Archive for the 'Government Waste' Category

You Were Right to be Worried

My son just came up to me and told me he hurt his bum.  He wanted me to kiss it better.  Does anyone else feel like this is what we have done for the banks?  Why would we do something that doesn’t seem to be making the banks feel any better and seems to be making us about 700 Billion poorer.

I don’t know if anyone else has taken a look at the situation, but the market is getting crushed again today.  I remember the happy days when 3% was a steep decline.  The S&P, the broadest measurement, is down over 9%.  That isn’t a steep decline.  That is falling off a damn cliff.  It is carrying the senior citizens down with it. The suicides are starting up.  It is tragic, and I can see it getting worse.  The news today was that retail sales took a massive dip.  This is not the time to be working at the Buckle.

Everyone is looking for the big event around the corner, be it rising unemployment, more welfare for the banks, more welfare for everybody.  Mccain and Obama are going to have a real treat when they are done with the campaigning.  The prize is to be at the helm of of a ship that is on the rocks.   I know that my retirement funds have dwindled down to pitiful levels.  I am 29, and it is not a huge problem.  But this could be the end of free enterprise as we know it.

The time has finally come for the US to pay the piper.  It is going to be tough for the baby boomers, and there are only so many Walmart greeter jobs out there.  The next 5 years are going to show massive changes to welfare.  I hope we can handle the increase in tax rates.

Paulson, “Congress, Can I Please Get My Credit Limit Increased?”

The secretary of treasury wants to increase his spending again.  I think the debt professionals at Saturday Night Live have some advice for them.

 Now I know this is complicated, so maybe the Secretary of the Treasury should watch this once again. 

I thought these people were supposed to be smart.  There is a threat of a recession on the horizon, and we are spending more and more now.  If we can’t manage our budget during the better years what will we do when things actually get bad?  What are they thinking? 

The worst part is that we continue to have faith in them.  Social security is going to be a complete disaster, medicare and medicaid will be worse, and who knows who will finance the retirement of military vets.  It’s going to be great.  A bunch of cranky old sick people who know how to kill other people wandering around town in a bad mood.  If we already have massive liabilities that we don’t know how we are going to cover, why are we increasing spending right now?  We should be cutting expenses and getting ready for the perfect storm that is coming, both as a country and personally.  That means, “Don’t buy stuff you cannot afford”. 

Savings rates were once positive in this country.  The fact that they are already negative is very scary, especially seeing that baby boomers are still supposed to be socking away money.  If, as a country, we have a negative savings rate now, where will we be in 15 years when all of the baby boomers retire.  With those extremely negative savings rates, our credit rating around the world will be dropping like a rock.  We will be the country that is paying high interest rates because there is so much doubt in our ability to repay our debts. 

It looks like they may just use infaltion to debase the debts, slaughtering the accounts of those who were responsible and saved.  The catch is actions like this promote irresponsible behavior in the citizens.  Savers are what allows growth of industry through financing new equipment, factories, and research.  Why do we punish them?  I guess the government will end up getting the citizens it deserves in this case. 

It will be interesting to see how things shake out, but it would be a lot more pleasant waiting if both our government and our citizens tried to be a little responsible in the meantime.

Science and Politics should not mix; This Fire From Saltwater idea is wack (and wacky).

Yesterday I did a blog on why politicians should not pretend they understand science and have the public vote based on that. Today on the front page of yahoo was a story that explains the reason. I am surprised that someone at yahoo was not smart enough to check out on this.

“Scientist Burns Water” is a title to an article on the front page of Yahoo. I teach chemistry and am not dumb (at chemistry, anyway). This article shows why science in American schools has failed. I saw the youtube presentation from a local news channel, where they treated it as the new great energy breakthrough. Apparently, it does not take much intelligence to be a journalist. When you are clueless in a field that you are doing a story about, ask someone. Professors at colleges long from the depths of their souls to clear up massive misconceptions such as this. It hurts them when they see gross conceptual errors splayed out as truth, because they know that they will have to repair the damage to their students as they come through their classes. Also, this is based on a principle that any engineering professor (or 2nd year engineering student, for that matter) should know. You can’t violate the laws of thermodynamics.

