Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

What Federal Government Services Do You Actually Appreciate?

December 29th, 2010

Senator Tom Coburn in a recent speech summarized succinctly what has gone terribly wrong with out Federal Government. And much of it has occurred in the last four years. This is worth a moment of your time to read and reflect upon.

It is a time for Americans who have never been involved in the political arena, in our Nation, to get involved because the future of your children and your children’s children depends on it. We have a very short window within which to recapture the economic renaissance in our country, and it is less than 4 years. If you look at what we are coming to in terms of debt-to-GDP ratio and in terms of the size of the government to the size of the GDP, we will be on an irreversible course that will eliminate American exceptionalism forever because the thing that made us free and kept us free was a fairly limited Federal Government. What we have in front of us is an attempt not to get it back down to a size that is manageable and within the intent of our Founders’ vision and the American people’s expectation; we have an intent to grow. The discretionary budget of the Federal Government, on the rate that has been passed by this body the last 2 years alone, not counting the stimulus, will cause the Federal Government to double in size in 5 years. We are 40 percent bigger than we were 2 years ago; actually, it is 38.6 percent bigger. We hear the average Federal employee now makes $72,000 and the average private employee now makes $40,000. We have added 170,000 new jobs in the government in the last 7 months, while we have lost three times that in the private sector. Things are out of whack. The only way they are going to change is if the American public demands it to be changed.

To put it in further perspective, if you are a member of a 4-person family, your family’s share of the $3.5 Trillion Federal Budget in 2010 was about $45,000, of which $20,000 will have to be paid by your children and grandchildren. Does that make sense to you? Is the “government service” worth the cost?

As citizens we need to challenge ourselves with a simple test: list on a piece of paper all of the services of the Federal Government that you benefit from and appreciate. Then total up the tax money you pay out to the Federal Government, the aggravation you experience from the bureaucracy and the enforcement activities of the government. Do you personally get your money’s worth out of your taxes and aggravation?

Here’s a list of Federal agencies for you to appreciate. Don’t just select an agency, say Education and say “Well, I’m all for education, so that must be worthwhile.” You must specify exactly and explicitly what the vast Department of Education is doing for you personally. If you say, well it gives money to our local school, then the questions have to be: what is that money spent for that benefits me, and why does that money have to be routed through the Federal bureaucracy that skims off millions to support lazy bureaucrats.

Illustration from Obama’s 2010 Federal Budget Explained in Plain English

I would wager that your list of “benefits” starts with national parks and federal highways, might include food safety inspections, and if you’re big hearted even national defense. If you look at the Federal Budget (and believe it to be honest) you’ll discover that a minuscule fraction of the total budget goes to the “services” or “benefits” that you can actually identify, know about and appreciate. For example, National Parks ($2.7 Billion) accounts for only 21% of the Interior Department’s $13 Billion budget, and Highway Construction and Maintenance (negative $263 Million) represents 0% of the Department of Transportation’s mammoth $75 Billion budget. So where does the rest of this money go? If it doesn’t benefit you, then why is it being collected and spent?

Please use the comment facility, below, to describe what specific Federal Government services you deem to be worth your money. I dare you!

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.

New Defense Budget Item

December 18th, 2010

Now that the Reid/Pelosi led lame duck congress has passed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, with the object of stuffing the military forces with homosexuals, congress will have to add a new line item to the defense budget: Cost of Aids Treatments for military personnel. It should be quite a lollapaloosa.

As earlier posted, I don’t think that a gay army is a better army, combat being a very supercharged male, macho enterprise which depends as much on intimidating the enemy as it does on killing him. The Defense Department survey has been widely misinterpreted in that combat elements, the point of the spear, overwhelmingly reported against the inclusion of gays in their ranks. The views of combat soldiers should carry much more weight than those of uniformed bureaucrats. (Sorry guys, no offense intended.)

Gay soldiers, personified by Bradley Manning, the PFC behind the WickiLeaks document thefts are not the kind of soldier we need more of. There is a good reason that homosexuals are excluded from sensitive national security posts, and there is a good reason to exclude them from military duty.

If the liberal members of congress, most of whom have no personal military experience, believe it is their duty to expand career opportunities for gays or to proselytize the professional gay agenda, then they should do so within organizations and activities that they personally engage in. I’m sure these creative people can find somewhere better than the military services to engage their progressive fantasies, such as day-care providers for their children or sports coaches for their young sons.

