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The Latest Silliness And Insanity From Out Political Class

If you follow our political class and their inane actions and antics long enough and close enough, you are continually amazed about what they do and how much time, resources, and taxpayer money they waste without ever really accomplishing anything worthwhile. Their actions range from just outright waste to wasting time on issues and topics that have very little to do with the average American’s daily life. Consider some of the latest examples:

– Outgoing Governor Charlie Crist of Florida just got whooped in his bid to become the next U.S. Senator from Florida. This has caused him to be out of the office a lot lately while the Florida economy continued to be a basket case with high unemployment, high foreclosure rates on homes, and no immediate prospects for an economic upturn. Florida schools, while improved, are still not where they should be. Thus, now that he is back to being a full time Governor with limited time in office, one would have hoped he could have finished out his terms vigorously on some of these major issues.

No chance. According to an Associated Press article on November 17, 2010, Governor Crist has decided he wants to work on getting a state pardon for Jim Morrison of the Doors, who was convicted of exposing himself at a concert in Miami 41 years ago. Mr. Morrison died in Paris 39 years ago. According to the article the Governor will need the support of at least two Cabinet members and even then it might be a problem to pardon a dead guy from almost 40 years ago because the state has no procedures and law in place to do so. Talk about a waste of time and effort, does anyone, anywhere really think this is a pressing issue except for Mr. Crist?

– According to a short blurb in the November 12, 2010 issue of The Week magazine, California Governor Arnold Schwarenegger has recently banned the use of state government-issued welfare debit cards at psychics, medical marijuana shops, bingo parlors, tattoo parlors, and cruise lines, all of which have shown up as locations where welfare recipients are spending the state taxpayer dollars. I think it is a great idea that the Governor is shutting down this gross misuse of taxpayer dollars but why was this behavior not forbidden from the first day the debit cards were issued? A rational human being would have initially restricted the use of the cards to food stores, medical establishments, clothes stores, etc.

– This example falls into that wonderful category of : “Why didn’t they do the math upfront?” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke to Senators today to explain his plan for printing about $600 billion of U.S. money to buy back Treasury notes from the public domain in an attempt to lower interest rates, resulting in more economic growth and more employment.

He told the Senators that his plan would result in 700,000 new jobs created over the next two years. Let’s do the math: the Chairman is going to flood $600 billion into the market and create 700,000 jobs which comes out to about $857,000 to create a single job. Hardly sounds like an efficient way to create jobs. Last I saw was that there were about 14 million unemployed Americans so at this rate the Chairman would have to float about $12 TRILLION to get everyone a job, which is a ridiculous idea and number.

But this type of silly thinking is not much different than the Obama administration job claims. It claimed to have created over 3 million jobs by implementing its $800 billion stimulus program. However, more simple division shows that the $800 billion total program cost resulted a per job created cost of over $250,000. Don’t these people in Washington ever to the math?

– With the Federal government spending out of control and the national debt skyrocketing, one would have hoped that sanity would prevail and that the Feds would be looking for non-painful ways to cut spending. That does not appear to be the case, at least according to a Heritage Foundation report from October 4, 2010, a report that cited the New York Times as its source. According to their information, the Federal government’s National Science Foundation will award $700,000 of taxpayer money to a New York theater troupe to produce and stage a show entitled “The Great Immensity” which will look into “the emotional and psychological aspects of the current environmental crisis,” i.e. global warming. Number of insanity aspects to this action:

1) First, the Foundation was founded in 1950 “to promote the progress of science, to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare, and to secure the national defense.” Personally, I find it difficult to connect their charter to a local play about global warming. As did the New York Times which called the grant a rare gift, recognizing that the Foundation usually funds research that involves math, science and engineering, not emotional and psychological aspects of anything.

2) Second, while many think global warming is a man made problem, many others do not hold that belief. The article cites experts that would dispute the notion of global warming. Would not this money have been better spent in hard science areas to actually get more proof, one way or another, on what the root cause of the problem is and what possible solutions are out there?

Rather than fund local plays that will be seen by very few people and have an impact on even fewer, would not this money have been better spent to reduce taxes, pay down the national debt, hire a few more good teachers, treat a few more drug addict Americans? The Federal government should not be in the theater subsidy business.

– Staying in the area of global warming, consider an article on the rash of new electric car models that will be hitting markets around the world soon. In a review of these new models and their impact on the environment, an article in the October 9, 2010 issue of The Economist magazine worried that although the electric cars would reduce harmful emissions, those reductions might be offset by the additional fossil fuels that would have to be burned to create the electricity that runs the new electric cars.

Skeptics quoted in the article doubted that the electric cars would have much of an impact at all and would waste taxpayer money in the subsidies the political classes in all countries are throwing at, and possibly wasting, on electric care purchases. The article quotes Richard Pike’s work as chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He estimated that replacing all of Britain’s cars with subsidized electric cars, and using Great Britain’s current electric generation fuel mix, would cost 150 billion British pounds and would reduce carbon emissions by only 2%. With that subsidy money, according to Mr. Pike, Britain could replace its entire power generation capacity with solar cells and cut carbon emissions by one third.

Is Mr. Pike correct in his analysis? I have no idea but given his position in the science world, would not it be a good idea to take a comprehensive look at the value of electric cars in general and the value of their subsidies? A 2% reduction in carbon emissions vs. a 30% reduction certainly merits a little better subsidy legislating beforehand, i.e. do the math first.

– A Wall Street article by Jonah Lehrer was summarized in the November 12, issue of The Week magazine and was entitled: “Proof That Pundits Are Clueless.” The main thrust of the article was that the future is impossible to predict. It cites a long term University of California study that actually monitored the predictions of pundits and experts in a variety of fields. Of the 82,000 predictions from the experts that the study documented and tracked, the accuracy rate was below 50%.

In other words, a simple coin flipping decision process probably would have done a better job than what the experts predicted. The study found that the results were consistently bad across the political spectrum and the most famous experts were usually the worst predictors. Thus, given this study’s results, one needs to be very skeptical when a Federal Reserve chairman tells you that his actions will create 700,000 jobs or a President tells you that unemployment will never go above 8% if his economic stimulus package is passed, or an economist tells you they know the future when very few of them, along with our politicians, never saw the coming of the “Great Recession” until it smacked them in the face.

– And finally, some very sad and serious insanity. According to an article in the Chronicle Of Higher Education that was summarized in the November 12, 2010 issue of The Week magazine, in the United States more than 5,000 janitors and more than 8,000 waiters and waitresses have earned Ph.Ds or the equivalent before settling into their current job. In total, 17 million working Americans have received college degrees but are employed in jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree. What a waste. We have allowed the political class to steer us into an economic situation where millions of people are not using their full capabilities, capabilities that could find cures for diseases, make factories more efficient, teach our kids better, invent better products and services, etc.

Funny, sad, wasteful, ridiculous, you pick your own adjective to describe this behavior. We need to establish a number of rigid steps and procedures regarding the activities and priorities of our political class including the implementation of term limits, holding Congressional committee members accountable for their errors, oversights, and missteps, and reduce the size of government in order to get our politicians focused on a smaller, but more important, set of priorities. These steps would help eliminate some of these inane acts of our politicians.

However, we need to do a better job as an electorate in selecting capable candidates who are smart, problem solving oriented, and courageous enough to take unpopular stands, even if it might harm their political career. We should not accept people in office that actually want a political career, we need people in office who want a leadership career.

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