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Government folly


Off-Topic Discussions

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I thought I'd start a thread about government waste, fraud and general foolishness.


Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.


OUR VIEW: Cleavage cans get canned by City Hall (local silliness)


2009 Pig Book Summary


Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Wow. I am appalled . Golf carts qualify for the electric car tax credit.

Andoran

Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Unless I missed it, this article left something out that the original included...after he got his free golf cart (presumably to prove a point) he donated it to charity, thereby claiming a second tax break for a charitable donation. Hypocracy thy name is fiscal conservatism.


Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Unless I missed it, this article left something out that the original included...after he got his free golf cart (presumably to prove a point) he donated it to charity, thereby claiming a second tax break for a charitable donation. Hypocracy thy name is fiscal conservatism.

LOL! He didn't make the rules, or lobby for them. Playing by the rules makes him a hypocrite?

Andoran

Bitter Thorn wrote:
Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Unless I missed it, this article left something out that the original included...after he got his free golf cart (presumably to prove a point) he donated it to charity, thereby claiming a second tax break for a charitable donation. Hypocracy thy name is fiscal conservatism.
LOL! He didn't make the rules, or lobby for them. Playing by the rules makes him a hypocrite?

He lobbies against wasteful government spending, then propogates that spending by "playing by the rules" (or following orders if you will). He is a hypocrite by playing the "do as i say, not as i do" game.


Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Unless I missed it, this article left something out that the original included...after he got his free golf cart (presumably to prove a point) he donated it to charity, thereby claiming a second tax break for a charitable donation. Hypocracy thy name is fiscal conservatism.
LOL! He didn't make the rules, or lobby for them. Playing by the rules makes him a hypocrite?
He lobbies against wasteful government spending, then propogates that spending by "playing by the rules" (or following orders if you will). He is a hypocrite by playing the "do as i say, not as i do" game.

I think your logic is flawed.

Individuals and the markets they comprise respond to incentives and disincentives. You can call that gaming the system, but in many cases these laws invite it.

Maybe new legislation should be edited by the optimization boards to see if they are broken or unbalanced. ;)


Our cumulative running total of government waste is:$1,230,956,867,592.00

Andoran

Bitter Thorn wrote:


I think your logic is flawed.

Individuals and the markets they comprise respond to incentives and disincentives. You can call that gaming the system, but in many cases these laws invite it.

Maybe new legislation should be edited by the optimization boards to see if they are broken or unbalanced. ;)

Hypocrite:

a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

Dictionary.com

Emphasis is mine. This man is advocating against government waste, then contributing to it by double dipping thereby causing more government waste. Would you put much faith in the word of an environmental activist who drives a Hummer? I know I wouldn't, so I definitely don't put much stock in the word of a "fiscal conservative" advocating against government waste who contributes to government waste. Wouldn't it have been just as effective to write an expose on the credit? He definitely didn't need to go out and buy one then double dip by writing it off as a charitable donation.


Well I just learned about something that very much annoys me though I guess I'm not directly involved not being American.

Looks like one of the main the committee's whose job it is to insure that the financial meltdown that took place a couple of years ago does not happen again has released their main series of reforms and regulations and it seems that a major part of that got watered down really really badly.

Here I am talking about Derivatives - which is basically the practice of having 'insurance' in case a major company fails.

This was a huge deal in the early stages of the crisis - its the reason why all the lending between all the major players simply stopped cold and the world financial system spent a few weeks teetering on the brink of total collapse. The result was that governments world wide pretty much opened their vaults and starting giving money to major corps like mad to get the lending going again and we'll be paying for that for a long time to come.

Essentially speaking what happened was that no company knew whether any other was actually safe - and if they went down no one knew if anyone else would be able to cover that 'insurance' - hence lending any money to anyone else was simply not safe. The big problem was that all of these Derivatives are pretty much handled by two individuals over the phone and there is no transparency.

The only people that really understand this sort of thing are the people behind those desks and they don't want the government poking their nose in this sort of thing and transparency does not serve them. So they argued against any reform or regulation and the politicians pretty much said uncle - the basic reason for them saying uncle boils down to 'if I go and do a stump speech about Derivatives to my constituents they are going to stare at me blankly and scratch their heads'. Which is true, the average voter does not understand derivatives and has no idea what their role was in the financial crisis but it still pisses me off to no end that there is going to be legislation regarding payday lenders and and other minor crap (which the voters do understand) but the really huge billion dollar gambling binge that massive corps engage in is not being adequately addressed mainly because the voters are not able to wrap their heads around this issue.

