Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

Who Owns the Memorials & Parks?

October 2nd, 2013

The memorial structures and parks in Washington D.C. and elsewhere belong to the people, not to the government. The WW-II memorial celebrates the accomplishments of the soldiers who fought the war and the current government can’t take any credit, whatsoever, for that.

The behavior of the Obama administration, Harry Reid and his Democrat thugs in closing off these parks and monuments is at best shameful and at worst a disgrace. They have no right at all to do this. So why to they do it? They do it because a) they can, and b) because they think their political opponents will be blamed. That’s about as low as you can get, even in by Washington standards.

Time to Panic!

October 1st, 2013

The federal government has partially shut down. All “non-essential” personnel have been granted a vacation. Should we panic, should we riot?

It’s a perfect opportunity to ask yourself what impact the shutdown has on you personally. What activity of the federal government were you benefiting from before the shutdown that you now miss? What if those “non-essential” federal employees were laid off rather than furloughed? It might save you some taxes and some aggravation.

What it really proves is that most of what the federal government does is useless, expensive and wasteful. We’d be much better off if the government was reduced in size and mission by at lease 75%. Maybe more. These “non-essential” employees are, indeed, non-essential if not wasteful burdens on the country.

A Visit to Social Security Office

June 14th, 2013

Today I had a chore to retrieve a new 1099 from SSA on behalf of my elderly mother. A call to the 800 number yielded the conclusion that they couldn’t help me. I had to go to the local office, from which an employee could call my mother on the phone to get authorization for me to receive a copy of the 1099. The SSA says that they don’t recognize powers of attorney! Why the hell not?

Upon arrival at the SSA office I was immediately approached by an armed security guard. He asked if I possessed firearms, pepper spray, bombs, etc. I said “no.” I asked what was the purpose of this high-security and the guard said, “This is a FEDERAL facility.” OK, but it didn’t make much sense to me. I took a number and sat down on a steel bench to wait my turn. The hour I waited gave me time to observe several things. First, the guard was hand-searching every woman’s purse as she entered. Second, there were numerous signs posted which warned of penalties for attacking a government employee or carrying contraband into a FEDERAL establishment. The wall was also plastered, here and there, with signs saying “Please do not stand here.” The only reason I could discern is that these were blind spots in the surveillance camera coverage. In short, the place is run like a jail — and everyone entering is suspected of being a criminal. This was a government bunker.

My visit concluded, after an additional half hour of waiting, with a visit to “the back”. I was escorted to a fairly large room with I’d guess 25 cubicles. I observed that only 5 or so were occupied. So, either the building plan over-estimated the need for office space and furniture, or the empty desks represented “slots” in the budget (money that could be spent on anything the bureaucrats desired as long as there were no employees to pay). The upshot is that if the desks had been occupied, I wouldn’t have had to wait so long. Or it’s just more evidence of government waste and mismanagement.

I admit that the employees in the bunker were all pleasant and patient — but did it have to take so long? Why are FEDERAL facilities increasingly becoming bunkers. Who are these people afraid of? You and me, I guess.

Big Sis Our Protector

May 2nd, 2013

Is Your Government Planning to Kill You?

April 30th, 2013

Based on ammo purchases, it looks like your friendly federal government is planning to kill everyone in America — several times over! That’s 1.6 Billion rounds of hollow point ammo, 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles, and 2,000 armored vehicles — all for use by “civilian” agencies? Come on, people. Wake up. This is crazy, but it’s also real.

And don’t forget to play the clip at the end of the article — comical but complete!

Victims of Government

March 27th, 2013

Government red-tape ruined this citizen.

Depressing, isn’t it?

Government Gone Mad

February 10th, 2013

If you don’t believe that government is out of control and a real threat to your personal liberty, take a few minutes to review video and the link below. (Courtesy of The Heritage Foundation.)

A Man Spends 8 Years in Federal Prison for a NON-CRIME

This outrage is almost beyond belief.

Healthcare Law’s Growing Frustrations and Intrusions

February 10th, 2012

Increasingly a complaint about awkward or goofy health-related services is met with “But that’s the law. We have to do it that way.”

For example, CVS Pharmacy has been revising their web site for prescription refills. It used to work just dandy, and was fairly easy to cope with. Now, however, everything is wrapped in military level security, i.e., enter your user name, your password, your plan number, your group number, a recent prescription number, your name, your birth date, the name of your cat, and if you are not so frustrated that you’ve quit, your shoe size. A complaint about this awkward and unnecessary level of security gets the answer: “The health care privacy laws require it.” Well, should they? Do they actually? Is it just an excuse for programmers going wild?

We see this everywhere. New intrusive health care questionnaires, invitations to have an “expert” examine our living quarters, invitations to consult health-plan nurses. This is health-care by push. I tell them “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” but they call anyway. Any day now I expect Mrs. Obama to knock on my door and insist on inspecting the contents of my fridge.

I go to my dentist’s lab to have a repair on a broken denture. The lab techs say they can’t do the job without permission from the dentist. Hey guys, this is warranty service. What possible benefit does this have to me, to be told I can’t have someone fix my denture without permission? Maybe my barber will have to get permission to cut my hair next time.

This is insanity and it needs to be stopped and backed up right now. My own frustration is at the boiling point. Friends and family tell me I’m a grump, but I maintain that they’re blissfully ignorant of a trend that could some day deprive us of all of our freedoms.

