Corruption – Time To Raise A Little Hell

nothing to hide corruption75% of Americans think our government is corrupt.   No kidding?

Everybody knows the game:

  1. Taxpayers give money to government.
  2. Corrupt politicians give some of that money (or favors) to organizations
  3. Organizations kick back some of the money to the corrupt politicians as campaign contributions.
  4. The politicians use the dirty money to get re-elected.
  5. Return to number 1.

The corruption game is nothing new. Call it payola, quid pro quo, scratch my back – it has gone on ever since the first government came into being, and still occurs all over the world. In Mexico and similar “banana republics” nothing gets done by government without illegal payoffs.

No, the corruption game isn’t new, but the playbook has changed. Until recently, corrupt deals were made between public officials and private businesses. That arrangement was problematic – when the public found out about massive corruption (back then we had real journalism) the citizens would raise hell until the corruption was at least somewhat beat down. They didn’t like their tax dollars going to fat cat big business operators. But corrupt politicians didn’t appreciate these temporary interruptions in the game. So instead of using corporate cronies to fatten their wallets, they learned to cycle the dirty money through government employee unions, quasi-government organizations and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) instead of private businesses.

This week’s scandal du jour is the uproar over Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer money for purposes that most citizens find repugnant. The dollars aren’t huge – only a half a billion or so – but what they do with the money sure has a lot of taxpayers’ underwear in a knot. Moreover, Planned Parenthood uses a good chunk of the money for campaign contributions and lobbying. They claim the government funds they get are applied only to honorable pursuits. But we all know that money is “fungible”.

Remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? These behemoth quasi-government organizations almost buried our economy in 2008 when the real-estate bubble of their creation popped and the government bailed out the big banks. Even President Obama, a master of quid pro quo, called the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac business model “heads we win, tails you lose.” We really still haven’t recovered. But the Fannie and Freddy corruption machine keeps chugging along, making big contributions to campaigns, paying monster salaries to its officials, and playing fast and loose with taxpayer money with almost no oversight.

Government employee unions are now the largest group of contributors to political campaigns. What a concept: the unions contribute taxpayer money to the very politicians who promise to protect their jobs and raise their wages. Jefferson would have loved that one.

Another cool quasi-government corruption setup is the Export/Import Bank, which uses taxpayer money to make risk-free loans that benefit crony corporations like Boeing, General Electric, and Caterpillar, to foreign governments and companies, some of whom actually compete with other domestic companies. There are all kinds of opportunities for bank employees to profit personally from shady arrangements. Some honest legislators, prodded by conservative constituents, may have finally put an end to this game, although General Electric and their political partners in crime are trying hard to keep it going.

And it’s not just about dirty politicians seeking campaign funds any more; federal agencies are in on the act. They now extort funds from US companies by threatening huge fines for trumped-up regulatory violations. Agencies like the EPA, FCC, NLRB and others routinely set up schemes that trade a “consent decree” (an agreement to not destroy a business with a long, expensive legal action) for cash. The feds also use consent decrees to take control over local government operations, such as police departments and local utilities.

Some federal corruption is simple and creative. Conservatives in Congress were furious to learn that VA Administration bigshots received big bonuses by faking the real performance records of their agency while patients died waiting for care. When the congressmen found out these guys could not be fired (this belongs in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) they passed a law that making it possible to fire VA officials. So how many were fired? You guessed it. Zero.

The exploding corruption culture in Washington, DC is not a partisan issue – both Democrats and Republicans say they oppose corruption, but only a few true Conservatives are making any effort to do something about it. Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump admitted paying off politicians. One can only assume the practice would continue under his watch.

One thing hasn’t changed. The only way to kill corruption, or at least slow it down, is for citizens to raise hell about it.

Ask your public officials and candidates what they plan to do about corruption. Give them specific examples. Most of them don’t mention the issue and haven’t even thought about it. Let’s raise a little hell.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideIf you want to see an angel
You got to find it where it fell
If you want to get to heaven
You got to raise a little hell

If You Want To Get To Heaven –
Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Another great seventies band, still on the road, gray hair and all, bangin’ on guitars!

Another Rebel Yell From House Conservatives

Speaker of the House John Boehner has survived yet another coup attempt, led by his arch-rival and one of the leaders of the conservative rebels in the house, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

One of Meadows’ rebel friends in Congress told me yesterday that the move was ill-fated from the start and would “set back” the cause of the small but growing group of conservative members who are trying to do what their voters back home sent them to do.  “I don’t know what Meadows was thinking,”  he said.

