American Elephants

Tax Cheats? Rule Breakers? Trickle-Down Fairy Dust? by The Elephant's Child

“The Chairman’s Blog: Insights for leaders from Gallup’s work around the world”

The House of Representatives passed a bill last Tuesday that would fire federal employees who’ve been seriously delinquent in paying their taxes. They did this because almost 100,000 federal workers are behind on their taxes, including 700 congressional employees. These workers owed more than $1 billion in unpaid taxes 2010, up from just under $600 million in 2004, according to the Internal Revenue Service. We could charitably call these folks “rule breakers.”

Wow! We could save a billion dollars if the tax cheats just paid up? And they are rule breakers as well?

Of course, we’ve also learned recently that there’s been significant rule breaking in the General Services Administration (lavish conferences and now word of excessive bonuses) and the Secret Service (the prostitution scandal in Colombia). Combined, the problems of tax evasion and rule breaking generally point to deep ethical issues in the federal workplace.

The federal government really needs to know what Gallup knows: Rule breaking is very predictable. The more disengaged the workplace, the more employees will break rules. And according to Gallup’s 12-question employee engagement survey (Q12), U.S. government workers are mostly not engaged (52%) or are actively disengaged (18%).

Now, it may surprise many government leaders to learn that generous pay and benefits don’t predict a great workplace. Federal workers are generally well compensated and receive more vacation days and better healthcare and retirement packages than many private sector employees — yet they remain disengaged and work within a growing culture of rule breaking.

The Chairman doesn’t mention it, but an attitude at the top that rule breaking will not be tolerated would be a start. But that would be sheer hypocrisy wouldn’t it. The President of the United States has been quite explicit in saying that he will not prosecute the laws with which he disagrees. Reports of the Attorney General’s failure to prosecute the law have been constant. The Secretary of the Treasury was publicly labeled a tax cheat because he had not paid his taxes. Administration members accused of illegal actions EPA director Lisa Jackson, Interior’s Ken Salazar, HHS’s Kathleen Sebelius, some have been taken to court and told to knock it off.

The administration clearly has no respect for the separation of powers, and does not feel obliged to yield to the laws passed by Congress, nor the decisions that emanate from the courts. Thus we have a government functioning by “Executive Orders,” and a Congress left fuming. With that attitude, it is hardly surprising that you have some “trickle down fairy dust,” to borrow a phrase; a feeling that if they can get away with it, why can’t I?

Rudy Giuliani cleaned up New York with a belief that petty crime, broken windows and graffiti led to a general climate of disrespect for the law. You could call that “trickle up.” He was right, of course. And as long as the federal government has an attitude that crony capitalism, rule breaking, tax cheating are fine for members of the federal workforce and their executives, we will continue to have a lot of the aforementioned.


Have You No Shame? Are You Not Embarrassed? Were You Brought Up In a Barn? by The Elephant's Child

It’s time to re-emphasize some of our traditional values. Love of America. patriotism, belief in free-market capitalism, integrity, common sense, and how about shame? We badly need to revive shame.  How did we get here? The recipe began with political correctness; multiculturalism; diversity;  a huge dose of self-esteem; the idea that we must never, never be judgmental; equality of outcome; and God knows what else.

The self-esteem movement alone has led to a couple of generations of kids with the highest self-esteem in the world, and the least knowledge.

Colleges and Universities are so intent on political correctness and non-judgmentalism that they so regularly violate the Constitutional Right to Free Speech, that a whole organization has had to come into being to combat the trend — FIRE. At the same time, the same colleges and universities trumpet the idea that they are teaching “critical thinking.” They celebrate Diversity, but it is diversity only of skin color or ethnic origin. Diversity of thought or opinion is not allowed. Leftist professors freely admit that they don’t want conservatives on the faculty.

How come Democrats were not ashamed to put out a campaign commercial showing Paul Ryan pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair over a cliff? Anything goes? What about the Joe Soptic commercial? An older gentleman says that Mitt Romney ruined his life and killed his wife. Democrats obviously feel no shame at the complete lies and nasty insinuations.

