Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 15, 2015
The Amtrak train crash earlier this week resulted in the death of eight and dozens of seriously injured. The victims were not even buried before this tragedy became a political tool championed by Democrats to increase governmental spending.
The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) quickly concluded that the train crash occurred due to operator error. The train was traveling over 100 mph, twice the safe speed at that point in the track. While operator error was the cause, Democrats immediately began placing blame on Republicans who supposedly refused to supply funding to Amtrak to install the safety equipment that could have avoided the accident.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, stated:
“Speaker Boehner’s comments are patently false. Experts have made clear that Positive Train Control could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia. It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality.”
While this Blog is no fan of Republican Speaker of the House Boehner, in this case it is Schumer who is “patently false” and “denying reality”. Here are the facts reported by the New York Times:
- In 2008, seven years ago, Congress mandated installation of Positive Train Control system in trains, the system mentioned by Schumer.
- The Amtrak train involved in the crashed was already equipped with Positive Train Control.
- The main reasons Positive Train Control in the Amtrak train was not operational were due to technical hurdles and bureaucratic bungling.
- Amtrak took four years to obtain the wireless frequencies needed for the Positive Train Control system, which were finally approved by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in March, 2015.
This tragedy and the way Democrats attempt to use it to further their political agenda is telling at various levels. First, it demonstrates that Schumer is either ignorant, a liar or both. It further demonstrates the incompetence of government to implement its own regulations.
Liberals offer a basic solution to any societal problem; throw money at it. Since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and more specifically since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the United States has gone through perhaps the most expensive social reengineering experiment in history. The results are in and they show failure. A prime example is the War on Poverty initiated by Lyndon Johnson. After spending trillions on this “war”, the poverty rate remains nearly unchanged in 50 years. Then there is Nixon’s War on Drugs that has failed in its efforts to stem the flow of drugs to the United States, has resulted in the growth of cartels south of the border, and led to too many inner-city “capitalists” being imprisoned. Examples are nearly endless. But still Progressives call for more spending and more government. That is indeed insanity.
Posted in Government Ineptness, Government Spendning | Tagged: Amtrak, crash, Funding, Republicans, safety, Senator | 1 Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 14, 2013
It is amusing listening to Progressives when they are forced to discuss the United States’ debt and deficits. Some begrudgingly agree that the deficit spending cannot be continued at the current rate and that our deficit must be brought under control. Others incredibly claim that we do not have a deficit problem and the United States can continue borrowing nearly endlessly. Backing this ludicrous conclusion is the fact that currently the US Treasury Department is able to sell bonds at historically low rates. The fact that the Federal Reserve is purchasing a significant portion of the bonds is lost on these Leftists.
For liberals that agree America has a deficit problem, the next leg of their argument is that the Country has an income (taxing) problem, not a spending problem. Not surprisingly, given that nearly 50% of Americans do not pay income tax, this has become a popular fairytale.
Economist John Mauldin published this week some interesting figures from the US Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget that show a troubling trend concerning governmental spending.
For 2000 – Total net spending for all levels of the federal government was 3,239,913,876,000. Dividing this amount by the total number of households of 108,209,000 resulted in an average spending per family of about $30,000. During that year the medium household income was approximately $42,000 meaning that government spending per household was about 71% of the medium income.
For 2010 – Net spending by all levels of the US government was $5,942,988,401,000. With 118,682,000 households, this equaled approximately $50,000 per household. During that same year the median household income was approximately $49,500. In other words government spending per household was now approximately equal to the household medium income.
It does not take an advanced degree in economics to realize the path the Country is on is unsustainable.
Posted in Government Spendning | Tagged: Debt, Deficits, Federal, Government, Household, Income, Spending, Taxes | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 18, 2011
The Associate Press report on a story that is a microcosm of the budget boondoggle that goes on in Washington and has created over $14 trillion in US government debt.
With airline deregulation in 1978, the government created a new program called Essential Air Service (EAS). The purpose of the program was/is to help insure that rural areas would continue to have air transportation for a few years after the industry’s deregulated. Sounds like a reasonable venture, but the results have been a waste of hundreds of millions of the Peoples’ money.
