American Elephants

Pay No Attention to World Crisis, Let’s Attack American Business by The Elephant's Child

Well, the world is aflame, nothing is going well, and President Obama in his weekly address takes on American international corporations who have moved their headquarters overseas. And he proves once again that he does not understand business or the free market at all.

Hi, everybody. Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008 – the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years.  401(k)s are growing, fewer homes are underwater, and for the first time in more than a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that the world’s number one place to invest isn’t China; it’s the United States of America – and our lead is growing.

None of this is an accident.  It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people that our country has recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced nation on Earth.

But all those jobs that ave been added— are mostly part-time jobs, because the incentives in ObamaCare made it advisable for businesses to cut their low wage workers back to less than 30 hours a week. They now need to fill the other half of those jobs with more part-time workers. Nobody profits from that. We still have something like 92 million working-age people who have given up looking for work. Obama, in attempting to demonize American international corporations as “un-American” and “not patriotic,” and as “renouncing their citizenship”, demonstrates nothing so much as that he has no understanding of business and how businesses operate nor of the free market.

The slowest recovery from any downturn in history is not due to the resilience and resolve of the American people. Our country has not recovered. Business does not exist to be patriotic, or because everyone loves going to work, but it exists to make a profit. Profit is not a bad word as some lefties think, but a return on investment. If a business cannot turn a profit, they won’t be in business for long. President Obama has been warned over and over that we have the highest corporate taxes in the world, and he needs to lower them to avoid what is happening right now. Obama loves to talk about “fair share,” but no one is obligated to pay more taxes than they have to. I can promise you that Mr. Obama’s accountant takes every possible deduction to which the president is entitled, as do the crony capitalists he hits up for campaign donations.  You have noticed that when he takes a trip to the West Coast for a round of fundraisers and golf, he usually sticks in a speech at some college so the trip is not a campaign expense— but an expense for the taxpayers.

“But when some companies cherrypick their taxes, it damages the country’s finances. It adds to the deficit. It makes it harder to invest in the things that will keep America strong, and it sticks you with the tab for what they stash offshore. Right now, a loophole in our tax laws makes this totally legal —and I think that’s totally wrong. You don’t get to pick which rules you play be, or which tax rate you pay, and neither should these companies.” Oh please.  Mr. I can’t possibly cut anything out of the budget, nor cut back on my vastly overblown expenses. We have to pretend that if a company legally lowers the taxes they have to pay, since it is legal, it is unpatriotic?  That kind of pandering should be beneath you.

I am really sick of this “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” rhetoric. Is there some way we could make it a requirement that anyone running for the office of president has to have taken at least 3 courses in economics?”

If you want an economy that functions and grows, you have to make it reasonably easy for business to grow and hire and create opportunity. Growth and opportunity are not created by government, but by the free market.

Congratulations Australia! by The Elephant's Child

Abbott, Tony Australia

Climate hysteria probably reached its peak in 2006-2009 in Australia. Labor  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called man-made global warming “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time.” Even though average global temperatures hadn’t warmed since 1989, we were headed for an environmental catastrophe and only drastic changes to our way of life could avoid Armageddon. Dissent was treated with shock and derision.

Mr. Rudd set out to pass a cap-and-trade scheme in 2009, but the Aussies didn’t buy it. But then the rest of the world declined to sign up with expensive carbon reduction proposals at the Copenhagen summit, Mr. Rudd lost even more credibility. In 2010 Julia Gillard promised not to impose a carbon tax, but she still lost seats in parliament and  her coalition partners in the Greens persuaded her to push ahead with the unpopular levy of A$23 (U.S. $21.54) per ton of carbon. That further weakened Labor, and Tony Abbott won election last year on a platform of repeal of the tax. The Australian government’s own figures estimate the tax has added A$9.90 to the average household’s weekly power bill. (Think adding $40 to your monthly power bill here, and you see the objection.)

Cap-and-Trade Mr. Abbott argued, amounted to “a great big tax to create a big slush fund to provide politicized handouts, run by a giant bureaucracy.” He supported simpler, cheaper and more practical ways of creating a cleaner environment and most Australians realized that the cost of decarbonizing the economy outweighed any possible benefits. Australia’s Senate voted 39-32 last Thursday to repeal the carbon emissions price. Prime Minister Abbott told voters in a news conference after the vote:

Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone, a useless destructive tax which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living and which didn’t actually help the environment is finally gone.

