Category Archives: Government Waste

Budget surplus by 2012?

Are Democrats going to create a budget surplus in four years?:

Senate Democrats unveiled a spending blueprint yesterday that envisions a massive expansion of the nation’s health-insurance program for children, as well as billions of additional dollars for other domestic priorities such as public education, veterans’ health care and local police.

Despite the additional spending, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the proposal would virtually erase the federal deficit within four years without raising taxes and produce a surplus of $132 billion by 2012.

Under that scenario, Conrad said, Congress could extend President Bush’s signature tax cuts past their 2010 expiration date and halt the expansion of the alternative minimum tax, but only if sufficient revenue is raised elsewhere to cover the cost of about $800 billion over five years.

Keeping the evil “tax cuts for the rich” while increasing spending for welfare and social programs.

I’m calling “bullshit” on this one.

Anyone Who Believes America is Winning the Drug War Must Be High

Originally posted November 10, 2004 at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Could legalizing drugs be the answer to reducing drug use in America? Most people would probably call that idea crazy. Why would the government want to encourage drug use? This is a misconception most people have when the taboo topic of legalizing drugs is brought up. Many people believe that because something is legal, the government is somehow saying it is right. Tobacco is a legal product yet it is constantly under attack. When was the last time the surgeon general told the public that tobacco is safe and healthy? Could this reasoning apply to other drugs that are currently illegal, yet kill far fewer people than tobacco? In fact, tobacco kills more people every year than all illicit drugs combined (McWilliams, 1996). What would happen if tobacco was suddenly illegal? Would people who want to smoke try to find and buy cigarettes despite it being a banned substance? What would the consequences be of this prohibition? The result of course would be a complete failure, just as the prohibition of drugs has been a failure. There are three main reasons why the prohibition of illegal drugs should end: it is ineffective, it causes unnecessary strain on the criminal justice system, and above all, it is dangerous.
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New Faces, Same Old Pork

The names of the people in charge in Congress may have changed, but that doesn’t mean the hunger for pork has lessened:

As House Democrats wrangle over details of a $100 billion war spending bill — including whether restrictions should be placed on troops sent to Iraq — some members want to add significant money for agricultural relief, Hurricane Katrina reconstruction and other nonmilitary projects.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), who chairs the Agriculture Committee, said yesterday that rural states hit hard by floods, droughts and snowstorms in the past two years need $4 billion in emergency farm relief. And attaching the request to the war bill is the best way to insure they get it, he said.

Members from Gulf states want funds for improving levees in areas devastated by Katrina. And lawmakers from across the country say their states need federal help to cover deficits in a children’s health insurance program.

As of yesterday, Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, had agreed to add about $3 billion to the war bill to help close military bases and relocate troops as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. And he approved an additional $750 million for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a joint federal and state program that provides health care for six million poor children.

Because, you know, it’s vital to our nation’s defense. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at this, but it is nonethless distressing to see Americans re-elect these people year after year despite the fact (or, more likely, because of the fact) that they do stuff like this.

Amtrak Incompetence

Why is this unwieldy unproductive behemoth still around?

With freight traffic soaring in recent years, Amtrak’s never-stellar on-time performance declined to an average of 68 percent last year, its worst showing since the 1970s. When the routes where Amtrak owns the tracks are excluded, the on-time performance last year fell to 61 percent.

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Amtrak performs far better on the Northeast corridor, where it owns the tracks. Last year, 85 percent of its high-speed Acela Express trains between Boston and Washington arrived within 10 minutes of their scheduled time.

But where Amtrak depends on the freight railroads, the picture is far gloomier, and the Capitol Limited is not even the worst case. The Coast Starlight, which runs between Seattle and Los Angeles, had an on-time performance of 4 percent in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. For the California Zephyr, connecting Chicago and San Francisco, the figure was 7 percent. In the current fiscal year, the California Zephyr has not once arrived on time.

In the current fiscal year, that particular train has NOT ONCE arrived on time. And we’re funding this with our tax dollars? Time to put Amtrak out to pasture. Privatize the Acela Express and the rest of the Northeast corridor, where it owns the tracks. Give the rest of it the ax.

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