Is Federal Waste and Fraud Inevitable?

graphic courtesy of ProofDirectory.orgMy congressman, Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), frequently holds town hall meetings in his home district.  Each meeting includes a half-hour presentation of current, relevant information and a one-hour question and answer period.  Mulvaney tells his constituents what is on his mind, and then really listens to them.   His responses are honest and direct, no evasion or weasel-words. He is knowledegable, articulate, engaged, and pragmatic.

Mulvaney sets the bar high for transparency and communication from a US Congressman.  A while back I attended a meeting by a Republican congressman from North Carolina and the contrast is striking – from the outset he was defensive, unprepared, and seemed to consider the attendees to be combatants rather than constituents.  He cemented his position as a Washington insider, solidly aligned with Boehner and the good-old boys, was not up-to-speed on facts and details, and had no intention of listening to any conservative point of view from his audience.

So I’m tickled to have Mulvaney representing me in Washington, DC.  Still, I always leave his meetings totally bummed.  Here’s why:

Congressman Mulvaney sees the waste, fraud, and over-spending in government first-hand and with clarity.  He is loaded with anecdotes and examples of Washington’s out-of-control checkbook and frequently quotes from Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) “Waste Book”.  Mulvaney knows how bad the corruption and ineptitude is, and hates it as much as we taxpayers do.

But then, after exploding our heads with his tales of fiscal terror, Mulvaney pulls the chain.  “There’s not really much we can do about it,” he says.  “The federal budget is so huge that it is impossible to find and correct problems in large enough increments to make a difference.”

Mulvaney points out that only 29% of our $3.5 trillion annual federal spending is discretionary – the rest is mandatory.  If 5% of that $1 trillion in discretionary spending is wasted, we would need 50,000 fiscal repairs of one million bucks each to fix it.

So nobody even tries to stop corruption and waste.

Does that sound horrific?  It’s actually worse.  I would bet the percentage of waste and fraud in the discretionary part of the budget is much larger than 5%.   Further, I submit that the waste and fraud in the mandatory part of the budget is just as bad or worse!

Our legislators have oversight responsibility, but do not have the time or resources to even begin to supervise federal programs and departments.  And do you think for a minute the government bureaucrats give a damn about 5% of somebody else’s money being wasted or stolen?  Quite the opposite – the more money their respective departments spend, the greater their power, prestige, and salaries.  They know nobody is watching, and they know nobody ever gets fired.

So is our federal fiscal viability as hopeless as Congressman Mulvaney fears?  It shouldn’t be.  And I hate that we, as a nation, have given up.

Here are some suggestions from a retired CFO (me) who has run businesses by the numbers and knows that waste and fraud are not inevitable:

  • Eliminate government employee unions – it is impossible to manage people who can’t be fired, and it is immoral that the campaigns of elected officials are funded by the very employees they are supposed to manage
  • Prosecute any officials who are caught stealing or wasting federal funds
  • Pass a balanced budget amendment, with restrictions on raising taxes – in other words, set and adhere to a real budget
  • Audit and/or eliminate the Federal Reserve – the cancerous growth of our federal government will continue until we stop printing fiat money
  • Return most government functions and authority to the states – restrict the federal government to only those functions specified in the Constitution
  • Require detailed public online reporting of all federal spending – sunshine is the best disinfectant

And that’s just a start.

Could federal government waste and corruption be brought back under control?  You bet!  But, like Mulvaney, I fear that it won’t.  Because as of now not enough Americans give a damn.  Too many of us are under-informed, disengaged, overwhelmed, or mired in self-interest.  Just the way the Washington insiders like it.

It will take a big bang – something really strong – to get our attention.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I’ve been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I’ve seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all, yeah

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today, yeah

Something So Strong – Crowded House

The lights went out but the sound system was working – so the band kept playing!  Crowded House playing in the dark in 2007.

