Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Little More Hoover, A Lot Less FDR

“The stimulus package being discussed is politically smart and economically stupid.” – Economist, Walter E. Williams

A Little More Hoover, A Lot Less FDR
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
January 28, 2009

Don’t fix the stimulus package, as some are clamoring for. Instead flush the damn thing down the crapper, because if it is passed, the nation will surely follow. While the House of Representatives voted “aye” on January 28 by a margin of 244-188, the Senate still has to take its turn at bat. Kudos to the entire roster of Republicans and the 11 Democrats smart enough to comprehend what a boondoggle this $825 billion piece of detritus is.

I seem to recall Proverbs reminding us that “haste maketh waste.” This latest rush to judgment has a typical government mantra of hurry up and wait as roughly seven percent of the so-called stimulus package will actually see the light of day before 2009 crosses the finish line. The hardcore spending on alleged economic stimulus won’t see the light of day until 2010 or even 2011.

Under Section 1 of H.R. 1 the Short Title is the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” This 647-page document is more pork-laden than a county fair in Iowa. The oversight costs alone are egregious. The “Government Accountability Office – Salaries and expenses $25,000,000 for oversight activities relating to this Act.” (P. 11) That’s the tip of a massive iceberg, demonstrating that Al Gore hasn’t clue one about global warming, by the way. Every category and every department involved has a similar price tag for salaries and expenses – just another boondoggle to pad the cost of government paying itself to oversee itself handing out money.

The first question anyone with a pulse must ask regarding the billions in salaries is, aren’t all the people working on these projects and programs already drawing a salary being gainfully employed by the government in the fist place? If not, then the unemployment crisis is single-handedly solved with this one stimulus package. Since that clearly is not the case, why does this so-called stimulus package list salaries as part of the expenditures to the tune of billions of dollars? If you are scratching your dome wondering the same things, pick up the telephone and call the House switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your member of Congress.

Here’s just a slice of the myriad ridiculous spending orgy:

Under the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Operations, Research and Facilities: “$400,000,000, for habitat restoration and mitigation activities.” (P. 52) Whose habitat? Certainly not people, as housing concerns are in another section.

Same administration: Procurement, Acquisition and Construction: “$600,000,000, for accelerating satellite development and acquisition, acquiring climate sensors and climate modeling capacity, and establishing climate data records.” (P. 52) If we don’t already have this, why do we suddenly need it? And how exactly is this stimulating the economy?

Under the category of Energy and Water: “For an additional amount for ‘Regulatory Program’, [sic] $25,000,00.” (P. 61) First of all, the comma belongs inside the quotation mark a consistent error throughout the document, and more importantly, there is no explanation as to what this “Regulatory Program” is or for what the money is to be used. Again, how does this stimulate the economy?

The Department of Energy: Fossil Energy: calls for $2.4 BILLION “for necessary expenses to demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration technologies.” That’s a hell of a lot of money for a “demonstration.” This will no doubt turn into an indictment against the automobile industry, which we are already bailing out to the tune of billions of dollars. Another fine example of robbing Peter to pay Paul. But since this is government related, I shouldn’t use such a phrase because the ever-so-touchy separation of church and state people might get offended.

Here’s a dandy from “Title VI – Financial Services and General Government: Subtitle A – General Services: Energy Efficient Federal Motor Vehicle Fleet Procurement,” the government will spend $600 million for the “acquisition of motor vehicles, including plug-in and alternative fuel vehicles.” (P. 76) Let’s try and wrap our brains around this one. The government, after bailing out the automobile industry for billions of dollars, is now going to spend another $600 million of taxpayer dollars on vehicles for, um, itself? We, the taxpayers are shelling out so the government can replace government vehicles.

Billions of dollars are listed as expenditures where no explanation is provided. The powers that be, and in this case, the Congressional Democrats, are counting on the American people either not reading this document or not caring about what is in it because we are beginning to trundle down the path of the nanny state. Once the American people have fallen hook, line and sinker for alleged stimulus packages it will be too late to turn back. The cat is crawling out of the bag and she is a socialist.