This is really unfortunate because it means there will be no addressing one of the most fundamental issues of the crisis - companies like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns where not problems so much because they where 'to big to fail' in fact the real problem was that they were 'to interconnected to fail'. Here we see that their will be no significant attempt to address the issues regarding interconnectedness and one of the two pillars of the financial crisis (sub prime being the other one) will be swept under the rug due to lack of voter knowledge and politicians without the balls to do the right thing for their constituents even if their constituents don't understand it - sadly one can see the politicians point, people with deep pockets are going to say that the government is regulating business and the voters sure understand that regulation is the root of all evil - thats a simple sound bite they can grok, as opposed to the complexities of what is being regulated and how.


Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Wouldn't it have been just as effective to write an expose on the credit? He definitely didn't need to go out and buy one then double dip by writing it off as a charitable donation.

No, it wouldn't.

If he simply wrote an expose about it, there would be people who would claim no such loophole existed.

Instead, he went out and did everything to show the loophole exists and can be used for an unintended purpose.

He would have been a hypocrite if he kept the golf cart.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


Essentially speaking what happened was that no company knew whether any other was actually safe . . . .

Actually, this is untrue.

Many hedge funds, those companies that take huge risks, stayed away from many of the credit default swaps that were linked to places like Lehman Bros, et al. Why? Because those people knew Lehman and others were bad risks.

So why did all those big banks take on that risk? Because they bet (correctly, it turns out) that when the smelly stuff hit the oscillating air mover our government would come in to prop up those lending institutions. Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac had been propped up for years, so Lehman said "Well, if they're doing it, we can too."

Nothing like government regulations to encourage bad behavior. Who didn't get hurt by that stupidity? Those of us who realized that subprime loans were bad news and saw the housing bubble back when Barney Frank was still saying "These two entities—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are not facing any kind of financial crisis."


Doug's Workshop wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


Essentially speaking what happened was that no company knew whether any other was actually safe . . . .

Actually, this is untrue.

Many hedge funds, those companies that take huge risks, stayed away from many of the credit default swaps that were linked to places like Lehman Bros, et al. Why? Because those people knew Lehman and others were bad risks.

So why did all those big banks take on that risk? Because they bet (correctly, it turns out) that when the smelly stuff hit the oscillating air mover our government would come in to prop up those lending institutions. Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac had been propped up for years, so Lehman said "Well, if they're doing it, we can too."

Nothing like government regulations to encourage bad behavior. Who didn't get hurt by that stupidity? Those of us who realized that subprime loans were bad news and saw the housing bubble back when Barney Frank was still saying "These two entities—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are not facing any kind of financial crisis."

Why did Mort Zuckerman predict the housing market collapse—while Alan Greenspan missed it? View our gallery of winners and losers.

Also interesting....

Ron Paul economic adviser Peter Schiff was right about, well, everything

We haven't seen hyper inflation yet, but I'm not optimistic about the future.


I'm not a McCain fan, but I found this interesting:

"John McCain Supported A Proposal For An Agency To Oversee Fannie And Freddie……In 2005!
Then in 2005 John McCain co-sponsored the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005.

The Bill was never passed. John McCain addressed the floor on May 26th, 2006. Here is an excerpt:

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole. I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation."

People saw this coming and the Republicans controlled the Senate in 2005 as I recall.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Doug's Workshop wrote:
Nothing like government regulations to encourage bad behavior. Who didn't get hurt by that stupidity? Those of us who realized that subprime loans were bad news and saw the housing bubble back when Barney Frank was still saying "These two entities—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are not facing any kind of financial crisis."

That is not quite true either.

Goldman Sachs did rather well coming throught the market collapse.

Actually, except for Lehman Brothers and A.I.G., none of the TBTF banks did that badly during/after the market crisis.


Lord Fyre wrote:


That is not quite true either.

Goldman Sachs did rather well coming throught the market collapse.

Actually, except for Lehman Brothers and A.I.G., none of the TBTF banks did that badly during/after the market crisis.