They’re Coming to America

photo courtesy 21stCenturySchools.com

photo courtesy 21stCenturySchools.com

Standing in the checkout line at Costco, I watched and listened to the family in front of me chattering in a language that I couldn’t identify.  Was it Flemish?  Behind me a mother and her daughter spoke what I think was Hindi.  Another group of Indians near us was speaking English in their distinctive clipped dialect, and then a passel of giggling little Chinese kids ran by, with Mom and Dad sternly attempting discipline in their home language.  Then the pretty young Caribbean woman began checking out our groceries as two young Hispanic men worked the merchandise and carts and shared a joke in Spanish.

And it hit me like a brick.  The United States I had known all my life is no more.

I know, it sounds cliched, but I (conservative, Tea Party, mature white male) am not a racist.  I have no ill will or condescension toward any kind of people.  I have said I am an “economic bigot” – I expect capable people to work, and don’t particularly care for those who won’t, regardless of ethnicity.  But I enjoy the uniqueness of people from different places and cultures, especially the flavors of family interactions that are so universal – devoted parents raising their fun-loving kids.

No, I’m not a racist, but I couldn’t help but notice that American-born, English-speaking whites and blacks were outnumbered on that Saturday afternoon in that Costco store in a relatively affluent Charlotte neighborhood.

I was flooded with questions and emotions.  Do these foreigners also speak English?  Where do they work?  They seem to have plenty of money – were they wealthy in their native countries?  Are there here legally?  How did they get drivers licenses?  Do they vote?  Are their kids in the neighborhood schools, and how the heck do the schools deal with so many languages and customs?

Of course, no broad-brush answers apply.  Some speak English, some don’t.  Some have jobs, others are on government benefits.  Some are legal.  Some have drivers licenses.  Some vote.  One thing is for sure, suddenly there are a lot of them, as both legal and illegal immigration rates are exploding, compared to our earlier history.  Many states are importing more people than are being born to natives.

The United States will never again look and sound like it did during our lifetimes.  It is a done deal.

But we, as a nation, are still at a tipping point:  Will the values, social structure, and laws that made this country the most prosperous and powerful in the world survive?  Will our new immigrants become Americans who share the love of Mom, baseball, apple pie and Chevrolets, like earlier generations of immigrants?  Or will our great nation be split into hundreds of tribes, each clinging to their native habits, and suspicious of all the others?

It is a time in our history when leadership is critical.   Now, more than ever, we need leaders who care about the well-being of the nation, not just their own or their party’s political success.  We need honest men and women with an understanding of the importance of time-tested rules and practices.  America was built on laws that we could all agree upon, and that were proven to work.  And America was once a “melting pot”, where newcomers assimilated into our culture while preserving their own heritages.  Now is not the time to get fuzzy about our American laws, Constitution, or values.  Our immigrants need order and stability, too – in fact that’s what many seek by moving here.

My wife often complained that our home state of Montana changed radically as more and more people moved there from the west coast.  “They move to Montana because it’s better than California, and then they try to change it into California!”

In addition to accelerating legal immigration rates, our government has decided to erase our southern border and pretty much accept all comers.  They claim their motivations are humanitarian; some of us believe they are political.  But even if the border could be sealed like a Tupperware bowl tomorrow, the United States will never be the same as it was.  So now what?

Many of the newcomers don’t really know what made America great.  They and their families weren’t here.  It’s up to us remaining native Americans (by that I mean those of us born here) to stand up for American traditions. values, and laws.  We must make sure that our history is accurately and broadly taught, and expect our leaders to proudly defend our national identity and solidarity.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

On the boats and on the planes
They’re coming to America
Never looking back again
They’re coming to America

Neil Diamond – Coming to America

 

 

 

No One Ever Is To Blame

U.S. Capitol, Senate Office BuildingsIt must be great to work for the federal government.

The pay is outstanding – the CBO says wages and benefits for almost all federal workers are much higher than for the same jobs in the private sector.  Federal employees  get extra paid days off, like extra holidays, personal leave time, snow days, sick days, etc.  They get full pay for not working whenever the President chooses to shut the government down rather than live within a budget.  They can take early retirement from their federal jobs after 20 years if they are 50 years old.

