Rubbers, Runways, Robbers & Rewards

Retirement, Strategies, Technical Analysis

Consumers love rewards programs, whether it’s cash back, free miles or a free dessert at their local eatery. They’re generally a tit-for-tat, you do business with them and they reward you for doing so.

Our article, “Does Government Debt Really Matter?” generated interesting responses.

Subscriber Bob O. lamented how our government is borrowing billions and wasting it. He sent a study titled, “Where’s The Pork?” It reports on the $583 billion in government grants during the fiscal year 2016.

How ironic it is when the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported:

“The budget shortfall widened to $587 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Treasury Department said Friday, up 34% from the previous fiscal year.”

Am I missing something? While the WSJ highlights increases in social programs as the primary cause; take away the government giveaways – the pork – wouldn’t we have balanced the budget?

 

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

– George Bernard Shaw

Politicos spending your tax dollars to garner votes

The study provides 50 examples of wasteful federal grants. It reminds me of a rewards catalog; you redeem your political donations for certain gifts.

Wasteful spending is a bipartisan effort:

“The 25 districts that received the most federal grant money accounted for 58 percent of all federal grant funding. Of the top 10 grant-receiving districts, Democrats represented five and Republicans five. Of the top 50 grant-receiving districts, Democrats represented 27 and Republicans 23.”

They provide an easy to read map pinpointing where the spending went:

Yes, I sarcastically intended to show just how bipartisan government pork really is.

“While congressional leaders argue there’s nowhere left to cut, this report details 50 examples of wasteful grants…. These grants funded video games, children’s cartoons, and numerous sex-centered studies.”

Who gets the free stuff?

The government rewards the swamp at almost double the rate of the next in line:

“Washington, D.C., received more than $7,500 in grant dollars per capita, followed by Alaska ($3,950 per capita); Vermont ($3,088 per capita); New York ($2,785 per capita); and Kentucky ($2,571 per capita).”

Private industry is also on the dole:

“Fortune 100 companies received $3.2 billion in federal grants between fiscal years 2014 and 2016. The top recipients included Boeing ($773.7 million); General Motors ($453.7 million); and Lockheed Martin Corporation ($277.2 million).

More than 3,000 for-profit institutions received $2.5 billion in grants. Southern Company Services, Inc., whose revenues totaled $23 billion in fiscal year 2016, received $162.5 million in federal grants.”

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Here are some of the notorious highlights:

NEW CONDOM DESIGN WITH MORE LUBRICATION – $200,601
JOSEPH KENNEDY III | MASSACHUSETTS-4 | DEMOCRAT

“A grant for more than $200,000 from HHS funded a new condom design to address a “lack of adequate lubrication,” currently a “universal drawback” in other condom designs.” ….

Can congressman Kennedy explain why it’s necessary to subsidize the private sector? Why not let the free market work it out? I’m sure there would be plenty of volunteers to help with the study.

SEX ED FOR PROSTITUTES IN CALIFORNIA – $1,486,376
BARBARA LEE | CALIFORNIA-13 | DEMOCRAT

“The California Prostitutes Education Project received $1.49 million from HHS in the fiscal year 2016. The project describes itself as a “youth-centered initiative” that “works with street prostitutes” to teach “safer sex and needle use” in a way that’s respectful of their clients’ “lifestyle and choices,”despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in California and 48 other U.S. states.” (Emphasis mine)

While politicos have been screwing taxpayers forever, when it comes to sex-ed, shouldn’t hookers be the teachers?

FUNDING A NOTORIOUS CHILDCARE FACILITY – $5,052,054
PETE OLSON | TEXAS-22 | REPUBLICAN

“The Shiloh Treatment Center – operating out of a mobile home in Manvel, Texas – has a long media-chronicled history of alleged abuse and negligence. …. Reports from children and investigators at these facilities have alleged physical and verbal abuse, neglect, and, on three occasions, death. The reoccurring allegations led the U.S. Representative from a neighboring Texas district – Sheila Jackson Lee (TX–18) – to publicly call on the center to close its doors.

Troubling allegations have continued through 2016. …. Yet, in the fiscal year 2016 Shiloh Treatment Center received more than $5 million for its 44-person capacity facility …. Over the course of three years (FY2014-FY2016), the Shiloh Treatment Center received $14.9 million in federal grants.”

