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Archive for the ‘Government Ineptness’ Category

VA Secretary McDonald Caught in a Lie

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 24, 2015

Another high level US government official has been caught in a lie. This time it is Veterans Administration Secretary Robert McDonald. On January 30, a CBS video captured a homeless veteran informing McDonald that he was once in the US Special Forces. To that McDowell responded: “Special forces? What years? I was in special forces.” While a touching response, it was false with McDonald serving with the 82nd Airborne, not Special Forces.

obama McDonaldAfter being confronted with the lie, McDonald forced to make a retraction saying: “I was not in special forces. What I said was wrong. I reacted spontaneously and I reacted wrongly, [with] no intent in any way to describe my record any different than it is.

While in the scheme of things McDonald’s lie was not grand in scale, it represents yet another high-level government official being caught lying. In addition, McDonald’s retraction/excuse is lame.

What is it about high-level “public service” that too often leads these supposed representatives of the People to become disingenuous?   Does the lust for power attract a high percentage people with disingenuous traits or does the power of the positions corrupt? Whatever the answer, it is difficult to justify giving the political and bureaucratic elites more power.

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Governmental Spending Damages Economic Recovery

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 20, 2015

Tonight President Barack Obama will make his State-of-the-Union address to Congress and the American people.  Leaked material indicates it will be pure Obama, on the one hand touting the success of his economic programs of the first last six years, but then claiming the need for additional governmental programs and interventions to fix other “inequities.  This includes two years of free community college to any who desire it, as well as taxing some for the benefit of others.  The macro result will be increased government spending.

melting dollarThere two drivers of governmental programs/spending promoted by Obama other big-government politicians.  The first and most egregious is political.  Politicians learned early in the development of their art that giving rewards (programs, tax refunds, handouts, etc.) greases the way towards their reelections, irrespective of long-term consequences.

The second aspect is a belief in Keynesian economic principles that state when economies are slower the government should use deficit spending to offset the lower demand.  While there are questions as to the efficacy of this basic Keynesian principal, one important part of Keynesian economics is that during good times governments need to run budget surpluses to prepare for economic downturns that require deficit spending.  Progressive politicians either have forgotten or purposely ignore this important piece of Keynesian theory.

There is growing evidence that governmental stimulus programs are counterproductive to real economic growth.
For example, the United States has had special government spending since the 2008 economic meltdown.  Given the size of these expenditures it would be reasonable to expect robust economic growth if Keynesian economic theory worked.  Instead, the recovery has been the slowest since the Great Depression.  In addition, while the official unemployment numbers are down, numbers that are already doctored in favor of a positive outcome, wage growth has been stagnant for a decade.

Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, posted an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled How Spending Sapped the Global Recovery that offers further evidence that worldwide government stimulus programs have hindered economic recovery.  Sharma points out that political leaders are urging European countries, i.e. developed countries, to significantly ramp up stimulus and deficit spending programs.  However, this focus on additional stimulus spending ignores evidence that similar programs have already failed in emerging countries.  Sharma points out the following examples: Read the rest of this entry »

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Ebola Miscues Demonstrate to Obama a Weakness of Government

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 19, 2014

The New York Times reported that President Obama is fuming about the governmental missteps relating to the growing Ebola problem in the United States.  According to the Times, during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the President was visibly upset with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who showed an inability to get its hands around the Ebola threat.  This came to a boil when a second healthcare worker not only came down with Ebola, but traveled on commercial airline while potentially contagious.

Obama is learning firsthand of governmental incompetence and its inability to resolve complex managerial problems.  However, instead of realizing that special interest and the bloated size of government is the center of the problem, Obama added yet another layer of management, naming Ron Klain the Ebola Czar. In addition, Klain is a political operative and former aide to VP Joe Biden.

While Obama expressed frustration with the government’s response to the Ebola problem in his cabinet meeting, he offered a different tune to the public stating: “We have the infrastructure in place to respond safely and effectively.”  This dichotomy demonstrated yet another failing of government; the truth.

President Obama is correct that the Ebola miscues by government is in part caused by poor management.  Unlike in the private sector, those responsible for these miscues are still on the job collecting full salaries.  Instead of adding yet another layer of management, the President should have fired the incompetents and streamlined the managerial process.  The President’s misguided approach shows yet another reason why government fail so often: lack of accountability.

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“Discharge” Secret Service Director Julian Pierson Incompetence Exposed

Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 2, 2014

Yesterday was dynamic for former Secret Service Director Julian Pierson. In the morning Obama’s press secretary announced that the President had full confidence in Ms. Pierson going forward. A few hours later her resignation was accepted with her immediate dismissal, even before a replacement was hired. This is another sign of the disorganization within team Obama.