Speak up. Resist this insanity now, before it’s too late.

Federal Boots on Neck of Gibson Guitar Co.

September 10th, 2011

This story is actually a couple of weeks old. In the midst of swirling insanity characterized by President Obama’s “jobs” speech, the FBI’s evidence tampering in the Gun Walker scandal, the gyrating stock market, chaos in the middle east, and other matters — in the midst of all this the Gibson Guitar raid by armed federal agents to enforce foreign laws sticks out.

From what I’ve read the raid originates in an obscure snippet of legislation inserted into an unrelated bill by environmental nut cases. It essentially treats wood as if it were a radioactive substance, requiring tracking and registration of wood that any country considers special. In the Gibson case the wood is from India. Indian law requires the wood to be finished by Indian labor. U.S. Government claims the wood did not meet this requirement, so it sent 20 armed agents into Gibson’s plants and headquarters to confiscate the wood and evidence of wrong-doing. Gibson’s CEO says the company hasn’t been charged with any crime or infraction.

As an aside, the government apparently told Gibson that they could avoid all this hassle if they simply moved their operations overseas!

The most disturbing thing about this episode is the increasing use of massive, military-style armed force by government agencies in raids of this kind. One could expect this kind of government hobnail boot assault in totalitarian countries, but not here in America.

Punishing Success, Killing Jobs

June 23rd, 2011

The arrogant Obamacrat bureaucrats at the FTC have announced that they will go fishing for something, anything bad at Google. Any successful company must be doing something bad according to this job killing philosophy.

The Obamacrat motto: “We must punish success.”

Secret Service’s Chilling Lack of Common Sense

May 18th, 2011

The Secret Service grills a 13 year old kid for an innocuous comment on his Facebook page. He warned that President Obama should be aware of threats in retaliation for Bin Laden’s death. See for yourself whether this is a case of over-reaction by our government. Do we really want to be censored this way? Should we be afraid to even mention the Prez and boom-booms in the same post? Who’s watching, and how? Will I find a Secret Service agent on my doorstep due to careless interpretation of my words? I find this chilling, but it won’t stop me from expressing my own frank opinions.

Completely Useless Federal Employees

April 8th, 2011

Here’s a list of useless (non-essential) federal employees. Instead of being furloughed they should be fired permanently.(From National Journal)

Education: 4,150 workers out of 4,465 full- and part-time employees would be furloughed.
Energy: No furloughs in the short term.
Environmental Protection Agency: Of 17,721 employees, 16,061 workers would be furloughed.
General Services Administration: 11,298 workers out of 12,697 employees would be furloughed.
Health and Human Services: 47,693 workers departmentwide would be furloughed.
Homeland Security: Approximately 184,000 employees out of 230,000 workers across the department would be excepted.
Interior: From 52,000 to 55,000 out of 68,900 total employees would be furloughed.
Government Accountability Office: Out of 3,000 employees, fewer than 30 would be considered excepted.
Housing and Urban Development: The department has 9,700 employees. Of that number, 846 would be excepted and 8,854
Justice: Of 117,529 employees, 94,261 workers would be excepted.
Labor:14,449 out of 16,099 workers would be furloughed.
Merit Systems Protection Board: All 216 employees except the three-member Presidentially Appointed Senate Confirmed (PAS) Board would be furloughed.
Office of Personnel Management: 724 employees would be furloughed out of 6,514 total employees.
Postal Regulatory Commission: Out of 71 employees, five appointed commissioners and three tech/support staff would be considered excepted.
Small Business Administration: 2,102 out of 3,230 employees would be furloughed.
Social Security Administration: 20,846 employees out of 68,028 would be furloughed.
Transportation: 17,870 workers out of 58,011 would be furloughed.
Treasury: Of 127,000 total employees, 92,000 workers would be furloughed.
Veterans Affairs: Of 312,628 total employees, 10,234 would be furloughed.
The Office of Management and Budget is including agency contingency plans on its site as well.

Acronym Madness in Obamacare Regs

April 7th, 2011

Here’s a list of the acronym definitions found in the 429 pages of new regulations spawned by 6 pages of the Obamacare legislation courtesy of US News. Don’t even bother to read the regulations themselves. The exercise will probably shorten your life.