Heck, while private sector managers work 45 – 55 hours per week, the upper-half of the federal food chain works only about half-time.  I have offered a standing challenge for many years (and done the exercise myself many times):  pick any manager-level federal employee, at random, from the government phone directory and call his or her office after 2:00 pm on Monday through Thursday, or after 12:00 pm on any Friday.  You will never, never, never reach that person.  Never.  Try it!

But the best thing of all about working for the federal government is: nobody ever gets fired.  Once you land a federal job, you will get your full paycheck, pay raises, ever-growing benefits, and bonuses for the rest of your life, no matter how poorly you perform.  Turnover is virtually non-existent.  Even the guy who was written up for farting at employees 61 times in 17 days was not reprimanded.

Jeff Neely, the GSA executive who helped put together the million-dollar conference in Las Vegas for his 300 hard-working office jockeys, is a rare exception – he actually got fired.  But he was reinstated eleven months later with full back pay.

My Congressman, Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), at one of his outstanding recent town hall meetings, told us, “The Veteran’s Administration has 330,000 employees and only about 500 have been fired in the last ten years.”  Meanwhile executives in the VA received bonuses based on fictitious reports about their pristine performance while soldiers died waiting for health care.  Director Eric Shinseki was powerless to fire anybody, and committed political hara-kiri by resigning.

Congressman Mulvaney told another stunning story about a meeting he had with an upper-level HUD executive.  He was grilling her about some problem in her agency, and she was having none of it.  “Don’t give me a hard time,” she said.  “I don’t make that much money and it doesn’t matter whether I do a good job or not.”   She had absolutely no fear of discipline from a United States Congressman.  Is that job security, or what?

And it’s not just the mid-level federal employees who are totally unaccountable.  When pressed for evidence that she knew would implicate her in a world-class corruption scandal, IRS director Lois Lerner made up a story about seven simultaneous hard-drive failures that ate her e-mails.  The odds of that happening are one in 79 billion.  Nobody has been held accountable.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is made of Teflon, too.  She never has recanted the lame excuse that terrorists murdered our Libyan ambassador and his brave defenders because they were upset about a Hollywood video.  One of the terrorists admitted planning and executing the Benghazi attack, but knew nothing about any video, and the CIA was listening in on terrorist phone activity during the attack, which never mentioned any video.   She still deflects questions about her failure to provide adequate protection after it was requested, saying “what does it matter?”   And nobody has even asked yet why the ambassador was in Benghazi in the first place.  Not only is she not accountable for the fiasco, Clinton is the current leader in the 2016 presidential race.

President Obama carries a long list of excuses for the many failures of his administration.  Most of them blame his predecessor.  The latest failure is the border crisis that resulted from his open invitation to illegal immigrant children to enter our country and enjoy the amenities.  When he finally did go to Texas to meet with Governor Perry, who is trying to deal with the situation, he spent most of his time shifting the blame.

I seldom agree with John Boehner any more, but I jumped up and cheered when, in utter exasperation with the Obama administration, he cried, “He’s been president for five and a half years.  When is he going to take responsibility for SOMETHING!”

But hey, it’s the government.  No one ever is to blame.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain
No one ever is to blame.

Howard Jones – No One Is to Blame

 

 

I want to thank all the many great songwriters and performers who inspire and enrich my blog topics.  This is one of the best “fits” – music to message – yet, I think!  Here’s a great live performance by Howard Jones, very much enjoyed by his audience. 

 

Hooray! Liberal Democrats Might End Their “War on Children”

illegal-immigrant-children-packed-like-sardines

Photo courtesy Breitbart News

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson (D-Texas) handed out lollipops to the hordes of illegal immigrant children squished into detention centers in Texas this week.  Is this an omen?

Could it be that LIBERAL DEMOCRATS ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT CHILDREN?

5-star liberal Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said, “If you believe as we do that every child, every person has a spark of divinity in them, and is therefore worthy of respect — what we saw in those rooms was [a] dazzling, sparkling, array of God’s children, worthy of respect.”

