Monthly Archives: January 2016

Yet another Federal Department to do away with…The Department of The Interior

While the Department of the Interior has been in the news for some fairly ridiculous reasons lately, that does not undermine the fact that it is unquestionably one of the worst uses of government power in D.C. which is actively working every day to keep Americans in poverty and hurt the economy.

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Born of an era before we had executive level offices that were not necessarily under a cabinet department, the Department of the Interior was originally conceived of a place to stick all the internal brick-a-brack that didn’t really belong in other departments but were federal government domestic issues.  Most of the things originally put in this department (like the Patent office) no longer are in the Department of the Interior.  And what is left is utterly useless.

Bureau of Indian Affairs
But of the things originally put into the Department of the Interior, possibly the worst of all of them is regrettably still around: Bureau of Indian Affairs, this long standing national disgrace, no matter what the eventual fate of the Department itself, must be eliminated.  You know all that land the Natives Americans live on, their Reservations?  Guess what they don’t own it.  The federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs owns it, even the land houses are built on.  Therefore those living there can never get a loan, never turn their property into capital, never actually enter into the 21st century economy because they don’t actually own their own homes and property. They’re just like a 3rd world country with welfare payments (also provided by BIA).  You have to look no further than a Reservation for proof that the welfare state destroys the people who it attempts to “help” and you can blame the BIA and Dept. of the Interior for being the ones who destroy the lives of these people.

And we need to address this issue first because unlike most of the problems in the Department which boil down to give it to the states or sell it to the private sector and close the offices, this disaster of a longstanding government travesty has more intricacies given how deeply we have screwed over, and more importantly how deeply we are screwing them over this very minute, this one group.

Before you ask, yes we are going to get rid of every bit of this god-awful department, but just closing it isn’t the way to do it.

I propose to the following actions
Every Native American currently getting checks from the government just for existing will get a lump sum check equivalent to ten years worth of payments, this should give them an appropriate buffer to either do things they never were able to do on the dole (like get an education and job skills, which sadly is all to often a story on the Res.) or to invest in their own future even if they are already leading a productive life.  As much as I hate welfare you can’t cut people off cold turkey and expect them to thrive…but given the particular evil of this department I don’t trust a slow step down either—so lump sum payment and we’re done with that.

At the same time everyone living on the reservation will get a half acre of land put in their name.

All other reservation land will be given to a corporation in the name of the tribe. Members of the tribe living on the reservation will get 1000 shares, those not living on the reservation but still recognized as members of the tribe get 500 (numbers are of course up for debate, but I understand tribal benefits for many tribes already follow this or similar models).  So everyone now has land in their own name and the rest of the land is held by a corporation.
Thus they can now get loans, use the land and houses as collateral, invest, develop and generally work to improve their own lives with all the same rights that all other Americans (seriously it is just disgusting how we do not grant basic property rights to this one group).  (And personally I wouldn’t mind giving large plots of other federal land to the reservations to also be included in their corporate holdings, they will almost certainly take care of it and make more money off it than the government ever could).  Every reservation will then be incorporated as its own county and thus will only have to deal with state and federal governments. Finally all the casinos will be granted 100 year grandfather clauses from state government interference (I don’t  like getting involved in state issues like that, but no need to further screw over the tribes, 100 years is more than enough time to find some other source of income or come to some understanding with the states they reside in).  The casinos will of course go to the ownership of the tribe’s corporation.
From there they are free to win or lose based on the laws of free enterprise and capitalism.  That much property should be a good head start, but this way from this point forward they would be treated not differently than any other American (seriously how has the government not stopped treating them as second class citizens yet..how was this never part of any Civil Right’s movement?)  Then you won’t have moments like the government getting to decide if land the tribe considers sacred will be used for mining ) (although my suspicion is that if they were actually making money from a lease of the land personally, like most rational folk profit is very sacred).

Of course the Dept. of the Interior is still a huge mess.

 

Look at all the land they own. This needs to end.

Government land in US.png

National Parks Service

Okay here’s an easy one.  Just give the land and responsibilities of these over to the states.  I’m fairly certain someone in Phoenix has a better idea of how to take care of the Grand Canyon than someone in D.C. So that goes for every federal park. The f

Office of U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Sounds like such a pleasant name for people utterly hell-bent on destroying all progress and quite possibly human civilization.
That line may sound hyperbolic, but these are idiots who enforce the utterly idiotic Endangered Species Act. Let’s ignore that it was private business that brought back the bison and the bees. Now let’s look at what this office does.  For instance they’re involved in saving the Delta Smelt.   A worthless evolutionary dead end that has no ability whatsoever to adapt even to its own environment, and that is about as important to any ecosystem as Obama is to maintaining world peace. To save this worthless excuse of a fish the state of California (originally under orders of the this useless office, but now through efforts of their own idiocy) is dumping over a trillion gallons of water into the ocean to save the smelt.