Here is a summary.

  1. Water Doesn’t burn. What he is doing is taking the the oxygen and hydrogen out of H20 and then burning them.  According to what he says, the radio waves ignite the oxygen and hydrogen on the spot, eliminating chances of saving the energy for future (portable) use.
  2. The amount of energy it takes to pull apart a water molecule (through electrolysis, radio waves, very high temperatures) is exactly the amount of energy released when the hydrogen and oxygen recombine to form water (through burning or a fuel cell). This deals with the conservation of energy.
  3. When we try to pull apart a water molecule, we aren’t 100% efficient – There is always at least a little bit of energy wasted, usually as heat. The fact that some energy always has to be wasted is known as the second law of thermodynamics. (Wikipedia has a more extensive article).
  4. When we put the hydrogen and oxygen back together, we can’t extract all of the energy out of the reaction. This is also because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. (We lose energy as heat).

After having read these four statements, you know more about energy than the majority of Americans. This is why we can’t use hydrogen as endless fuel. It takes just as much energy to get the hydrogen out of water as we get when we use it, and we have losses all along the way. Fuel cell cars theoretically have fewer losses along the way and that is why many people want to use them, but all technology has losses.  That radio wave generator is sucking more power than the Stirling engine puts out by a long shot. We use the power production methods we use, not because businessmen hate trees and furry animals, but because they work inexpensively and reliably. If you want to be a good environmentalist, don’t try to stop proven power methods, turn off the darn lights. Reuse. Any time you are being an honest decent cheapskate, you are probably saving the environment.

Politicians will grab onto this in an election year, becuase then they can feed the public the idea that with enough research, the laws of thermodynamics will be rendered obsolete.

I want to clearly state, scientists did not make up these laws. If you don’t like them talk to God. If he is willing to change the laws of thermodynamics for you I could use a favor. My class insinuates that I am not cool, and if you have God’s ear, see if you can do something about that.  And while we are wishing, I want a pony.

More Budget Insanity- We can’t repair Bridges, we are too busy financing risky mortgages

The senate is currently debating a transportation and housing bill. This bill includes only $1 billion to speed up bridge repair. For crying out loud, Amtrak asked for and got $1.2 billion to subsidize them. (They have got the plan to turn their business around, by dang, and if it doesn’t work . . . they will come to us for another billion next year).

I wonder how much money was lost because of the Minnesota bridge collapse. There were 140,000 drivers that used the bridge each day. If you assume each driver takes an economic loss of $5 each due to time, gas, and wear and tear on the car, you end up with $700,000. A day. And that is a low estimate. Why are bridges so low on our priority list?

Housing and urban development is getting over $30 billion this year. Are we sure we should be insuring HUD loans when people who have trouble getting traditional loans seem to be defaulting left and right? I guess the one thing that it does do is make sure that politicians will get votes from that crowd. Meanwhile, programs that the tax paying citizens of the country would really want, like say, the “No bridge left behind” program crash down in ruins.

The backlog on bridge repairs is $65 billion. It is also growing, as wear and tear keeps taking its toll. In a situation like this, $1 billion is so small it is almost laughable. It’s like having a $65,000 credit card bill, and throwing in an extra thousand a year. Laudy frickin’ daw. You’ll have fun eating government cheese as your van plunges down into the river.

If the government can’t do its job at this either, it is time to hand it over to private enterprise. Set up tolls across the bridges. The most efficient and important repairs will be done by a company that wants to keep costs down. Those citizens of Minnesota would be happy to pay a few bucks to cross the bridge if they could have it actually hold up. Let’s either have the government get some common sense into transportation, or let’s get someone in transportation who has some common sense.

Science and Politics Don’t Mix

You can hardly get through a day without seeing a story about the benefits of some new technology in the energy sector.  Wind turbines, ethanol, solar cells, and a host of other solutions beckon at the door.  This doesn’t include the age old answer to all of our energy questions, “Just Use Hydrogen”.

These policies are based on politics and not logic.  If you don’t believe me, ask an engineer.