Unless you count being nationalized for a period of time as "bad."

However, this banker did well, because he avoided stupidity. Strangely, he did well enough to attract attention of regulators because he did avoid stupidity.
HERE


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Unless I missed it, this article left something out that the original included...after he got his free golf cart (presumably to prove a point) he donated it to charity, thereby claiming a second tax break for a charitable donation. Hypocracy thy name is fiscal conservatism.
LOL! He didn't make the rules, or lobby for them. Playing by the rules makes him a hypocrite?
He lobbies against wasteful government spending, then propogates that spending by "playing by the rules" (or following orders if you will). He is a hypocrite by playing the "do as i say, not as i do" game.

I think your logic is flawed.

Individuals and the markets they comprise respond to incentives and disincentives. You can call that gaming the system, but in many cases these laws invite it.

Maybe new legislation should be edited by the optimization boards to see if they are broken or unbalanced. ;)

That last line made me chuckle, but I'm on Xplv's side here. Then again, I also take serious issue with people who try to "help" others by making broken characters to "show flaws in the system", so it may just be me.


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

There is so much about this story that I dislike. First, just because someone finds a way to game the system, doesn't mean that we should just abandon the system altogether. That would be like assuming that since someone created Pun Pun, we shouldn't play 3.5. People who create laws will never be able to think of everything, and as a result, there will always be people who find ridiculous ways to exploit the laws our government passes. The solution is not to throw up our hands and give up on government altogether. The solution is to identify the problems within our government and, if the problems are egregious enough, find ways to fix them.

In this case, I don't think the problem is bad enough to warrant a fix. After all, the tax credit expires in December of 2010. Any legislation proposed that might fix the problem probably won't make it through the houses before that time, and even if it does, it will still probably take several months to get it passed. So in my opinion, the problem isn't big enough to warrant worrying about it right now.

As far as electric cars burning coal versus gasoline, the article you linked to could be right about their environmental impact... that is, if you live in a state like West Virginia, where 73% of the electric power is produced by coal. On the other hand, if you live in a place like Washington, or Southern California, where at least half of their power is produced by clean and/or renewable energy, then driving an electric car is significantly better for the environment. Using the following tool, for example, I learned that only about 11% of the power in my city is produced by coal, while 49% of it is produced by natural gas. In my case, it might be beneficial to buy an electric car.

In any event, even if the article is right about emissions from coal power plants being worse than emissions from cars, one thing it's important to note is that it's much easier to control emissions from a single power plant than it is to control emissions from millions of tailpipes. It's also important to note that as emissions standards for power plants continue to improve, so too will the benefits of driving electric cars. Finally, it's important to note that even if your electric vehicle is entirely powered on electricity produced from coal, its impact on the environment is about the same as a regular Toyota Corolla. So while they may not be the cleanest vehicles on the road, they're certainly not the worst.

Silver Crusade

DoveArrow wrote:
tool

That's fancy. I just learned that 54% of my power comes from nuclear and hydroelectic. How very clean of us.


71.7% coal


Bitter Thorn wrote:
71.7% coal

Certainly the vast majority of that was what Santa left in your stocking. ;-D


Freehold DM wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
71.7% coal
Certainly the vast majority of that was what Santa left in your stocking. ;-D

Every Christmas up to 7th grade IIRC. ;)


Bitter Thorn wrote:
71.7% coal

HA!

72.8% coal!

What do I win?


The Case of the Crooked Border Official


Want Less Corruption? Shrink the Size of Government


So with the border official story -- are you decrying a crooked customs agent, or Customs and border control as a whole, or the FBI for chasing her down?

Seems to me it's only "government folly" if you're after Customs or the FBI, but for me the story here is crooked official gets caught. Just like crooked civilian.

EDIT: I do enjoy the articles, Bitter Thorn. I just think a little commentary from you in addition to the link would help me understand your point sometimes.


Doug's Workshop wrote:

HA!

72.8% coal!

What do I win?

A free, electric golf cart. Duh! :-P


Doug's Workshop wrote:
Nothing like government regulations to encourage bad behavior.

You've never read Upton Sinclair, I guess -- and are no fan of Teddy Roosevelt, I'd wager.

Too much regulation stifles business and leads to bizarre bubbles to boot.
Too little regulation leads to abject conditions and market meltdown.

