Last year, the General Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the federal government wasted more than $2 million of our hard-earned taxes on service fees for thousands of old empty federal bank accounts. It urged all federal agencies to terminate those accounts.
The accounts are created to distribute funds to the recipients of federal grants. The federal government pays the bank fees, but never gets around to closing the accounts when the grant money is gone, the Washington Post reported.
Thomas A. Schatz of the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste told the newspaper that if any individual were being charged service fees every month on a bank account with no money, they would simply close the account.
Simple enough, right? It’s just common sense, right?
But not for federal bureaucrats. The waste will be down to about $1 million this year thanks to pressure from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). But several agencies admit they don’t expect to EVER be able to close all the empty accounts — which means they intend to continue to waste our tax money FOREVER.
Here’s a clue, bureaucrats: Require that the recipients of federal grants pay the bank fees. You can bet they’ll be quick to close the accounts when the money is gone. It’s just a bit of common sense. Common sense which the massive federal bureaucracy is incapable.
Yet many of our fellow voters want the federal government to do MORE. What are they smoking, anyway?
A couple of seemingly unrelated stories from Mesa AZ this week illustrate how outrageously out of control government has become.
* A local soup kitchen that feeds 200 homeless and poor people each night was hit by a fire. Local restaurants and residents immediately reacted with donations of food and money, and the soup kitchen didn’t miss a single meal. Proving once again that individual Americans are truly charitable, and that they don’t need the government to fill every need.
* Meanwhile, the City of Mesa is using $100,000 in federal grants to help downtown businesses install sprinkler systems. A business that spends $25,000 can be reimbursed up to $20,000 in “federal funds”. (Love that term, “federal funds”. There’s no such thing. It’s OUR money and our future credit.) Proving once again the federal government’s insatiable appetite to use our money (and our children’s and grandchildren’s money) to stick its nose into every facet of American life, no matter how local, how inappropriate and how inefficient.
The latest nail in freedom’s coffin comes from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to identify “a safe level for added sugars for beverages”.
That part is fine, as far as it goes. But the group continues: “The FDA should require the beverage industry to re-engineer their sugary products over several years, making them safer for people to consume, and less conducive to disease.”
Well, there you have it. This would mean a Big Gulp of new federal regulations, compliance officers, taxes and penalties, followed by a new black market to satisfy sweet soda lovers, followed by more government hiring to catch some of the criminal soda sellers and buyers. It’s the government way.
CSPI apparently thinks Americans are too stupid to make their own decisions about what beverages to drink. Maybe some of us are that stupid, but Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection will eventually take care of them.
Do the rest of us really want our tax money spent on new government regulations that
- Will limit our freedom?
- Will cost a lot of money at a time when the government already is spending more than it takes in?
- Won’t work anyway, due to the law of unintended consequences?
It’s a shame, because CSPI sounds like a worthwhile organization. It is supported by private consumers and foundations and accepts no corporate funds or government grants.
So why doesn’t CSPI make its own determination about how much sugar should be in sodas, and then launch a campaign to educate Americas about the health hazards of too much sugar in sodas? As they change the habits of consumers, there will be more pressure on the beverage manufacturers to find healthier alternatives, too.
But why ask our dysfunctional federal government to get involved? It already tries to do so much that it does almost everything poorly. The last thing we need is more laws and government bureaucracies to regulate soda drinkers.
The U.S. Postal Service wants to drop Saturday deliveries and some special interest groups are complaining to Congress about it. Good grief!
This cut-back is long overdue and doesn’t go far enough.
There is no longer any reason for the government to be in the delivery business. We’re living in the age of the Internet, when anybody can go to a free library to use a computer and use a free email account to send whatever needs to be sent.
The Postal Service, like most other government services, long ago became a bloated bureaucracy that made unrealistic promises to labor unions and therefore required massive subsidies from taxpayers (in addition to the rising cost of stamps). It became so inefficient that — even with a virtual monopoly — it couldn’t compete when challenged by private delivery services like UPS and FedX.