Ethanol, as a fantastic fuel source of the future, is one of the most popular myths.  I am sure that they have nothing to do with the Iowa Caucuses.  The states that seem the most excited about using ethanol as an alternative fuel are those that grow corn.  Corn is extremely demanding in terms of fertilizer, water, and top soil.  It has also been argued that producing ethanol consumes more energy than is produced in the ethanol.  Ethanol is less of a solution than a slogan.  Everyone can feel good about getting fuel from beautiful green plants.  It’s the same feeling you get when you are getting food from beautiful fuzzy animals.

The biggest problem is that even if it wasn’t environmentally retarded, it is economically unfeasible.  Ethanol from corn gets a $.51 a gallon subsidy in the US, according to The Economist.  Ethanol is actually viable in some foreign countries, because manufacturing ethanol from sugar cane is much more efficient and cost effective, but the government slapped a $.54 a gallon tariff on sugar based ethanol.  We could import the sugar to make it ourselves, but Washington has put quotas on the amounts of sugar we can import to protect lobby groups.  Meanwhile, oil and gasoline can be imported tariff free.

This whole system becomes more nauseating in an election cycle, when every presidential candidate is trying to kiss up to Iowa to ensure that they come out ahead in the race.  It is not good for the country, but politicians don’t care what is good for the country.  They are concerned with the next election cycle.  They apparently suck at science. The big problem is that the voting public is scientifically idiotic.  They spout some sound bite they heard, and expect that with enough research, we can break the laws of thermodynamics.  I think we should just start a “Manhattan style project” and make x-wings, beaming technology, and light sabers.  That is just as practical, and much cooler.

Wind turbines work where the wind blows and where politicians who’s names rhyme with “Eddy Kennedy” don’t care if their view is impeded.  They require repairs more frequently than many other sources, and only produce power when the wind blows.  Wyoming has wind farms, but they already generate more than enough power there, and ship off vast amounts to California.

Solar cells are so cost ineffective it’s disturbing.  They are good for two things.  Providing power to locations to which it is hard to run wires and helping environmentalists feel better.

People’s knowledge on hydrogen is laughable.  “Just use fusion.”  There is one minor catch.  The only reliable way we know to jump start fusion is with large amounts of fission… those nuclear bomb things.  “Well just use it in a fuel cell.”  Umm . . . It takes more energy to take it from water and get it into the car than it releases.  “Let’s just all ride ponies then.  Together, with and for the children.  And have world peace.”  All those people think if you think positively about something for long enough, it will happen.  It doesn’t work.  I had a crush on a girl named Ashley in 7th grade.  I thought positively about me going out with her a lot.  Going out with her would have violated one of the laws of eternity, that in junior high, cute girls don’t go out with nerds.  They wait till college when they find out nerds make many times as much as jocks.  You just can’t violate physical law.

All the same, people vote for the politicians that put forth the pretty promises. This is great if you live in a primary state and have billions of dollars going to you in subsidies.  If you are a normal joe, you are screwed.  You are especially screwed if you like candy (the quotas on sugar cost the US $1.9 billion annually).  So I guess the same old song will move forward unless we want to choose a candidate who will do some things based on principle and knowledge, not based on where the earliest primary states are.  I know what you are all thinking. . . .

GO RON PAUL

Your money will go to a good cause. I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

When I was on the way home yesterday, I learned more about the efficiency of the city government here in Charleston. Apparently each council member is allowed to allocate $35,000 dollars to a charity of their choice. They reassured me that there would be no chance of favoritism.

This is so wrong on so many levels that I don’t know where to start. A council member on the radio show said that if the charities did not get the money they needed, their functions would fall back onto the government, which isn’t as efficient. While the government is inept at solving social problems with money, apparently they are experts at doling it out to just the right organization. Before the council donated the money, the charities got along just fine. The council member said, “But what if the charities didn’t get the money. What would they do then? The city would then suffer from all the fall out.” But. . um. . they are getting the money

I would like to talk about a more pressing problem, people eating. The health hazards caused by people not eating are far reaching. They get hungry, sick, and then die. I know that we let people feed themselves now, but can we really trust them to do this? What would happen if these people all of the sudden quit buying food? The hospitals could not handle the burden. The economic costs would be staggering, even if they refused to eat for only two or three weeks! It is our duty as citizens to deliver enough beans and rice for each citizen to eat. We must then prepare it for them, and shove it down their throats. Many doubters will say that people are doing fine eating themselves, but we scoff at such ignorance. We have to look at what would happen if they didn’t, and plan accordingly.