"Just enough" regs to keep the worst practices in check should be the benchmark -- not "all or nothing."

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Doug's Workshop wrote:
Nothing like government regulations to encourage bad behavior.

You've never read Upton Sinclair, I guess -- and are no fan of Teddy Roosevelt, I'd wager.

Too much regulation stifles business and leads to bizarre bubbles to boot.
Too little regulation leads to abject conditions and market meltdown.

"Just enough" regs to keep the worst practices in check should be the benchmark -- not "all or nothing."

The problem is, how much is just enough? One side will say it's too much, and the other too little.


Paul Watson wrote:
The problem is, how much is just enough? One side will say it's too much, and the other too little.

I agree completely -- and as long as we're having that discussion, things probably aren't too far out of whack, since there's room to go either way. It's a good thing if there's room for adjustments in either direction.

What I strongly disagree with is the notion that everyone needs to push for endpoints: no regs at all on the one hand, vs. pure Communist-style gov't ownership of all business on the other. History has taught us clearly that both of those extremes are recipes for economic failure.


therealthom wrote:

So with the border official story -- are you decrying a crooked customs agent, or Customs and border control as a whole, or the FBI for chasing her down?

Seems to me it's only "government folly" if you're after Customs or the FBI, but for me the story here is crooked official gets caught. Just like crooked civilian.

EDIT: I do enjoy the articles, Bitter Thorn. I just think a little commentary from you in addition to the link would help me understand your point sometimes.

Buying government officials is a very effective way to use the government. This is a common issue on the southern boarder. I can't speak to the northern boarder, but I suspect the corruption is fairly ubiquitous.

"Last year alone, the FBI worked nearly 2,500 public corruption cases and saw convictions of more than 700 dishonest public servants around the nation."

700 federal convictions is kind of a joke given the number of federal employees. I don't think the government does a good job correcting it's own incompetence or graft. It just keeps getting bigger.

This doesn't even touch on the ocean of legal corruption, incompetence and epic stupidity.

Andoran RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Bitter Thorn wrote:
Buying government officials is a very effective way to use the government. This is a common issue on the southern boarder. I can't speak to the northern boarder, but I suspect the corruption is fairly ubiquitous.

Then again, on the northern border you don't have as much of a traffic in drugs and illegal immigrants.


Charlie Bell wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Buying government officials is a very effective way to use the government. This is a common issue on the southern boarder. I can't speak to the northern boarder, but I suspect the corruption is fairly ubiquitous.
Then again, on the northern border you don't have as much of a traffic in drugs and illegal immigrants.

I'm told that steroids and pharmaceuticals are popular, but I'm sure the volume is dwarfed by what's coming across the Rio Grande.


Corrupt ME puts thousands of cases at risk.


Doug's Workshop wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:


Essentially speaking what happened was that no company knew whether any other was actually safe . . . .

Actually, this is untrue.

Many hedge funds, those companies that take huge risks, stayed away from many of the credit default swaps that were linked to places like Lehman Bros, et al. Why? Because those people knew Lehman and others were bad risks.

But this is in fact the problem...it does not matter if SOLID HEDGE COMPANY A never deals with Lehman Bros. They could be doing their credit default swaps with TRUSTABLE REINSURANCE B who they know also has no deals with Lehman Bros. but TRUSTABLE REINSURANCE B has default swaps with DEPENDABLE INSURANCE C and DEPENDABLE INSURANCE C thinks Lehman Bros. is a solid company so they have hedged their Default Swaps with Lehman Bros.

Now we get to the problem - if Lehman goes down then DEPENDABLE INSURANCE C won't be able to cover the losses when TRUSTABLE REINSURANCE B comes to collect and if TRUSTABLE REINSURANCE B can't get their money then they can't pay out to SOLID HEDGE COMPANY A which brings down SOLID HEDGE COMPANY A - even though they never went near Lehman Bros and even though they made sure never to deal with a company that itself dealt with Lehman Bros.

Thats why it was really important to have a system set up that is transparent. What froze the market was that no one was certain that everyone in the chain of every other company was safe and one bad link, even one far away on the chain, would bring down everyone else like domino's.


Losing track of trillions in military spending!?

Rumsfeld testimony

more video

Feel free to disregard any thruther comments in the above.