What’s that, Nancy?  Year after year, liberal Democrats have waged a WAR ON CHILDREN.

Millions of babies (babies are children, aren’t they?) died as Nancy and the liberal Democrats promoted abortions and fought tooth-and-nail every attempt to save unborn and about-to-be-born American babies.  1,350,000 per year.  One killed every 24 seconds.  War on children.

Graduation rates continued to nosedive as schools failed yet another generation of children by wasting their valuable time on social nonsense and political propaganda pumped into the curriculum by liberal Democrats.  The world-competitive, productive, job-ready curricula of physics, advanced math, history, and grammar has been crowded out of our childrens’ class schedules by gay rights, global warming, and diversity/victimhood.  War on children.

And what could be more damaging to a child than knowing that his mother is not willing to provide him with food?  Liberal Democrats believe schools must provide breakfast, lunch, and in some cases weekend and summer meals to children because otherwise they would go hungry in spite of $400+ per month food stamp subsidies.  Failure to feed one’s child is egregious, criminal negligence.  Liberal Democrats not only tolerate this abuse, they encourage and subsidize it.  War on children.

Our children face a bleak future, because our liberal Democrat leadership does not think our economy matters.  We could be the energy leaders of the world, with full employment, low costs of production and consumer prices and a growing economy.  But the liberal Democrats are willing to forego the prosperity of future generations to preserve their political power.  War on children.

But now, NOW!  Suddenly liberal Democrats love children.  Their immigration / border policies have resulted in a “humanitarian crisis”.   Now we must care for the children.   My God, man, have you no heart!?  They are just children!  You can’t turn them (and their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, drug dealers, gang bangers, terrorists, and lepers) away from our border!  They need our government support!  They depend on us!  And they will VOTE for us!

Isn’t it reassuring that finally, after all these years of WAR ON CHILDREN, the liberal Democrats have had a change of heart?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
Some day, when your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day, when the world is much brighter

 Ooh Child (Things Are Gonna Get Easier) – The Five Stairsteps

 

Thanks to “Soul Train” and Don Cornelius for presenting so many great musical groups!  I have not had cable or satellite for a couple of years and I catch Soul Train on the Bounce channel every once in a while . . .

 

 

Don’t Back Down, Mississippi

mississippi-welcome-sign-close-up-1Mississippi Conservatives, I urge you – DO NOT VOTE FOR THAD COCHRAN in the general election.

At some point we have to take a stand.  We have been patient.  We have been loyal.  We have held our noses and voted for weak, establishment Republicans only in the hope that they might be marginally better than the Democrat opponent.

We have been threatened and bullied and cajoled to “take one for the good of the party.”  The establishment Republicans have counted on hard work, funds, and votes from conservatives for a long, long time.  They think we will have to vote for them no matter how many times they spit on us.

No more!

Over the last few election cycles the establishment Republicans have withheld funds from conservative candidates – case in point:  the GOP failed to support Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race, handing a narrow victory to unqualified, ethically-challenged and beatable Democrat Terry McAuliffe.  It gets worse.

The insider Republicans have consistently bad-mouthed the Tea Party movement, the last and only hope for honesty in government and economic survival for the nation.  They have pulled out all the stops to harm conservatives in every way possible.  It still gets worse.

Now the establishment Republicans have signed a pact with the devil.  They took out Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel by playing the race card to entice low-information Democrats to vote for insider Thad Cochran in the Republican primary runoff election for Cochran’s US Senate seat.  This is the last straw.

“It’s too early right now to get those raw emotions out of the way,” McDaniel told Hannity. “… They used everything from the race card to food stamps to saying I would shut down public education. … I’ve fought for this (Republican Party) all my life, but they abandoned us, made fun of us and ridiculed us and brought in 35,000 Democrats to beat us.” — the Clarion Ledger, ‘McDaniel Still Pondering Challenge’, 6/25/14

For those who missed it, let me break it down.  Republicans leaders reached out to Democrats – to defeat a sharp, young, conservative Republican – to protect a weak, squishy, entrenched old Republican –  by claiming the Tea Party candidate is a racist –  like all Tea Party supporters – and that he wants to prevent them from voting [somehow].