When we know how people behave in a certain instance, we shouldn’t make up hypothetical behavior that is different from the observed behavior and make decisions based on that. People do donate to charities they feel are efficient, and engaged in a good cause. People eat. We don’t have to use government power to change either of these, especially if they are using Zaphod Beeblebrox’s Heart of Gold to calculate to whom we should dole out the dough.

The other catch is, what if these politicians are donating to charities that the taxpayers don’t like? The politicians get to feel generous with other people’s money, and charities start wasting resources putting on dog and pony shows for the town council to try to get those resources. It encourages pandering at its worst. Why should I donate to the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) when I am really interested in donating to the CPWWTCF (Children of People Who Wrote This College Fund). These council members push forward their social agendas for larger and more powerful government with my resources. I know what is best for my money.

Casino Patrons to be Reimbursed for Losses

Reports are coming from Las Vegas of a massive government effort to help investors that have been betrayed by casinos. These investors have put massive amounts of money into investments, some their entire livelihood, only to end up broke. One investor says, “I was just doing what everyone else was. I knowed that I had to make money at this, cause my cousin, Willy, was here last week and he made 500 smackaroos. Now I’m broke, upside down on my mortgage, and my kids don’t have anything to eat. I just want what’s fair and decent.”

The betrayal by the casinos occurred on a grand scale. At one end of a casino, the lights flashed above the slot machine “Win Car Here”, but poor Harold Hickson walked home. “It just ain’t right,” he says. “It says I should win a car, but I put in my entire savings, and even pawned my mobile home, and I ain’t won crap. I don’t know what Betty Sue will do when she hears. We made this investment in good faith. I heard a bunch of people were here last week and made a bundle.”

Another patron, Graham Wellington said, “It is clear that the practices here have been unethical. As I walked in, the lady who gave me chips said, good luck, I hope you hit it big. The personnel in the industry spread this idea that investing at a blackjack table is a sure way to get a significant payout. There were no warnings that these investments could turn sour. This euphoria caught many up in it, and I cannot afford the losses I have incurred. As a working citizen, I have a right to have someone help me with the losses I face due to this deception.”

The deception is all over. Claims of million dollar payouts were spread far and wide. These losses aren’t flukes, but a scheme by those no good dealers to get fat off of their pay. Rick Henson, a college student majoring in economics, reports, “I was always good at investing back at college, and got my friends good and wasted before I cleaned them out. It’s gotta be a fraud, because I toasted my student loans in one day of investing in poker here. I saw a billboard that says people hit it big in Vegas, false advertising if I’ve ever seen it. This disaster is too big for individuals. The government needs to intervene and help the market out of this crisis.”

A spokesman from the heartless bastards at The Von Mises Institute said, “Their unwise speculations did not result in the outcome they expected. The risk management was skewed by years of being taken care of by the government, resulting in expectations of large payouts with little aversion to downside risk. If the government mitigates these consequences, it will perpetuate this poor judgment, and these types of incidents will occur with greater frequency.”

Someone from the back yelled, “What he’s saying is they gambled and lost their shirts because they were greedy. If we bail them out they won’t learn their lesson, and we will have to keep bailing people out.”

The Center for Compassionate Government rebutted these outrageous insults.  “These are people who trusted the advice of these casinos, and were provided an environment where they could simply get more chips. There was nothing that told them about the impending losses.  Serious sanctions must be taken against these corporate bosses. One investor told us that they thought they could simply get back all of their money after they were done gambling, assuming that the casino was just holding the money for safety purposes.  He never signed anything that said he would not get his money back.  He was duped.  The thought of losses had never entered his head.”

