Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story by Daniel J. Mitchell

Every so often, I run across a chart, cartoon, or story that captures the essence of an issue. And when that happens, I make it part of my “everything you need to know” series.

I don’t actually think those columns tell us everything we need to know, of course, but they do show something very important. At least I hope.

And now, from our (normally) semi-rational northern neighbor, I have a new example.

This story from Toronto truly is a powerful example of the difference between government action and private action.

A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. 
Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. …Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year.

There are actually two profound lessons to learn from this story.

Since I’m a fiscal wonk, the part that grabbed my attention was the $550 cost of private action compared to $65,000 for government. Or maybe $150,000. Heck, probably more considering government cost overruns.

Though we’re not actually talking about government action. God only knows how long it would have taken the bureaucracy to complete this task. So this is a story of inexpensive private action vs. costly government inaction.

But there’s another part of this story that also caught my eye. The bureaucracy is responding with spite.

The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards…City bylaw officers have taped off the stairs while officials make a decision on what to do with it. …Mayor John Tory…says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves. …“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”

But there is a silver lining. With infinite mercy, the government isn’t going to throw Mr. Astl in jail or make him pay a fine. At least not yet.

Astl has not been charged with any sort of violation.

Gee, how nice and thoughtful.

One woman has drawn the appropriate conclusion from this episode.

Area resident Dana Beamon told CTV Toronto she’s happy to have the stairs there, whether or not they are up to city standards. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” she said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”

Which is the lesson I think everybody should take away. Private initiative works much faster and much cheaper than government.

P.S. Let’s also call this an example of super-federalism, or super-decentralization. Imagine how expensive it would have been for the national government in Ottawa to build the stairs? Or how long it would have taken? Probably millions of dollars and a couple of years.

Now imagine how costly and time-consuming it would have been if the Ontario provincial government was in charge? Perhaps not as bad, but still very expensive and time-consuming.

And we already know the cost (and inaction) of the city government. Reminds me of the $1 million bus stop in Arlington, VA.

But when actual users of the park take responsibility (both in terms of action and money), the stairs were built quickly and efficiently.

In other words, let’s have decentralization. But the most radical federalism is when private action replaces government.

Reprinted from International Liberty

Editors Note: Since this article was originally published, the local government tore down Astl’s $500 stairs, citing “safety standards,” and plans to replace it with a $10,000 set.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This is How You Make Health Care Affordable by Jay Bowen

As the debate continues to rage in Washington, D.C., and around the country regarding the fate of Obamacare, one elegantly simple concept that would have a dramatic impact on healthcare costs is being drowned out by inflammatory rhetoric.

The One Area of Health Care That’s Defying Massive Inflation

Out-of-pocket payment (OPP) by consumers for routine medical care would transform the system from one dominated by third party payers toward a model that would put consumers in charge of their healthcare dollars, and for the first time unleash market disciplines into the equation.

After all, we can all only imagine what our grocery carts would look like, not to mention our restaurant tabs, if a third party was paying for our food. Unfortunately, out-of-pocket payments have steadily trended down over the last 60 years and now account for only 10.5% of healthcare expenditures.

It is both stunning and disconcerting that the myriad of benefits that flow from a competitive, market driven system have never, in any substantial way, penetrated the healthcare and medical services arena. However, one striking exception to this competitive wet blanket is the $15 billion cosmetic surgery industry, the poster child for out of pocket payments, where innovation and price disinflation have been hallmarks for decades. Examples abound.

As Mark Perry has pointed out on his brilliant economic blog, Carpe Diem, over the past 19 years, the 20 most popular cosmetic procedures have increased at a rate 32% below the consumer price index (CPI) and 68% below the rate of medical services inflation.

Thus, the backbone of a productive reform plan must include a move away from third parties and employers controlling health care dollars toward individuals holding sway over their medical purse strings.

Removing Constraints

This would mean that the “employer contribution” that currently is used to fund corporate group policies would transition to an increase in an employee’s compensation, which would be funneled tax-free into a robust health savings account (HSA) that the employee would control for routine medical expenses.

As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute has pointed out, “The employer contribution for health care is part of a worker’s earnings and averages $13,000 per family. Yet the tax code gives control over that money to employers rather than the workers who earned it.”

Importantly, this HSA would be paired with a high-deductible catastrophic policy and also be valid in the individual marketplace. Additionally, this would go a long way in helping to solve the portability issue that some employees face when changing jobs or careers.Essential to making these individual plans more attractive and affordable would be the abolition of both the “community rating” and “essential health benefits” mandates currently embedded in Obamacare policies. These concepts make a mockery of a legitimate, actuarially sound insurance market by shifting costs from older and sicker people to younger and healthier people, thus promoting adverse selection.

Without these constraints, families could focus on basic and affordable policies that would better match their needs and also begin building a “rainy day health fund” via their HSA accounts.

Regarding both Medicaid and pre-existing conditions, a strong dose of old fashioned, Tenth Amendment-oriented federalism is long overdue in dealing with these issues.

In fact, both from a philosophical and practical standpoint, they should never have come under the purview of the federal government and are best left to the individual states where diverse, vibrant, and innovative solutions could be implemented. This could include the establishment of reinsurance programs and high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions, and the phasing out of the open-ended federal entitlement status of Medicaid through a multi-year block grant program.

A Patient-Centered System

The current third party payment/community rating model for delivering healthcare is unsustainable and rapidly headed for the dreaded “death spiral,” which occurs when an escalation of sick people flock to the exchanges for insurance, while an increasing number of healthy people choose to leave the market. In fact, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has recently acknowledged as much.

Make no mistake, Obamacare was designed to invariably lead to a government-run, single-payer model, with its global budgeting, rationing of care, and long wait times for vital procedures in tow.

Without swift and decisive intervention with a system based on patient-centered choice and market mechanisms, the end result will be a Veterans Affairs (VA)-like model that would combine the worst aspects of government inefficiencies and substandard care.

A quick glance at the dismal state of Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Canada’s single payer scheme, or our own insolvent Medicare and Medicaid plans provides Americans with an acutely unpleasant hint of what is in store if a single-payer model does indeed transpire.

Jay Bowen

Jay Bowen

Mr. Bowen joined Bowen, Hanes & Company, Inc. in 1986. As the firm’s Chief Investment Officer and economic strategist, Mr. Bowen is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the firm’s economic and investment strategies.

VIDEO: We Only Resent Inequality When It’s Rigged by Daniel J. Mitchell

In addition to his exemplary work as a Senior Fellow for the Cato Institute, Johan Norberg narrates some great videos for Free to Choose Media. Here are some that caught my eye.

But my favorite video, which I shared back in January, is his concise explanation of why policy makers should focus on fighting poverty rather than reducing inequality. I’m posting it again to set the stage for a discussion on inequality and fairness.

Now let’s dig into the main topic for today.

We Want What’s Fair

study by three academics from Yale’s Department of Psychology concludes that people want fairness rather than equality.

…there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality.

