Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Domestic Policy, History, Liberalism, Politics, Regulation, Statism, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: $1.7 Billion Maintainance Costs, Empty and Abandoned Buildings, Federal Government Property
“The boarded up building in the photo sits a mere 6 blocks from the White House on prime real estate, but it’s been empty for 30 years! What’s the problem? The building is owned/controlled by the Federal government which often doesn’t even know what it owns, lacks the incentive to control costs and whose bureaucratic strictures make selling difficult even when motivation exists.”
A Google search suggests that most articles have picked up on a 77,000 number, as the number of empty or underutilized buildings owned by the federal government—as a proxy for you and me. The “federal government” is simply the representative of us—a fact that is worth remembering.
Other numbers range from 45,000 to 100,000 and 300,000 which really points out that they have no idea how many empty, underutilized, abandoned buildings or properties there are across the whole country. Missile sites are included, as are buildings so abandoned that trees are growing through the roof. Taxpayers own them, and even when they are vacant—they are still expensive.
The Office of Management and Budget estimates that these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year. Even empty, someone has to mow the lawns, keep the pipes from freezing, maintain security fences, or pay for some basic power, except when it doesn’t. The only known centralized database that the government has is the inventory maintained by the General Services Administration called the Federal Real Property Profile and it’s not reliable.
Doing something with these buildings is complicated—even when an agency knows it has a building it would like to sell, bureaucratic hurdles limit what they can do. No federal agency can sell anything unless it’s uncontaminated, asbestos-free and environmentally safe. Expensive fixes.
Then the agency has to make sure another agency doesn’t want it. Then state and local governments get a crack at it, then nonprofits—and finally a 25-year-old law requires the government to see if it could be used as a homeless shelter. No wonder many agencies just lock the doors and say forget it.
These publicly owned properties are managed by the federal government for the benefit of the people. There are also enormous amounts of public lands. Military bases: Fort Hood, Texas, now sadly in the news, is 340 square miles in size.
There are National Parks and National Monuments, National Forests, and land ‘managed’ by the Bureau of Land Management. Trillions of dollars worth of land. And I am undoubtedly neglecting other jurisdictions. My brief Google search made it clear that we are not alone. It is a common governmental problem. I did find one article on “how to squat in abandoned property,” (probably British) and of course, reference to the empty cities of China.
I emphasize taxpayer ownership because President Obama, for political reasons, chose to shut down what he thought of as “government land” under his purview, during the “government shutdown.” The Constitution clearly says “We the People.” Bureaucrats, far too often, forget just who is the boss. They may prefer to think of themselves as enlightened public servants. They are the hired help.
This is one reason why Republicans believe in smaller government, but they aren’t much better at property management. It’s bipartisan.
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, Politics, Regulation, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: "The Ruling Class", How They Corrupted America, What We Can Do About It
Back to Angelo Codevilla:
“Our ruling class is a machine. That is, it lives by providing tangible rewards to its members. “Machine parties” around the world often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods, and enhance mightily the upper level members’ wealth. Because of this, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges—civic as well as economic—to the party’s clients, whether directly or indirectly. …
Hence, our Ruling Class’ first priority in any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, it to increase the power of the government—meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves. Secondly it is to recompense political supporters with public money, privileged jobs, contracts, etc. That is why our Ruling Class’ solution, not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming, has been to claim more power for itself. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make American kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it.
By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our Ruling Class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. …By endowing some in society with the power to force others to sell cheaper than they would like to, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices—or even to buy in the first place—modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Whatever else government may be, it is inherently a factory of privilege and inequality. ”
Reason said: “Few essays attracted as much attention from right-wing readers this summer as “America’s Ruling Class—and the Perils of Revolution,” an extended argument that an incestuous social set “rules uneasily over the majority of Americans.” Written by Angelo Codevilla of the Claremont Institute and first published in The American Spectator, this very long article has now been expanded into a very brief book, called The Ruling Class.”
I’ve found the book fascinating because there are so many good arguments to ponder. Real food for thought about just where we are and what we might do about it. Recommended
Filed under: Conservatism, Cool Site of the Day, Politics | Tags: Christmas, conservatives, Gifts, Presents, Republicans, Stocking Stuffers
The perfect gifts & stocking-stuffers for the Conservatives on your Christmas list!
