Saturday, June 29, 2013

How Bureaucrats Have Ruined the Federal Government

How Bureaucrats Captured Government — The American Magazine: " . . . . The inevitable result of employees who cannot be fired is, of course, a federal workforce that, feeling safe in their jobs, is not likely to overexert itself and is more prone to fall into corruption — as some employees of the IRS clearly have. More than a few master the art of skirting the edge of trouble. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma estimates that over a seven-year period, the federal government lost 9,000 man-years of work due to employees who simply failed to show up to the office some days. That is not very different from the situation under the spoils system — although smoking, at least, has been banned from federal office buildings. The solution, obviously, is a much reformed, simplified, and faster process for dealing with incompetent, lazy, and corrupt employees. But like reforming the spoils system of the 19th century, that is a good deal easier said than done. As always with human affairs, self-interest rules."


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Defense Contractors gather at Government Cybersecurity Public Trough

After Profits, Defense Contractor Faces the Pitfalls of Cybersecurity - "cutting contractors out of classified work is a lot harder in practice than in theory. Booz Allen is one of many companies that make up the digital spine of the intelligence world, designing the software and hardware systems on which the N.S.A. and other military and intelligence agencies depend. Mr. McConnell speaks often about the need for the private sector to jolt the government out of its attachment to existing systems, noting, for example, that the Air Force fought the concept of drones for years. Removing contractors from the classified world would be a wrenching change: Of the 1.4 million people with Top Secret clearances, more than a third are private contractors. (The background checks for those clearances are usually done by other contractors.)"


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Meredith Whitney smacks down public pension liabilities

The Return of Wall Street’s Cassandra: In Armani and Pearls, Meredith Whitney Smacks Back | Observer: "Her main point is that the combination of debt service on state and municipal borrowing and ever- growing public sector pension and health care costs is crowding out everything else in government budgets—things like education, libraries, parks and trash collection, and public safety. John DeStefano Jr., the mayor of New Haven, put it best: “[Pension costs] are the Pac-Man of our city budget, consuming everything in sight.”"


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Negative Feedback Loop From Hell

The Return of Wall Street’s Cassandra: In Armani and Pearls, Meredith Whitney Smacks Back | Observer: "And here’s what’s going to happen: because taxpayers—both corporations and individuals—can actually pack up and move to avoid a dramatically lower quality of life and the final tax bill on municipal borrowings, Ms. Whitney sees a radical redrawing of the economic power map. Those 17 flyover states in the central corridor are going to emerge as winners, while the overleveraged housing-boom high-fliers like California . . . grapple with what she calls the Negative Feedback Loop From Hell—higher debt requires higher taxes, which drives people and companies out of town or state, which lowers the tax base, which results in further budget cuts, which reduces quality of life, which causes the value of real estate to decline, which lowers tax receipts, which … you get the point. It’s called Detroit. We’re approaching the endgame quickly."

California and . . . . Detroit--the epitome of the negative feedback loop from hell!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

US Cybersecurity Pork

Wonder how Snowden, a high school dropout, was paid a six-figure salary working as a NSA contract worker? Welcome to the world of US Cybersecurity Pork!

NSA Snooping Was Only the Beginning. Meet the Spy Chief Leading Us Into Cyberwar | Threat Level |  " . . . In the past few years, the contractors have embarked on their own cyber building binge parallel to the construction boom at Fort Meade: General Dynamics opened a 28,000-square-foot facility near the NSA; SAIC cut the ribbon on its new seven-story Cyber Innovation Center; the giant CSC unveiled its Virtual Cyber Security Center. And at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, where former NSA director Mike McConnell was hired to lead the cyber effort, the company announced a “cyber-solutions network” that linked together nine cyber-focused facilities. Not to be outdone, Boeing built a new Cyber Engagement Center. Leaving nothing to chance, it also hired retired Army major general Barbara Fast, an old friend of Alexander’s, to run the operation. (She has since moved on.) Defense contractors have been eager to prove that they understand Alexander’s worldview. “Our Raytheon cyberwarriors play offense and defense,” says one help-wanted site. Consulting and engineering firms such as Invertix and Parsons are among dozens posting online want ads for “computer network exploitation specialists.” And many other companies, some unidentified, are seeking computer and network attackers. “Firm is seeking computer network attack specialists for long-term government contract in King George County, VA,” one recent ad read. Another, from Sunera, a Tampa, Florida, company, said it was hunting for “attack and penetration consultants. . . .”

Binging--hogs at the trough!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Illinois the "deadbeat state"

Illinois is kind of like an addict who can't just stop and just won't go to rehab--

Moody's downgrades Illinois credit - "Moody's downgraded Illinois' $27 billion of general obligation debt to A3 from A2, with a negative outlook after state lawmakers last week failed to pass a plan to deal with a $100 billion unfunded public pension liability. Even prior to the downgrade, Illinois had the lowest rating of any U.S. state. "Our rating now assumes the government will not take action to reduce the state's pension liabilities any time soon," Moody's said in a statement."