According to Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California who helped design EAS, it was intended end after 10 years. But, like most governmental programs, once started they just keep on growing. Nearly 35 years later, here are a few of the facts and figures:
- Ely, Nevada has an airport with daily flights to Las Vegas. Some days the planes fly empty to Las Vegas and the government pays Great Lakes Airlines for these flights. The Associated Press reports that in 2010, 227 passengers flew out of Ely with the airline getting $1.8 million in subsidies for those flights. While passengers paid about $90 for a one-way ticket, the cost to taxpayers for each ticket was over $4,100.
- Morgantown, West Virginia received a $1 million subsidy in 2010, amounting to only $52 per ticket. Why does this town get the subsidy that is clearly unneeded? Think of the late Senator Harry Byrd, the King of Pork.
- Airlines in over 150 communities get subsidies through EAS totaling about $200 million for 2010. In 1999, EAS served 89 communities. That has since grown to over 150 and its budget has ballooned from $50 million to $200 million.
Earlier this month there was a two week shut down of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that put thousands out of work and cost the FAA millions in lost revenues. One reason for the shutdown was a disagreement with Congress wanting to end EAS subsidies. But the Senate, most vocally Harry Reid of Nevada, refused making any cuts. The resolution was typical Washington backroom politics. Republicans got their EAS cuts to Ely and 12 other communities, however, with the provision that the Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, has the authority to continue the payouts if he seems them as necessary. In other words EAS is a gift that will keep on taking!
The only way to put an end to wasteful government spending of the People’s money is to limit the funds available to them. This can only be accomplished via a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Posted in Government Spendning, Government Waste | Tagged: Airlines, Balanced Budget Amendment, Constitution, EAS, Ely, Essential Air Service, FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, Harry Reid, Morgantown, Nevada, Ray LaHood, subsidy, Transportation Secretary | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 17, 2011
President Obama often speaks in lecturing tone to the American people he is supposed to be working for. There is no better example of this than when he is preaching green. The video below shows this condescending tone as he chides America’s for owning SUV’s that get poor gas mileage.
While Obama promotes green to the People, he is all too willing to use their money to burn carbon based fuels. The President is a frequent user of Air Force One for trips all over the Country and world that have dubious value to the People. He is also the head of a government that that has seen the number of government owed limos soar.
During the first two years of the Obama Administration the number of limos owned by the federal government increased by 73%, according to iWatch News. In
2008, the government owned 238 limos. By 2010 this increased to 412. Hmmmmm …..
Posted in Government Ineptness, Government Spendning | Tagged: Carbon, Green, Limos, Obama | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 8, 2011
On March 4 we posted an article titled “US February Jobs Numbers Don’t Add Up” that reviewed the government’s published unemployed rates that just don’t add up. April’s figures released last week make the numbers comical. Let’s look at the last four months’ unemployment rate, as reported by the Department of Labor:
January – 36,000 jobs created; unemployment rate drops from 9.4% to 9.0%.
February – 192,000 jobs created; unemployment rate drops from 9.0% to 8.9%.
March – 216,000 jobs created; unemployment rate drops from 8.9% to 8.8%.
April – 244,000 jobs created; unemployment rate increases from 8.8% to 9.0%.
It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to understand something is very amiss with these numbers. For example, April, with the greatest number of jobs created, was the only month to see an increase in the unemployment rate. To explain this bizarre contradiction, we quote from the Wall Street Journal:
“This apparent contradiction results from the Labor Department’s two surveys – one of employers and one of households. The household tally, a smaller sample, is used to calculate the jobless rate. Over time, the results of the two surveys tend to converge, but in some months they move in opposite directions.”
It is rather amazing that the Journal accepts this governmental doubletalk. The bottom line is that the monthly unemployment numbers posted by the US Department of Labor are bogus, either by desire or incompetence. Either way, why does the government continue to waste millions of taxpayer money to create these worthless numbers? It is but another example of governmental incompetence and its perpetuating the employment of government workers who do nothing to increase the Country’s productivity.
Here are the April numbers that matter:
- Nearly 14 million Americans remain unemployed.
- Almost 9 million Americans cannot find full-time jobs.
Posted in Government Spendning, Unemployment | Tagged: Unemployment Rate, US Department of Labor | 2 Comments »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 22, 2010
The Wall Street Journal just reported on a deal made in the Senate for compensation to those that worked on the 9/11 tragedy and its cleanup. Initially Democrats proposed a $7.2 billion payment, but then compromised with Republicans, agreeing to a $4.3 billion fund.