The day before Pierson resigned she was grilled at a congressional hearing by representative Trey Gowdy, as included in the video below. The exchange showed Pierson’s inability to respond coherently to even the simplest questions. While there is no doubt that Pierson was incompetent and ill-equipped for the position, the bigger question is who interviewed and hired her in the first place. That individual should be following Pearson out the door.

Americans are becoming numb to the many scandals that have hit the Obama administration. One or two scandals can be attributed to human error. The sheer numbers that occurred under this administration is hard to fathom and include: 1) Solyndra (DOE), 2) Fast and Furious (DOJ), 3) Benghazi cover-up (State Department), 4) targeting Americans for their political views (IRS), 5) obstructing freedom of the press targeting AP and Fox reporters (DOJ), 6) $800,000 taxpayer bill for a party in Las Vegas for government workers (GSA), 7) $6 million taxpayer funds blown on two Florida conferences (VA), 8) botched Obamacare rollout (HHS), 9) veterans not receiving required medical treatment due to employee cover-ups (VA), etc.

Progressives who believe in big government are being forced into a dilemma by the incompetence of President Obama, the most liberal and activist president in generations. There are only two reasonable explanations for the extraordinary governmental gaffs of the past six years. Either the man they voted in for hope and change is totally incompetent or government itself has grown to the point that it can no longer serve the people, but instead serves its own needs and greed. Truth resides in a combination of both issues.

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Armed White House Intruder Demonstrates Governmental Incompetence

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 30, 2014

The New York Times reported that the recent breach of White House security was much more serious than initially reported. The armed intruder, 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez, jumped the White House fence. Initial Secret Service reports indicated that Gonzalez, who had a knife, did not enter the White House itself. This was false.

According to a recent report by The Washington Post, the intruder actually breached the White House running through the ceremonial East room, before being tackled by Secret Service agents. González incredibly ran past the staircase leading to the Obama family’s quarters.

This Secret Service failing is problematic on its face. However, it also plays into the broader narrative of governmental incompetence. Here is an agency with nearly unlimited budget whose main duty is to protect the President of the United States and his family, which they failed at with this low level attack. In addition, the Secret Service’s initial reports on the breach was false and meant to mislead those they serve, the People, in order to cover up their own incompetence.

Virginia Democratic representative, Gerald Connolly, said of this incompetence: “It’s an astounding set of facts. It just boggles the imagination and is deeply destabilizing in terms of public confidence in the Secret Service and how it is carrying out its mission.” Welcome to the real world Mr. Connolly. Washington’s incompetence no longer amazes those of us from the real world. As the saying goes, these guys would have trouble arranging a three car funeral.

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Former NFL Player Blames Anti-Poverty Programs for Damaging African-American Community

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 9, 2014

Former NFL linebacker, Garry Cobb, played college football at USC and then went on to an 11 year pro football career. He is now running for Congress in New Jersey as a Republican in an area that typically votes Democratic.

In a television interview (video below), Cobb discusses why he switched parties and became a Republican years ago. He explains that as a child in the 60s his parents instilled in their large family a strong work ethic. At the same time he watched some of his cousins’ families break up as a result of Lyndon Johnson’s antipoverty programs, which that offered financial incentives for fathers to leave their households. As a result, Cobb also watched some of his cousins take the wrong path, ending up in jail. He contrasts this to the success that he and his siblings have, a result of his parents not getting sucked into the Progressive’s vortex.

Cobb’s explanation of the damage done to the African-American community by governmental programs is compelling. It should be the centerpiece of the Republican Party’s domestic agenda. However, Republicans often cower from the fear of being called racist. As an African-American, Cobb has no such fear. He is joining a still small, but growing list of African-Americans who are becoming a more vocal part of the Republican Party including Col. Allen West and Dr. Ben Carson.

Republicans would do well to elect leaders like Cobb who have the ability to articulate a cohesive domestic policy. Their current leadership is lacking in these important skills.

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Department Of Defense Cuts Firefighting Assistance to Thwart Pollution

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 15, 2014

Blog reader Liz sent in this unbelievable story from the Wall Street Journal titled Obama’s Nonpolluting Fire Fighters.  According to the Journal, the Department of Defense (DOD) has for years loaned firefighting equipment to states and municipalities through programs called Federal Excess Personal Property Program and Firefighter Property Program. The equipment included trucks, tankers and pumps. The Journal reports that the DOD has suspended the programs since some of the equipment may not meet federal government admission standards.

The DOD bizarro decision is straight from the Progressive manifesto of irresponsible government. In this case the government would hinder smaller fire departments’ abilities to fight wildfires in the name of some potential future pollution issue or global warming. No matter that this decision will lead to more pollution and carbon gases being spewed into the atmosphere, it meets the logic of some lame governmental law or regulation.

This is yet another blaring example of why President Ronald Reagan properly concluded that government is the problem, not the solution.