Saturday, June 15, 2013

NSA Whistleblower Speaks Out

NSA wasting a billion dollars on unnecessary program--

NSA Whistleblower Speaks Out on Verizon, PRISM, and the Utah Data Center | Libertas Institute | Advancing the cause of liberty in Utah: "LI: Why do you suppose that they took those retaliatory actions against you? WB: I was among another five people who were really complaining about NSA. Under the regulations for employment with the government, you’re required to report fraud, waste, and abuse. And that’s to be done to the Inspector General at the Department of Defense. So that’s what we did. Specifically, with a program called “trailblazer“, they were wasting a billion dollars on that program, when all the issues with it have already been solved, and we had been part of that solution. LI: But why retaliate? Because they were so invested in the outcome of the project? WB: Yes, and all the companies that were involved in it. They all had a vested interest in keeping it going."


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Black robes, perks, hogs at the trough

Teaching stint, book advance, travel among justices' perks
Chicago Tribune
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Mediterranean island teaching stint, a nearly $2 million book advance and trips around the world to judge architecture were among the side benefits enjoyed by the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices last year. Justice Sonia ...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Positive train control: the train wreck of governmental regulation

George Will: Positive train control: A mandate that is off the rails - The Washington Post:
So far, railroads have spent more than $2.7 billion on a system estimated to cost $10 billion to $14 billion — plus perhaps $1 billion in annual maintenance. PTC has not been installed, partly because it is not sufficiently developed. CSX Corp., which includes railroads among its assets, says the railroad industry is the nation’s most capital-intensive — and the $11 billion combined capital investments of all U.S. railroads in 2010 were approximately equal to the cost of PTC. The 2015 mandate will not be met. The Federal Railroad Administration estimates that were PTC to be installed on thousands of locomotives and tens of thousands of miles of track, it would prevent perhaps 2 percent of the approximately 2,000 collisions and derailments, preventing seven deaths and 22 injuries annually. But because a dollar spent on X cannot be spent on Y, the PTC mandate must mean the sacrifice of other investments crucial to railroad safety (and efficiency).

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Obama's IRS - wasteful, politicized, unaccountable

Let's party Hogs at the Trough!

GOP says report will expose lavish spending at 2010 IRS conference - The Hill's On The Money: "“The IRS is an agency in crisis," Issa said in a statement. "The American people expect that their tax-dollars will be used responsibly and not for financing lavish hotel suites and entertainment for government employees. The Oversight Committee will examine these egregious abuses of the public trust and an IRS culture that shuns accountability.""


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Michigan judge gets 1 year in jail

Disgraced ex-Michigan judge gets 1 year in jail: "Former Michigan Supreme Court Judge Diane Hathaway was sentenced to 12 months and one day behind bars Tuesday for bank fraud. Hathaway, who pleaded guilty in January to misleading her bank during a short sale of her Grosse Pointe, Mich., home, also is to pay $90,000 in restitution and will spend two years on probation. It is unclear where she will serve her sentence. Hathaway's defense lawyer, Steven Fishman, had asked Judge John Corbett O'Meara to spare Hathaway jail time prior to her sentencing in U.S. District Court's Eastern District in Ann Arbor."


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The State of ILLINOIS: Democrats, Public Unions, Huge Unfunded Public Pension Liabilities

See a pattern here?

Illinois Pension Deal Again Proves Elusive - "Democrats in Illinois hold large majorities in the House and Senate, making the pension fight mostly an intraparty clash. Mr. Quinn has warned that if the state fails to act it could see further downgrades to its credit rating, which is already the lowest among U.S. states, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and Moody's Investors Service. Illinois faces a backlog of billions of dollars in unpaid bills, and while it continues to have access to debt markets, it has had to pay a premium to sell some of its bonds."

Hogs at the Trough.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fannie and Freddie -- what now?

What to Do With Fannie and Freddie — The American Magazine: " Fannie and Freddie’s current status, which no one wants, should be brought to an end with a five-year transition. What they do that is actually a mortgage business should be truly privatized (not a fake GSE “privatization” as was done with Fannie in 1968), while their government subsidy program should become explicitly a government subsidy program and be merged into the operations of the Department of Housing, Federal Housing Administration, and Ginnie Mae. Fannie and Freddie would thus cease to exist as GSEs. The U.S. mortgage finance sector would move to being about 80 percent private and 20 percent government, instead of its current heavily nationalized status."

Fannie and Freddie, among the biggest Hogs at the Trough!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Is California Attempting to Hide?

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: What Is California Attempting to Hide?: "According to agency documents, Covered California plans to spend nearly $458 million on outside vendors by the end of 2014, covering lawyers, consultants, public relations advisers and other functions. Other exchange records that are allowed to be kept secret include those that reveal recommendations, research, strategy of the board or its staff, or those that provide instructions, advice or training to employees. Minutes of the board meetings also are exempt from disclosure. So what does California have to hide? More specifically what do the legislators (especially California Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles) have to hide? Contracts awarded to the non-low bidder? Contracts awarded to friends and family of legislators? Kickbacks?"

They are trying to hide all the "hogs at the trough"--LOL!