My former grad school classmate Steve Horwitz wrote about the aforementioned study

…what we really care about is something other than inequality per se. We care about upward mobility, or average income overall, or how well the least well off do. …A recent study in Nature argued, with evidence, that what bothers people more than inequality per se is “unfairness.” People will accept inequality if they feel the process that produced it is fair. …when I give talks about inequality. I point out the number of Apple products visible in the room and ask them if they think the wealth Steve Jobs and other Apple founders accumulated over their lifetimes was objectionable. Is that the kind of inequality they object to? Students are usually hard-pressed to articulate why Jobs’ wealth is wrong… I also remind them that economic studies show that only about 4% of the total benefits of innovation accrue to the innovator. The rest goes to consumers.

Steve cites Nozick and Hayek to bolster his argument before then making the key point that markets produce material abundance based on genuine fairness.

As Robert Nozick argued in Anarchy, State, and Utopia: if each step in the evolution of the market is fair by itself, how can the pattern of income that emerges be unfair? …Hayek…observed in The Constitution of Liberty that if we want equality of outcomes, we will have to treat people unequally. If, however, we treat people equally, we will get unequal outcomes. Hayek’s argument was premised on the fact that human beings are not equal in our native intelligence, strength, skills, and abilities. …If people really care about fairness, then supporters of the market should be insisting on the importance of equality before the law. …Equality of outcomes requires that we treat people differently, and this will likely be perceived as unfair by many. Equality before the law corresponds better with notions of fairness even if the outcomes it produces are unequal. …If what appear to be concerns about inequality are, in fact, concerns about unfairness, we have ways of addressing them that demonstrate the power of exchange and competitive markets. Markets are more fair because they require that governments treat us all equally and that none of us have the ability to use political power to protect ourselves from the competition of the marketplace and the choices of consumers. In addition, market-based societies have been the best cure for poverty humans have ever known.

How Much Equality Do We Want?

Writing for CapX, Oliver Wiseman analyzes other scholarly research on equality and fairness.

A 2012 study by behavioural economists Dan Ariely and Mike Norton generated some attention for demonstrating that Americans wanted to live in a more equal country. But more equal is not the same thing as fully equal. …if you let people choose between equal and unequal societies – and then tell them that they themselves will be assigned a level of wealth within it completely at random – most people choose inequality. And that preference is observable across the political spectrum, in different countries and at a range of ages.

But people don’t want undeserved inequality since that is the result of unfair interventions (i.e., cronyism).

This paper’s conclusions help explain much of the outcry over economic inequality in recent years. Occupy Wall Street and the very idea of the “one per cent” emerged just after the financial crisis plunged much of the world into recession, and US and British banks were handed billion-dollar bailouts to steady the ship. The anger didn’t come from the fact that bankers were so well paid. It came from the perception that they’d made that money by piling up risk rather than being particularly clever or hard-working – risk that was now being underwritten by the taxpayer. The wealth wasn’t just distributed unequally, but unfairly. The market mechanisms that most people accepted as the rules of the economic game suddenly seemed rigged. …Voters, in other words, don’t want equality – they want fairness. …As the Soviets found, true economic equality cannot be accommodated within a system that allows people tolerable levels of economic and political freedom. But fairness, by contrast, is something capitalism can – and should – deliver.

Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University cites some additional academic research buttressing the conclusion people don’t object to fair types of inequality.

…most Americans don’t mind inequality nearly as much as pundits and academics suggest. A recent research paper, by Graham Wright of Brandeis University, found that polled attitudes about economic inequality don’t correlate very well with the desire for government to address it. There is even partial evidence, once controls are introduced into the statistics, that talk of inequality reduces the support for doing something about it. …It’s not obvious why such counterintuitive results might be the case. One possibility is that…talk about economic inequality increases political polarization, which lowers the chance of effective action. Or that criticizing American society may cause us to feel less virtuous, which in turn may cause us to act with less virtue. …A variety of other research papers have been showing that inequality is not a major concern per se. One recent study by Matthew Weinzierl of Harvard Business School shows that most Americans are quite willing to accept economic inequality that stems from brute luck, and that they are inclined to assume that inequality is justified unless proved otherwise.

Living in an Unequal Society

Last but not least, Anne Bradley of the Institute for Humane Studies augments this analysis by explaining the difference between ethical market-driven inequality versus unfair cronyist-caused inequality.

The question of whether income inequality is bad hinges on the institutions within that society and whether they support entrepreneurship and creativity or thuggery and exploitation. Income inequality is good when people earn their money by discovering new and better ways of doing things and, through the profit mechanism, are encouraged to bring those discoveries to ordinary people. …Rising incomes across all income groups (even if at different rates) is most often the sign of a vibrant economy where strangers are encouraged to serve each other and solve problems. Stagnant incomes suggest something else: either a rigged economy where only insiders can play, or an economy where the government controls a large portion of social resources, stalling incomes, wealth, and wellbeing.

She includes a very powerful example of why it can be much better to live in a society with high levels of (fair) inequality.

Consider the following thought experiment: knowing nothing other than the Gini index scores, would you rather live in a world with a Gini of .296 (closer to equality) or .537 (farther from equality)? Many people when asked this question choose the world of .296. These are the real Gini scores of Pakistan (.296) and Hong Kong (.537). If given the choice, I would live in Hong Kong without thinking twice. Hong Kong has a thriving economy and high incomes, and it is the world leader in economic freedom. The difference between these two countries could not be more striking. In Pakistan, there might be more income equality, but everyone is poorer. It is difficult to emerge out of poverty in Pakistan. Hong Kong provides a much richer environment where people are encouraged to start businesses, and this is the best hope for rising incomes, or income mobility.

Her example of Hong Kong and Pakistan is probably the most important takeaway from today’s column.

Simply stated, it’s better to be poor in a jurisdiction such as Hong Kong where there is strong growth and high levels of upward mobility. Indeed, I often use a similar example when giving speeches, asking audiences whether poor people are better off in Hong Kong, which has only a tiny welfare state, or better off in nations such as France and Greece, which have bloated welfare states but very little economic dynamism.

The answer is obvious. Or should be obvious, at least to everyone who wants to help the poor more than they want to punish the rich.

(and there are plenty in the latter camp, as Margaret Thatcher explained).

And I’m now going to add my China example to my speeches since inequality dramatically increased at the same time that there was a stupendous reduction in poverty.

Once again, the moral of the story should be obvious. Focus on growth. Yes, some rich people will get richer, but the really great news is that the poor will get richer as well. And so long as everyone is earning money through voluntary exchange rather than government coercion, that also happens to be how a fair economy operates.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

Healthcare Debate Gets it All Wrong by Jim Ley

In my former career, I administered the acquisition of healthcare coverage for more than 5,000 employees at a cost of more than $30 million annually. It was one of the fastest growing components of our budget and competed directly with our ability to provide raises to our employees. So I dug into the associated dynamics, looking for strategic leverage to keep some downward pressure on cost growth.

I have some educated sense for this issue. And the problem is not what political leaders have been talking about.

Obamacare or Trumpcare? I don’t care what you call it; only the naïve or those afflicted with partisan bias believe that either has anything to do with better healthcare. Whether it is the Democratic approach or the putative Republican attempt, there is one thing that is so clear that it is hard for me to understand why it is not talked about more.