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25,000 VA Employees Earn More than $180,000 Annually

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 7, 2014

The VA scandal involved veterans dying as they waited for medical treatment from Veterans Administration hospitals.  In addition, VA management personnel were given bonuses as a result of their falsified reports that indicated timely treatment.

The IRJournal.com published VA salary information that adds fuel to the fire of the growing scandal.  The compensation list comes from the Office of Personnel Management.  It includes the number of civilian governmental employees who earn more than $180,000 annually that indicates:

  • Just over 25,000 government civilian workers earn more than $180,000 annually.
  • 18,709 of the 25,000 works for Veteran Affairs Department, 5% of its workforce.
  • For comparison, 2,355, or 3% of the Department of Health and Human Services workforce, earn more than $180k annually.
  • Also, 1,605, or 3% of the Department of Transportation’s workforce, earn more than $180k per year.

The government’s knee-jerk reaction to the VA scandal has been to increase the Department’s budget for the coming year.  However, the problem is not related to a lack of funds.  It is caused by employee greed, pure and simple.  While Liberals decry greed in the private sector, they hide from the discussion when it comes to governmental employees since such a discussion will likely lead to the conclusion that the power and funds going to the government should be limited.

VA Pay

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Paul Ryan Blasts IRS Commissioner

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 21, 2014

Paul Ryan tends to be a soft-spoken Republican who rarely goes into attack mode.  However, his fangs rightfully came out during Friday’s Congressional Budget Committee hearing that he chaired.

On the hot seat was IRS Commissioner John Koskinen who had to try to explain how Ms. Lois Lerner’s emails from just a few years ago were all lost by the IRS. The exchange included

Ryan - “You bury in a 27-page letter to the Senate asking for them to conclude the investigation that you’ve lost Lois Lerner’s emails during the time in question because of a hard drive crash. Monday our investigators ask your agency whether any other hard drives crashed, and we learn that six other hard drives of the people we’re investigating. You didn’t tell us that.”

Koskinen – We told you Monday”.

Ryan - “On Monday… because we asked you. You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hardworking taxpayers, and with a phone call, an email or a letter, you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they’re ever audited, and you can’t keep six months of employees emails?”

As Ryan correctly noted, while taxpayers are responsible for keeping records for seven years if audited by the IRS, Koskinen was unapologetic for the IRS’s blunder/cover up. In fact he shows disdain for Congress and the People who we supposed to work for in the video below, a remarkable example of the tyranny of the IRS and other governmental agencies.

Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Phoenix VA Hospital: Another Government Scandal

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 27, 2014

It seems that on nearly a weekly basis the People are exposed to yet another scandal at the hands of their government.  Last week the amount scandal involved the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system.  According to CNN, the Phoenix VA used a hidden list to a cover-up their inept services.  This hidden list allowed the Phoenix VA to keep the fact that veterans were seeking services and had to wait extended periods of time from being logged into the computer.

In an unusual usual show of bipartisanship, both sides of the aisle announced outrage at the VA’s behavior including Republican Congressman Jeff Miller of Florida and ultraliberal senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  Sanders stated: “I am troubled when I hear that any veteran may have received substandard service from VA.”  Well Senator Sanders, being troubled does not help those who received substandard services including those who may have died as a result.

According to CNN, the Phoenix VA Hospital set up an “elaborate scheme” to hide from bureaucrats in Washington the fact that approximately 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait many months to receive any medical attention.  It quoted whistleblower, Dr. Sam Foote, who said:

  • The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules,” and that “they developed the secret waiting list.
  • “So then when they did that, they would report to Washington    ‘Oh yeah.  We’re makin’ our appointments within – within 10 days, within the 14-day frame.’”  He then went on to state that some veterans were forced to wait between 6 and 21 months for appointments.

Making this story even more tragic, it has been reported that the VA’s sleight-of-hand may have be carried out so that hospital officials in Phoenix could obtain bonuses from the government.  CNN reported that the Phoenix VA director, Sharon Helman, received in 2013 a nearly $9,300 bonus above her annual salary of $170,000.

The government’s incompetence likely led to the deaths of veterans.  In addition, it shows the uselessness of congressional oversight that typically holds hearings only after the genie is out of the bottle.  Their “oversight” does not improve the government’s future behavior.  Finally this Phoenix tragedy should bring fear into those many Americans whose healthcare will soon be under the control of the government bureaucrats as the result of the Affordable Care Act.

Assuming VA hospital officials’ desire to receive bonuses was the motivation behind the scandal, it again demonstrates that human greed is not eliminated when the government hires employees.  Politicians will likely hold hearings and create new laws and/or rules and regulations as a result of the VA tragedy.  However, they will not change human nature or its weaknesses.  Only by using harsh penalties for those involved with these schemes, whether in the public or private sector, can there be deterrence for similar behavior going for.

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