So if the new Congress fails to reconsider this folly, we’ll just have to pay for it in military AIDS treatment costs and a less capable military. Neither of these is good for the country.

Introduction to Liberal Mushification

December 17th, 2010

Mushify: [verb] The progressive/liberal formula for solving every problem and spreading happiness throughout the world. Whenever a liberal encounters someone, anyone who is unhappy for any reason, the answer is to mushify. The essence of musification is to redefine things so they no longer vex the unhappy complainer. Simple!

Mushification appeals to those with a collective mentality, people who consider individual responsibility quaint and icky, who think that demonstrating excellence is an insult against under-achievers and the lazy, that the exercise of honor and duty belong to fools, and that individuals are not entitled to form their own, independent opinions and judgments.

Before the concept of mushification entered my mind I was at a loss to understand why Liberal Collectivists came up with the inane proposals they called progressive. But now it is quite clear. Once you understand how to mushify, you understand the liberal mind in its entirety.

In its simplest form mushification involves changing meanings through euphemisms. Crippled becomes handicapped, becomes physically disabled, becomes physically challenged. Trash dump becomes sanitary waste fill. Muslim terrorist becomes terrorist, becomes insurgent. Criminal becomes victim of failed social justice system. The essence of the object doesn’t change, but the word naming it becomes less and less meaningful. You know the drill.

But it gets worse. Mushification can be applied to legal concepts, societal standards, political debates, foreign policy, and everywhere else that liberals see a need for “progress.” Unless you understand it clearly as mushification it’s hard to resist. The only way to effectively resist this is to insist on using the original terminology and its original meaning. You’ll be vilified for that, but if you don’t respect the source you don’t care about the brickbats. To do otherwise is to accept the distorted, mush-meanings, which makes you unable to ever win the debate.

A huge example of Mushification is how it has been so successfully applied to the Commerce clause of the constitution. With a simple redefinition of the term “commerce”, every activity of every citizen can become subject to regulation. Without mushification the U.S. Constitution would have protected us from having a government that now threatens to sink the entire country with its burdensome regulation and crushing expense.

To help you understand the process of mushificaiton, here are some more minor examples:

Senator Weanie wants to pass a bill banning gun ownership — Mushify! Redefine the term “arms” to that, in the constitutional context, it applies only to muskets and flintlocks. Everything else can be banned. Or just redefine an individual right as a collective right.

Johnnie complains he can marry Billie, Mushify! Redefine marriage.

Henry complains that he’s not earning enough money, Mushify! Redefine individual earnings as entitlements. It’s society’s fault, not Henry’s. Pass a law forcing Harry’s employer to give Henry more money. If Harry’s employer goes under, let the government give Henry more money.

Carl complains that his boss says his work is substandard and he doesn’t work hard enough, Mushify! Redefine individual performance standards as group performance standards. Tell Carl’s boss that according to union rules Carl is no better and no worse, on average, than any other union member.

Billie comes home from school crying that his team lost the baseball game, Mushify! Redefine win or loss in sports. Eliminate scoring in baseball games.

Young Sammie complains that his father criticized him for picking his nose at the table, Mushify! Redefine table manners. Table manners are obsolete and don’t matter, especially for young kids.

Artist Jan-Paul creates a sculpture that makes people puke, Mushify! Redefine art as anything the artist says it is.

Bill the welder complains that he’s being blamed for burning down the factory because he didn’t follow the safety rules, Mushify! Redefine Bill’s conduct as an issue, not a problem. It’s not Bill’s fault, nor anyone else’s. It’s the system. It’s not a “problem” that the factory burned down, it’s an “issue”. An issue is something everyone can talk about, but nobody is responsible for.

Victor the CEO made a decision to move the company to China. The Chinese ate the company’s lunch, and it went belly up. Mushify! Redefine the role of CEO as group organizer, not responsible leader. Victor says that really, he didn’t “make a decision”, he “took a decsion” (collectively) so he can’t be held personally responsible for the failure.

Symphony conductor Roger complains that the audience didn’t applaud his latest performance. Mushify! Redefine music as an in-your-face art form designed to challenge the sensibility of the audience. The audience doesn’t appreciate that all sounds produced by an orchestra, no matter how harsh or discordant, are the expressions of the inspired composer, and the audience has no right to make a judgment based on their primitive level of musical sophistication.