Insurance is not healthcare

This 10-year conversation is about the movement of money to the benefit of one interest group or another – it is definitively not about my healthcare.

Both “solutions” are nothing more than attempts to increase the amount of federal influence over the movement of money within one sixth of the U.S. economy, the maintenance of the status quo as to how that money flows (at best) and efforts on behalf of a variety of interests to advance the status quo — that is, the flow of money — on their behalf.

If this were about actual healthcare, the patient and the service provider would be the chief interest being served and talked about. That is the system that would be targeted for reforming to the best results. But they are rarely discussed except in some rhetorical fashion that suits the politics of the blabbering head that spews the rhetoric.

Special interests drive the healthcare laws

The real interests that gain from the healthcare laws, in their rough order of influence, are as follows:

  • The health insurance industry
  • The pharmaceutical industry
  • Trial lawyers
  • Congress
  • The hospital industry
  • Medical equipment manufacturers
  • The federal health system (Medicare and Medicaid)
  • (With Obamacare) the State Medicare oligarchy
  • Health experts
  • Those elevated to the status of poor by Obamacare’s Medicare expansion

The interests that are hurt by the healthcare laws, from least to most:

  • Doctors
  • Safety net Medicare patients
  • The employed but uninsured public dependent on the private market
  • Workers insured through their employer

Limited space keeps me from commenting on each of these interests so I’ll just pick a few as examples.

At the top of the heap sits the insurance industry, hiding behind their self-produced rhetoric of risk associated with instability in the system. Not only did they benefit from Obamacare’s requirement that everyone must buy insurance, but in 2009 their industry lobbying arm created enough fear in the political realm that they leveraged a $165 billion subsidy from the Obama administration. No appropriation was ever made by Congress, and to date, this administrative act of appropriation has been declared illegal by the courts.

Note that all you hear on TV is “instability” in the system and the need to maintain an insurance industry subsidy — working hard to include in law what is currently judged illegal. Their talking points, emanating from the mouths of Congressmen and Senators, once again lead the debate and harken for the need for the feds to further mine the taxpayer wallet and remove risk from insurance companies; making them the big winners.

After all it is easier to “sell” you a product with less concern as to a buyer’s normal demand for quality for his/her dollar spent, when someone else, in this case the federal government, creates a product and demands its use without ever having to pay for it. The only worse situation would be if the feds actually paid for a product — with other people’s money in the form of taxes — that they would never use themselves as a consumer. In economic  transactional terms, that is called a third party system, but we would know it as the single-payer proposal.

The most value laden economic transaction is when you buy something for yourself with your own dollar. In that way you consciously make the decision between the quality of the purchase and the dollar spent. These third-party purchasing transactions, read as “single payer,” always produce the least value for the highest cost in any economic transaction. But they do produce some degree of certainty for those interests capable of positioning themselves correctly within the flow of cash.

Broken Medicaid is the example of single payer

Another lunacy created by Obamacare, and now wanting to be protected jealously by state governors who hungrily ate the poison apple, is the expansion of Medicaid.

Here you have what is supposed to be a safety net system, which is indeed structured as a safety net system, trying to become a system of normal healthcare access for an expanded group of consumers who have now been declared “in need.”

The craziness is that — aside from the taxpayer who is paying for this system out of general revenues, unlike Medicare which is supported by a specific tax — the person getting hurt the most is the truly indigent patient who has no other recourse than to use Medicaid.

Medicaid is such a broken system that over half of the doctors in the country will not take Medicaid patients. Adding more patients to an already broken system only ensures that those most in need will be those most hurt. All that the Medicaid bureaucrats can be glad for is that there is another broken federal healthcare system, the Veterans Administration, which sucks up all of the outrage oxygen when it comes to poor patient treatment.

Despite this track record, the Medicaid budget for the U.S has risen from 2% of the federal budget in the early 90s to almost 10% today — a 400% rise. It is often suggested that Medicare works well, and is a good example of a single payer system. Proponents of single payer don’t want to admit that the real model would be Medicaid.

How to know when it is about healthcare

You will know when there is a serious healthcare discussion when patent protection and generic drug time-to-market is seriously discussed. When tort reform is seriously advanced as a necessary component of healthcare reform.

When Medicaid decision making is granted to the states — where healthcare is most efficient and most constitutionally accomplished. When efforts like Health Savings and Health Savings Retirement Accounts are supported by tax credits. When healthcare benefits provided by employers are taxed if tax credits are not given for the Health Savings Accounts. When the days of the $300 aspirin disappear because more first-party purchase transactions keep the system transparent.

Why do you think that it costs dramatically less in inflation adjusted dollars for cosmetic services or veterinary services than it did 30 years ago? Simple, because they cannot hide behind the market-killing fog of second- and third-party transactions as means of obfuscating the corruption in the healthcare pricing system.

When those with preexisting conditions are supported by all of us, through risk pools managed by the states, possibly funded by taxes on employer provided healthcare benefits, you’ll know we’re really talking about healthcare for Americans.

The more that we move toward a direct relationship between the doctor and patient, the better the system will be.

The rhetoric and fear mongering that you hear screaming at you from your TV, radio and newspaper are nothing more than talking points from special interests seeking to prop up their position in this complex system. They are fighting tooth and nail to maintain themselves — not you — as a winner in the movement of almost $3 trillion.

ABOUT JIM LEY

Jim Ley has more than 35 years in public service, the last 25 of which were in top level administrative positions in two of the more dynamic counties in the U.S. Jim served two terms as President of the National Association of County administrators and was a leading “small government” voice in the profession. His administrative focus has been on financial sustainability and accountability to the taxpayer.

Related Healthcare Articles in The Revolutionary Act

Both Parties Want Federal Government Control of Healthcare

A True American Healthcare System

EXPLAINED: Government Healthcare is not Christian

HEALTHCARE REFORM: Freedom Is Its Own Indispensable Goal

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.

President Trump cuts number of bureaucrats attending UN annual event saving taxpayer dollars

The United Nations holds its fall general assembly in September.  This is when ‘diplomats’ from all over the world come to New York for really what amounts to one big party on the town.

Here we learn that to save money, the Trump Administration will be limiting the number of State Department and other DC bureaucrats who will be attending the confab on the taxpayers’ dime.It is also a time when the UN has an opportunity to bash America (except for when Obama was prezsident).

Not mentioned here, but just a reminder to readers, September will be the time of  Trump’s big test on the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program because according to the Kennedy/Carter Refugee Act of 1980, the President submits his annual ‘determination’ for the upcoming fiscal year to Congress.

Just about the time Trump speaks to the UN, he will have determined how many refugees will be admitted in the year beginning October 1 for FY18, and from what regions of the world they will come.

From AP at the Democrat Gazette:

The State Department plans to scale back its diplomatic presence at this year’s annual United Nations gathering of world leaders in September as a cost-saving initiative, according to four well-placed diplomatic sources. [Those leakers again?—ed]

For more than seven decades, American presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have attended the fall U.N. General Assembly general debate in New York to project their vision of American foreign policy to the world. They have been accompanied by a growing entourage of American diplomats, lawyers and technical experts who negotiate a wide range of issues, from nuclear arms treaties to climate change pacts and conflicts.