ACO Accountable Care Organizations
AHRQ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
BCBSMA Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
BIPA Benefits Improvement and Protection Act
BQI Better Quality Information
CAD Coronary Artery Disease
CAHPS Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems
CAHs Critical Access Hospitals
CAM Complementary and Alternative Services
CBIC Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor
CCNC Community Care of North Carolina
CHCs Community Health Centers
CHIP Children’s Health Insurance Program
CMMI Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation
CMP Civil Monetary Penalties
CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
CNM Certified Nurse Midwife
CMS-HCC CMS Hierarchal Condition Category
COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
CP Certified Psychologist
CSW Clinical Social Worker
CVE Chartered Value Exchange
CWF Common Working File
DHHS Department of Health and Human Services
DM Diabetes Mellitus
DOJ Department of Justice
DRA Deficit Reduction Act of 2005(Pub. L. 109-171)
DSH Disproportionate Share Hospital
DUA Data use Agreement
E&M Evaluation and Management
EDB Enrollment Database
EHR Electronic Health Record
ESRD End Stage Renal Disease
eRx Electronic Prescribing Incentive Program
FFS Fee For Service
FQHCs Federally Qualified Health Centers
FTC Federal Trade Commission
GAO Government Accountability Office
GPCI Geographic Practice Cost Index
GPRO Group Practice Reporting Option
HAC Hospital Acquired Conditions
HCAHPS Health Care Providers Systems and Surveys
HCC Hierarchal Condition Category
HCO Health Care Organizations
HCPCS Health Care Procedural Coding System
HHA Home Health Agencies
HICN Health Insurance Claim Number
HIPAA Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
HIE Health Information Exchange
HIT Health Information Technology
HITECH Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health
HMO Health Maintenance Organization
HRSA Health Resources Services Administration
HVBP Hospital Value Based Purchasing
IHIE Indiana Health Information Exchange
IME Indirect Medical Education
INPC Indiana Network for Patient Care
IOM Institute of Medicine
IPPS Inpatient Prospective Payment System
IQR Inpatient Quality Reporting
IRS Internal Revenue Services
LTCHs Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals
MA Medicare Advantage
MAeHC Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative
MDCs Major Diagnostic Categories
MedPAC Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
MHCQ Medicare Health Care Quality
MMA Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act
MPFS Medicare Physician Fee Schedule
MS-DRGs Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Groups
MSP Minimum Savings Percentage
MSR Minimum Savings Rate
NC-CCN North Carolina Community Care Networks
NCH National Claims History
NCQA National Committee for Quality Assurance
NP Nurse Practitioner
NPI National Provider Identifier
NQF National Quality Forum
NYCLIX The New York Clinical Information Exchange
OIG Office of Inspector General
OMB Office of Management and Budget
PA Physician Assistant
PACE Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly
PACFs Post-Acute Care Facilities
PCMH Patient Centered Medical Home
PFS Physician Fee Schedule
PGP Physician Group Practice
PHI Protected health information
POS Point of Service
PPO Preferred provider organization
PPS Prospective Payment System
PQRI Physician Quality Reporting Initiative
PQRS Physician Quality Reporting System
PRA Paperwork Reduction Act
PSA Primary Service Areas
RFI Request for Information
RHCs Rural Health Centers
RHQDAPU Reporting Hospital Quality Data for Annual Payment Update
RIA Regulatory Impact Analysis
SNFs Skilled Nursing Facilities
SOR Privacy Act Systems of Record
SSA Social Security Administration
SSN Social Security Number
TIN Tax Identification Number

Don’t you just love government’s productive work?

Union Bunnies

March 3rd, 2011

This post will probably get me into a tiff with several of my friends who are teachers, but they already know my attitude, and most won’t read this blog anyway.

Not so many years ago teachers’ unions were small and weak. Teachers considered themselves professionals, and as such they commanded widespread respect, individual contracts for 9 months of work, and judging by the high supply compared to overall demand, they were not underpaid.

Having attended 12 schools during my growing-up years I had a sampling of various schools and districts throughout the country. The quality of my education varied from mediocre to excellent, but on the whole I think it was adequate. Those of us who wanted to go on to higher education were reasonably well prepared. Classes were, on the whole, well disciplined and academic standards were upheld. I graduated from high school in 1961.

Then, starting some time in the mid to late 1960’s, a time when childishness, irresponsibility, and rebellious tantrums were widely celebrated in the popular culture there was strong growth of teachers’ unions. Teachers exchanged their status as professionals for the status of assembly line workers and truck drivers — “working stiffs” in the left-wing union argot. If memory serves me, there were two main unions, one backed by the AFL-CIO and the other by the Teamsters Union, an organization with a reputation for corruption and thuggery. By the early 70’s the unions had acquired control over most of the nation’s educational systems. From that time to the present the cost of public education has skyrocketed and student performance has slumped. The unions persistently called for and got higher pay and benefits for their members and fiercely resisted calls for performance evaluations and systemic reforms. Now the teachers unions are major contributors to Democrat politicians, along with trial lawyers and the environmental activist organizations. The Democrats elected with their money have returned the favor with ever-sweeter union contracts. That is where we are today.

Against this background we have the uncivil behavior of unionized teachers in Wisconsin and elsewhere. So it is no surprise that the reputation of teachers as respected “professionals” has been wiped out. Nationally those industries that have been most thoroughly unionized have self destructed, witness railroads, steel mills, automobile manufacturers, and others. Now the public school teachers are doing the same thing, and other unionized public employees are next in line. There is a lesson in here somewhere, but don’t expect teachers to teach it.

A Little Medicine, A Lot of Bureaucracy

January 17th, 2011

Here’s a little personal story that shows why medicine is in such a mess.

Last week my elderly mother was startled while sleeping on a couch. She bumped her head on the coffee table leaving a small bruise, a little swelling and some soreness. It was obviously not a serious injury. She lives in an assisted living facility where the staff doctor wanted her to have an x-ray. She and I decided that we’d prefer to consult her own doctor and take the opportunity to ask him some other questions as well.

Mother’s own doctor seemed quite unimpressed by her injury, but in an obviously defensive move suggested an x-ray of her face and jaw. I was not alert enough at the time to ask him what kind of treatment could possibly be rendered even if the x-ray showed some kind of fracture. My suspicion is that nothing could have been done anyway, so the x-ray was a useless exercise to put Mother through.

The doctor’s office had an x-ray facility, but they said they couldn’t do that kind of x-ray. We’d have to go to a radiology lab. Here it got even weirder. Upon arriving at the radiology lab I asked whether they could do the x-ray, since the doctor’s lab said they didn’t have the equipment. The desk clerk couldn’t answer the question and wouldn’t disturb the technical staff, which was apparently at lunch.

