So You Want To Be My Latex Salesman

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 For those that are Seinfeld fans, you probably immediately understood the reference to a Seinfeld TV show episode in the title of this article, an episode where Jerry says the line to George Costanza. The line is said in a very sarcastic tone, implying that given George’s incompetence, Jerry would never hire George to do anything for him.

Consider the similar incompetence of the latest insanity, madness, and wastefulness from all of levels of the American political class:

– In an article from the April 29, 2011 issue of the The Week magazine, it reported that the U.S. Postal Service has admitted that a special stamp to honor the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty used not an image from the real Statue of Liberty in New York but mistakenly used an image from the Statue of Liberty replica in the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas. The mistake was noticed after untold millions of stamps, with the wrong image, had already been printed.

All right, it is not a big deal by itself. Incompetence maybe, but no big deal. But after the sleeping air traffic controllers scandal, SEC employees you searched for Internet porn all day while the economy crashed, and a bunch of other government mishaps, it makes you wonder:  if the Federal government cannot even get the picture of the Statue of Liberty right on a Statue of Liberty commemorative stamp, do you really want these types of people and politicians in charge of your retirement, your medical coverage, national defense and your latex sales? It is not as if we are talking about a picture of a long dead historical figure that nobody knows, we are talking about an icon of the United States.

Even worse, a spokesperson for the Post Office is quoted as saying: “We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway.”  Sure, talk about a lame excuse, you screwed up, man up and take the blame.

– In this time of high unemployment, failing public schools, and tight government budgets, you would hope that those in office would be working hard on addressing and remedying these serious problems. Apparently, the folks in Thornton, Colorado have already solved these major problems and have moved on. An article from the April 29, 2011 issue of The Week magazine reported that their city council had approved a ban on spinning barbershop poles outside of barbershops, You know the iconic poles with red, white and blue stripes that revolve around a light.

The article states that these symbols have been around since medieval times. However, the town of Thornton believes that they are now a traffic hazard to motorists. For hundreds of years they were not a traffic hazard, all of a sudden they are? Thornton politicians are taking the lead on this issue while their citizens continue to suffer from high unemployment, bad schools, and tight budgets.

– At the state level, the state of New York has gone one better than Thornton. New York is one of the worst states from a fiscal perspective, having to cut billions and billions of dollars from the state government budget to stay solvent. They also are facing the same issues facing the rest of America including high unemployment, failing public schools, lower budgets, etc.

However, their state legislature has been busy passing a new law that designates such games as Wiffle ball, tag, and horseshoes as “nonpassive recreational activities with significant risk of injury.” The passage of this law allows local New York health officials to regulate these activities in their respective communities.

Can you imagine? Politicians and government workers out and about regulating games of tag and Wiffle ball?  If they are actually out performing these regulation tasks they certainly can be fired to save budget money and if they are fired, no one is going to hire them to be their latex salesmen.

– A New York Times article from the St. Petersburg Times from several months ago reported on a computer programmer named Dennis Montgomery. Mr Montgomery claimed he had developed a piece of software that would help the government catch terrorists. In the aftermath and paranoia of 9-11, he actually made some inroads and sales to the CIA.

However, by 2003 the CIA came to believe that the software program that Montgomery was peddling was a fake. However, they never passed that information on to any other branch of the government. As a result, Montgomery continued to sell the technology/software to other parts of the Federal government including the Air Force that paid $3 million to Montgomery six years later in 2009. They paid out this sum even though one of their own purchasing officers rang the alarm bell that other parts of the government were at least skeptical about the product.

This is bad enough, a government that has gotten so large that even when it identifies fraud it cannot communicate the danger to other wings of the government. But even worse, the article concludes with a reference to a recent study that determined the Pentagon had paid out $285 BILLION to more than 120 contractors accused of fraud or wrongdoing in just three years. The President only wants to reduce Pentagon spending by $400 billion over 12 years. Just fixing this one problem would get him 71% of the way there without harming national security at all.

– A Miami Herald article from the April 15, 2011 issue of the St. Petersburg Times reported that a Miami couple pleaded guilty to bilking Medicare out of $200 million. They owned and operated a sham mental health care company that provided unnecessary, illegal or no health care services to patients, many of whom were in on the scam via kickbacks. The Feds had already confiscated the couple’s assets, worth about $7 million. These assets included luxury cars, real estate, and jewelry.

It is great these folks got caught and will possibly go to jail for 20 years along with some of their accomplices. However, two questions. First, why did it take so long to identify these people as crooks? Shouldn’t the sheer volume of Medicare charges they were collecting have triggered an audit long before the taxpayer was out $200 million? Second, how many other scams like this are going on and are the George Costanzas of the Federal political class capable enough to find these fraud also?

– With high unemployment, one would have thought that the political class and the government it runs would be doing everything it can to help private business create or keep jobs on our shores for our citizens. However, the Briefing section of the March 25, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, reported that this is not the case.

The title of the Briefing was “Where America’s Jobs Went.” The distressing part of the report was the assertion that the Internal Revenue Service allows companies that move their U.S. manufacturing capability overseas to deduct the cost of closing their domestic factories on their U.S. income taxes.

Adding insult  to injury, if a U.S. company earns profits overseas, it does not have to pay U.S. taxes on those profits to the American taxpayer as long as the company keeps those profits off shore. This, in turn, encourages companies to invest overseas, not domestically, in order to avoid the tax burden. Thus, our government and the political class not only pay for domestic factories to close and move off shore but we also encourages them to continue to invest offshore. Insanity.

If you combine these latest Costanza examples with the myriad of others including a failed war on drugs, failing public schools, no national energy policy, leaky borders, skyrocketing health care costs, no nuclear waste storage plan, crumbling infrastructure, an aimless NASA, and a whole host of other failures, you start to realize: how much worse could George Costanza do relative to what our political class has done or not done over the past five decades? He might not make a good latex salesman but he might make a pretty good politician, it appears to be a pretty low bar.


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