Phillip Hutchings writes at Wattsupwiththat that:

Within minutes of the Australian parliament voting to scrap our carbon tax today, one of our major coal-fired electricity generators issued a profit warning announcement.

In this case, AGL Energy announced its pre-tax profits will fall by $186 million in 2014/15 solely due to the removal of the carbon tax. The majority of this is related to the very large, but inefficient Loy Yang brown coal station which supplies 30% of the power needs of the state of Victoria. It’s amongst the single biggest emitters of CO2 in Australia.

Yet it was due to get $242 million of “Government assistance” under the carbon tax arrangements this year. Most of which found its way to the bottom line.


Obama’s Scandals: Not Funny Anymore. by The Elephant's Child

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has chimed in on the IRS “Lost Emails Scandal:

  • Lew: “Sometimes a broken hard drive is just a broken hard drive.”

From Zero Hedge: “perhaps the NY Post put it best: The thing about dogs eating homework is, it could actually happen. This can’t. This is “The dog ate my hard drive, broke into another building, ate the backup of the hard drive, then broke into six other top officials’ offices and ate their hard drives also.”



ObamaCare: Fewer Enrollees, Higher Costs. by The Elephant's Child

The ObamaCare Exchanges are “disappointing” with fewer than 4 million newly insured. The Obama administration had hoped for 26 million. In April, President Obama told the nation that “marketplace” or “exchange” enrollments at 8 million customers as of March 31, had exceeded expectations and were lower than expected. The media blithely accepted the “selectively released statistics”, in spite of the administration’s habit of providing incomplete information.

The White House has not released any enrollment figures in the last 2½ months, nor do they plan to issue any updates soon. Hmmn. Government numbers included 20 percent of enrollees who did not pay their premiums. Estimates of how many were previously uninsured range from about one-third to more than half. Some who were forced out of their existing coverage find themselves having to re-enroll at much higher rates than before.

Some insurers have increased their rates by 35 percent to bring their rates into compliance with ObamaCare. So you have people with (perhaps) more benefits but for 35% more premium.

Coverage expansion in the ACA are estimated to increase federal spending by $1.383 trillion over the next two decades. Economist Greg Mankiw has estimated that the ACA or ObamaCare will reduce long run GDP in the U.S. by 5%. He insists that it is a rough estimate. University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan says the Affordable Care Act added “about six percentage points to the marginal tax rate faced, on average, by workers in the economy. A useful rule of thumb is that taxation of $1 means that 20¢ of economic activity just never takes place.

Rates will increase significantly for next year. ObamaCare, as expected, is going to cost way more than it was planned to cost.

The Stagnant Swamp of Partisan Politics At The IRS Reeks Even More. by The Elephant's Child

“The IRS did not follow the law in its handling of emails that it says were lost when former official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed according to the top official with the National Archives.”

Ferriero said he was concerned that the IRS didn’t follow records-keeping procedures laid out in the Federal Records Act and didn’t tell the Archives that records could have been lost. The archivist said he only learned of the missing Lerner emails this month, and the IRS has said it’s known there were at least issues with the emails since February.

In a letter last week, the Archives also asked the IRS to tell them within a month whether the potential disposal of Lerner’s records was broader than what has already been reported, and for more details on what the agency did to try to preserve those records.

Trey Gowdy takes on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen:

From The Daily Signal:

“Under a consent judgment today, the IRS has agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage  as a result of the unlawful release of confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.”

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”

One would assume that a newly appointed IRS Commissioner (Dec.,2013) would be interested in restoring the reputation of the agency of the federal government that most needs public respect, as they handle the tax returns and confidential information of all American taxpayers.

“IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is known as a “turnaround specialist” who has helped to rescue failed or failing enterprises. He has an impressive educational background and career. For the Obama administration however, his loyalty to the Democratic Party and record of big financial contributions going back to Walter Mondale. Appointment of loyal financial contributors being appointed to office is nothing unusual, but in this case, the IRS is accused of rank partisanship in its treatment of American taxpayers. Koskinen is already under fire for having some difficulty with the truth. Koskinen is clearly there to assist in an administration  cover-up.

In March, Koskinen testified that the emails could not be retrieved more quickly because they had to be screened. Subsequently he has testified that he knew in March that the emails could not be retrieved. He testified that IRS emails are not necessarily records, and can be deleted at will. Federal law does not eliminate emails.