I then tried to contact Mother’s doctor to get a clarification as to what “difficult” x-ray technique or equipment was needed and had prevented his office from doing the job. Contacting a physician by telephone, email or smoke signals is impossible these days — misunderstood instructions might result in a law suit, you know.

After an hour’s wait and no clarifying return call from the physician’s office we were escorted into the x-ray lab. The staff seemed confused about what had to be done. They were consulting manuals, discussing the case and buzzing around the equipment. After a while they told Mother to paste her face against the flat surface of the instrument. Some pictures were taken from the back of her head, some discussions ensued over the x-ray viewing screen. Then a couple of side angles were taken, more discussion. Another person was called in and I was excused on the basis that I took up too much room.

Shortly thereafter the x-ray tech came to get me and said that Mother had refused to continue with the procedures. I realized that I should have been a lot more assertive from the beginning and asked why they were taking all of those shots when we’d come in for a simple image of one side of the face. I challenged the man who had come into the room belatedly and now had his back turned to me, asking who he was. He said he was the supervisor. I asked him what the hell they were doing. Why not get the single x-ray we’d come for and be done with it. The supervisor responded that they had a “protocol” that they had to follow.

Well now, I suspect that the “protocol” had a medical procedure number assigned to it and that they’d charge Medicare for a whole series of x-rays that were useless to us. We needed just one.

I’m waiting for a statement or a bill and will vigorously challenge it if Medicare or anyone is charged for more than one x-ray. I doubt that Mother’s doctor will ever see the x-rays they took.

From the very first of this story a little good judgment would have saved a lot of discomfort and expense. The medical system has become so bureaucratized and so legalized that no medical professional can be counted on to exercise good judgment or initiative, or to communicate with the patients. The result is bad treatment and out-of-control expense.

As for Mother, she’s fine. The swelling, bruise and discomfort are gone, but she worries about how much radiation she may have absorbed unnecessarily.

Political Bunker Mentality

January 12th, 2011

Gradually, one violent event at a time, the bureaucracy and the politicians adopt a bunker mentality to protect themselves from the citizens, some of whom are violent and crazy. See below the design of a new government office building.

In the wake of the murders in Tucson we have congressmen (Peter King R-NY) calling for a ban on guns within 1,000 feet of any politician, and (Dan Burton, D-Indiana) proposing to wall off the visitors gallery of the House of Representatives with a bullet-proof/explosion proof transparent plastic barrier, among others.

Hey, guys and gals, we already have to go through metal detectors and surrender our pocket knives if we want to enter any government building. If the danger is so pervasive, then why isn’t the whole private sector similarly bunkered? A lot more civilians than politicians are murdered by crazy people every year. Next you’ll be proposing visiting facilities for citizens to communicate with politicians modeled after those in prisons? Why not?
The only thing they haven’t yet determined is which side of the glass the citizens should occupy.

DHS: Big Sis Now on The Global Warming Beat!

December 20th, 2010

credit Another Black Conservative

The U.S. Department of Homeland Insanity announces that it wants in on the Global Warming scam. See below:(via Climate Depot.com)

Global Warming Battle Joined by DHS

This is so self-ridiculing I can’t add anything useful to it.

Congress Bans School Bake Sales

December 6th, 2010

In its latest nanny-state outrage, the federal government wants control of your child’s fork. In a series of recent legislative and regulatory moves politicians want to control your weight, your diet, your medications, your food suppliers, your children’s diet, and your bake sales … what’s next, your haircut?

This latest Nanny State Gone Nuts legislation tries to impose after-school meals on the nation’s school systems, regulate the food that can be served in school cafeterias and vending machines, and BAN CAKE SALES FOR FUND RAISING. Isn’t that wise and wonderful? The bureaucrats declare that the kid’s moms cakes and cookies are dangerous and must be regulated. From the Daily Caller article:

The new nutrition standards would be written by the Agriculture Department, which would decide which kinds of foods may be sold and what ingredients can be used on school lunch lines and in vending machines.

The new standards would likely keep popular foods like hamburgers and pizza in school cafeterias but make them healthier, using leaner meat or whole wheat crust, for example. Vending machines could be stocked with less candy and fewer high-calorie drinks.

Bake sales and other school sponsored fundraisers that sell unhealthy foods could also be limited under the legislation, which only allows them if they are infrequent. The Agriculture Department would determine how often they could be held.

Republican leaders are reportedly attempting a procedural maneuver to block this liberty attacking, $4.5 Billion abomination which passed by the lame-duck House 264-157 last Thursday.

Whether or not this thing gets signed into law, it should be regarded as a “Constitutional hanging offense” by any legislator who voted for it. We who still love our liberties need a lot fewer of you guys in congress and will do everything in our power to kick you out.

Too Bad Good Not to Post

November 30th, 2010

Here’s a story everyone should read about the total idiocy of our Federal Government, particularly but not limited to the TSA. (from http://RedState.com )

TSA search of soldiers returning from war.

A bureaucracy is an organization specifically designed to relieve anyone participating in it from taking responsibility for anything it does or making any judgment or decision at all. It is for this reason that bureaucracy is the most evil of all human inventions and the main tool of tyrants and the most prolific source of oppression and misery.

Read this story and remember it when you vote and pay your taxes.