Yes in California, a place where there is a drought, where serious water rationing is in place, where water is at a premium…the government is forcing people to dump over a trillion gallons of water into the ocean to save a useless fish. I’m sorry but the destruction of billions of dollars in agriculture (and the relating economic benefit) is clearly more important than a damn fish that no one but the US government cares about.

Oh yeah and even for the low low cost of destroying California, once the breadbasket of the world, the smelt is still dying..why because nature is about killing millions of species, the Endangered Species Act is not more intelligent than the simple rule of life since the first single celled lifeforms: adapt or die.

All other decisions made by US Fish and Wildlife are equally disastrous and equally stupid.

The Endangered Species Act needs to be overturned in whole and this department needs to be closed (if you want to charge all the employees with crimes against humanity for the massive economic damage they do on a daily basis, ethically that’s fine by me too.)

 

If you actually care about animals, trust the private sector and charity to handle this, they can.  If you hate animals and people keep the Fish and Wildlife around.

US Geology Survey, Bureau of Land Reclamation, Bureau of Mining Reclamation
If these serve any purpose, which is doubtful, it’s something the states can handle at probably half the price.

Office of Insular Affairs
This office actually does need to be kept around since they’re the management of all those territories we still have (which is a federal issue).  But it can go on as an executive office, you don’t need a whole department for it.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
These are the geniuses who told B.P that drilling close to the shore was dangerous and you have to drill further out in the ocean for it to be safe.
Yeah they’re useless.

And finally we get to the problem we’ve been hearing about so often lately

Bureau of Land Management

247.3 million acres.
That’s how much land BLM has.  One-eighth of the US.
Most of that land isn’t park land, it’s grazing land, it’s land with resources, it’s land that could be sold either to the states or the private sector for a huge profit (didn’t we have a debt we needed to pay off?)

There is no reason for the government to own any of that!  There is barely a reason that states should own this land.
This land needs to be sold off.  Granted many people depend on this land for their livelihood and I have no problem with offering them to buy the land they have been leasing at whatever the market place for such undeveloped land is…but if they don’t want to buy it the land needs to go up for auction—probably over the course of a few years as putting that much land on the market at once would collapse all prices, but the government does not need to own this land.  And not only because there is no reason for the government to own it…but because as with all things, they’re losing money on it. Only the federal government can charge people to use land that just sits there and requires little to no upkeep other than what nature provides or what people will pay you to do and still lose money on it.

 

 

We don’t need to get into how unbelievably corrupt and inept and inept the people at BLM are because they shouldn’t exist in the first place.  Even if they weren’t mentally challenged sociopaths they still shouldn’t exist so their extensive laundry list of moral and intellectual failings is a moot point (unless you want to throw them all in jail, which I’m okay with, but first sell the land and close the office).  As a quick intermediary we can just sell the land to the states, but the federal control has to be ended now.

Energy Management
Finally we have the Office of Energy Management (not to be confused with the same office in the Department of Energy).

I’m simply going to quote you from their own web page:

As the lead Federal agency responsible for the protection and sound development of the nation’s natural resources, the Department of the Interior has a special obligation to be a leader in energy management and conservation. As such, bureaus and offices across the Department are committed to conserving energy and water resources, eliminating waste, increasing renewable energy use, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts by optimizing the use of energy efficient and water conserving technologies. Bureaus and offices are also striving to incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable practices into the decision-making processes during the planning, design, acquisition, renovations, operations and maintenance of buildings. The Office of Acquisition and Property Management (PAM) coordinates these important Department-wide efforts.

And what in the history of the US Government makes you think that they’re in any way competent to do any of that?
Yeah close this boondoggle as well.

So again, we have a terrible organization that needs to have every single one of its responsibilities either privatized, sent to the states or just ended.

 

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Get rid of the Department of Transportation

So last week we looked at why we should get rid of the Department of Agriculture, but it became clear that hellhole was going to take a bit more research to see just how bad it is, so that will have to wait until next week.
However that is hardly the only Department that needs to go to the chopping block (when I’m done with this series there will only be 5 departments left).