But the ranks of professional diplomats, aides and officials who attend the event to promote American policy priorities on a range of issues will be thinned out. For now, it remains unclear precisely how large of a cut in U.S. staff is envisioned, but two officials said the State Department is seeking to keep a ceiling down to about 300 people, including everyone from the president to support staff who schedule meetings and copy speeches.President Donald Trump does plan to address other world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, and he will be accompanied by other top advisers, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who stopped by U.N. headquarters Friday for a private lunch with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

[….]

The diplomatic culling is being enforced by Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief who has shown little interest in U.N. diplomacy during his first six months on the job. It comes at a time when the White House is seeking as much as a 30 percent cut in U.S. funding to the State Department and even deeper cuts in U.N. operations.

More here.

Will Donald Trump seek to cut the State Department budget by 30%? Will he cut even deeper in to the pile of money we give the UN? And, will he cut refugee numbers and seek to abolish or reform the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program? 

Answers will come in September!

Your job is to let the President know what you think on a daily basis!  Click here.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Australia welcoming Syrian Christian refugees….

Canada’s Trudeau-Backed $10.5 Million Payment to Jihadist Facing Court Challenge

Atlanta’s Democrat Mayor Kasim Reed led by stupidity? $198,000 for a gay crosswalk!

Let me see if I understand this.

$196K, to do ONE, standard, 4-lane intersection? At least, that’s what the picture above shows and the article below describes.

If we assume 15 ft wide lanes, that’s 60 linear feet/crosswalk.  If we assume a 10 ft wide walkway, that’s 600 sq ft/crosswalk. Times 4 crosswalks/intersection = 2400 sq ft of paint. Divided by 7 colors (including the 1/2 width white borders) = a bit under 350 sq ft of each color.

According to AsphaltSealCoatingDirect.com:

  • Their BEST road surface paint, in 5 gal containers, costs a bit under $200/5 gal bucket and,
  • each 5 gals covers 550 sq ft to 15 mils thick and, dries in 15 minutes
  • That’s seven, 5 gal containers using approx 3.25 gals out of each container.

The paint is going to cost a whopping 1400 clams and will have approx 1/3 left over out of each bucket for touch-up/re-do…

Are you telling me that:

  1. Prepping the 2400 sq ft for paint ( burn off old markings, pressure wash, blow dry).
  2. Running 6, 18″ wide sprayers for one pass (colors with some over lap) and,
  3. Running 1, 9″ wide sprayer for two passes (white border),
  4. Across 4, 60′ long areas (8 for the white only)…

Is going to cost a freaking one hundred and ninety five THOUSAND DOLLARS? After the paint in already bought? How the hell do I get in on THAT contract?

I mean, my math may not be perfect but, even if you add a 20-person crew, with burners, washers, dryers, sprayers, traffic cones, slow/stop signs-on-a-pole, hard hats and orange vests, at $300/ hr for people and equip and they ‘work’ for 12 hrs straight, that’s still ‘only’ $72K for labor and equipment.

Whew! This kind of stuff will turn you into a Christian, real fast (JHC!).

Thanks and a tip o’the hat to fellow Patriot, Woody.

City of Atlanta releases price tag for publicly funded rainbow crosswalks

Patrick Saunders

July 9, 2017 9:25 pm

Mayor Kasim Reed

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office on late Friday released the cost to install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue as misperceptions continued to spread about how the project is funded.“The initial cost to install the crosswalk is approximately $196,000,” Mayor Reed’s Deputy Press Secretary Jewanna Gaither told Georgia Voice via email. “The life expectancy of the crosswalk is 10 years. Our contractor will make any necessary repairs, including normal wear and tear updates, as part of the warranty for the first year at no charge. The Department of Public Works will be responsible for pressure washing the crosswalk as needed.”

The project is publicly funded, unlike the temporary rainbow crosswalks installed during Atlanta Pride in October 2015. That project was spearheaded by gay Atlanta man (and, later, reality TV figure) Robert Sepulveda, Jr. and garnered over $44,000 in donations, which raised the ire of many in the community who felt people should have donated their money to other local LGBT causes. At the time, city officials said safety concerns kept them from making the project permanent.

The installation of this year’s permanent rainbow sidewalks began at
5 a.m. July 1
 and finished ahead of schedule the next day, in time for runners in the annual Peachtree Road Race to dash across the intersection in the historically LGBT part of town.

The project was met with its own bit of criticism coming from two distinctly different sides. A Facebook Live video taken by Georgia Voice as the crosswalks were being installed drew a flood of anti-LGBT reactions from around the country, ultimately generating over 2,300 shares, 4,200 comments and 275,000 views.

Local transgender activist Monica Helms expressed her frustration that one of the crosswalks wasn’t done in the colors of the Transgender Pride flag, which she created in 1999.

“I don’t see anything saying that one of the crosswalks will be trans colors,” Helms wrote on Facebook on July 1. “I am angry, even though I contacted the City Council (Alex Wan) and the mayor’s office. Others, like Sarah Rose, have also contacted people involved with this. I think the trans community, whether you live here or not, express your outrage at our omission. The mayor’s office is 404-330-6100 and his e-mail is mayorreed@atlantaga.gov. Remember that Georgia has the fourth largest percentage of trans people in the country and the fifth largest by numbers. Let him know that. One of the rainbow crosswalks can be painted over after the fact.”

Mayor Kasim Reed announced the plan to install the crosswalks on June 12, the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting.

“I believe that symbols of unity matter; in recognition of the outstanding and ongoing contributions of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community to our city, I am pleased to announce today that the City will install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street year-round,” Reed said in a news release. “This intersection in Midtown is recognized for its history as a hub for Atlanta’s LGBTQ community, and it is fitting that such an important and recognizable place should feature the rainbow flag.”

The local push for permanent crosswalks came when local LGBT musician Sarah Rose, lead singer of Sarah and the Safe Word, started a Care2 petition campaigning for it. The petition garnered more than 20,000 signatures, including those of several Atlanta mayoral hopefuls, before Reed’s announcement in June.

Atlanta’s rainbow crosswalks follow similar projects done in Seattle, Key West, Philadelphia and the Castro in San Francisco.

RELATED ARTICLE: Oakland: Muslim wanted to bomb San Francisco gay club; set fires, goal to kill 10,000

STUDY: Term Limited States Ranked Best Fiscally as Career Politicos Flop

Surprise, surprise. A brand new report says states with term-limited legislatures are outperforming their career politician counterparts.

According to George Mason University’s “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2017” report, 8 of the 15 fiscally strongest states have legislative term limits. When one considers that only 15 out of 50 states have legislative term limits, this means citizen lawmakers are providing a quality of leadership disproportionately better than their peers.

The report’s criteria included five separate measures of solvency, which is a state’s ability to pay its short-term and long-term bills.

Florida, which has more term limits than any other state, was ranked as number one fiscally healthy state in America. For any state, the presence of term limits more than doubled the odds of receiving an elite ranking. None of the five worst-ranked states have legislative term limits.

So, what can we take away from this? First, this report dismantles the clichés that self-seeking politicians have always used to oppose term limits. For years they’ve warned that term limits would lead to inexperience which would produce fiscal ruin. This report proves the opposite is true – that term limits states do better than those run by prehistoric politicians.