Bootlicking politicians (always anxious to win friends and influence campaign contributions by spending OUR money) are to blame, along with postal bureaucrats and union bosses.
But this was not the fault of the postal workers — and they shouldn’t be made to suffer while our slimeball politicians (as usual) pay no price. So, the Postal Service should be phased out gently — with no new hiring, with natural attrition and retirements, with pay freezes and win-win retirement incentives.
As the workforce gradually shrinks, why not limit postal deliveries to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? And later to only one day a week? And finally to no deliveries at all? This gentle progression would give postal workers, citizens and businesses a fair chance to make whatever adjustments are necessary.
It would be a gentle way to wind down a government “service” that is no longer needed. It would lessen the burden on taxpayers and free up resources to improve government services that are still needed.
If we can’t cut back on our outmoded and unnecessary postal service, what can we cut to reduce the federal government’s shameless and irresponsible deficit spending?
An excellent letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic in Phoenix proves once again that regular citizens have a lot more common sense than media pundits and special interest-driven politicians. Here it is:
Enough handgun blather
Laurie Roberts’ column Sunday, “Kristi’s suicide a story of gun laws’ failure,” is another sad example of the media’s righteous single-mindedness on this important topic.
So, gun laws, the police, the court system and numerous others are to blame that a severely depressed woman killed herself with a handgun.
As a father, my heart truly goes out to Kristi’s parents. It really does.
That said, this tragic story isn’t about a “failure” of gun laws.
Does any rational person doubt for one minute that this person would not have taken her life some other way had she not had a gun?
Maybe we should ban buses because she might have stepped in front of one. Sometimes, just sometimes, people are responsible for their own irrational actions.
Surmising that Kristi would still be with us today if we had no guns around is both naive and blatantly untrue.
Perhaps we wouldn’t have obesity in this country if they would just stop manufacturing forks.
If the media really want a reasonable discussion about gun control, stop publishing doggerel like this. Enough already!
— Thomas J. Salerno, Phoenix
See more about common sense approaches to gun violence here.
America’s deficit spending crisis draws ever nearer to disaster.
The federal debt is now $52,340 for every citizen or $133,869 for every household in America (on top of their mortgage and other personal debt) — and increasing every day faster than ever.
If that isn’t enough to get citizens interested politics, what is? (Want to better understand the debt problem, visit the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office website here.)
Now, instead of kicking the can down the road, the politicians are kicking it along the edge of the fiscal cliff.
The so-called “solution” hammed out by Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell raises taxes on everybody — which will put more pressure on an already sluggish economy and keep unemployment figures too high.
The real issue — the federal government’s addiction to unsustainable levels of spending — remains unaddressed. In fact, the Biden/McConnell compromise actually delayed much-needed spending cuts for at least the next several months.
Now the stage is set for the next self-created political “crisis” — the upcoming fight over increasing the debt ceiling. Based on their records, it’s likely that Congress and the President will once again find ways to avoid facing up to the problem in any meaningful way.
The longer the politicians play this partisan brinksmanship the more devastating the eventual day of reckoning will be for all of us. That’s why citizens must eventually rise up and demand the reforms that would rein in the career politicians who are at the root of the problem.
Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson explains the fiscal cliff situation well, although he puts most of the blame on the President. I’m more inclined to equally blame Congress, the President and both political parties.
They all belong to the political elite that is thriving while the rest of the country suffers.
They get elected and reelected by promising more “free” benefits for everybody without having the guts to pay for what they’re handing out. Instead they incur massive debt that will eventually have to be repaid — and that will bring the nation to its knees if not dealt with soon.
Most of them dramatically increase their personal wealth while in office — which should be reason enough for citizens to realize how corrupt and self-serving they are.
They are the arsonists who congratulate themselves for temporarily and inadequately dousing the economic fire that they themselves ignited and continue to fan.
How long will citizens — we the people — put up with this?