Free Markets, Free People

national debt

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 09 Feb 14

This week, Michael and Dale ask why Progressive politics are so attractive.

The podcast can be found on Stitcher here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Stitcher. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 Jan 13

The holiday hiatus is over! This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Fiscal Cliff, Debt, and gun control.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 16 Jan 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the Marines incident, re-organizing government, and the coming economic collapse.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Have you ever wondered about how out of control government is?

Seriously.  We have a 15 trillion dollar national debt.  Ever wonder how we got there? 

Yesterday, although the paper warped it into a completely stupid rant on race, the NY Times told us that government workers are losing their jobs.  Why?  Because revenue is down and budgets are tight.  But there are other reasons as well.

And here’s an example of one of them:

Montcalm County recently received a $900 Arctic Blast Sno-Cone machine.

The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) is a federal- and state-designated agency responsible for managing and administrating the homeland security program in Montcalm County and 12 other counties.

The WMSRDC recently purchased and transferred homeland security equipment to these counties — including 13 snow cone machines at a total cost of $11,700.

The machines were funded by a grant from the Michigan Homeland Security Program. The request for a snow cone machine came from another county, but all 13 counties received them.

Your first question has to be “why wasn’t a request to “Homeland Security” for a Sno-Cone machine summarily turned down with a warning that such requests were inappropriate? Especially in tight fiscal times?  Well the simple answer to that is because Homeland Security isn’t dealing with its own money.  It’s dealing with your money.  And because of that apparently nothing is inappropriate, tight fiscal times or not.

Note the job description of the WMSRDC I’ve emphasized.  And what is the reason for a Sno-Cone machine?  Well here’s the reason given why it was “necessary”:

MCES Director David Feldpausch said the machine could be useful at the scene of a large fire or during very hot weather. 

“I don’t like the term snow cone machine, because it sounds horrible,” Feldpausch said. “When you look at it as an ice shaving machine and its purpose, it makes a little more sense. I assume it will get used in Montcalm County a lot more in the summertime by the Fire Corps.”

Of course he doesn’t like the term “snow cone machine”.  It doesn’t just sound terrible, it sounds inappropriate and wasteful.   And it is both of those things. Oh sure, it might be nice to have.  But a “necessity”?  A bucket of ice and some water could serve the same purpose. 

And of course there’s the matter of a single $900 request being turned into a $12,000 dollar expense when some bureaucrat decided all of the counties, even the 12 who never asked for one, get a Sno-Cone machine.

Now I know this comes from a completely different bucket of money, but any idea of what percentage of an employee’s salary this would pay if layoffs are being contemplated in the area?  Is this the best and most appropriate use of Homeland Security money?  Does anyone even review this stuff?

Profligate spending is the symptom of an out-of-control government.  While $12k spending is but a mere speck on a drop in the bucket of money spent by government each year, it is indicative of how we got into the debt mess which we now find ourselves and is ever getting worse.  Multiply these sorts of transactions by the millions and you understand how we have gotten where we are.

There is no necessity for shaved ice at a fire.  Note the word.  Necessity.  There are plenty of much less costly alternatives.  Like bagged ice and water.  And this is for a contingency (“large fire”, summertime) for an event which may or may not happen. 

The reason I highlight things like this is because the are better understood by people than complex and much more costly examples which are essentially the same but harder to wrap your head around.   This is relatable.  This shows clearly how wasteful government can be with a fairly low cost example that people can readily identify with.  

Its like showing a picture of luxury food which is able to be purchased with EBT cards (Food Stamp Cards).  You naturally know “this ain’t right”. You sort of go with the idea of helping the less able, but you bristle at being taken advantage of.  Well the above example “ain’t right” and certainly an example of taking advantage of the taxpayer,  but typical of literally millions of government purchases over the years.