As U.S. Term Limits has noted for years, real life experience – like running a business or being a teacher – gives lawmakers a better perspective than the political experience of cutting deals with lobbyists and raising cash for re-election. Career politicians are at best ineffective and at their worst, corrupt.

For evidence of this, look no further than the state ranked 49 on this list, Illinois. Illinois, which has no term limits, just made Representative Michael Madigan the longest serving legislative leader in American history. Madigan has been House Speaker for 32 of the last 34 years.

But Madigan’s vast experience has only plunged his state into fiscal calamity. Just last month, ratings agencies Moody’s and S&P dropped the state’s bonds to BBB-, the lowest rating ever for a state. The raters said if Illinois doesn’t do something about its $200 billion in long-term debt, the bonds will be downgraded to junk.

Madigan has been able to get himself and other careerist politicians re-elected in perpetuity, but he hasn’t lifted a finger to solve the state’s fiscal woes. And therein lies the problem with having no term limits.

Individuals elected under a term limits system know their job is not to build political empires. It’s to get in, solve problems, then return to private life.

If these rankings are any indication, term limits are doing a great job.

Costly Dentist Visit: Some Ways to Save

At some point, everyone needs dental care. Millions of Americans are delaying their dental care for fear of having an appointment with the dentist or simply because it’s expensive. Avoiding dental chairs to save some penny will just cost you even more in the future.

If untreated, it can lead to bigger problems. Will you sacrifice your tooth over a small cavity? Will you just turn a blind-eye on your abscess and just let it become a major infection?

According to the 2013 US Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility, findings show that 56% of Americans without dental insurance get no preventive care at all. Additionally, 18% have been to the dentist only once or not at all in the past ten years.

Because of the lack of preventive care and dental visits, oral health is starkly poorer among those without dental insurance – 67% have at least one major unmet dental care need (e.g., missing teeth, bleeding gums, toothache). Even among the insured, a majority (57%) currently has at least one unmet dental need. The expensive costs of care and cost transparency are the top two factors that lead patients to withhold from a dental visit.

Nevertheless, if you are one of the millions of Americans keeping his or her dental care on hold out of fear of the cost tied to proper dental treatment, there are some solutions. Follow these tips for a cheaper dental trip.

Brush Your Teeth Regularly

Maintaining a proper routine in taking care of your oral health is essential to being healthy and at the same time money-wise. It may sound cliché, but it’s undeniably efficient in preventing tooth decay and other dental problems. Brushing your teeth is simply sweeping off the food debris left between the teeth. But by forcefully doing this, it will cause cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Even though the enamel, toughest tissue of the human body, covers teeth, it can still be weakened and damaged by brushing staunchly. And once the damage happens, the body can’t fix it.

The recommended way of brushing your teeth is to position your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the surface of the teeth and brush gently in small circles.

Also, be cautious when cleaning your gum line since tartar, plaque, and bacteria tend to accumulate in the area. Rinsing with a mouthwash and finishing with floss can be of great help too.

Compare

The cost for a particular dental treatment can vary by several hundred dollars or more. Try checking the average prices in your area, like dental billing in Houston or other states, for similar treatment by calling local dentists and see how much they charge for the treatment you want or you need. You can use websites like Fair Health to check online the average prices of dental procedures in your area.

Get Insured

Finding a way to balance your costs versus savings is possible as there are now more dental insurance options available than ever before. While dental insurance coverage does typically require a monthly or annual premium, and some upfront costs or co-payments, in most cases dental insurance lowers a person’s overall dental costs.

Average dental insurance policies usually operate on a basic 100-80-50 plan: 100 percent coverage for annual routine care; 80 percent of costs for initial procedures including fillings and extractions; and 50 percent cost reduction for major services like crowns, bridges, and others.

However, insurance plans normally have a spending cap. It means that you are only covered for a certain maximum dollar amount each year. A cap of $1,500, for instance, means that any charges incurred after the insurance carrier cover $1,500 in dental costs that year would be your responsibility entirely.

Try a Discount Plan

Another popular option is dental discount schemes. Designed for individuals, families, and groups, It is best when saving some penny on the dental care needs. Members of such plan can save 10% to 60% on the standard cost of dental care and treatments at a network of more than 100,000 dentists nationwide.

Some of the benefits of a dental discount plan include no deductibles, no co-pays, no waiting periods, no paperwork hassles, no restrictions on getting immediate treatment for pre-existing or expensive procedures, and no annual limit on how often you can use your plan to save at the dentist. Exclusions may vary per program.

Schedule Regular Cleanings and Exams

Just because you brush your teeth regularly and thoroughly, it doesn’t mean that you have fully cleaned your mouth. You might have missed tartar between your teeth, in tiny chips and cracks or just below the gum line. The plaque that has formed can result in oral infections if it remains untreated.

Removing plaque shouldn’t be forcefully done. Professional assistance and care are necessary to avoid undesirable consequences later on.

Recently, research shows that annual cleanings for an average dental patient are just as effective as visiting the oral doctor every six months. Moreover, this single appointment is essential as it aids to identify problems before they get serious and pricey. High-risk patients, like those with periodontal disease, may need additional frequent visits.

Ask Your Dentist for A Cash Discount and Negotiate

Image result for dentist

Discount plans aren’t insurance plans, but they are an affordable alternative to the uninsured. Many dentists out there are willing in giving discounts for cash customers. Some pay visits automatically discount up to 5% depending on the clinic. It can be pulled down further for an agreed specific plan.

Ask Questions

Communication is the key. Dentists are highly trained and are well-rounded in their field of expertise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your dentist will get to decide solely for you.

Ask questions about the purpose of any procedure that isn’t quite clear to you. Don’t hesitate to ask if the suggested action needs execution. For example:

  •    Is that operation medically compulsory or purely cosmetic?
  •    Is there a cheaper option that would work just as well?

Consider Going to a Local Dental School for Treatment

Dental students need exposure and hands-on practice especially those who are nearing their graduation. Under the supervision of the instructors, they perform cleanings and other procedures for the public at a steeply discounted price compared to those of dental clinics. You can check on the American Dental Association’s list of all the accredited dental schools across the country. Many of them offer services at an affordable price.

Be Part of Clinical Trials

Gray Metal Framed Red Dental Treatment Chair

Some institutes like universities and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research here and then need volunteers for their research. These study participants are often given free or low-cost dental services in trade for their voluntary involvement.

Takeaway

Taking into consideration all the major purchases and health care expenses; it will surely cost you several green bills. But by doing some research, comparing local clinics, getting insured, asking for discounts, etc. can make a huge difference in saving money. Well, you might be provoked to skip an appointment whenever you have a minor toothache, but this isn’t entirely a valid choice.

Dental care isn’t cheap, but the ways above will somehow help you in keeping your mouth healthy along with saving money. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Spending a few bucks is more worthwhile than waiting on dental problems over the long run.

Catholic Bishops & Lutherans lament not enough U.S. taxpayer funded refugees coming in to pay their bills

No of course they didn’t say it that way, but that is what they mean.  Instead, once again, it is about the poor refugees left in the lurch in some third world hell hole because of that meany Donald J. Trump.