They (Haley Barbour’s Super PAC) robo-called black Democrats with race-baiting lies.

 

They printed race-baiting flyers. 

Can you vote for a man – and a party – that will resort to these tactics against their own fellow Republicans?  If you do, you are perpetuating and encouraging such despicable acts.  We should no more vote for a Republican liar and race-baiter than a Democrat liar and race-baiter.

And black voters, why don’t you join us!  We in the Tea Party movement know how you feel – the politicians we have supported have disrespected us and only made things worse, not better.   We want the same things you do – an economic future for our children, good jobs and a government that is functional and solvent.  One that works FOR us, instead of the other way around.  Stop falling for all the lies!  You are better than that!

Mississippi, please stand your ground.  You will be blamed by the establishment for all kinds of terrible things, but don’t back down.  We can’t let them get away with this – again!  Don’t vote for Cochran.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideHey baby!  There ain’t no easy way out.
Hey yeah!  Stand my ground.
And I won’t back down.

Well I know what’s right, I got just one light.
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around,
I will stand my ground.  And I won’t back down.

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
with Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Jeff Lynn and Mike Campbell

 

 

There Must Be One Honest Democrat Out There

honestySeveral years ago, while on a long drive, I tuned in to National Public Radio’s afternoon talk show featuring Diane Rehm.  I nearly wrecked my truck as several Democrats fervently defended government officials and scientists who were caught fabricating weather data and computer models to make it appear that man-caused global warming was real.  They forthrightly stated that lying was the right thing to do if it achieved the results they sought.

Democrats routinely approve of dishonesty.  There is no longer any question that many Democrats will say anything, do anything that will keep them in power.  Part of the vaunted Cloward-Piven strategy, and the teachings of Saul Alinsky in “Rules for Radicals“, the playbook used so effectively by the Obama administration, is this tenet:  “The end justifies the means”.  They believe it.  Honesty and playing by the rules does not matter, as long as you win.

Conservatives like me can’t understand it.  We value honesty.  It is the bedrock on which civilization is built.  Relationships, societies, commerce and governments can not function without trust based on honesty.

But liberal Democrats don’t see it that way.  It shocked the conservative world when our president looked squarely into a television camera and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and then later admitted that he did.  As stunning as his lapse of morality was, what really blew us away was the unanimous dismissal of his dishonesty by Democrats.   They justified their support of a proven liar on the grounds that they generally agreed with his politics, and found him to be “cool”.  Conservatives asked, “if he would lie to his wife and family, and openly lie to the American public, how dangerous is it to believe anything he says as the leader of the free world?”

When a Republican is caught in an outright lie or an illegal or immoral act, he or she is removed.  When a Democrat is caught in an outright lie or an illegal or immoral act, his party and the complicit media circle the wagons and often will tell more lies aimed at baffling the dumbed-down, undiscerning populace – case in point, the Obama Administration’s ham-handed Benghazi Lie.

In an attempt to justify dishonesty, Democrats frequently turn to the only example they can think of by a conservative: the claim that President Bush lied when he said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  They stop short of admitting that he based his concern on intelligence that was acknowledged by every official in the U.S. government, including their own Democrat leaders.  And Bush may yet be proven right – just this week our state department reported terrorists gained control of one of Hussein’s poison gas factories.

The level of dishonesty and immorality in American government during the Obama era has reached epic proportions.  When Nixon was found to have lied about a rather minor, but nonetheless illegal and immoral campaign activity, and then tried to cover it up by erasing taped evidence, he was unceremoniously thrown out of office by officials and supporters of both parties.

This week we are told that Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS, directly after being questioned about illegal targeting of conservatives during a campaign, had a computer malfunction that caused the loss of smoking-gun e-mail evidence from her and six other officials, and that in spite of legal requirements, department policy, and common practice, no backups exist.  Just “Oops, you’ll have to trust us.”