The American people are coming to the conclusion that the IRS cannot be trusted, the Commissioner is there to assist in a cover-up, and has no intention of reforming the agency. The traditional approach to government crisis management means a trusted figure is brought in to restore public confidence in a troubled federal agency. This is, however, the Obama administration.

Obama’s Corporate Refugees—Fleeing For Their Lives. by The Elephant's Child

Wristons Law

Fear of violence and mayhem has led to millions across the world to grab their stuff and run, to become refugees in another country with  little in the way of resources. But what causes corporations to move to another country, to become corporate refugees domiciling their business in another country. That’s a big move!

Incentives matter. Thank the Obama administration. This is not a case of corporations offshoring jobs, but of corporations moving their headquarters elsewhere. Democrats don’t seem to understand incentives. The late Walter Wriston stated it succinctly in The Twilight of Sovereignty:

Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated. It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no government regulation can restrain it for long.

One of the latest examples is Medtronic, famous for its high-tech cardiac and spinal devices. Medtronic’s planned acquisition of Covidien has been accompanied by the announcement that the combined company will be domiciled in Ireland. Medtronic says the move will mean at least $850 million in annual cost savings by 2018. The combined company will have more leverage to defend their prices when negotiating with consolidating hospital and physician groups. Their technology combined with Covidien’s manufacturing, research and development assets, the company says, will give it an edge in emerging markets.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has been conducting show trials against companies who legally seek to minimize their tax bills. So businesses are apt to not talk a lot publicly about that particular need.

So what’s the incentive? America’s federal corporate tax rate is 35%, which when combined with state and local levies climbs to nearly 40%. Ireland, where politicians care about economic growth has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%. Almost alone among civilized nations, Washington also insists on being paid on a company’s world-wide earnings, rather than just on money earned in the US. This tax is due whenever a company’s overseas earnings are returned to this country.Medtronic has about $14 billion parked overseas, and rather than bringing it home and triggering the tax, they will use the money to fund most of the cash portion of its $42.9 billion purchase. Pretty major incentive. Somebody should explain this to Senator Levin.

The nearly 40% average tax rate in America is almost double the 21% average tax rate in the European Union, or the 22% rate in Asia. The only place outside of captive Marxist countries with a higher rate than the U.S. is the United Arab Emirates, but their top rate of 55% is mostly applied to foreign oil companies.

The business of business is to return a profit to the shareholders. People band together to make a product or deliver a service in order to get a return on their effort. People get strange ideas about what a business is supposed to do. An employee is a cost to a business. Providing someone with a desk and a computer, let alone more elaborate equipment is expensive. Why do companies pay one worker more than another? Competition. There is seldom if ever a company that does not have competitors. The one of the competitors who has better employees is apt to do better in the marketplace. Companies offer better benefits or extras like free parking or a corporate gym to lure better employees. It’s a business decision, not an obligation.

Note that I have just mentioned two words that are anathema to the left: “profit,” and “competition.” Oddly enough the left thinks that profit is a bad thing, and competition is unhealthy. They’ve even tried to eliminate kid’s games that involve competition. Everybody should get a prize — no winners. You see the problem. When you add in the inability to understand the power of incentives, you see the source of a remarkable amount of political dissension.

“Nobody Believes You” by The Elephant's Child

New IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified June 20, at a Ways and Means Committee hearing. You have undoubtedly heard of the upwardly spiraling obfuscations from the IRS attempting to prove that all the claims of wrongdoing are wrong, wrong, wrong, Nothing to see here. Just move along. Is this inquiry just another Republican fishing expedition trying to get the goods on the administration? Hardly.

It’s a big deal because this one particular agency collects $2.4 trillion in taxes from 234 million taxpayer returns. They have the power to probe deeply into your personal finances and personal affairs, make your life a living hell, ruin your reputation and send you to jail. That’s a lot of power and if the agency is crooked, reveals personal financial information to outside agencies, and acts as the partisan arm of one political party against another, the public has the right to not only ask some pertinent questions, but to demand that the agency clean up its act. From today’s hearing:

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and New IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Ryan: I am sitting here listening to this testimony. . . . I don’t believe it. That’s your problem. Nobody believes you. The Internal Revenue Service comes to Congress a couple of years ago and misleads us and says no targeting is occurring.