This is a broken record alert, but I plan to continue to pound the issue of payment to contractors being tied to the number of refugees admitted, so there is never a reasonable discussion about any slowdown or reform of the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program.

If they were paying for their Christian ‘charity’ out of the pockets of good and kind-hearted parishioners, I would have nothing to say. But, until the USCCB admits to the media that they receive 97% of their annual migration fund budget (about $83 million in 2014) from taxpayers, I will be a broken record on the issue.

It was only six days ago I did a new accounting report for the nine federal refugee contractors*** quasi-government agencies that monopolize all resettlement in the US.

Both the Bishops and the Lutheran contractor are 96-97% funded by US taxpayers!

You will never know that by reading this news.  Indeed, Charity Navigator, a service that rates charities to help you decide if you want to give, said this about LIRS (they would have said the same about the USCCB except that outfit doesn’t file a Form 990, that we can find).

This organization is not eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator because, as a service for individual givers, we only rate organizations that depend on support from individual contributors and foundations. Organizations such as this, that get most of their revenue from the government or from program services, are therefore not eligible to be rated.

In this story from Crux (a Catholic publication) we learn that Catholics and Lutherans are #1 and #2 in the number of refugees they drop off in American towns and cities.

Here is Crux (lamentations):

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid a federal judge ordering the government to broaden the exemptions to the immigration travel ban partially upheld by the Supreme Court, Catholic and Lutheran leaders lamented that the immigration cap had been reached for refugees without such exemptions for the 2017 fiscal year.

The federal government suspended travel July 12 for refugee immigrants without close family connections after confirming that 50,000 refugees – the limit imposed by President Donald Trump in a March 6 executive order – had arrived on U.S. soil.

“We remain deeply troubled by the human consequences of the revised executive order on refugee admissions and the travel ban,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, in a July 13 statement.

“Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation,” Vasquez added. “We have the ability to continue to assist the most vulnerable among us without sacrificing our values as Americans or the safety and security of our nation.” [Be sure to see my post on the ceilings going back 30 years, here.  Note that Obama got no where near 110,000 until he was virtually walking out the door, now that has become the standard measure!—ed]

William Canny, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

“The pause on resettlement and restrictions on the number of persons who can enter our country as refugees will have an immediate effect on our ability to conduct the lifesaving work of providing safety and protection,” said a July 12 statement by Kay Bellor, vice president for programs of Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service, which is second only to the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services in the number of refugees it helps resettle in the United States.  [Yes, it will have an immediate effect because your organization raised virtually NO PRIVATE MONEY!—ed]

[….]

“As Bishop Vasquez said, it’s very sad, deeply troubling,” MRS executive director William Canny told Catholic News Service July 14.

Pushing for 75,000 refugees in FY18!

At least they have tempered the demand for 200,000 they made of Obama for his last year. If Trump admits 75,000 he will be about 10,000 above the average admissions for the last ten years (which included their dear leader’s years).

Crux continues….

“What we’re advocating for is 75,000” refugees to come into the United States during fiscal 2018, Canny told CNS. “We understand that the administration has security concerns. The administration made some initiative to reduce the number of refugees coming into the country. We don’t agree with it, so at a minimum, we think we should be bringing in 75,000.”

Bellor agreed with the 75,000 figure, noting the number is “less than the need.” Citing United Nations World Refugee Day figures, “the numbers are definitely not shrinking,” she said. “The number of people on the move is 66 million.”

LOL! 75,000 must be the point where they can keep their budgets plenty full with your money!

There is more at Cruxgo here to read it all.

Come on all of you (not just the Lutherans and the Catholics), admit that your ‘charitable’ work with refugees could not happen without a huge infusion of more than a half a billion $ a year in federal funding.

And, come on mainstream media, it is time you told the truth!

***Federal contractors/middlemen/lobbyists/community organizers paid by you to place refugees in your towns and cities.  Because their income is largely dependent on taxpayer dollars based on the number of refugees admitted to the US, the only way for real reform of how the US admits refugees is to remove the contractors from the process.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

The 20 diseases ‘refugees’ bring into the West

Australia “dumb deal” looks dead for now

Hetfield of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society thinks Hawaiian judge just opened floodgates

New Hampshire: Congolese refugee escapes prosecution in domestic violence case

Hawaiian rogue judge has until Tuesday to respond to Trump SCOTUS motion

VIDEO: Taxes Are Killing Small Businesses

Did you know that the livelihood of 85 million Americans depends on the success of small businesses? So you’d think that the government would encourage the creation and preservation of small businesses. Instead, the federal government taxes small business owners at about 40% — not including additional state or local taxes. Watch this week’s video to find out the effect of that tax rate on small business owners, on job creation, and on the economy as a whole.

Our business and economics series is a collaborative project with Job Creators Network. To learn more about JCN, visit www.jobcreatorsnetwork.com.

TRANSCRIPT

No matter where you come from, what your job is, or where you stand politically, you have to pay taxes. Uncle Sam needs taxpayer dollars to pay for things like schools, fire fighters, and the military.

There are all sorts of different taxes: income taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes just to name a few. But individuals aren’t the only ones who pay taxes—businesses pay income taxes too.

Businesses that are set up as corporations pay taxes on their income at the US corporate tax rate of around 35 percent—one of the highest in the developed world. Countries like Ireland and Switzerland have corporate tax rates well under 25 percent, which can give companies based there a competitive advantage.

But there’s another taxed group that we’re forgetting…small businesses. There are 29 million of them in the US and they employ nearly 56 million people. That’s a total of 85 million people dependent on the success of small businesses!

Small businesses are most often set up as sole proprietorships, partnerships or another designation called an S-corp. But the money they make isn’t taxed at the corporate rate. The profits earned by these small businesses are “passed through” to the owner and counted as individual income on their personal tax return. That’s why you might hear small businesses referred to as “Pass-throughs.”

These entrepreneurs can pay tax rates as high as 40 percent not including additional state and local taxes, that means many American small businesses are being taxed at a higher rate than businesses anywhere in the world.

Why should you care? Because high taxes hurt small businesses ability to grow and expand, causing them to raise prices or even trim jobs to stay within their budget constraints.

Lowering taxes for small businesses or “pass-throughs” results in the growth of small businesses—allowing them to provide more jobs and boost the economy for everyone. After all two thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses and lowering taxes can have a big effect on the entire economy for all Americans.

So the next time you hear someone supporting an increase in tax rates on businesses, remember that very important group of small business owners and the 85 million people dependent on their success.

The Walmart Guy vs Anti-Capitalism Millennials

Though we have never met, I smiled recently seeing my favorite Walmart employee. For over ten years, I witnessed him gathering shopping carts in the parking lot. He is a white millennial who only has the use of one arm, walks with a severe limp and appears slightly mentally challenged. I once saw him leaving work driving a new looking compact car. My wife Mary prepared his taxes when she worked for a tax preparation company. I thought, “Hey, this brother has got it goin’ on — doin’ his thing.”

The Walmart guy could easily qualify for disability; sit home on his butt allowing taxpayers to take care of him. Far too many able-bodied millennials feel entitled, believing government should provide them free everything.

