Archive for January, 2014

Umm...those aren't gems.

Umm…those aren’t gems.

The big advantage of passing a big omnibus budget appropriations bill is you can get the funding set without long drawn out debates about each particular line item.  And with Congress having trouble passing ANYTHING these days, it may be best to get as much in something that will pass as you can.  However, a big disadvantage when you have a bill that’s over 2,500 pages is that it is pretty easy to put things in that would never, ever pass Congress if they were voting on it as a stand-alone item (in fact, I wonder if some of these things would have any more support than the whomever decided to throw these things into the bill?).

Now that the bill is passed and media types have had a chance to read through the bill, these hidden “gem” items are beginning to leak out.  Among those are:

  • Prohibits the movement of the Embassy to the Vatican
  • Rationale?   The Bush Administration actually started to wheels in motion on this.  The plan was to move the embassy to the Vatican to the same building that houses the U.S. Embassy to Italy in Rome.  The supposed reason was that having the embassies in the same building would make security for both easier, plus there would be cost savings by not having to administer embassies in two different buildings.  But alas, that was not the real reason.  It’s clear now that President Bush KNEW that the next President would be Barack Obama and he would claim to be all christian and stuff when in fact he is nothing but a no good mooslim!!!  When President Obama failed to stop this plan, conservative websites would be there to expose him as the anti-religion mooslim that he is!!!!  Well played, W.  Well played.
  • Blocks funding for the enforcement of light bulb efficiency standards
  • Rationale?  Because gosh darn it, we Americans loves us some incandescent bulbs!  Efficient energy-saving bulbs are for communists!  Maybe even the devil!  High energy costs are as American as apple pie!
  • Reduces funding for embassy security
  • Rationale?  It’s so terrible what happened in Benghazi.  Those poor souls.  Why didn’t President Obama and Hilary Clinton do more?  Wait, you want more money for embassy  security?  Oh goodness no, let’s not get carried away, we don’t have the money for that.  It’s not like the people who died were rich or something.  But still, terrible what happened.
  • Bans the IRS from making those cheesy videos
  • Rationale?  I mean, what’s the harm in the IRS having a little fun?

No, no.  That’s actually pretty terrible.

  • Requires the DHS to provide detailed reports regarding ammunition purchases and useage
  • Rationale?  The DHS is stockpiling ammunition don’t you know.  Yes, the DHS is preparing for WAR!  WAR AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!  Why not just use the military?  Because they have morals, unlike those thugs of the TSA who will do anything for money!  How do I know all this?  Why the fine folks at Alex JonesInfo Wars told me!  Reading this site has taught me so much!  The Aurora, Colorado theater shooting?  Government did it.  Oklahoma City bombing?  Government so blew up that building!  Also, Obama is so planning a large scale attack on Americans killing thousands to help ensure he wins reelection because……hmm, wait, doesn’t seem like that actually happened.  But I am sure that was all part of some larger plot!   More Alex Jones wisdom:

Alex Jones, a must read for what the real scoop is in this world!  And now to know what potential legislation might be heading up the pike!  Comforting I know.

Get a job you hippie!

Get a job you hippie!

When I sometimes read the comments sections (and I do realize reading those is my first mistake) of articles regarding government assistance programs (or sometimes even private charitable assistance programs), it occurs to me that there are a lot of people who fear nothing more than assisting someone who is “undeserving”.  And just a general disdain for the poor.   Sure, they might allow that a few people might come into hard times honestly, but for the most part  they think the poor are just lazy leeches on society who manipulate the system and are just not deserving of our attention.  And in fact if we would just eliminate the government safety net, private charity would pick up the slack to serve those TRULY in need and it will be all good.

Now certainly there are some lousy no-good poor people in the world (but I would also point out that there are lousy no-good rich people in the world too).  And some of those people commit fraud (just like some rich people do).  But I just can’t help but to have a few other thoughts:

  • I know I keep harping on this statistic, but 25% of children in this country are food insecure.  What the heck did kids do to not deserve to know where their next meal is coming from?
  • Charities are awesome!  Still, even with the existence of charity, 25% of children in this country are food insecure.  So they are not making up the gap in need even now.  Why would we expect charities to be able to make up even a larger gap if you start reducing or especially eliminating government assistance?  Put another way, charities provide roughly $5 billion in food assistance each year.  That’s a lot for sure.  But it doesn’t seem as much when you compare it the roughly $100 billion in food assistance that the federal government provides.  So even if government food assistance is just cut by 5%, private charity food assistance would have to double to make up the difference.  Seems unrealistic to me.
  • Should we be so judgmental toward those who are in need?  The Bible seems to have a few things to say about that.  Such as:  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.   For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  I don’t think we should be so quick to judge.  We aren’t very good judges anyway.
  • Speaking of judgment, I think we probably tend to way overestimate the amount of fraud/waste in these programs.  When I look for actual statistics instead of anecdotal information, it appears that the fraud/waste is somewhere between 3%-5% in most programs.  (It might be a bit higher for Medicare/Medicaid, but I would submit a lot of that fraud is being perpetrated by doctors & hospitals, not the poor.)  Sure, we all here stories of people committing fraud, but with the reach of media these days, we are all hearing about the same people.
  • You can’t run a programs like this and have 0% fraud/waste.  It’s just not possible.  So if eliminating waste/fraud is our top priority, we pretty much need to just eliminate these programs.

I don’t know.  To me, if given the choice of providing 20 people with help even if only 15 truly need it or providing 10 people with help who all truly need it but leaving 5 truly needy people out in the cold, I’m going to go with the option that helps 20 people even with the waste.  I would rather make sure everyone who needs help gets help, and I believe the best way to do that is to provide more than enough and accept that there will be a level of waste.  I’m also not big in deciding who and who is not deserving.  I don’t have the time and ability, and would rather just help people who need help.