias, was a necessary part of politics, although he disclaimed any advocacy of lying for his role as a blogger, er, person trying to inform people with accurate information.  So, when you're trying to inform people, you don't lie. But when you're trying to get their government to fund your boondoggle with their tax dollars, you should lie, because that's just politics.  

The asinine and factually bankrupt logic of Melissa Harris-Perry, along with the idiotic parallels in Matty Yglesias's own tortured reasoning as it relates to regulation, deceit in politics and spending, is the consistent thread of the Left.  You don't have to bother insulting the Left with ad hominem, because they are so easy to rebut with simple facts. They can't argue worth the damn, and if those on the Right would simply realize this and stick to tearing apart their arguments without resorting to name-calling, the vast majority of public audiences to such disputes would fall to the Right.  

Unfortunately, rather than sticking to the facts and rebutting the asinine logic of leftists with said facts, we have men like Rush Limbaugh referring to women as sluts and suggesting that they pay for their birth control with online sex shows.  While the Left Wing Stupid is abundant, it is a travesty that the Right is responding with its own stupid rather than effective fact-based rebuttals.  

And that is today's Roundup of the Left Wing Stupid.