But this week let’s look at the disaster that is the Department of Transportation (I originally was going to do the Department of the Interior based on it being in the news so much, but I quickly saw that would take A LOT more research, so maybe next week)

Why is the federal government in charge of infrastructure? Yes I can see where a federal plan would have been originally required in making sure all the major cities connected to all the major cities and making sure the overall plan made sense. But we have that now. It’s no longer an issue of the headache of getting 50 states to agree to one plan. The plan is already in place. Why is the federal government still in charge?

I mean look at the most obvious example of government control of infrastructure: railroads. Amtrak consistently loses money, consistently has bad service, has no clear plan (for instance why is there an Amtrak station in Flagstaff but not in Phoenix…shouldn’t a state’s capital and the largest city in the state be an Amtrak stop…sixth largest city in the nation and all). And then of course there is that slight problem about Amtrak safety…granted it’s been a few years since the last major crash but that still has not wiped the old jokes about Amtrak from my mind. “Amtrak, where they don’t post the times of arrival, just the odds.” Or of course there was the time the Onion joked that terrorists demand that the US has a better train system because if they bombed it right now no one would believe it was an act of terrorism.

The Miralce that is Roads

And if they’re so incompetent at running what should be the most cost and time efficient form of travel we expect them to do a better job with the roads and bridges? Are you kidding? These are the people who wanted to build a bridge to nowhere (yeah and you would have to be a bleeding heart of a liberal to be a governor and defend that pathetic excuse for pork).  Just look at every high speed rail project out there right now…over budget and not going anywhere, whereas the private sector would love to build these things…but they can’t because the government keeps getting in the way.

How about this?

One, let’s have the government sell all of its shares in Amtrak. We might actually get a decent rail system. Which is actually what I’d like.

Two, I’ve said this before on numerous occasions, but we need national open shop rules. That will cut the costs of most of these operations by at least 50% if not more.

Three, turn all infrastructure repair over to the states (or more local governments).

Four, end the federal tax on gas, currently at 18.4 cents per gallon, but give at least 6 months before it ends so that states can enact laws so that they can collect that same amount (after all if they’re going to be paying for all the infrastructure, they have a right to collect the taxes that are supposed to pay for it).

What will happen? One, you’ll find money will be spent far more efficiently. Having Senators from Hawaii and House members from Vermont vote on infrastructure appropriations for Alaska makes no sense. They don’t know where the actual needs in the system are, they can’t possibly. The country is just too damn big, and no nationwide bureaucracy can either because every division will be arguing its problems are the most needed. But a state is small enough to know (except maybe California and Texas…but you can’t have everything). So instead of pork projects in places no one drives you’ll have the bridges and roads that need work worked on because the people making decisions probably have driven on them.

So more efficient, less waste, less pork and ideally less cost if you put in point 2 (hell the lack of a useless federal bureaucracy alone will save at least 10% off the top). But there’s another advantage…

What is that you say? Well a lot of the states won’t necessarily want to deal with all that sudden new bureaucracy…so what will they do…they’ll hire private companies to turn all the roads into toll roads and maintain their upkeep. Now some of you may have an aversion to that…but there is no reason to. As has been repeatedly shown when private companies take over the upkeep of freeways and highways by making them toll roads they do it for less, they reduce traffic and accidents, they reduce the time it takes to repair and improve roads at a fraction of the cost and you get higher quality roads. And they make a profit. Yes what a shock the government really doesn’t know how to do anything

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A complicated chart for a whole lot of waste.

. And if you eventually start turning all freeways, highways and bridges into privately run toll roads…well the interesting thing is the states won’t need their 18.4 cent per gallon tax and they can either reduce tax (eventually) or shore up all those state budgets (which I want in the short run…right now I don’t really want the price of gas to drop as that would be better for the oil rich nations that support terrorism). (Oh and companies would have to make public bids for these roads so it’s simply who is willing to do it if for the cheapest amount…it’s a lot harder to bribe politicians for kickbacks when you’re judged only on a public bid and not protected by mountains of federal bureaucrats).

Then you have some of the smaller parts of the Department, like drug and alcohol compliance…again another thing that should never have been more than a state issue. Dear god kill this entire department.
All in all, the government should just send everything that has to do with infrastructure and transportation to the states and private companies. Remind me again…why do we need the department of Transportation?  Sure we’ll need to keep the FAA around (as the 80’s showed, having that as a private sector business where workers could strike would be a terrible idea, at least at present…get some private high speed rail in there as a viable option things might change), but other than that?  Whatever issues of transportation that the military needs can probably be handled by a small office out of the DOD.  There is no reason to keep this mess of a department around.  Privatize or give it to the states, doesn’t matter just so long as the federal department is killed. The only thing that you needed federal control of was setting up the initial planning (and that’s done) and maybe setting some minimum standards for military needs on main highways—nothing else.