Then it said it was a few rogue agencies in Cincinnati. Then it said it was also on progressives. All those things have been proven untrue. This committee sent a criminal referral of possible criminal wrongdoing, just a month ago, to the Justice Department and we’ve heard nothing. You bury, in a 27-page letter to the Senate, asking for them to conclude the investigation, that you’ve lost Lois Lerner’s emails during the time in question because of a hard drive crash. . . . Monday our investigators asked your agency whether any other hard drives crashed and we learn that six other hard drives of the people we are investigating were involved. . . . you didn’t tell us that!

Koskinen: We told you on Monday.

Ryan: You told us on Monday because we asked you whether any other hard drives crashed. This is unbelievable. You told us in May that you were going to give us all of Lois Lerner’s emails and you learned in February that this crashed.

Koskinen: I did not learn in February of the crash and we told you on Monday.

Ryan: I’m not asking a question, I’m making a statement.

Koskinen: I’m sorry.

Ryan: You are the IRS. . . . You learned about this months ago, you just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday. This is not being forthcoming. This is being misleading again. This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior, that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial. I don’t believe you.

I have heard on the radio and read statements by numerous IT people, who say that a hard drive crash doesn’t mean that you cannot get the information on it, you can read it with a magnifying glass, and that there are backups on the system servers and beyond. I don’t believe him either. Some IT experts said they could find the emails in about an hour if they could get into the system. Good for Paul Ryan.

Mr. Koskinen was confirmed as the new IRS Commissioner  on the 20th of December. The IRS currently has 89,000 employees, only part of whom are in Washington DC. One would think a new Commissioner would demand that the agency he heads is scrupulously obeying the law, and has a sterling reputation.

The IRS Scandal: Is It Only A Big Deal When They Come After You? by The Elephant's Child

Darrell Issa is unconvinced by the explanation from the IRS that after being strung along for more than a year, golly darn it, the IRS had a local hard drive failure which erased records that should have been stored permanently. Nobody else is convinced either. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify next week on the whereabouts of the missing two years of Lois Lerner emails.

Lerner is the former IRS official at the heart of the scandal, which just grows and grows as bits of information dribble out.

I’ve heard two IT experts on the radio who say that the emails are easily obtained from the servers on which they are stored and even those are backed up. Each said separately that it would take them about an hour to retrieve the missing emails, and that there is no possibility that they cannot be retrieved.

The IRS now says it cannot produce the emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups. Eliana Johnson writes at NRO:

Emails produced in response to a FOIA Act request from Judicial Watch show Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the scandal, show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.

E-mails uncovered by the committee last week showed that, in preparation for her meeting with the Department of Justice, Lerner and one of her advisers transmitted 1.1 million pages of data on nonprofit groups, including confidential taxpayer information, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, potentially in violation of federal law.     (emphasis added)

John Fund, in a delightful column at National Review, suggests that you can tell when there’s a cover-up in Washington. Start with a passive-aggressive way of acknowledging that there was indeed error, “mistakes were made,” of which the speaker has no knowledge. No one can name the players; the scandal would have been impossible to detect; and any groups who complained were just to dumb to understand the rules.

John Fund also notes that Washington’s political culture is resistant to accountability. Failure is rarely punished and at times is even rewarded. For the rest of us who feel the agency should be flushed out, wrongdoers punished and rules firmly established so it never happens again, the failure to hold the employees who are responsible accountable is the ultimate insult.

Is The Economy Getting Better? Where Is The Evidence? by The Elephant's Child

(click to open in a new window)

James Pethokoukis, writing at AEI, points out that there is concern about the quality of the U.S. jobs recovery:

While the economy has generated 2.369 million jobs over the past year, a major concern remains the quality of these jobs. Of these jobs, 388,000 were in administrative and waste services (which include temporary help services); 317,000 in retail; and 311,000 in food and beverage establishments – all low-wage sectors. Key higher-paying sectors, such as manufacturing, government and financial services contributed very little to this annual growth.

Employment growth in the construction and manufacturing industries continues to lag other major sectors. About a quarter of May’s job growth came from the professional and business services sector, with about half of this from professional and technical services and the other half from administrative services. The healthcare sector generated another 33,600 jobs, but a majority of these can be traced to the social assistance category, and are therefore neither high-paying nor indicative of future employment growth. These two sectors underscore the importance of services in driving solid economic growth.