Government Rules & Terrorist Targets

November 24th, 2010

The current bruhaha over TSA’s naked body/grope screening is symptomatic of Federal attitudes towards everyone. In the “mind” of the bureaucracy, we’re all potential criminals and miscreants.

Just take note of the signage at any Federal facility, post office, park, government office building, etc. The first thing you’ll notice is a series of stern warnings not to cheat, steal, befoul or otherwise act unrespectfully or irresponsibly. See an example from one national park below: (Also, a previous article: Signs of Government Arrogance)

Then, in case you needed to have it, rules of conduct:

And of course, a warning to “Use the Toilet:”

And of course, fire safety and motor vehicle restrictions:

So in the context of normal federal government practice of treating all citizens as potential criminals, we have TSA saving us from terrorists. Let’s examine the procedure:

1) If you get through the metal detector without an alarm, you can go on the airplane. No box-cutters, no sir! You’re safe.

2) But if you have an artificial knee or hip, or a pacemaker, then you set off the buzzer. You need a body scan or a pat-down to search for what? For the metallic object that set off the metal detector? No, not that. They’re searching for plastic explosives hidden in your underwear.

3) If you’re a person with metal parts in your body, then you’re a potential terrorist bomber.

4) If you’re a bomber equipped with plastic explosives just be sure not to set off the metal detector.

Let’s see. The logic is that people with artificial joints or pacemakers, or who forget to take off their belt with a metal buckle, are the most likely to be terrorists. No, that would be profiling, so they have to randomly pat-down old ladies, children, and airline crew members. Makes perfect sense if you are a government bureaucrat.

The truth of this logic simply isn’t. Box cutters, double edge razor blades and nail clippers won’t work to take control of an airplane when the cockpit door is reinforced and locked, and the pilot is armed. Guns can’t be concealed in properly x-rayed luggage. My suggestion is to offer free air-fares to any properly credentialed law enforcement officer who is willing to carry his loaded weapon on-board. This would greatly reduce the potential for a terrorist to use hostages as leverage to take over an airplane.

The bombers have to be dealt with long before they get to the airport. For this we need to infiltrate intelligence agents into Muslim society here and abroad. The only proper way to deal with terrorists is to arrest or kill them before they can do harm. If one of them gets to the airport then some careful profiling and screening is definitely in order. The insanity of screening every passenger as if he is a potential terrorist is obvious.

It is shortsighted to believe that terrorists will forever concentrate on passenger air as a target. We’ve already seen air cargo, commuter trains (Spain & Germany), sporting events (Olympics), Hotels (Mumbai) and other targets attacked. The fact is that shopping malls, NASCAR races, political rallies, cruise ships, and other mass participation targets, some of them with huge built-in publicity potential, cannot have escaped the interest of terrorists. To believe that TSA type screening would even be possible to guard against attacks on these kinds of targets is foolish.

Now some might say that giving government agents the power to spy on and arrest or kill terrorists sets a precedent that could be used to suppress any non-government-approved group or activity. But isn’t that what is being done with organized crime? Yes, the killing part isn’t done domestically, but it is done abroad. One could argue that foreign terrorists on American soil should be handled the same way as al-Qaeda terrorists in the cross-hairs of a Predator drone are handled. Tight laws and procedures governing the anti-terrorist effort, combined with zealous oversight of the personnel involved would be vital. And this approach would relieve innocent American citizens from being treated a criminals when we travel, gather for events, and go about our private and public activities.

It’s time to reform government security attitudes and practices, starting with TSA and extending to all other government facilities and activities.

Beating The Entitlements Tar Baby

October 23rd, 2010

A provocative Forbes Blog article was referenced by Maggies Farm Blog: Why The GOP Will Never Cut The Size Of Government by Rick Unger. The article rightly observes that if you “[a]dd the 42 percent for Social Security and subsidized health care and the 23 percent for other entitlements and net interest […] you get to 65 percent- or roughly two-thirds of our total federal expenditure.” The author then concludes that the American public, including tea party participants, won’t ever let these entitlements be significantly cut, so the federal budget is permanently stuck-on-overwhelming. We’ve got our fist in the belly of the tar baby.

The magnitude of the entitlements, not even including the looming trillion-plus dollar addition of Obamacare is an unavoidable fact. It is also an unavoidable truth that a large portion of the U.S. citizenry has paid into these (social security and medicare) programs and relies on them. But it is also an unavoidable truth that these programs are fiscally unsound if not already bankrupt. So any way you parse it, something has to be done. If we leave things as they are, taxation and borrowing will inevitably be unable to sustain the burden, and the entire economy of the country will collapse.

But first, let’s look at the one-third of the budget that is not entitlements. Within this portion of the budget are most of the liberty-nicking and draining, annoying and harmful regulatory measures that make government increasingly odious and the private economy and life in general increasingly burdened. The vast majority of these bureaucracies produce absolutely nothing of value for individual voting citizens. (I dare you to take an inventory and list Federal Government activities that actually benefit you personally.)

For an interlude we may be able to ignore the entitlements mess and direct our attention to reducing the intrusiveness of government into our every-day lives. We may be able to celebrate and encourage individualism and self-reliance by drastically reducing or better yet, eliminating departments of government like Education, Commerce, Labor, Energy, Transportation, EPA, HHS, and other burdensome, expensive and useless bureaucracies. (I wrote about this here, here, and here.) That would distract some of the attention from entitlements, as millions of bureaucrats would have to find civilian employment. Just removing these people from the future retirement cost burden of the government and reducing taxes needed to pay and equip the bureaucracies would have a major stimulating effect on the economy. And that’s even before the economic and spiritual uplift from tax reduction and elimination of red tape, regulation and harassment that would follow.