The Walmart guy’s work-ethic, self-reliance and pride in earning his own way is truly refreshing. The Obama Administration practically begged Americans, even non-citizens, to get on food stamps and to apply for as many government freebies as possible. This addicts voters to government handouts and keeps them voting for their Democrat dealers. Disability claims skyrocketed under Obama.

Disturbingly, polls say a majority of millennials reject Capitalism. They believe Socialism is fair and compassionate and Capitalism is selfish and cruel. This explains “yutes” hero worship of socialist/democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Millennials love Sanders’ promise to take the hard earned wealth of achievers to redistribute to lazy pot-smoking losers. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Socialism always ends up spreading mediocrity and misery equally among the masses while the rulers live high on the hog. Have you noticed that Hollywood Leftists and socialist politicians want government to force us to drive tiny tin-can cars, surrender our guns and lower our carbon footprint? Meanwhile, they travel in gas-guzzling limos and private jets with armed guards.

Capitalism gives everyone a shot at achieving their American dream. I will slap the next fellow black person who whines to me about how whitey has stacked the deck again us. Capitalism birthed America’s first female millionaire, a black woman born in 1867. Madam C. J. Walker was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Socialism would have enslaved Madam Walker to the government system, giving her just enough free stuff to get by. Okay, I promise not to slap anyone.

It was depressing hearing it reported that a large number of Americans support taxing income over a million dollars at 100%. First of all, confiscating that money would generate around $616 billion which only covers a third of our annual deficit.

But what is most troubling is the disgusting class envy loser mindset of those who believe it is right for government to take people’s hard earned money. They do not realize that such financial tyranny would kill jobs and the incentive to be all one can be. How dare government place limits on success. Such thinking is un-American, counter to our God inspired founding.

We allowed Leftists’ silent-coup-takeover of public education decades ago. Consequently, Leftists have produced an army of stealth Leftist sleeper-cell operatives against their parents. Remember when Leftists instructed kids to steal their parent’s guns and turn them in to their teachers? Remember Michele Obama instructing students to report politically incorrect speech at the dinner table?

Outrageously, white students are taught beginning in kindergarten that they were born racist. In essence, white students are taught to feel ashamed and hate themselves for their unfair white privilege. The Walmart guy is on Leftists’ excrement list simply for being a working class white male. It angers me envisioning Leftist bullies getting into the grill of my Walmart guy, scolding him about his evil white privilege.

Students support black college student’s demand for free tuition and housing.

Black students also expect academic and behavioral standards lowered for them. I’m a 68 year old black man. I would be highly offended having standards lowered for me. Millennials quickly embrace Leftists twisting everything into evidence of unfairness and white American racism.

Years ago, a white friend shared that her son came home from middle-school in tears about how white men abused everyone; blacks, women, native Americans and so on. Today her son is an America hating Communist who still believes European white men are the greatest source of evil in the world.

Folks, we much turn this mess around regarding Leftists’ indoctrination of our kids. Trump appointing Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education is a major step in the right direction. DeVos favors restoring power back to parents regarding the education of their children.

Oh, we’re out of milk. I’m confident I will see my Walmart guy diligently working.

VIDEO: Repeal and Don’t Replace Obamacare

Obamacare has led to higher costs and fewer health insurance options for millions of Americans. The 2010 healthcare law has brought the American people rising premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer insurance choices, and higher taxes. President Donald J. Trump promised to repeal and replace this disaster, and that is exactly what he is working with Congress to achieve.

The world has gone morally insane and your tax dollars are paying for it!

I am sitting here stunned. Late last week, Congress voted on an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would have barred the use of taxpayer dollars for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone therapy for transgender members of the military.  Unfortunately, with the defection of 24 Republicans in the US House, the initiative failed and there is nothing to prevent the Obama-era policy from moving forward.

I believe that gender dysphoria (the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex) can be very painful for the individual with the condition. However, helping that person to ignore reality and basic biology and assisting them in harming their otherwise healthy body with medical treatments is not the answer. We certainly shouldn’t be using public funding to pay for those treatments!  In fact, Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.  As a nation, we shouldn’t be promoting gender transition and the denial of biological reality, we should be helping those individuals struggling by getting them counseling.

Just over half (14 of 27) of Florida’s Congressional delegation voted against the amendment to bar funding for gender transition treatments, with the exception of mental health counseling. Especially disappointing are the three Florida Republicans who voted against the amendment in defiance of conservative principles.  FFPC reached out to each of those three Republican offices and asked them to vote yes on Hartzler’s amendment and ensure that you and I aren’t paying for treatments we believe to be fundamentally wrong.   Below is a list of every member who voted to allow the use of your tax dollars to pay for service members’ gender transition:

Congressman’s Name Party District
Al Lawson D 5
Stephanie Murphy D 7
Darren Soto D 9
Val Demings D 10
Charlie Crist D 13
Kathy Castor D 14
Brian Mast* R 18
Alcee Hastings D 20
Lois Frankel D 21
Ted Deutch D 22
Debbie Wasserman Schultz D 23
Frederica Wilson D 24
Carlos Curbelo R 26
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R 27
*Rep. Brian Mast asked that his vote be changed after
the fact due to a mistake in voting

Already the Army is instructing women soldiers to accept sharing public showers, restrooms, and barracks with transgenders, including men who call themselves “women” yet remain fully anatomically male. This is absolutely outrageous!  Now, we are going to further perpetuate the myth that one can change one’s gender by paying for gender transition treatment.

This issue is only going become more prominent in Florida and cities throughout our state in the coming days, weeks, months, and years, so we all need to educate ourselves.  For that purpose, I’m including some resources on transgenderism:

Florida Family Policy Council is committed to continuing to educate individuals on the transgender issue and to fight for common-sense public policy, but we need your help!

If conservative principles and being aware of this kind of information is important to you, please consider giving a gift today. Your gift will help us continue our work throughout the state of Florida and ensure that our shared values are being heard in the public square.  You can donate by clicking this link.

Thank you for your prayers and support as Florida Family Policy Council works to build a state and a nation where God is honored, life is cherished, families thrive, and religious liberty flourishes.

RELATED ARTICLE: As a Teen Cashier Seeing Food Stamp Use, I Changed My Mind About the Democrat Party

The Real Reason Government Wastes So Much Money by Daniel J. Mitchell

Why does government waste so much money? In so many ways? With such reckless abandon?

I suppose I could answer with mockery and say it’s because they have lots of experience squandering our tax dollars.

But let’s seriously contemplate that question and explore one of the reasons for waste. Simply stated, government programs are a magnet for scammers.

Let’s look at three case studies.

Example #1: Fraud is an inherent part of the big entitlement programs. Kevin Williamson has some unseemly details in an article for National Review.

…you know where there’s a lot of waste, fraud, and abuse? Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. …Medicare and Medicaid together account for about $1 trillion in federal spending annually, and estimates suggest that $1 out of ever $10 of that spending is fraud. Some estimates go much higher. We do not have a very good idea of exactly how extensive fraud in the system is, because the federal government has put a fair amount of effort into not knowing.

And what does that mean? How does the government try not to know?