“Now he and his family don’t have the money to pay next month’s rent.  We need to help them.  After all, it’s for the children.  We are proposing that people be allowed to be reimbursed in a way that will be fair to all parties. We don’t think anyone should be locked out of the American Dream.  Now we recognize that the casino owners don’t have the means to deliver what they promised, but I am sure that no true American wants little Bobby to go hungry.  The government has the means to support this, and we demand they help the poorest,  who were tricked into precarious financial situations.”

The president of Evil Conservative Industries, Gren Bock, said, “What the heck did they expect? They were gambling at a freakin’ casino. It’s sad that the kids are in such trouble, but come on. Everyone knows that in speculations you have ebbs and flows. There is no free lunch. My father was a baker, and he worked his rear off for every cent he got. These guys think it will fall into their laps just because their friends got lucky, well, they are in for a surprise.”

It is clear that despite the heartlessness of the rich evil conservatives, something must be done to help those that invested in at these well known establishments in good faith. Americans are obligated to help those who have been tricked and swindled. Presidential candidates promise that relief is coming. We couldn’t suppport them more strongly. Everyone has a right to the American dream!

Government Waste- Paying the government for the privilege of paying

The government is once again showing its incredible business acumen, using their superior knowledge to dictate what we should do with our money.  Apparently we should give it to New York so they can charge us more to visit.  According to the associated press, Bloomberg is getting 354 Million federal dollars to set up a toll system to lower traffic in the city.  I have a better idea.

There are a lot of unemployed people in NYC.  Just equip them all with baseball bats.  Anytime anyone drives past, they should go up to the car and tell them it’s ten bucks to get down this street.  If they don’t pay, have them start wailing on the car.  Traffic is guaranteed to go down.  People could have frequent driver passes- They just give the guy $200 at the beginning of the month.  The city could even rent out the collection spots, funneling the money through some union hands, some bureaucrats, and finally have at least 3% left over for road repair.  No cost to the city, and they would even see profits. 

That solution isn’t perfect, but I have trouble seeing why my family of 4 should contribute around five dollars through taxes so they can charge me to drive through NYC, should I visit.   Does it make sense for me to go door to door in by neighborhood and demand 25 bucks from each citizen so I can build a tollbooth at the entrance to the neighborhood?  I could claim it would keep people from taking a shortcut through our neighborhood and thus reduce traffic, but when push comes to shove, I am making them pay for the privilege of giving them money.  I seriously think you could auction off this ability to collect tolls, and resell the lease every 7 years to the highest bidder.  The first bid would come in low because of the cost of the infrastructure (tollbooths), but given how much the New Yorkers pay for everything car related, businesses could make a good profit anyway- until the bureaucrats and union bosses got involved.  If they are really doing this to reduce traffic and not to generate revenue, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be a good solution.

In San Francisco and Miami, subsidies are similarly used to create other driving lanes.  I especially like how Joe taxpayer is bearing the cost for the rich in Miami, where hot lanes, paid express lanes, will ferry those with money to pay for the privilege.  Those who use the lanes will only be bearing a fraction of the cost.  You know because the federal government (reads “Joe taxpayer”) has to inject almost 70 million for the project.  If the project provided enough benefits to the users, it could be supported by the tolls alone.  Instead, the middle class is supporting the upper middle class and the rich.  Who will be able to pay the tolls in NYC everyday? The rich.  We are going to be subsidizing their transportation system- paying to have its usefulness to Joe citizen reduced.  The parade of the special interest groups in full force, and as always, the middle and upper middle class taxpayers are the ones who are carrying more than their share of the burden.

I have nothing about the rich having their own road, but I don’t think we should subsidize it.  If a private company wants to build roads and rent them to the rich, fantastic! I hope the rich enjoy the fruits of their labors in the form of a quicker commute.  On the other hand, a taxpayer in Kansas should not be supporting toll booths that will make it more expensive for them to drive in NYC, or lanes for the rich in Miami. 

Here is the story I referenced, by the way.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070814/ap_on_re_us/traffic_fee;_ylt=ArZWHMged9vUp2JACBTTylVH2ocA