After successfully hacking back the federal bureaucracy and regulatory apparatus, thereby stimulating the private economy and renewing a sense of can-do private initiative throughout the country, it would then be possible to think seriously about the problem of entitlements. The first thing to do about this is to allow younger people to opt-out of these government programs, with a final drop-dead date for phasing them out completely. This reduces the future entitlements problem, but pops the Ponzi-scheme that allows current and near-term eligible people’s benefits to be paid from revenues collected from new participants. We’re then left to rely on the so-called “trust funds” which the government has already looted, leaving behind government IOU’s. Here is where some pain comes in. The pain will be apportioned mostly to the younger generation who will have to pay for their own private retirement and medical plans, and will also bear the tax cost of redeeming those government IOU’s. A newly buoyant economy will help, but it will still hurt. The irresponsibility of generations of politicians and voters has a cost — no escaping it.

Then, after four to six presidential election cycles have passed, assuming that the will to reform can be sustained — as it might be through evidence of progress and success — the country can emerge from its encounter with the entitlements tar-baby, stronger, better, and more self-confident than it has ever been before. And the best of it is that we’ll preserve our freedom.

Federal Government Stock Market Manipulation – Continued

October 21st, 2010

Back on May 31, 2009 I wrote about suspected stock market manipulation, a suspicion based on my daily observation of stock market behavior patterns. It seemed strange to me then, and since then it has continued to be suspicious. The market has been characterized since March 6th of 2009 by a steady, nearly uninterrupted uptrend. Much of the upward action has appeared near the start and end of the day and after hours.

Since that article was written additional voices have expressed similar disquietude about the possibility of government interventions to manipulate prices upward, also citing strange market behavior they’ve observed.

An influential voice appeared in the ZeroHedge.com blog last December. The article, subtitled “Who Is Responsible For The Non-Stop Market Rally Since March” was written by TrimTabs’ Charles Biderman (whose firm describes itself as: “…the leading independent institutional research firm focused on equity market liquidity.”

Mr. Biderman observes that as of December last year the market had gained over $6.0 trillion in capitalization. He goes on to say:

The “wealth effect” of rising stock prices has soothed the nerves and boosted the net worth of the half of Americans who own stock.

We cannot identify the source of the new money that pushed stock prices up so far so fast. For the most part, the money did not from the traditional players that provided money in the past:

and lists the following “traditional players” who by his observation are not responsible:

  • Companies
  • Retail Investor Funds
  • Retail Investor Direct
  • Hedge Funds
  • Pension Funds
  • ..and then says:

    If the money to boost stock prices did not come from the traditional players, it had to have come from somewhere else.

    We do not know where all the money has come from. What we do know is that the U.S. government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to support the auto industry, the housing market, and the banks and brokers. Why not support the stock market as well?

    Biderman then goes on to describe how this manipulation could plausibly, and in his opinion, legally be conducted by the government through the purchase of futures contracts, especially in the ultra-liquid SP-500 futures market.

    That was nearly a year ago and the market has continued to defy gravity. I don’t have anything definitive to add to this question, but here are some observations that strengthen my belief that the U.S. Government, probably with the participation of the Treasury, Fed and Goldman Sachs, can and does dishonestly manipulate the upward movement of stock prices for purely political reasons.

  • The Flash Crash of May 6, 2010 which was blamed on a large ($15 Billion) SP-500 futures trade by a single firm well illustrates the ability of futures prices to influence actual stock prices. If $15 Billion can do that, what can $100 Billion do? At the time of the flash crash I suspected a mistake by government market manipulators, but that was probably wrong.
  • Monetary Easing Before Elections (lower interest rates, etc.) has been a trick used by every president to try and window-dress his economic performance. This year the Fed couldn’t do that. Interest rates are already at zero. The only good economic news out there is the stock market, so the administration would be desperate to keep stock prices elevated. But after the election, what then?
  • Lock-Step Stock Price Moves: a recent Wall Street Journal article details the degree to which stock prices have been all moving in tandem, seemingly being influenced by a single force. The Journal reported that: “Between October 2008 and February 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, correlation hit 80%, meaning lots of stocks were moving in lock step. When stocks rallied last year, the figure fell to 40%, then it spiked back over 80% during the European debt crisis, according to Barclays. What has caught many investors off guard is that correlation stayed high over the summer. In mid-August, correlation was 74%. In recent weeks, it has drifted down to 66%.” Might some of this correlation be the result of manipulative pressures?
  • Government’s Habitual Statistical Dishonesty: Anyone who believes that government statistics are honest reflections of reality would be a good newspaper reporter — gullible and lazy by trade. It doesn’t take a conspiracy for the government to pull off a manipulation of the market for political gain, it only takes a few crooks with access to the resources of the Treasury and the Fed. For a tutorial on dishonest government statistical practices I recommend: John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics

    One needs to look no further than the low moral character and dishonesty of Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson, President Obama and the economic team that has deserted him to find a cast of characters capable of the deceit necessary for government manipulation of the stock market.

    It just gives me the shivers to think about what the consequences will be if a) the scheme is uncovered and/or b) the government considers it necessary or expedient to suddenly withdraw its support of stock prices.