Check out this remark from Congressman Olson’s website:

“Nancy and I are humbled by the broad and deep support the people of the Greater Houston area continue to provide our campaign,” said Congressman Olson. “The folks of our area expect conservative reforms to change the course our nation has been on during the Obama-era. I’m honored so many have come together to ensure our campaign is fully capable of defending my conservative, results-oriented record ….”(Emphasis mine)

Huh? We have a child care facility in a house trailer with a history of real issues, including abuse. Over the last three years, Congressman Olson rewarded their mediocrity with $14.9 million. He’s running for reelection on a “conservative, results-oriented record.” What could possibly be wrong here?

Congressman David Price sponsored some interesting pork:

HIV PREVENTION FOR YOUNG FEMALE SEX WORKERS IN ZIMBABWE – $188,136
DAVID PRICE | NORTH CAROLINA-4 | DEMOCRAT

“This $188,136 grant from HHS to the Research Triangle Institute supported HIV-prevention efforts among female sex workers in Zimbabwe. The project pertained specifically to an HIV-prevention project that targets young sex workers with a high risk of contracting HIV.”

KENYA PROSTITUTES TESTING CLIENTS FOR HIV – $710,337
DAVID PRICE | NORTH CAROLINA-4 | DEMOCRAT

“A $710,337 HHS grant to the University of North Carolina provided HIV testing kits to female sex workers in Kenya so they could administer tests to their potential sexual partners before engaging in unprotected intercourse.”

Here are some tidbits from the 30-year congressional veteran’s website:

“David has worked in Congress to promote the values and interests of central North Carolina residents.

David …. has made job creation his top priority.”

Now really congressman, African hookers? I’m sure you have plenty in NC. Shouldn’t you be protecting your own from HIV?

Non-profits received almost $20 billion in grants. The study highlights Battelle Memorial Institute:

“This Columbus, Ohio, science and technology nonprofit does a great deal of business with the federal government, reaping $181.6 million in grants and $8.1 billion in contracts between 2014 and 2016. ….

In its most recent tax documents, Battelle disclosed total revenue of $4.8 billion, with more than $4.5 billion coming from government grants and contracts. The nonprofit also documented seven employees earning more than $1 million a year, including the CEO, who received $2.7 million in total compensation.”

While they may perform important services, is there any oversight? Wonder where their political donations go?

It’s all about who ya know!

Ever heard of Martha’s Vineyard? The Island is a summer colony for the rich and famous. It was a favorite destination of President Obama. Does Chappaquiddick Island ring a bell?

Notice the small island received five government grants.

$9.2 million was granted for an “Airport Improvement Program”. The island boasts about 16,000 full-time residents. Instead of raising their taxes, it’s easier to make a phone call to the right politician and pay for the improvements with your taxes. It’s just a simple perk; part of being politically connected.

The swamp is bipartisan, 535 members of Congress gave away $583 billion in free stuff, only it’s not free!

Why does congress rob taxpayers to subsidize rubbers, runways, African hookers, shady child care centers and gigantic companies? It’s a rewards program, using our money to bolster their chances of re-election.

What can we do?

I agree with Gary H. who writes, “Debt will be our demise….no way around this until we get a congress filled with fewer politicians…which seems almost impossible to imagine.”

The Undeniable Truth

With few exceptions, the political class doesn’t give a damn about the debt. The politicos use the tax system and government spending to buy votes to keep them in power.

They kick the can down the road; secretly hoping any negative consequences happen when they are out of power, enabling them to make political hay and convince the public they should rule forever!

Their behavior won’t change; they will continue to pile up debt until the citizens’ revolt!

States are pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. In 2014 Newsmax reported, “34 States Call for Constitutional Convention – and Possible Rewrite”. While passing the 2/3 threshold, there are some technicalities:

“The resulting confusion and lack of clear guidance in the Constitution will have to be sorted out by the congressional leadership since Article 5 says that Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments” when requested by enough states.”

Apparently, this 2013 poll showing “85% of Americans Support Requiring a Balanced Federal Budget” is not enough to motivate our representatives in Washington. Whatever happened to representative government?

The pork spending report ends with this conclusion:

“The group’s oversight model has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, successful prosecutions, congressional briefings and hearings, subpoenas, and Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits, administrative policy changes, federal legislation, and much more.”

My positive side says that is a great start. Their findings should be broadcast around the world. Members of Congress should be publicly put on the spot and held accountable.

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My cynical side worries about just how far the deep state will go trying to prevent them from shedding light on government waste.

 

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