As typical of actions from Washington, the reason behind the payments seems sound. Who could argue that many of those that worked at the 9/11 site are heroes? But that in itself does not justify payments.
There is evidence that some of the responder became ill after working at the 9/11 site and this is the reason offered by politicians for the payments. However, the evidence of causation is circumstantial. In addition, it is clear that the Senate is pushing through yet another bill that has not been properly vetted given that the amount of “damages” is being determined by politicians with special interests, not scientific experts.
The Washington elitists have once again decided that one group of Americans deserves payments from other Americans. That approach is not justifiable since the government does not live within normal constraints, i.e. a budget set by incoming revenues, not IOU’s. Until the government looses the ability to spend money it does not have, this generational robbing will continue until the Country spends its way into bankruptcy.
Posted in Debt, Government Spendning, Ground Zero | Tagged: 9/11, Ground Zero, Senate, Workers | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 16, 2010
While earmarks represent only about 2 percent of the total United States’ federal budget, this type of Congressional spending has a huge influence on the corruption of Washington. Through earmarks, politicians throw into larger spending bills programs for their continuants and lobbyists without appropriate legislative scrutiny. These projects often have limited value to the Country as a whole and are payoffs to special interest groups.
Both major political parties have been guilty of using earmark spending in the past. While Barack Obama promised to eliminate such spending if elected, he has signed bills that included hundreds of pork projects. However, it is clear the Tea Party’s growing clout is about to out a stake in the heart of earmarks in the near future.
One powerful Republican, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has been an advocate for earmark spending. On Monday he too capitulated to the will of the People and the Tea Party when he announced Monday that he would join GOP the effort to ban congressional earmarks. McConnell announced on the Senate floor:
“There is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight.” ….. “And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.”
It is evident that McConnell heard the Tea Party’s footsteps. He knows that the American People have had it with the corruption and out-of-control spending in Washington. Yes, there is change coming and it is the result of the Tea Party Express that is picking up steam.
Posted in Government Spendning, Government Waste | Tagged: Earmarks, Mitch McConnell, Republicans, Tea Party | 1 Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 11, 2010
Newsbusters.org posted a story today on a USA Today article relating to governmental employee’s compensation. This story shows that while American taxpayers are hurting with the severe economic conditions, government workers are prospering.
Here are some of published facts and figures:
- Federal employees earning more than $150,000 increased tenfold in the past five years. It has also doubled since President Obama was elected.
- The highest paid staffers have increased throughout government. For example, the Department of Defense had only nine civilians earning more than $170,000 in 2005. This number stood at 214 when Obama took office and was a whopping 994 by June 2010.
- Since 2005, Federal employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years have had their salaries climbed 25% compared with a rate of inflation of only 9%.
- Since 2000, compensation has increased 3% per year above the inflation rate compared with only 0.8% for private economy workers.
- Federal employees’ benefits are over $41,000 annually compared to only $10,500 in the private sector.
Let’s see; the economy is in a mess and governmental employees proper. This is a sure sign of corruption and the dereliction of duty that comes from Washington, D.C.
Posted in Government Ineptness, Government Spendning, Government Waste | Tagged: Federal Employees, Pay | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 11, 2010
Government Panel Probing Stimulus Package Waste to Meet at Ritz Carlton The Obama Administration’s $814 billion Stimulus Package is the gift that keeps taking from the American taxpayers. While the package stimulated little for the economy, it offered huge payoffs for political friends of the President and Democrats such as the auto workers and public employees’ unions.
Adding insult to injury, Blog reader Jim Mahoney sent in an article from washingtonexmapiner.com that should make all taxpayers’ blood boil. The Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, a sub-committee of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that reports to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Package) will hold a meeting on November 22 to review “fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds.” In a case of blind arrogance, the meeting will be held at Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Given the bill taxpayers will receive, this meeting is no less than waste and fraud in itself. Speaking of the foxes guarding the henhouse!
The only way to stop the abuse by politicians and government employees is to slash the budgets of every governmental agency. Only by controlling their access to the Peoples’ money can such abuses of the public trust be stopped.
Posted in Government Ineptness, Government Spendning, Government Waste | Tagged: Government, Obama, Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, Ritz Carlton, Stimulus Package, Unions | 2 Comments »