    (As an aside, just two weeks before the election the market action has become really hincky. Many market observers would conclude at this point it’s time for a pullback, and the market has gyrated and head-faked, poked and jabbed, but always keeps getting up like one of those childhood clown punching bags. Professional traders don’t argue with Mother Market, she usually does what she wants to do. But maybe she’s being romanced, or more likely, abducted and ravaged against her will.)

    For the good of the country, after the November elections I hope that some enterprising congressman will initiate a probe into those government and private organizations and individuals that have the incentive and the wherewithal to engage in market manipulation. If there’s none, then no harm done. If there is, then some people should go to jail for a long time to keep Bernard Madoff company.

  • More Stealth Regulation

    August 29th, 2010

    Deep within the Health Care legislation was buried a provision to expand 1099 reporting to cover nearly all business transactions — a stealth move by congress. More stealth consisted of a government takeover of the student loan program — within the Health legislation. Within the Financial Reform bill are hidden regulations regarding racial diversity. The EPA has been used to implement back-door CO2 regulations far beyond the authority of the original legislation. And now, the Sun God’s minions want to use the EPA to clamp down on gun ownership by implementing an EPA ban on the use of lead in ammunition. This would make gun use much more expensive and would obviously make the EPA a mechanism for regulation of private weapons ownership. What about an EPA regulation concerning the fumes expelled from firearms, or some Consumer Protection laws regulating firearm design? It boggles my mind to imagine the design that the Consumer Protection Agency would come up with for a regulatory compliant revolver.

    Once you start down this road of unlimited extensions to regulatory authorities, the possibilities are unlimited. There are a lot of things I don’t like that the regulators could put right with some new regulations, including chewing gum smacking (sprays spittle – a health hazard), farting in elevators (air pollution, EPA take note), loud music, especially rap from auto boom boxes (we might need a new agency for that), political robo-calls (attn. FCC), tatoos, especially on women, and piercings, especially on men (National Endowment of the Arts Alert!), most government regulations … oops, we’re getting carried away because I don’t know how to suppress them.

    One of the problems with run-away government regulations is that they inevitably produce one or more unintended consequences. A prominent consequence is the development of a black market for regulated or banned products or services. There are instances where entire economies resort to a black market in order to survive in an over-regulated economic environment. The second unintended consequence is that the inevitable government attempts to suppress the black market result in crime. Criminals supply the goods or services that are in demand — torpedoes, laws,and police be damned.

    Land Grabs & Toxic Bureaucracies

    August 21st, 2010

    Behind the scenes of the Jihaddi-Mosque controversy, hidden from view by pictures of the Sun God bathing in the Gulf of Mexico, and the catastrophe in Pakistan, behind all of this is the ongoing frenetic activity of the Sun God’s leftist wrecking crew as they take crow bars and hammers to America’s natural resource industries. Thanks to the ever vigilant Michelle Malkin, we learn about Obama’s War on the West and now the Stealth Ocean Grab. These activities are designed to destroy oil & gas extraction on-shore and off-shore, killing thousands of jobs and raising the price of fossil fuel energy. These are goals of the so-called “environmental” or “green” lobbies for the expressed purpose of “ending America’s addiction to oil and reducing CO2” plus the unstated but overriding purpose of destroying free market capitalism in the United States.

    I highly recommend your exploration of the link, above. The subject is exhaustively covered and documented on Ms. Malkin’s site. Then join me in thinking about how in the world we can dismantle this web of toxic bureaucracies that is being assembled by the Obama Socialists. It won’t be easy.

    U.S. State Department Sponsoring Fund Raising for Ground Zero Mosque?

    August 16th, 2010

    In an article describing the terror group Hamas’ endorsement for the ground zero mosque, the author goes on to report that:

    Abdul Rauf raised eyebrows last week when he departed on a State Department-sponsored goodwill mission to the Middle East, despite concerns that the trip may be helping him with the mosque’s $100 million fund-raising goal.

    The Obama administration insisted the trip, reportedly with stops in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar, was strictly to improve understanding about Muslim communities in the United States.

    But a London-based Arabic-language newspaper that interviewed Abdul Rauf reported that he said he would also collect money from Muslim and Arab nations around the world — raising the possibility that the American government is helping him build contacts in oil-rich states.

    Could this be true? Is the U.S. State Department sponsoring this radical Muslim imam’s fund raising efforts?

    Please tell me it’s just a false rumor.

    OOPS! Mexican Border Too Dangerous for Border Patrol

    August 14th, 2010

    WeaselZippers.com published this piece in which Sheriff Dever of Cochise County Arizona describes how the U.S. Border Patrol is pulling back their efforts from proximity to the Mexican border on orders from their higher-ups. See:

    Arizona Sheriff: Border Patrol Forced to Retreat From Parts of Border Because it’s “Too Dangerous,” Upper Management Afraid of “International Incident” if Shooting Breaks out…

    What kind of unconditional surrender is this? What kind of cowards are we?

    What do we have here? Have we ceded border territory to become a Cambodian sanctuary for the Viet Cong? Are we becoming a Waziristan sanctuary for the Taliban? No, we’re becoming a border sanctuary for the Mexican drug cartels! THAT’S COMPLETELY INSANE!

    Your Healthcare Future

    August 3rd, 2010

    How’s this for healthcare hope and change?

    Oh SUN GOD, we worship you!