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The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Italy

Source: The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Italy

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What if they had a gun?

Elementary Politics

What if they had a gun?

So this week Obama in his usual way, suggested more pointless regulations against guns…because the so-called Constitutional professor doesn’t seem to grasp the Supreme Court making it quite clear the  2nd Amendment details an individual right that does not come with many exceptions.  Granted what Barry proposed was within the letter of the law, even though it is entirely antithetical to the spirit of the law (but that has been the last seven years so many times hasn’t it?).  And that’s just not my opinion, those over at the Heritage Foundation seem to agree that while all of these will face still (and usually successful) legal challenges, the proposals themselves are within the letter of the law:

None of these proposals are legally problematic, as any president remains free to provide guidance to federal agencies and to ask Congress to appropriate money to fund…

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2015: The worst year for movies

Elementary Politics

Okay, 2015 was not the absolute worst year in the history of film (the 70’s had some abysmal entries as well) but it is certainly the worst in recent memory.

It was the year of the spy (4 of them actually watchable).
It was the year of the overhyped and utterly vapid blockbuster with entries like:
Avengers: Age of Great Directors Phoning It In
Jurassic World: The Unbreakable Heels
And of course
Star Wars: J.J. Should stick to making TV

And even on the more serious side of things the selections were often lacking.   Joy which should have been a great story of American entrepreneurship and the trials of bringing a new product to market was just a soap-operaish cheap reproduction of the misery of Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness (only with more misery).  DiCaprio had some fun with a bear, but otherwise the film was dull no matter…

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by | January 9, 2016 · 12:03 pm

Departments to Eliminate: The Department of Agiuculture

 

Old joke: An employee at the Dept of Agriculture is crying in the employee cafeteria. A co-worker comes by and asks him what is wrong and why is he so upset?
Answer: My farmer died!

Without question the Department of Agriculture needs to be dismantled. It’s not a particularly large Department. It only runs at a $149 Billion a year which, in the era of a $18 Trillion debt, is cheap. But the fact is that its $149 Billion spent on what is unquestionably the most useless Department in the Cabinet. If the Republicans are serious about cutting the budget and lowering the debt then killing this department is unquestionably a symbolic must (populist however love this boondoggle and don’t think about killing it–Teddy, looking at you).

What few legitimate functions the Department does serve could easily be taken up by the private sector or state governments with greater efficiency and lower costs (and on a few of those private sectors ones, the Federal government could actually make some money by leaving the issues to the private sector).
Don’t believe me? Well let’s take a look at all the divisions of the Department.

Agricultural Marketing Service: As the name suggests it’s government trying to control the market in agriculture. Oh, and this is also the agency that does a bang-up job monitoring bacterial contamination in food (I fail to see how a private agency driven by a good old fashion profit motive competing with other private companies for the same purpose couldn’t do a better job here than government workers who by definition are less qualified and less accountable than their private sector counterparts. You get rid of worthless things like this and the inept FDA I will bet you Safeway, Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco will all immediately create business to do their own checking which will compete with each other and keep each other honest…not to mention the fact that profit motive dictates that customers dying quickly of contaminated food and thus don’t buy more products).

Agricultural Research Service: Research funding into how to make agriculture more effective. Yeah definitely something for the private sector to be doing as by definition research for private business should be on the dime of those businesses not the tax payer.

Animal and Plant Health Service: This division does a lot of wonderfully useless things. My favorite being enforcing the Honeybee Act which prevents honeybees coming into the US from outside sources (and the way the law reads it doesn’t just mean Africanized honey bees)…didn’t I read somewhere that the bee population is down in the US?  Yes I did...but then I read how private sector fixed this problem all on their own (a problem which probably was partly the fault of the government). Makes you wonder how this divisions stupidity may have effected a species that did quite well on its own.…

Center for the Nutrition Policy and Promotion: These are the geniuses who come up with the food pyramid that’s heavy on starch (and you wonder why the nation is so fat), and likes to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat like a good intrusive government. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that these are also the idiots who have a hand in coming up with the asinine BMI chart that says everyone but size 0 supermodels are obese.

Economic Research Service: Just the word economic in any branch of the government sends chills down my spine. But basically all this department does is collect numbers. Oh and waste tax payer money while collecting numbers, they do that too.USAgri-orgchart

Farm Service Agency: I don’t know a whole lot about farming, but I do know that if there needs to be regulation of farming at some level it shouldn’t go beyond the state level. There is no conceivable reason why we need a federal branch looking into how farms are run.  None.  Absolutely none.