…the government’s approach long has been backward…investigators are asking whether a certain treatment was in fact appropriate for what ails Mrs. Jones, not whether Mrs. Jones exists.

In other words, bureaucrats basically accept all claims as legitimate and simply judge from afar whether the right medical service is provided for the listed ailment.

Even if the ailment is fictional. Or the patient is fake.

As one might imagine, that kind of sloppy approach, combined with programs that dispense hundreds of billions of dollars, is a magnet for professional crooks.

It’s the work of organized crime. As Sparrow points out, when there is a criminal case filed against one of these fraud artists, then billing in a particular category – some years ago, it was HIV fusion treatments – falls off steeply, by as much as 90 percent. The implication here is that fraudulent billing may make up the majority of Medicaid and Medicare spending in some categories. …organized-crime syndicates are being permitted to use our medical entitlements to loot the Treasury, and that not very much is being done about that, which suggests the possibility – only a possibility – that there is political collusion in this at some level.

By the way, Kevin may be on to something when he speculates about collusion.

We already know about examples of politicians intervening to protect fraudsters

(who, conveniently, also happen to be campaign donors).

So is it really that much of a stretch to imagine them turning a blind eye (or worse) to industrial-level fraud by criminal enterprises?

Leads me to think this cartoon makes an unnecessary distinction.

Example #2: Welfare programs also are a magnet for fraud.

Here are excerpts from a recent news report.

Another six Lakewood, New Jersey couples were charged Wednesday with welfare fraud, bringing to 26 the number of people implicated since last week in the multimillion-dollar scandal. At the heart of the charges is the allegation that they all, in one way or another, failed to report or otherwise concealed significant income that would have made them ineligible for the assistance programs in which they enrolled. In total, state and federal prosecutors have said the families collected more than $2.4 million in benefits. …They allegedly obtained nearly $400,000 in Medicaid, food and heating benefits fraudulently. …Four other couples were arrested June 26 for allegedly defrauding public assistance programs of more than $1.3 million in benefits.

Welfare fraud must have been a major pastime for residents of the town.

Hundreds of these moochers are now trying to cover their tracks in hopes of avoiding legal trouble.

The specter of more charges has shaken Lakewood. Hundreds of residents have contacted authorities seeking amnesty or help avoiding arrest, the Asbury Park Press reported on June 29. In addition to the hundreds seeking amnesty, dozens more people have contacted social service agencies to cancel their benefits or declare income.

Example #3: And nobody should be surprised to learn that there’s plenty of fraud at the Pentagon.

Here’s an example that seems very representative.

The former owners of a Pittsburgh-area military supplier have been accused of defrauding the U.S. government of more than $6 million in defense contract work. …Prosecutors allege the Buckners inflated the cost of the work by falsifying invoices to make it appear as though they had spent $70 per window frame for the materials when in fact they had paid just $20 each for frames manufactured in China. The brothers are also alleged to have sold scrap aluminum collected in the manufacturing process without crediting that money to TACOM. The losses to TACOM are placed at $6,085,709 by the DOJ.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2014, a defense contractor responsible for providing food and water to troops in Afghanistan pleaded guilty to over-charging the U.S. government to the tune of $48 million. This week, two San Diego defense contractors pleaded guilty in a scheme that defrauded the Navy out of at least $1.4 million by over-billing for supplies that the military never ordered, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Similar stories have cropped up in Florida, California, Maryland, North Carolina and elsewhere in recent years, renewing calls for systemic reforms.

Maybe the reason fraud is so pervasive is that penalties are trivial or nonexistent.

A 2011 DOD report found hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military subsequently went on to receive more than $1.1 trillion in new Pentagon contracts between 2000 and 2010.

Shouldn’t criminal companies be barred from subsequent contracts? Shouldn’t crooked company officials be sent to prison?

Or do these things not happen because the same folks are also campaign contributors?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but surely something is amiss. It’s almost as if government is simply a racket for the benefit of insiders.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

RELATED ARTICLE: As a Teen Cashier Seeing Food Stamp Use, I Changed My Mind About the Democrat Party

FLORIDA: Dem Senator Helps Pass Bill to Give Her Charity $1.5, Governor signs it

A Democrat Florida state lawmaker helped pass a bill that allocated $1.5 million to a nonprofit that she founded and pays her a six-figure salary and the state’s Republican governor approved it. The legislator, state Senator Lauren Book, represents south Florida’s Broward county and in 2007 she founded a charity called Lauren’s Kids to educate adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through school curricula, awareness campaigns and speaking engagements.

Book launched the south Florida-based group because her female nanny sexually abused her for years and she wants to prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness. The politician also wants to help survivors heal with guidance and support. “Armed with the knowledge that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, Lauren has worked to turn her horrific personal experience into a vehicle to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help other survivors heal,” according to the charity’s website. Lauren’s Kids has helped advocate for the passage of nearly two dozen laws to support survivors and protect children from predators, the group’s website further claims.

It’s not just a labor of love for the Florida legislator, who got elected in 2016. As chief executive officer of her charity Book receives a generous $135,000 annual salary, according to a nonprofit investigative journalism conglomerate that broke the story about this outrageous conflict of interest. Since 2012 Lauren’s Kids has received north of $10 million in taxpayer money because the senator’s father, Ron Book, is a prominent lobbyist who happens to be the group’s chairman. In just a few years Lauren’s Kids has “become one of the Florida Legislature’s most favored private charities,” the news article states. Governor Rick Scott, who is in his second term, went along with the $1.5 million appropriation for Book’s charity when he signed Florida’s $83 billion budget recently.

As if this weren’t enraging enough, Lauren’s Kids used a chunk of the taxpayer funds it has received to pay a Tallahassee public relations firm millions of dollars, accounting for 28% of its expenses. A follow-up story by the same investigative journalism outlet reveals that the senator’s charity paid Sachs Media Group $3.1 million between 2012 and 2015 as well as a yet-to-be-disclosed amount in 2016. “Millions of taxpayer dollars flowed through the nonprofit to Sachs Media as it both promoted Lauren’s Kids and cultivated Sen. Book’s public persona as a survivor of child sex abuse,” the article states. “Critics say the domination of Lauren’s Kids by the senator and her lobbyist-father raises concerns that the work Sachs Media does is more about making her look good, not raising awareness about unreported cases of child sex abuse.” The founder of the nation’s premier charity watchdog says in the story that “nonprofit money is supposed to be used for a public benefit and not to enhance the aspirations of the charity’s officers.”

A huge lapse in Florida’s senate ethics rules allowed Book to vote for legislation that essentially enriched her. The same “loophole” let her keep the conflict from the public, the news stories point out. Here’s the broader explanation from the news outlet: “Senators are forbidden by ethics rules from voting on any matter in which they or an immediate family member would privately gain – except when it comes to votes on the annual General Appropriations Act. Abstaining senators must also disclose the nature of their interest in the matter, according to the 335-page Florida Senate Rules and Manual.” That means lawmakers can vote on issues that can benefit their profession, though it’s downright sleazy when taxpayer dollars go to an entity that the elected official actually controls and makes money from. Millions of dollars earmarked to prevent child sexual abuse going to a public relations firm is in a class of its own.