    Diversity By Stealth, Or Else!

    July 29th, 2010

    Yet more stealth legislation from the Sun God regime: (from Politico)

    Deep inside the massive overhaul bill, Congress gives the federal government authority to terminate contracts with any financial firm that fails to ensure the “fair inclusion” of women and minorities, forcing every kind of company from a Wall Street giant to a mom-and-pop law office to account for the composition of its work force.

    There are reported to be 20 new boards and commissions provided for in the so called “Finance Reform” legislation tasked to promoting or forcing racial and sex diversity. “The 1,261-word section authored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) barely registered during the legislative debate.”

    Presidential candidate Obama convinced a lot of people that he would be a “post-racial” president. The truth is that this administration and this congress have become a racially inflammatory force. Those who paid attention to Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a guide to Mr. Obama’s future attitude had it right.

    Let’s face the fact that forcing “diversity” does not necessarily promote tolerance nor understanding. Instead, it promotes resentment and victimology. If I don’t like dogs, you can’t force me to like or even respect them by locking me up in a cage with a mutt.

    The federal bureaucracy now has in place the mechanism for enforcing wage controls, hiring and firing, lending, health care, banking, mortgages, student loans, and the monitoring of all financial transactions large and small, all in the first year of the Sun God’s reign. The Obama regime deigns to enforce whatever laws it chooses and to ignore those it doesn’t like, see the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. An attempt to crush free political speech failed, but don’t hold your breath. The courts can be used to do that (reference Arizona court intervention) when legislation fails.

    A country doesn’t necessarily get tyranny all at once. It can creep up through the weakening of the institutions the country relies on for justice and stability. In the present tense we’re seeing too many huge new laws salted with repressive and tyrannical measures.

    That doesn’t add up to a good future outcome. And it’s clearly not Bushes fault!

    Total Control: Feds Say You’re Too FAT!

    July 17th, 2010

    The federal government is tightening surveillance of your bank account, spending and borrowing (see: Liberty and Democrats through new financial monitoring provisions of (oddly) the health care law. Now we learn that the stimulus bill signed last year contains detailed requirements for medical record keeping as described in a CNSNews.com article “Obesity Rating for Every American Must Be Included in Stimulus-Mandated Electronic Health Records, Says HHS”.

    The fat patrol is, presumably, to be headed by Regina Benjamin, Mr. Obama’s new Surgeon General appointee.

    Provisions of this law which mandate electronic record-keeping appear to also provide for government access to and monitoring of these records. The article says:

    The law also requires that these electronic health records be available–with appropriate security measures–on a national exchange.

    Do you find it as creepy as I do that not only have our law makers sneaked in additional provisions in unrelated bills to monitor our finances, but they now want to monitor our bodies as well? Does it bother you that these surveillance provisions are salted into crevices and cracks of unrelated legislation? Who’s coordinating this growing web of Cuban/North Korean style monitoring that is being assembled behind our backs?

    “Hello, Mr. Jones. This is Butch from the Office of Federal Fat Control. We’ve been notified that at your last weigh-in you gained 10 pounds. You are now five pounds over the mandated maximum weight for your height category. Accordingly, you are ordered to report to Health Clinic Number 2,397 for liposuction or shortening, or both not later than February 25th. Failure to comply will result in revocation of your food authorization coupons and invalidation of your medical card.”

    It would be funny if it were not potentially so real.

    Needed Branch of Government: House of Repeal

    July 15th, 2010

    The Washington Times in its article “Finance bill favors intersts of unions, activists” points out some of the blatent paybacks and race bias that characterize Democrat mega-legistlation (2,400 page) being blindly jammed down the country’s throats. It’s just what we need, 20 more offices of minority and women inclusion.

    The bill would create more than 20 “offices of minority and women inclusion” at the Treasury, Federal Reserve and other government agencies, to ensure they employ more women and minorities and grant more federal contracts to more women- and minority-owned businesses.

    The agencies also would apply “fair employment tests” to the banks and other financial institutions they regulate, though their hiring and contracting practices had little or nothing to do with the 2008 financial crisis.

    “The interjection of racial and gender preferences into America’s financial sector deserves greater media exposure” before Congress debates and passes the massive 2,400-page bill, said Kevin Mooney, a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government’s daily newsletter.

    This is just one more of the many reasons why the current congress and executive need to be booted out and replaced. They’ve gone completely wild with their power. Under the guise of financial reform they’re creating new bureaucracies and carving out preferences to reward favored constituencies, including racial preferences. They’re passing inane and insane laws that may stay on the books for decades to come unless the situation is corrected. But how?

    If ever we’re able to elect a sane, disciplined set of representatives, they’ll have a huge job wiping out this and other liberty destroying monstrosities. It would be a better procedure to pass a one-page bill that would force a 2-year sunset for ALL legislation passed in the last 25 years and further specify that no replacement bill may contain any part of the sunsetted legislation, no replacement may cover more than a single subject, and that any replacement must fit into 20 typed pages or less. Furthermore, congress shall have no more than 90 days to replace a bill, after which it will expire forever.

    Then, to prevent this regulation through mega-legislation from ever re-appearing, we should have a constitutional amendment establishing a “House of Repeal,” whose elected representatives would be charged with repealing already passed legislation. A two-thirds vote of both houses of congress could override the repeal, but the President could veto the congressional over-ride.

    The Legislative Shredder, what an idea!

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