The Latest Waste And Insanity From The American Political Class And Government

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Reason magazine is a great magazine for those Americans that are concerned and interested about freedom in America. Their articles are well written, well researched, and are much more connected with reality than most options in the main stream media. Their numerical analyses are especially insightful, detailed but easy to understand.

Some bits of insanity from their latest issue include the following:

– According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, about 10% of the annual $500 billion that the Federal government pays out in Medicare payments is fraudulent and improper. This estimated waste, $48 billion annually, apparently does not even include waste from Medicaid and Medicare Part D for drug prescriptions.

What is the government doing to cut down on this outrageous waste of taxpayer money? Apparently not too much, according to the GAO:
 

  • Those in charge are not doing nearly enough to avoid similar fraud going forward.
  • In 2007, the GAO also sounded the alarm on this same issue, apparently to no avail since those in charge of Medicare are still allowing $48 billion worth of fraud a year, four years after the initial report and warnings.
  • The same problems exist today as in 2007 including poor management systems that cannot single out fraudulent payments.
  • Other recommendations from  the 2007 GAO report have not been effectively followed up on.

As a result, Medicare suffers from “pervasive internal control deficiencies” and “it’s complexity and susceptibility to improper payments, combined with its size, have led to serious management challenges.

If the GAO is right and $48 billion in waste a year could be eliminated, then over a 12 year period about $576 billion could be saved. If Obama is serious about trimming $4 TRILLION from the national debt over twelve years, than just fixing this single government problem would get him about 14% of the way there without raising anyone’s taxes. If he could also clean up the fraud in Medicaid and Medicare Part D, it is not inconceivable that he could get closer to 20-25% of his debt reduction target.

– Currently, 44 states offer movie executives and companies financial and other incentives to film their movies in their states. However, given the tight economic times for just about every state government, they may want to reconsider these taxpayer giveaways based on the some simple analyses that have been done.

According to a Reason article, the state of Michigan has usually given movie makers a tax credit that was about 42%, on average, of the budget for films made in the state of Michigan. The state has spent $300 million since 2008 on these types of incentives and will have spent well over $400 million by the time the program ends in 2013.

What has Michigan gotten for these hundreds of millions of dollars? An analysis by the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency found that the state spent $190.3 million in movie incentives in 2008 and 2009. As a result, they estimated that these movie endeavors created 6,217 part time jobs in support of the shootings. They assumed that 6,217 part time jobs are the equivalent of about 571 full time jobs, resulting in the simple math that each full time job equivalent cost $507,962 each. Not a really good economic program when it costs you half a million dollars to create one full time job equivalent.

And Michigan is not alone. The state of Louisiana has been one state that has actually been increasing its budget for attracting film makers to their state. In Louisiana, film makers can get up to 35% in production and labor incentives for their film projects. This budget has been growing despite the fact that a 2005 state legislative analyst’s finding and analysis estimated that the state recouped only about 16-18% of its investment.

Makes you wonder why these simple types of analysis are not done long before the state government and the politicians that operate it waste hundreds of millions of dollars. How many more such state programs exist and how many Federal programs exist, programs that waste taxpayer money and seem to exist only because they already exist. Wouldn’t it be better to get government smaller and focused on only essential needs and let favored industries like movie production pay their fair share? Think about how much taxpayer money could be saved and how tax increases are not even necessary when you start clearing out these types of wasteful programs.

– Neil Strauss wrote a book called “The Game,” which apparently details the best way to pick up women. According to Reason, Strauss claims that the FBI has hired him to train agents on the use of his pick-up techniques to elicit information from terrorists. Now that water boarding is no longer used I guess we have to fall back on lines such as “What’s you sign?”, “Come to Gitmo often?”, and “I love your burka.” I find it hard to believe that pick up lines and techniques are gong to be effective at anything except wasting taxpayer dollars.

– On January 26, 2011, Mexican authorities seized a nine foot tall, trailer mounted catapult that they say was used to hurl marijuana packets over the Arizona border fence. No need to illegally cross over into the United States when you can just use a crude ancient weapon to fling the illegal drugs into the country. By the way, the entire fence on the border has already cost taxpayers well over a $1 billion but apparently can be defeated by a medieval contraption that costs far less than $1 billion to build.

The article goes on to recount the many ways drug smugglers get their product into this country beyond catapulting including false bottom gas tanks, clothes laced with liquefied cocaine and boa constrictors who have been been forced to down packets of heroin.

Given that the never ending war on drugs is over forty years old and the originality of drug smugglers seems just as never ending, maybe it is a good time to finally have an adult discussion and plan on the never ending drug plague in this country, a discussion that needs to include decriminalization, legalization, and enhanced addict treatment approaches.

– Recently, police officers in Sarasota were having trouble with drug dealers in an apartment complex in town, the Mediterranean Apartments. Drug use and violence was wide spread in the area and in the complex but police could not nail down who the actual dealers were. That is when they found a favorable judge who issued a warrant to end all warrants, and possibly the fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The warrant allowed police to search EVERYONE who entered the complex, even if there was not probable cause.

While police said “no innocent people” lived in or frequented the complex, of the dozen people that were arbitrarily stopped, only four were charged with a drug crime. This obviously shows the police based their ridiculous assumption on faulty information if two thirds of the people stopped and their fourth Amendment rights violated were not guilty of any drug offenses.

It is very scary when the police assume you are guilty until proven innocent and a judge allows them to get away with it. However, there is justice since an attorney of one of the four arrested probably has a strong case for throwing the arrest out of court as a violation of his client’s Constitutional rights. Thus, this charade may not get any drug dealers any prison time while it chipped away another piece of freedom from our Constitutional rights.

But Reason magazine does not have a monopoly on government insanity. Consider the following items from just one issue of The Week magazine.

– The government and the political class have handled the Federal government’s involvement in the domestic real estate market so wretchedly that the American taxpayer has already paid out $150 billion to cover up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s losses, with more bills to come. This information comes form an article in The Atlantic by Daniel Indiviglio, as summarized in the May 13, 2011 issue of The Week.

This means that on average, every U.S. household has already paid out about $1,300 to cover the incompetence of these two Federal housing organizations. Mr. Indiviglio’s solution? Get the government and the political class out of the housing market altogether and let private industry fail or succeed in that market according to their own abilities, without the help or aid of the U.S. taxpayer.

– Chrysler announced that it earned $116 million in profits in the first quarter of 2011. At this rate of $116 million a quarter, Chrysler will pay back the $5.8 billion it owes the American taxpayer in bailout money in about twelve and half years, assuming that all of its profits go to the bailout payback. Not a very good investment by any measure, if you have to wait twelve years just to get back the original money you forked out like the taxpayer did for Chrysler.

Waste, waste, waste, and destruction of Constitutional rights. A busy month for the government and the political class but not a good month for taxpayers and liberty.

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