Has anyone seen any follow up to this?

Taldor

Xpltvdeleted wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:

Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

Unless I missed it, this article left something out that the original included...after he got his free golf cart (presumably to prove a point) he donated it to charity, thereby claiming a second tax break for a charitable donation. Hypocracy thy name is fiscal conservatism.

And when you assume you make an ass out of you and some random guy (I won't say me because I'm perfect :P), he doesn't say in that article that he used the donation on his taxes. The only way to get said exemption is to file for it, he could have donated the cart and not used the exemption on his taxes. You assume as much to without warrant claim he is a hypocrite. Way to go there, but hey, I'm just a hypocrite apparently.

Taldor

DoveArrow wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Free Stuff From Sam I just got a free golf cart.

There is so much about this story that I dislike. First, just because someone finds a way to game the system, doesn't mean that we should just abandon the system altogether. That would be like assuming that since someone created Pun Pun, we shouldn't play 3.5. People who create laws will never be able to think of everything, and as a result, there will always be people who find ridiculous ways to exploit the laws our government passes. The solution is not to throw up our hands and give up on government altogether. The solution is to identify the problems within our government and, if the problems are egregious enough, find ways to fix them.

In this case, I don't think the problem is bad enough to warrant a fix. After all, the tax credit expires in December of 2010. Any legislation proposed that might fix the problem probably won't make it through the houses before that time, and even if it does, it will still probably take several months to get it passed. So in my opinion, the problem isn't big enough to warrant worrying about it right now.

As far as electric cars burning coal versus gasoline, the article you linked to could be right about their environmental impact... that is, if you live in a state like West Virginia, where 73% of the electric power is produced by coal. On the other hand, if you live in a place like Washington, or Southern California, where at least half of their power is produced by clean and/or renewable energy, then driving an electric car is significantly better for the environment. Using the following tool, for example, I learned that only about 11% of the power in my city is produced by coal, while 49% of it is produced by natural gas. In my case, it might be beneficial to buy an electric car.

In any event, even if the article is right about...

+1 just in case anyone thinks I'm merely here to prop up the right in an argument.


Arrested Pueblo Officer Back on Armed Duty after domestic abuse charge and TRO

"The Pueblo County District Attorney, Bill Thiebaut, says cases like this are much too common."


from The National Center for Women and Policing - "Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population...."

More general information on LEO violence against their families.


Major Government, Military Corruption, Trillions Missing at Defense Department

The site has some good stuff on this topic, but, fair warning, it has some nutty sections too.


FBI Broke Privacy Laws, Says Justice Department Probe

Fired Due To Error, Still Jobless After 3 Months

The missing Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board


Former mob boss tells of access to FBI


Bitter Thorn wrote:
therealthom wrote:

So with the border official story -- are you decrying a crooked customs agent, or Customs and border control as a whole, or the FBI for chasing her down?

Seems to me it's only "government folly" if you're after Customs or the FBI, but for me the story here is crooked official gets caught. Just like crooked civilian.

EDIT: I do enjoy the articles, Bitter Thorn. I just think a little commentary from you in addition to the link would help me understand your point sometimes.

Buying government officials is a very effective way to use the government. This is a common issue on the southern boarder. I can't speak to the northern boarder, but I suspect the corruption is fairly ubiquitous.

"Last year alone, the FBI worked nearly 2,500 public corruption cases and saw convictions of more than 700 dishonest public servants around the nation."

700 federal convictions is kind of a joke given the number of federal employees. I don't think the government does a good job correcting it's own incompetence or graft. It just keeps getting bigger.

This doesn't even touch on the ocean of legal corruption, incompetence and epic stupidity.

FBI probes alleged corruption within North Metro Drug Task Force


Charlie Bell wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Buying government officials is a very effective way to use the government. This is a common issue on the southern boarder. I can't speak to the northern boarder, but I suspect the corruption is fairly ubiquitous.
Then again, on the northern border you don't have as much of a traffic in drugs and illegal immigrants.

120 of the 700 FBI agents involved in anti-corruption investigations are assigned to the Southwest border.


Corruption, crime inside Homeland Security

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Bitter Thorn wrote:

Corruption, crime inside Homeland Security

Well, as you said earlier, "Buying government officials is a very effective way to use the government."

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