Republicans on the street (or should I say “former” Republicans, because almost nobody I know still claims the GOP) are livid at the leadership.  Conservative voters, still the largest ideological group, are furious that the Republican members have consistently legislated against their wishes since winning majorities in both houses.  Under Boehner and McConnell Congress has voted against defunding ObamaCare, voted in favor of giving Obama fast-track authority over trade deals, voted to raise the debt limit, and voted against reducing federal spending.  They allow Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty to continue and refuse to put an end to the flaunting of federal law by sanctuary cities.  They abdicated all foreign policy direction and oversight to a comicly inept administration and State Dept., resulting in Obama and Kerry’s disastrous nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran.  More examples abound.

Boehner claims to be a stellar leader, saying, “Under Republican leadership, Congress is getting things done.”  He’s right.  The problem is, everything they are getting done is exactly what the Democrats want, not what conservatives elected them to do.

Conservative Americans feel completely disenfranchised.  We find current Democrat policies and priorities wrongheaded and even repugnant. And the Republicans we elected to Congress seem unwilling or unable to stop even the most egregious actions of the left.  Even the obsolete, corrupt Export-Import Bank, thought to be dead and finally buried, was resurrected by McConnell.

Boehner and McConnell have no idea how upset the grassroots conservatives are, or how significant are our numbers.  GOP presidential hopefuls are starting to get it, especially seeing how even a clunky outsider like Donald Trump is hailed for giving voice to conservative values in public.

What was Congressman Meadows thinking?  Did he think maybe he could embarrass Boehner into stepping down?  Or did he hope that his fellow rebels would finally jump into the fight with guns blazing this time?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideHe lives in his own heaven
Collects it to go from the seven eleven
Well he’s out all night to collect a fare
Just so long it don’t mess up his hair.

Rebel Yell – Billy Idol

 

The Monster That Will Not Die! Export/Import Bank

godzillaThe Monster That Will Not Die!  Created 80 years ago by the hand of a single misguided man, it grew – and grew – and grew.  And now it can’t be stopped!

No, it’s not Godzilla.  It’s just another federal government program – the Export/Import Bank.  FDR created the thing in 1934 by executive order to make loans to Russia and Cuba.   In its early years it benefited the country by making loans to foreign governments and companies so they could buy exported US goods.

But like almost all federal programs, even if it is obsolete, corrupt and hemorrhaging money,  it seems like it will never die.  It will grow its budget every year, employ an army of faceless bureaucrats, and grease its own skids.  You see, a government agency or program can only do one thing – spend the taxpayers’ money.  Somebody receives or uses that money, and would not enjoy seeing the spigot shut off.  So Congress is “encouraged” by these somebodies to keep re-authorizing the program.

The somebodies who benefit from the continued existence of the Export/Import Bank top the charts in corporate profits – Boeing, GE, Caterpillar, John Deere.  Do these mega-monster companies really need taxpayer-backed loans to their less-than-creditworthy foreign customers?

The Ex/Im marketing department says that the Bank helps US companies make sales to foreign entities who could not get financing in the private market.  (Hmm, I seem to remember something like that a few years ago, when the housing bubble burst, nearly destroying our economy.)  The Bank claims they do not compete with private banks, they merely make loans that the privates can’t or won’t.  (How convenient that the government can create money out of thin air to loan to foreigners and does not have to worry about interest costs or defaults.)

Supporters of the Ex/Im have claimed that it returns profits to the government every year.  But it turns out they have been cooking the books and are not playing by the same rules that private sector banks do.  The Export/Import Bank holds about $140 billion in taxpayer-backed liabilities and is losing money.  It is reportedly rife with corruption and ineptitude.

The Export/Import Bank no longer serves any public purpose.  If your congressman votes to re-authorize this Godzilla in September, you should look at his or her list of campaign contributors.  If Boeing, GE, Caterpillar, and John Deere appear on the list, maybe your congressman should not be re-authorized at election time either.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Oh no, they say he’s got to go
Go go Godzilla!
Oh no, there goes Tokyo
Go go Godzilla!
History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of men
Godzilla!

Go Go Godzilla – Blue Oyster Cult