Result.  Well just take a gander at the national debt clock if you need a reminder.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 07 Aug 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss concerns about Turkey, and the debt limit.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 17 Jul 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the fight over the debt limit.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

CBO, Entitlments, Health Care Reform and the Deficit

One more time into the breach. The CBO has issued a warning to Congress about entitlement spending. Again. Here’s a key paragraph:

Almost all of the projected growth in federal spending other than interest payments on the debt comes from growth in spending on the three largest entitlement programs–Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Most of you know that Medicare and Medicaid have an unfunded future liability of 36 trillion dollars. That’s about 3 times the annual total GDP of the US economy. And they are the very same type of “public option” program – i.e. government insurance – that the left says is so very necessary and crucial to real “health care reform”.

In other words, the left’s argument is that adding at least 47 million (presently uninsured), plus the possibility of adding 119 million who are shifted to the public option from private insurance (private insurance, btw, doesn’t have any effect on the deficit whatsoever since we, the private sector, are paying for it) will somehow make the deficit picture better?

I’m obviously missing something here.

With the public option, we’re adding a new entitlement (47 million who presently supposedly can’t afford insurance, meaning taxpayers will subsidize theirs). Assuming it is set up originally to be paid for by premiums, at some point, like Medicare and Medicaid, and every other government entitlement program I can think of, it will pay out more than it takes in. How can it not? It is a stated “non-profit” program and it will include subsidies. At some point, another revenue stream is going to be necessary as it burns through the premiums with its payouts.

Well, say the proponents of government involvement in your health care, we’re going to save money by doing preventive health care. Yes, preventive care is the key to lower costs because a healthier population is one which visits the doctor less. While that may seem to be at least partially true (you’d think a healthier population would, logically, visit the doctor less) the part that is apparently missed when touting this popular panacea is the cost of making the population healthier (and the fact that the assumption of less visits isn’t necessarily true) doesn’t cost less – it costs more:

If health care providers can prevent or delay conditions like heart disease and diabetes, the logic goes, the nation won’t have to pay for so many expensive hospital procedures.

The problem, as lawmakers are discovering to their frustration, is that the logic is wrong. Preventive care — at least the sort delivered by doctors — doesn’t save money, experts say. It costs money.

That’s old news to the analysts at the Congressional Budget Office, who have told senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that it cannot score most preventive-care proposals as saving money.

So with that myth blown to hell, we’re now looking at a government plan which will add cost to the deficit by subsidizing the insurance of 47 million and (most likely) many more, plus a plan to use a more costly form of medicine as its primary means of giving care.

But, back to the entitlement report – or warning. The CBO says that unless entitlements are drastically reformed (that means Medicare, Medicaid and to a lesser extent, Social Security) we’re in deep deficit doodoo:

The most frightening findings in this report are the deficit and debt projections. In this year and next year, the yearly budget shortfall, or deficit, will be the largest post-war deficits on record–exceeding 11 percent of the economy or gross domestic product (GDP)–and by 2080 it will reach 17.8 percent of GDP.

The national debt, which is the sum of all past deficits, will escalate even faster. Since 1962, debt has averaged 36 percent of GDP, but it will reach 60 percent, nearly double the average, by next year and will exceed 100 percent of the economy by 2042. Put another way, in about 30 years, for every $1 each American citizen and business earns or produces, the government will be an equivalent $1 in debt. By 2083, debt figures will surpass an astounding 306 percent of GDP.

The report also finds high overall growth in the government as a share of the economy and of taxpayers’ wallets that provides an additional area of concern. While total government spending has hovered around 20 percent of the economy since the 1960s, it has jumped by a quarter to 25 percent in 2009 alone and will exceed 32 percent by 2083. Taxes, which have averaged at 18.3 percent of GDP, will reach unprecedented levels of 26 percent by 2083. Never in American history have spending and tax levels been that high.

Here’s the important point to be made – these projections do not include cap-and-trade or health care reform.

Got that? We’re looking at the “highest spending and tax levels” in our history without either of those huge tax and spend programs now being considered included in the numbers above. Total government spending, as a percent of GDP is now at an unprecedented 25%. And they’re trying to add more while this president, who is right in the middle of it, tells us we can’t keep this deficit spending up forever.

Fair warning.

~McQ