The office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released the 2011 edition of its annual “Wastebook.” The document spotlights 100 particularly ridiculous expenditures of taxpayer money from the past year. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s pure gold. But it’s also infuriating, depressing, and a painful reminder of what happens when politicians and bureaucrats spend other people’s money.
If you’re a taxpayer and you like beef jerky, I have good and bad news. The good news is that Jack Link’s is expanding the production facilities at its corporate home in Minong, Wisconsin. The bad news is the expansion is being “made possible” with a $365,000 federal grant to Minong for infrastructure upgrades.
Last week, the U.S. Postal Service filed a plan with its regulator to close half of its mail processing facilities and reduce delivery standards in order to reduce costs. I called the move a message to Congress because “the USPS is running on financial fumes and Congress is still trying to figure out how to kick the can down the road.”
Nobody wants to be the guy — especially the Congress-guy — who says that we need to cut education spending. Nobody wants to be the target of attacks from both the well-intentioned and politically opportunistic that they hate children, only care about “the rich,” or any of the other deviousness that long ago snuck up behind reasoned debate, threw a rope around its neck, and pulled it backwards.
The Indianapolis Star recently profiled local boy makes good (handing out other people’s money) John Fernandez, the ex-Bloomington mayor and Obama fundraiser who now heads up the Economic Development Administration. A reference to an EDA taxpayer handout to a technology park in southern Indiana caught my eye:
A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York examines the role of speculators in driving the housing bubble. Setting aside the fact that almost everyone who bought a house was “speculating” to some degree, the researchers focus on those who were buying homes they did not intend to live in.
Extending the extra unemployment insurance benefits would be bad for the federal budget and bad for the economy, and there is a better long-term solution for unemployment than the current UI system.
On Monday, the U.S. Postal Service filed its proposal to reduce service standards with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The USPS is seeking to cut costs by closing about half of its mail processing facilities, which would mean slower mail delivery. Given that the USPS is running on financial fumes and Congress is still trying to figure out how to kick the can down the road, management apparently decided that it had to act.
In the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Alan Reynolds pointed out some of the flaws in the data being used in the income inequality debate. Far too many policymakers, analysts, and reporters assume that the data showing rising inequality is carved in stone, but it isn’t. Some portion of the supposed change in income inequality in recent decades is a statistical artifact due to changes in marginal tax rates and other factors.