September 12, 2011

The Costs of Bureaucratic Sloth

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:44 pm

Via Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner (HT Doug Ross), an explanation of how the government stops billions of dollars in economic growth while preventing hundreds of thousands of jobs from being created:

Now here is an example of a REAL multiplier effect which is being cut off by bureaucratic sloth which, if it isn’t deliberate, might as well be.

Quick Hits (091211, Evening)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:37 pm

While waiting for Glenn Beck TV’s debut to come up on my computer, which is not going to happen …

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Michelle Malkin: “Fast and Furious update: More guns, more stonewall.” But “squeaky clean, scandal-free.” (/sarc)

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media: “The Beauty of Social Insurance Is that It Is Actuarially Unsound” — Wherein we learn that characterizing Social Security as a Ponzi scheme was once seen by liberal economists as a feature, not a bug.

Klavan on the Culture at Pajamas Media: “The ‘War on Terror’ Is All About God.” The PC police won’t like that.

At the Associated Press: “TechCrunch founder leaving AOL-owned blog.” He tried to start up a tech venture fund while retaining the ability to review tech products and services. Sensible people objected. That this was even considered is a bad reflection on AOL management and TechCrunch’s founder.

Eleanor Clift objects to our “obsessive focus” on terrorism since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What an ingrate: Although a strong case can be made for controlling home security-related spending, 39 terror plots have been foiled since 9/11 because of this “obsessive focus.”

Max Boot at The Weekly Standard: “Losing Iraq?” If we do, it’s all on Obama. Every bit of it.

Good Question: What’s the Answer?

The question: Why did the White House turn down IBM’s offer of free assistance to the federal government whose objective would have been to rid or vastly reduce fraud in the government’s health care programs?

The offer, as shown in the video’s first three minutes, was indeed made (HT to an emailer):

Why wasn’t it accepted?

Related question: When the offer was made, why did the press not cover it (as demonstrated in the lack of relevant results obtained in this search and this search?

Lucid Links (091211, Morning): A Few Lists, Plus a List of One

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:15 am

From Jonnelle Marte at SmartMoney.com (“Ten Things Social Security Won’t Tell You”; comments after quotes are mine):

  1. “Long-term deficit? We can hardly afford our bills today.” Short-term deficits too: To the tune of $40 billion-plus during each of the past two years. Supposedly, after a brief hiatus of a few years at $20 billion or so, they’re going to increase over time to $100 billion or so per year. I’m not convinced that we’ll see the hiatus.
  2. “The more you make, the less you get back. … ‘People act like the percentage of benefits of your salary you get is the same for everyone and it really isn’t,’ says Jo Anne Barnhart, former Social Security Commissioner.” That’s because you don’t want people to know, because if they did, support for the program would vanish. Some of us have been blogging this basic truth for, oh, six years or so. Bottom line: Social Security is already means-tested.
  3. “This used to be a much better deal.” In their early stages, Ponzi schemes typically are.
  4. “Want a bigger check? Go back to work.” All other things being equal, your monthly benefit if you wait until age 70 to begin taking benefits in the current system will over 60% higher than if begin taking benefits at age 62. Of course, that assumes the system as it currently is lasts, which is dicey to say the least.
  5. “Good luck qualifying for disability. … Only 30% who applied in 2009 were awarded benefits, down from 44% in 1999, according to agency data.” That’s actually encouraging, given that a lot of new apps are likely from people who’d rather figure out how to get on disability than find new work.
  6. “You can be unemployed and retired.” This means you can collect unemployment benefits and collect Social Security, based on rules in effect in your state.
  7. “Your Social Security number is no state secret. … Researchers were able to accurately guess the first five digits of 44% of Social Security numbers issued after 1988 on the first try, just by using the date and the state the number was issued in; they were able to guess the complete numbers almost 9% of the time.”
  8. “We think you’re dead. … Of the 2.8 million deaths the Social Security Administration reports each year, about 14,000 people added to the Death Master File are very much alive, according to agency statistics.” That’s a 0.5% error rate — too high, given what’s at stake.
  9. “If you make too much, we’ll tax your benefits. … Some 42% of pre-retirees surveyed by the Financial Literacy Center did not know that benefits could be taxed if their income in retirement exceeded a certain amount.” Oh, yes they can. 50% or 85% of your benefits can be subject to taxation if your income under a special definition from other sources is greater $25,000 (single) or $32,000 (married filing jointly) — amounts that have been the same since the early 1990s. When this first went into effect in the mid-1980s (a bipartisan move), it broke a key promise of Social Security since its inception. This is another example of how Social Security is already means-tested.
  10. “Your cost-of-living adjustments come up short.” Maybe over the long haul, but not during the most recent three years. The November 2008 adjustment based on earlier that year’s price level was artificially high because it was when we first say $4 a gallon gas. Even though the cost of living came down substantially in 2009 and 2010, benefit levels stayed put. They will probably get back to equilibrium when November’s adjustment is announced..