We’re back at the point when the recession began in 2oo7. The economy has recaptured all the jobs that were lost during the recession and is now beginning to show incremental employment growth from over six years ago.

On the other hand, the percentage of American civilians 16 years of age or older who do not have a job and are not actively seeking one remains at a 36 year high in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In December, April and now May, the labor force participation rate has been 62.8 percent. Last there in February 1978 under Carter. There are 92,oo9, 000 people who are of working age and not disabled that do not have jobs.

What the chart above says to me is that the ObamaCare regulation that all businesses must pay for health insurance for employees who work 30 hours or more, means that thousands of businesses who employ low wage people have cut back on their hours, and hired more part-time people to work less than 30 hours. But economists don’t mention that at all.

A McKinsey analysis from 2011 says that globally competitive companies have made relentless efforts to improve efficiency. In classic cyclical recessions, companies sacrificed some productivity and profitability until demand returned. Today, they respond to downturns primarily by reducing employment. 65% of the businesses they surveyed have made operational changes to improve productivity and reduce employment. More job losses are expected to be permanent, and new jobs will emerge in different industries.

Economists occasionally mention regulation, but every time we hear of a new regulation, there’s a disturbing estimate of how many jobs will be lost because of it. And the Obama administration cannot stop spewing out new regulations, the latest is Obama’s effort at cap-and-trade accomplished by executive order and agency regulation. The extent to which human workers are being replaced by machines also doesn’t enter into the discussions. We have a lot of quiet inflation to which businesses are responding in ways that they hope we won’t notice.

The statistics seem less meaningful, and the economist’s responses don’t satisfy. Business practices change rapidly in response to events. But I’m not sure anyone is really keeping track of that. I don’t think I understand  anything.

Government cannot create wealth, jobs or income. Because government has to take money from somebody before it can spend it, there is no economic gain from anything the government does.

Might send that one to Mr. Obama.

Watch Americans’ Trust in Each Other Erode Over The Last Four Decades by The Elephant's Child


This little map was created by Josh Morgan using data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey (GSS) from 1972 to 2012. The survey’s simple question each year was: “Generally speaking, would  you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?

The percentage of all respondents who said that most people can be trusted has dropped from about 46 percent in 1972 to about 32 percent in 2012. Morgan makes no attempt to draw conclusions about why we trust less, and there is no single factor that is responsible for such a big societal change, but the ubiquitous reach of television, the Internet and smart phones have caused less direct human interaction.

Morgan’s article is here.

(h/t: Chris Cillizza)

50 Years Of The War On Poverty: 2 Percent Fewer Poor! by The Elephant's Child

Democrats have seized on “Inequality”as the cause of the day. They have reached back for terminology  to terms like “the Gilded Age,” a time of opulence in the 1800s when the flowering of the Industrial Age brought great wealth to entrepreneurs who built great houses reminiscent of the great houses of England, and married off their daughters to impoverished British nobility. My dowry for your title. Downton Abbey revisited. And they are certainly trying to paint the Koch brothers as the” Robber Barons” of our day. Harry Reid leads the charge, he’s even claiming these great philanthropists are “un-American.”

The attempt is to portray a hereditary American gentry that becomes ever richer, while the bast majority of Americans toil away in poverty. Makes a good political narrative, if you have no idea who the Koch brothers are. It can be used to advance anything from raising taxes  to increasing the minimum wage. Trouble is, it just isn’t so. Inequality isn’t even at the highest level in recent American history.

Consumption that is, spending, for both the highest quintile and the lowest has been essentially flat over the last decades, indicating that there has been no increase in inequality. But the “Gilded Age” theme doesn’t work either. About 80 percent of American millionaires are the first generation in their family to reach that status. Only 19 percent receive any significant income or wealth from a trust fund or estate, and fewer than 20 percent inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth. For the richest  percent inheritance accounts for just 15 percent of their wealth, which may be a big chunk of money, but, clearly most of the rich earn their own wealth.

Income from wages is responsible for a majority of the net worth of wealthy Americans. Not much landed gentry here. The financial smarts needed to put together a fortune are not an inherited characteristic, and most fortunes wither away through a generation or two.

On the other hand, for all his talk about inequality, the poor have lost ground under Obama administration policies. Some did get free phones. About 50 million Americans live under the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four. President Obama’s anti-poverty efforts have been “basically to give more people more free stuff.”