And NOT ONE DEMOCRAT will question her honesty.  Not one is bothered by the stench of corruption.

It is hard for me to accept that there aren’t still a few honest Democrats out there.  There must be.  Believing that every single Democrat accepts dishonesty is like believing that every single voter in 59 Philadelphia precincts pulled the lever for Barack Obama.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.

 

 

 

How E-mail Works – THE IRS IS LYING

photo credit (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

photo credit (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Many of you already know the nuts-and-bolts of how e-mail works so you understand that Lois Lerner, the IRS, and the Obama Administration are caught in yet another bald-faced lie when they say her e-mail files are missing.  If you are in this category, you may skip this article and move on to something productive.

I did not intend to write about the IRS scandal because I thought the “big lie” is just so obvious that everybody will see right through it and justice will prevail.  But the controversy goes on.  The corruptocrats are betting they can get away with their contempt of congress, the law, and the taxpayers because there are still enough people who (a) don’t care and (b) don’t understand.  I can’t do much about (a), but I can help with (b).

Let me explain in layman’s terms why it is impossible for Lerner’s IRS e-mails to be lost forever.

Let’s say Yahoo is your mail service provider.  When you write an e-mail and press the “send” key, the e-mail file goes through the internet to Yahoo’s mail server (a large computer system specifically designated for handling e-mails).  A copy of this file is then routed through other internet computers to the recipient you specified.  The file remains on Yahoo’s mail server disk drive, and is also copied to other Yahoo drives for backup protection, permanent storage, and to free up space on the main mail server.  Yahoo keeps many copies of every e-mail you send, and they are retained forever.

Conversely, when someone sends an e-mail to your “@yahoo.com” address, Yahoo’s mail server forwards a copy of the e-mail file to your computer, and saves the file on several of its own disk drives.

You might be thinking “Yeah, but what if I delete the e-mail?”  Well, it won’t show up in your list of e-mails any more, but trust me – it’s still there on Yahoo’s drives.  There is considerable controversy right now over who owns these e-mail files, whether they can be processed and the information from them sold, and whether the government should be allowed access to them.  Do not assume that the content of your e-mails will not be seen by other eyes, or that when you delete an e-mail, it is gone forever.  The big e-mail providers will never destroy any data that has profit potential, and that includes your e-mails.

The process is the same for government computers.   Just change the “@yahoo.com” to “@irs.gov”.  The federal government’s mail servers have multiple backup copies of every e-mail received or sent by everybody who works there.  And outside mail providers have copies of the same e-mail files that they processed on the way to and from their mail clients.

One IRS spokesman said that e-mails are only stored on the federal government’s mail servers for six months and are then deleted.  This contradicts the government’s own policy, which states that the retention requirement for most e-mail records is permanent. Further, it instructs employees:

Once you determine that an e-mail message is an official record, you should ensure that it is kept in an approved file system that satisfies the requirements for recordkeeping set out in points 1 to 5 above. You may, of course, retain your personal copy in your personal e-mail, but you must ensure that the record is placed in an approved file system.

The government contracts with a private data security firm to provide and manage the file backup system.  The defense that Lois Lerner lost her e-mail to a “hard drive crash” on her personal computer ten days after her department was implicated in the scandal, is moot.  And how can we be expected to believe that e-mails from six other key IRS employees were lost at about the same time?  How many times does lightning strike the same spot?

Where is the DOJ?  Where is the FBI?  Where are the terminations, if not criminal prosecutions? This is an outright, in-your-face assault on the taxpaying citizens of the US.  We can’t allow government employees, and the elected officials who direct them, to break the law and cover their tracks without repercussions.  When will we say enough is enough?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Lerner is not the first person to have problems with the mail . . .

Return to sender, address unknown.
No such number, no such zone.
We had a quarrel, a lover’s spat
I write I’m sorry but my letter keeps coming back!

Elvis Presley – Return to Sender

 

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