Food and Nutrition Service: A bunch of welfare handouts that should at least be handled by state governments not the federal government. In an ideal world those state governments would roll those programs themselves back to nothing, but one thing at a time.

Food Safety and Inspection Service:
This is this the organization that incompetently looks after the safety of our food along with the FDA (not only do they suck at doing their job, it’s two different agencies that suck at doing this). Trust me if we broke this and the FDA up into two private companies that bid to get the contracts to ensure the safety of food (trust me the supermarkets will invest heavily in these businesses to ensure they never have to make another recall and the bad press that comes with those) then we would have better food and less tax dollars being stolen from us.

Foreign Agricultural Service: WTF? This is the organization that makes international deals for US produce. Why don’t farmers and private traders make these deals? Because government likes to get its stupid fingers into EVERYTHING. I seriously doubt there will be any disasters (and probably fewer starving people in Africa) if we get rid of this waste of an agency.

Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration: This group supposedly regulates the market and encourages competitive trading practices. Read that sentence again. Only the government thinks that it can regulate and increase competition at the same time despite the fact that they are patently opposed to one another.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture:
More wasted dollars on research that the private sector could do just as well.

National Agricultural Statistics Service: More number collecting. But a different number collecting group than the other number collecting group in the USDA that is wasting your money. Because why waste you money on one agency that does nothing, when you can get two agencies for the price of two (or twenty knowing federal accounting).

Natural Resource Conservation Service: Because companies and private farmers don’t know how to run their farms for long term profit…oh wait they probably know how to do that better than the government.

Risk Management Agency: More trying to control the market through regulation. Don’t private companies and co-ops have their own risk management? Why do we need to double up on the tax payer’s dollar?

USDA Department for Rural Development: Again this is the private sector’s responsibility, not the governments.

And finally
The Forrest Service: First off, why is the Forrest Service not under the Department of the Interior? Secondly with heavy regulation, could we again spin the costs for this off to a private company to tend the forests, make deals with loggers to thin the forest (which needs to be done more if we’re going to avoid these yearly massive fires we have) and shoulder the burden of those massive forest fires.

So private companies that run things for less and with better results to replace the FDA and Forrest Service and maybe a hundred people to enforce regulation via heavy fines for violators now under the Department of the Interior. Shouldn’t cost more than a couple million (maybe even a profit when you figure we’re going to be leasing all that forest land out at a healthy fee).

There is nothing legitimate that this Department does that cannot be done by the private sector. And there is a lot that just doesn’t need to be done. And even more that is being done that shouldn’t. I still can’t figure out which of these useless branches is giving out subsidies to grow tobacco or not grow wheat, but I do know that we give out $20 Billion every year if farm subsidies. Here’s money to grow tobacco which we can then sue the tobacco companies for selling. Here’s money not to grow wheat so we can artificially raise prices (a prime cause of hunger in the third world). Here’ money to grow corn to be turned into ethanol the most worthless alternative fuel in existence because when you factor in the energy and gas required to harvest that corn it comes out to not only being expensive but costing more in fuel than it can produce (government efficiently at its finest). Oh and that’s acreage going to grow corn for ethanol that is not being used to feed people.

This is without question the most useless Department in the government and it needs to go away forever.

So why do I bring this up? I mean this isn’t all that timely a point. Well I bring this up because recently Ted Cruz listed 4 Departments he really feels need to be eliminated…now while I would probably cut it down to only 5 Departments (and give me some time I will detail exactly how I would like that done), Teddy only listed 4 Departments (Education, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and Commerce)…but not the most reviled of all Departments, the one even more useless than Education, Agriculture? Why would any conservative ever not put Agriculture as one of the first things they would love to kill. Well the answer is Teddy isn’t a conservative, he’s a populist, and in this case a populist pandering at the moment to farmers in Iowa.

 

 

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The Big Short: Best Movie of the Year

Elementary Politics

Big short“Whenever you hear ‘subprime’, think ‘shit.’”–Margot Robbie

So at the very end of the year I get a valid pick for Film of the Year 2015: The Big Short

Honestly this should have been part of a trilogy of films. The Big Short detailing the corruption and stupidity of the banking industry, a film details the corrupt abuses of power by the government that sued, harassed, bribed and intimidated banks to make these bad loans in the first place, and finally a film going over the gross stupidity of people who bought houses they couldn’t afford. The three pillars of the market collapse. But we only got this film. (The film does point out that a lot of the people buying are idiots, and that the government had already agreed to a bailout long before the collapse…but the focus is on the unspeakable incompetence of the banking industry).

Regrettably the…

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