Mr Soptic’s story is a sad one. Through twenty years of decline and layoffs in the steel company (GST) where he was employed and twenty years of an industry declining under international competition, he was oblivious and clung to his job. By 1993, ARMCO (which owned GST) lost $641 million. Bain bought GST for $80 million and invested $100 million in modernization. GST becomes the US leader in the manufacture of steel rods. In 1994 GST had revenues of $1 billion. In 1997, GST had a major labor strike.

In 1999, Mitt Romney gives up his job as CEO of Bain Capital and leaves to rescue the Olympics. Liberals are attempting to make much of the fact that Romney’s name was still on the SEC filings as CEO, but it takes time to sever the ties with a company that you founded. His partners all agree that he ended his participation in the company in 1999. Over two years later, Joe Soptic is laid off by GST. He had earlier turned down a buyout. In 2001 GST is one of 31 steel companies that went bankrupt. He lost his health insurance, but his wife has health insurance through her job. Joe Soptic finds a job after 6 months as a school custodian. He turns down offer of insurance. In 2003, Mrs. Soptic leaves her job and loses insurance. Mitt Romney becomes Governor of Massachusetts. In 2006, Mrs. Soptic goes to hospital for pneumonia, doctors discover inoperable cancer and she dies.

Fast forward 6 years  to 2012.  The Obama campaign finds Joe Soptic, who is still bitter about losing his job and the death of his wife. (Looking for someone else to blame for the misfortunes of his life?), (Or paid to tell a sad story for a commercial?) Soptic does an ad for the Obama campaign in May, blaming Romney for the loss of his job, of dumping his steel plant for big profits while having no understanding of the grief he was causing Joe Soptic.

White House denies knowing anything about Joe Soptic’s story, but earlier in the year Priorities USA (Obama Super PAC) had used the same Joe Soptic in the same shirt  in a separate ad blaming Romney for shutting down GST, sure that Bain made all sorts of money from GST, which went bankrupt, calling him a “vampire.”  Stephanie Cutter, the Obama Campaign Deputy Campaign Manager, professed to know nothing about Joe Soptic and said emphatically that they had no connection with Priorities USA (Obama super PAC) because that would be illegal.  It is against the law to have any connection. But on the conference call with Joe Soptic, Stephanie Cutter, Obama Campaign Deputy Manager, says “Thank you Joe. We really appreciate you … sharing  your experiences.”  Later that same day, Stephanie tweeted:

So much for the “no connection because that’s illegal.”

None of the laid-off workers seemed to be aware that GST was just one of 31 steel companies that went under that year.  Businesses fail for lots of reasons, bad management, economic forces, international competition, over-generous union contracts, but this might be a first that blames the greed of a man who had left the company and the management of it two years earlier. Creative destruction is something that happens in a free economy.  Failed businesses fail, new ones start.  Nobody gets a lifetime guarantee of anything — and you have to pay attention to what is happening around you.

Ugly, irresponsible ads happen in politics. There should be some shame involved. Portraying Paul Ryan as pushing a crippled old woman over a cliff was shameful.  Even more so were the tweets that appeared as soon as the Ryan choice was announced. Things like “Ryan’s dad died really young, maybe we’ll get lucky and he will too.” (paraphrased) I hope he dies soon, and so on.  Is disagreement so frightening to Democrats?

The entire Joe Soptic ad was a lie. The Paul Ryan ad was a lie. But the useful idiots that immediately start with the death wished because they disagree? Or is it just disagreement? Do they even know what Paul Ryan’s plan entails? He’s finding a solution to a system — Medicare — that is about to go bankrupt and collapse, and make it viable going forward.

Our economy is in deep trouble. Lying to the public about that simple fact is shameful. People need to know what is happening to them. There are real policies to be debated. Have you no sense of what is decent and proper?  Have you no shame?

You can find any of these ads easily on YouTube. I’m not posting them here.

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