Blog reader complains that writer of this article has used only male names in his article. This is sexist. Blog writer Mushifes! Redefine sex. There is no difference between males and females, so why should there be difference of names. Any child should have any name his parents pin on him/her/it regardless of sex (oops! Gender, sexual preference, or perversion). So using male names is moot. The examples could be either or both.

Unwanted Scrolling

December 14th, 2010

Some time in the past week readers of this blog, those using Opera and Firefox browsers began to experience a strange behavior. The page will unexpectedly scroll to the bottom. I’ve traced this to the services of two companies, TubeMogul.com and BrightCove.com. Both of these are collecting usage data from YouTube embeds in blogs and elsewhere. For some reason, their systems are causing unwanted behaviors for non IE browsers.

The embedding of videos in blogs and articles is permitted and the requisite code is supplied to users such as Odd Citizen or anyone else. This site has been using embedded videos for some time without problems, but now the scroll bug hits.

Oddly, the services these guys provide cause the uploading and execution of JavaScript code that causes the scrolling. I don’t know how they accomplish that, but it concerns me because normally the web site itself if in control of uploading and running scripts.

In part this type of problem derives from the fact that there are subtle differences between browsers, and keeping web pages working the same for all browsers is already difficult. For this reason, many web developers, especially large, lazy bureaucratic sites don’t even try to support any browser other than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

I’m trying to get work-arounds for this obvious annoyance. Failing that I’ll just have to refrain from posting YouTube content that is likely to exhibit this behavior.


The gentlemen at BrightCove responded promptly to my report of a problem and fixed it. Thank you BrightCove. This kind of courteous cooperation is uncommon in a world of companies working behind walls of phone menus and cumbersome customer services. These guys do it right. (Incidentally, TubeMogul had no responsibility for the problem.)

Folly of the Whole Earth Simulation Model

December 6th, 2010

After the blowout of the Global Warming Scare some in the science establishment are scratching around for their next big project. A few European scientists envision a giant simulation model encompassing everything knowable about the earth and man’s activities thereupon.
(See my prior article on this subject.

Contributory to this vision is a recent article entitled: The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet The databases are most interesting but, to the extent that popular culture and internet clutter define our “planet” we have a long way to go before such a model could even be prototyped. But that doesn’t mean the notion is without menace. The article states:

The vision is that a system like this can help to understand and predict crises before they occur so that governments can take appropriate measures in advance.

There are numerous challenges here. Nobody yet has the computing power necessary for such a task, neither are there models that will can accurately model even much smaller systems. But before any of that is possible, researchers must gather the economic, social and technological data needed to feed this machine.

Today, we get a grand tour of this challenge from Dirk Helbing and Stefano Balietti at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Helbing is the driving force behind this project and the man who will lead it if he gets the EUR 1 billion he needs from the European Commission.

It’s indicative that these scientists envision governments benign interventions as a solution to crises “before they occur.” But at least this author acknowledges the current limitations in modeling technology and information that make this project impossible at present. Yet, just as in global warming, the author says “researchers must gather the economic, social and technological data needed to feed this machine.” In other words, whether or not it makes any sense it deserves massive support. With a proposed budget of EUR 1 billion a lot of scientists could get enthused, and maybe the U.N. will become involved with the support of the U.S. Government — why not?

There is something about statistical collections, the composition of aggregates that is irresistible. In economics this is called macro-economics. The illusion is that if you can measure something, then you can control it. If you can measure GNP, then you should be able to manipulate it. It doesn’t work that way because aggregates are abstractions, they aren’t things. For example, government wants to regulate average fuel efficiency of automobiles, which is an aggregate of the efficiency and usage of multitudes of automobiles. There is no lever that can directly affect the aggregate. The only way to change it is to motivate the purchasers and drivers of automobiles to change their preferences and habits. Of course, government can force changes by regulation of individual conduct, but it can’t directly manipulate the aggregate, itself. Ditto the GNP, or unemployment, or other popular economic aggregates. You can’t push here and get a direct result there. Without influencing the micro part the macro part just measures but does not define nor truly embody the aggregate.

The idea that a model built from aggregating a vast multitude of data would be a suitable mechanism for scientifically fixing what ails the world is pure folly and foolishness. Perhaps the proper way to treat this is with the ridicule that it deserves, but that didn’t work with the global warming scam, and it probably won’t with this. Too many careers, too much political power and too much money is potentially involved.

Given that this global model idea endangers our liberties and exposes our resources to plunder, we should kill it now before it grows and consumes us.

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.