Explain how giving the Smithsonian Institution $150 million for “facilities capital” will stimulate the economy. (P. 121) Taxpayers already pay for the care and feeding of the Smithsonian via tax dollars and the benefit derived there is the free of charge admissions to visit these great museums. I suggest that any non-citizen be required to pay an admissions fee. Want to see Archie Bunker’s chair? Pony up a few bucks. I’m sure whatever country you come from owes the United States a war debt or two.

Then there’s another $50 million granted to the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts for the purpose of funding “art projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit art sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.” (P. 122)

In other words the government will fund the arts because the private sector can’t any longer? Well, if the SEC could manage to do its job and prevent Bernie Madoff from his $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the arts wouldn’t have to suffer. So, because of government incompetence in the first place – the inability of the SEC to catch a thief, (hmm, a clever name for a TV show) the government is bailing out the arts community. Wow, government logic is like no other – thank goodness for that.

Keep the government out of the arts. If an artist is successful, then he or she can make a living at it. If an artist is unsuccessful, either keep trying or find another career, but don’t ask me to shell out for your lifestyle. Find a sponsor the way artists did in Europe. Musicians did the same thing – they found sponsors or patrons to pay for them to do their creative works. If nobody visits a particular museum why should the government use tax dollars to keep it afloat.

Sadly, I am not being paid to write this column. I send it to various places in hopes of having it published and having enough readers want to read my work that someone will pay me to provide the kind of written works that will draw an increasing number of readers to a publication for it to be cost effective. Based upon the logic of the government giving grants to the NEA, they should be showing some love to SDH as well.

If the Obama administration is hell-bent on stimulating the economy of the United States, stop sending money overseas. Not letting the Bush tax cuts expire will help stimulate the economy. Permanently eliminating the death tax would stimulate the economy. Cutting taxes across the board will stimulate the economy because when people have more money in their pockets, they spend it. We, unfortunately, have proven as a nation that we are spenders and not savers.

When people are out of work, they spend less. Cutting taxes puts money in people’s hands. That money is spent on products and services – products and services that require employees to produce. These are employees that are hired by businesses small and large who in turn pay taxes – tax dollars that feed the kitty of the giant porker in Washington, DC.

Having cherry-picked some of the more egregious items and having only reached page 122 for the purposes of this column, just under 19 percent of the 647 page monstrosity, I will say more about other parts of this bill sooner rather than later. Some of the other highlights, or in this case, lowlights, include $160 billion of federal money going directly to the states – call it a bailout of states who can’t seem to manage their own fiscal houses.

Another lowlight is the unconscionable amount of $5.2 billion, yes, billion with a “b” going to ACORN – the allegedly non-profit organization currently under federal investigation for massive voter fraud. Yes, ACORN, the same organization due to receive about $100 million from the first bailout worth about $700 billion last September to which House GOP members objected. And there is also the more $300 billion in interest alone this heinous bill will cost not just us, and not just my five and eight-year-old nieces, but their grandchildren’s generation. If that is not daunting enough o make people sit up and take notice, little else will.

Sadly, economist Walter Williams was correct when he declared this so-called stimulus package “politically smart and economically stupid.” It is politically smart because all the lemmings and sheeple that put Obama into office are thrilled that their guy is taking care of them, as a review of more of the document will demonstrate. However, it is economically stupid and perhaps suicidal, as this womb to tomb mentality will plunge the economy into an irrevocable disaster from which we will not be able to emerge intact. The rich will be taxed so deeply they will cease to be rich and there will be fewer rich people from whom to fleece. When the redistribution of wealth fund well runs dry everyone will suffer from the same parched state with no water in sight.

With tax cuts and prudent, responsible economic policies the nation will recover. It seems government like to do its tweaking with a sledgehammer when one is not needed, thus doing more damage. FDR did not pull the nation out the Great Depression via his New Deal. Sure FDIC was a good idea, but it took World War II to cure this nation’s economic ills. May G-d have mercy on the United States of America. Nero is rosining up his bow.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

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