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At the Washington Post, by Stephen F. Hayes (“Five myths about Dick Cheney”):

  1. Dick Cheney ran the Bush administration.
  2. Cheney is a neocon.
  3. Cheney has never admitted a mistake regarding Iraq.
  4. Cheney has never gotten along with the press.
  5. Cheney favored a strong executive branch to expand his own power base.

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Via Jeff Dunetz at NewsRealBlog (“Six Violent Acts Committed by Unions”), reordered by me:

  • The Haymarket Square Incident, May 1886 — “the initial deadly violence came from the unions.”
  • 1905 The Assassination of former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg — By a professional hit man, SIX years after Steunenberg, a Democrat, supposedly “betrayed” labor by declaring martial law after “250 striking union miners seized a train in Burke, Idaho and drove it to the site of a mill for the Bunker Hill mine. There, the union miners set off three thousand pounds of dynamite, destroying the mill. Two men were killed, one of them a non-union miner, another a union man accidentally shot by other union miners.” A jury acquitted the assassins. President Theodore Roosevelt believed that it was a result of intimidation.
  • Pittston Coal strike April 5, 1989 to February 20, 1990 — “This long strike was declared by none other than Richard Trumka, who back then was the president of the United Mine Workers. … (a judge declared that ‘the evidence shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that violent activities are being organized, orchestrated and encouraged by the leadership of this union.’”
  • NY Daily News Strike, October 25th 1990 — “Delivery trucks have been bombed and torched, and their drivers have been beaten.”
  • “The assault of Kenneth Gladney was the first act of violence at any tea party rally and there were others, none of which were initiated by the Tea Party itself. Unions spent much of the remainder of the Obamacare hearings showing up at rallies and intimidating people who disagreed with socialized medicine.”
  • The Murder of Eddie York — “As head of the United Mine Workers, (current AFL-CIO head Richard) Trumka ordered a nationwide strike against Peabody Coal in 1993. On July 22, a non-union worker, Eddie York, was shot in the back of the head and killed as he attempted to pass striking coal workers. Picketers continued to throw rocks after York was shot, preventing his would-be rescuers from assisting.”

My impression is that this list is very incomplete. Trumka is responsible for a lot of it.

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Finally, a “list” of one, from Phyllis Chessler at Pajamas Media (“What to Say to the Totalitarian Left on 9/11/11″), specifically, the one feminist principle which rises above all others:

I have simply decided that Western democratic and secular ideals and (imperfect) practices must be extended universally, that the survival, dignity, and freedom of women and intellectuals depend upon this.

Positivity: ‘Mother With Conjoined Twins Refuses Abortion Suggestion’

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Marengo, Illinois:

An Illinois woman carrying conjoined twins declines an abortion and says their fate is in God’s hands.

Amanda Schulten of Marengo,Illinois, a small town near the Wisconsin line, is a devout Catholic and refused to end her pregnancy. She has named the unborn girls Faith and Hope and is tracking her pregnancy in a blog, amanda-faithhopelove.blogspot.com. On the main page is the poignant poem she penned, “I Love You.”

“No matter what happens, my soul will never leave you; If difficulties come here, I will never disappear,” the poem begins.

“I’m sure you would be proud to call me momma,” she writes, “for you are a special gift to me.”

“He has a plan for me, and for them,” she said. “We never know when our last day will be. We have to enjoy it, and appreciate health while we have it.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

To the List of Things Never to Forget About 9/11 …

… not anywhere near the top, of course, but from this point on we should never forget the following screed at his New York Times blog by Paul Krugman (typo included), posted mere minutes before it became 10 years to the instant since the first suicide jetliner hit its target in New York City, forfeiting for all time Krugman’s claim to speak for civility, humanity, and decency. I withheld the post until after midnight to avoid sullying this blog’s 9/11 presentation:

KrugmanRantOn091101at841am

Other Comments: Ace, NewsBusters, Instapundit, Hot Air, Big Journalism, Legal Insurrection, Gateway Pundit, Kerry Picket at the Washington Times, Nice Deb, BlogProf, Powerline, RedState, Althouse, Moonbattery, Right Scoop, PoliPundit, Flopping Aces, Weasel Zippers, Tom Maguire, Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler.

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UPDATE, Sept. 12: Taranto at the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web — “History’s Smallest Monster.”