Not just t-shirts, but Hoodies, Campaign Buttons, Stickers, Mugs, Pajama sets and much, much more! ALL ITEMS are 30% today (use promo-code “HoHo”), with plenty of time to get there by Christmas! Here are just a FEW of our many available designs:
UPDATE: All items 50% OFF until 9PM. Use code “CANE”:
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Election 2014, Freedom, Health Care | Tags: Competition Improves Everything, Researching Health Care, Understanding Your Rights
If you are becoming alarmed by ObamaCare—and who isn’t—where do you go for more information? The Left claims that Republicans just criticize, and don’t have any ideas, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s start with “The Empowering Patients First Act” a bill introduced by Representative Tom Price, MD (R-GA). Dr. Price worked as an orthopedic surgeon for twenty years in private practice. Then he had a career teaching medicine at Emory University Medical School, served in the Georgia Legislature, and was elected to Congress in 2004. You can read or download the bill at his website.
- Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis*, by John C, Goodman. (ncpa)
- How Medicaid Fails the Poor, by Avik Roy (Manhattan Institute)
- The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Care, by Dr. David Gratzer (Manhattan Institute)
- The Cure for ObamaCare, by Sally Pipes (Pacific Research Institute)
- Replacing Obamacare, by Michael Tanner ( Cato)
The Think Tanks:
- The Heritage Foundation: www.heritage.org
- American Enterprise Institute: www.aei.org
- The Cato Institute: www.cato.org
- National Center for Policy Analysis: www.ncpa.org
- Pacific Research Institute: www.pacificresearch.org
- The Manhattan Institute: www.manhattaninstitute.org
- The Hoover Institution: www.hoover.org
- Kaiser Health News: www.kaiserhealth news.org
Did you know that there are something like 600 think tanks in this country? I thought 8 were plenty to list, and all are doing important studies on health care and how to reform it, in a patient-centered, free-market way. Many have email lists where you can sign up for regular information. And check your local public library.
ObamaCare may seem to be imploding, but Democrats will not give up on their prospective single-payer health care plan, and if you want to understand where that is going, go to any British newspaper online and enter NHS in the search function.
The federal government does few things well, and health care is not one of them. The American people want no part of it, and the more they learn the more they want out. Democrats have sold their effort with a pack of lies and misrepresentation. If we hope to defeat them, we must be well-informed.
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Politics, Taxes, The United States | Tags: A Hot Research Topic, The Dallas Fed, The Uncertainty Debate
I’ve written often about the effects of policy uncertainty on business, based on comments from businessmen. Now it has become a significant issue among economists who are doing serious academic research on the topic. Business in the private sector is risky. When do you take a chance on starting a business? When do you add a new product? How much do you have to worry about your competition? Can you add a new building, expand the office, hire more employees? Imagine how many businessmen are needing more help but reluctant to hire in the current uncertainty about health insurance.
The Dallas Fed held a Conference back around the first of October on the Causes and Macroeconomic Consequences of Uncertainty. Richard Fisher, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas summed it up nicely: “Uncertainty matters a lot.” Business, he said, “is the process of managing under conditions of uncertainty, and business executives organize their teams and resources to minimize uncertainty of factors under their control; and they develop contingencies and operating tactics and strategies for factors over which they have no direct control.”
If there is one thing that you can confidently assert, it is that the Obama administration has been an outstanding generator of a vast fog of uncertainty, even as they claim to want to create jobs. Economists have been hearing from their business contacts, but “until quite recently the economists who study business cycles and monetary policy paid scant attention to the effects of uncertainty on aggregate job and output growth.” Their standard models assumed that people and businesses could insure away individual risk.
Gut feeling may work for ordinary people, but economists dealing in macroeconomics give direction to governments and help set policy and the distribution of shocks is currently far from normal. In his post John Taylor has listed the academic papers presented — with links, if you’re interested. It is a good thing that the profession has taken interest in the effects of uncertainty, and is trying to understand and quantify the reality.