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson began a $20 trillion taxpayer-funded war on poverty, the overall percentage of impoverished people in the U.S. has declined only 2 percent. Mr. Obama doesn’t plan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Johnson’s 1964 speech, which gave rise to Medicaid, Head Start and a broad range of federal anti-poverty programs.  Johnson’s goal was to make people prosperous and self-sufficient.

A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when Obama took office. The president is pushing for a higher minimum wage, ignoring the need for business to be willing to take on the expense of hiring beginners, who don’t know anything and must be trained.  He is also ignoring the gradual mechanization of tasks that formerly went to beginners. His advocates believe that raising the minimum wage will make people less dependent on government programs, will not add to the deficit, and reward work— thus reducing poverty. To reward work, you first have to increase the number of jobs. Cutting jobs in half by forcing employers to pay for health insurance for anyone working 30 hours or more isn’t really helping, it’s just reducing everyone’s  hours.

More American are completing high school, and more women are working outside the home, but the number of households led by single parents has tripled. When the War on Poverty began, about 6 percent of children were born outside of marriage. Today that is 42 percent and a catastrophe.

Perhaps we need to try encouraging business with fewer regulations, lower taxes, and fewer bright ideas from bureaucrats about how businesses should be run. They might start hiring and expanding. Getting rid of unnecessary SWAT teams might be a start. I haven’t read yet of a SWAT team that has been confronted by an armed office staff. A growing economy lifts all boats — Jack Kennedy said that, but Johnson didn’t heed the lesson.

The Department of Agriculture Wants To Buy Submachine Guns! by The Elephant's Child

Republicans talk a lot about the horrors of Big Government, but I’m not sure that most people know what we are talking about. Why is big bad? What part is too big? Why the fuss? And what difference does it make? The impetus today was notice of a solicitation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Department has a requirement for the commercial acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot bursts trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsible or folding, —30 round capacity magazine.

They want the submachine guns to have a sling, be lightweight and have an oversized trigger guard for gloved operation. Note the plural ‘guns,’ but there is no mention of the numbers of submachine guns that are required, or just who the Department is planning to attack, for these are surely assault weapons.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture!

The question everyone would ask is— what the hell does the Department of Agriculture need with submachine guns? And why does the Department of Education need a SWAT Team? Why did the BLM descend on the Bundy ranch with some 200 armed troops? They could have easily called on the local sheriff’s department to arrest Mr. Bundy and bring him in for failing to pay his grazing fees.

We are seeing way too many incidents of U.S. government SWAT teams descending on ordinary businesses, guns drawn, with trumped-up charges. Gibson Guitars comes to mind, and the Sacketts case in Northern Idaho that went all the way to  the Supreme Court when the EPA falsely claimed their property was a wetland. There are dozens of such cases, if not hundreds.

The government has reached a pinnacle of overreach. They are doing way too many things that they should not be doing at all. The government should not be doing those things which private enterprise can do better and less expensively. Everyone would probably have their own list of what should be eliminated, but the Department of Education, the Energy Department, the EPA would be high on my list. The First Lady should not be planning school lunches, and the curriculum should be the task of local school boards.

Instead, the administration is downsizing the military— the Army is going to reduce their active duty force by another 30,000 in the next 17 months to drawdown forces to 450,000 by 2017. This is ostensibly because of budget pressures. Yet the number one task of the Executive Branch is national security in a time of rising danger in the world to which the administration seems oblivious.

Misguided priorities, ideologically dispensed funding, taxpayer money diverted  to cronies, and government money directed to political purposes. The promised transparency never appeared and waste and fraud are covered up. The bloated nature of the nation’s capitol just keeps expanding, and with each expansion, oversight diminishes. At a certain point no one any longer knows where the money is going, what the departments are really doing, or how to shrink the government enough so we can actually understand what they are doing. Big Government does not do anything well, and some things they do so badly, they should be forced to turn it over to private enterprise at once.

ADDENDUM: The USDA has also solicited “The commercial acquisition of ballistic vests, compliant with NIJ 0101.06 for Level IIIA Ballistic Resistance body armor.”

They ask for body armor that is gender specific, lightweight, with trauma plate/pad (hard or soft), and concealable carrier. The order includes tactical vest, undergarment (white) identification patches, accessories (6 pouches), body armor carry bag, and professional measurements.

Huh. SWAT Team!


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