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The Pentagon Wasted a Ton of Taxpayer Money Then Buried the Evidence

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

The Pentagon Wasted a Ton of Taxpayer Money Then Buried the Evidence

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Seems counterproductive to say this out loud, after all, which bureaucracy in the world does not waste taxpayer money? But here it is: The Pentagon, which serves as the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (DOD), has been wasting taxpayer money for a very long time.

PentagonBut in January 2015, a report released by the Defense Business Board — a federal advisory panel of corporate executives — was finally able to illustrate the scope of the waste and offer a solution. Instead of taking heed and allowing Congress to have access to this report, Pentagon leaders decided that having Congress look into the report would lead to a budget cut. And how could they survive that?

In order to make sure nobody would see the likes of this study, the Pentagon imposed a series of secrecy restrictions on the data used by the Defense Business Board. Even after being made public in its website, the Pentagon removed the 77-page summary of the report for good measure. According to the chairman of the Defense Business Board, Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, this particular move was reprehensible.

“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money,” he told Washington Post, so “[w]e proposed a way to save a ton of money.” As it turns out, the Pentagon wasn’t interested in being frugal with the taxpayer dough. Nevertheless, Stein added, the Pentagon’s decision to make it hard for the public or Congress to have access to the report is a “travesty.”

“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he concluded.

According to the Washington Post report, this irresponsible approach to its finances could result in less money over time to the DOD.

But what about the DOD leadership? Are they OK with this disregard for the public?

As you may have guessed, nobody within the leadership of the defense community has, so far, been able to admit that the DOD is an entangled bureaucracy, living large and oblivious of the sacrifices Americans have to make to pay their taxes and keep the DOD afloat.

A great example of this lack of commitment to the taxpayer’s well being is easily spotted in comments made by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, who ordered the Defense Business Board to conduct the study.

When talking to the Washington Post about the study, Work dismissed the Defense Business Board’s plan to save $125 billion, claiming that “[t]here is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization, … [while] there is a little bit of truth in that … I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”

We’re not surprised. After all, those who are part of the high levels of command within government agencies — whether we’re talking about the post office or the Pentagon — will always defend their actions and their agencies’ hands-off approach to accountability.

When we earn our own money, we’re wiser about how we spend it. When someone else is in charge of spending our money, however, their actions are no longer grounded on the notion that the cash on hand is scarce and restricted.

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

QUESTION: National landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are symbols of national unity, strength, and sources of inspiration. They are monuments of a national republic. How would these monuments be constructed for the entire nation in a libertarian society?

Monuments

MY SHORT ANSWER: They would be constructed and maintained through private donations rather than taxes. Donations are given freely; taxes are forced.

We honor Jefferson, Washington, and other American icons because they believed in the importance of individual freedom, even though they may not have practiced it perfectly (e.g., Jefferson had slaves). We dishonor their memory and the values they cherished by forcing our fellow Americans to pay for their memorials.

Without tax funding, the edifices of these great men might be less grandiose than they are today. (Of course, they might just as well be even grander, better preserved and staffed, and better funded.) However, they would be a truer symbol of the freedom that made our nation great.

Even today, many renowned historical sites and monuments are privately funded. George Washington’s home Mount Vernon — the most popular historic estate in America, open 365 days a year — has been maintained and made available to the public since 1853 by the Mount Vernon’s Ladies’ Association, which proudly declares it “does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes.”

Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello is maintained by a private, non-profit corporation, in cooperation with the University of Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg was restored with private funds and is run as a private national museum not dependent on government funding.

A libertarian society, based on free enterprise and free from today’s crippling tax burden, would be far wealthier than our society today and thus better able to fund such monuments and landmarks. And the drive to collect the funding for them could unite and inspire the country every bit as much as the actual monuments themselves.

 

Texas Could Soon ‘Nullify’ Federal Gun Control Measures

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Texas Could Soon ‘Nullify’ Federal Gun Control Measures

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

This week, a Texas state representative took a step that could effectively nullify any past or future federal gun control measures.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, Representative Matthew Krause, (R-Ft. Worth) prefiled House Bill 110, which would prohibit the state of Texas to offer any resources in support of several federal gun control measures, whether they have already become law or haven’t yet been discussed by Washington D.C. legislators.

Open_Carry_March_Erika_Rich_03_1_jpg_800x1000_q100Since the federal government often relies on state governments to ensure its laws are being enforced, states that withdrawal their participation end up leaving the federal government empty-handed. As a result, enforcement is eliminated in practice.

HB 110’s text makes it clear that any “agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, and a law enforcement officer or other person employed by an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state” is not allowed to provide any assistance to “a federal agency or official” upholding a rule or regulation that targets firearms, gun owners, firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition. If the regulation “does not exist under the laws” of the state of Texas, local agencies and officials would be barred from assisting the federal government with enforcement.

As we all know, the federal government is running out of resources and nullification efforts explore this reality, making it difficult for federal officials to get their will imposed on states.

By passing laws that ensure states refuse to participate in tyrannical policies embraced by the federal government, states send a clear message to Washington, D.C., letting federal bureaucrats know that local governments are, in a way, more powerful than a centralized administration will ever be.

But this is not the only benefit of seeing similar efforts being embraced nationwide. Taxpayers are also spared millions, since state agencies will not have to bend backwards to follow the federal government’s orders.

While many believe that a Republican White House won’t attempt to pursue any restrictive gun control regulations anytime soon, Texas doesn’t have any assault weapon law. Locals are also allowed to own firearms without registering their guns, purchase them without a permit, and able to purchase magazines without having to worry about capacity restrictions and they like it that way.

They Said It With Julie Borowski, Libertarian Girl and More…

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM:
Julie Borowski“Obama suggests voting should be made mandatory. Yeah, the problem with this country is that not enough uninformed people are voting.” — Facebook post from libertarian commentator Julie Borowski, March 19, 2015.

Libertarian GirlGOV’T PRIORITIES: “There are 400,000 untested rape kits across the U.S. The excuses are ‘they’re expensive’ and ‘there’s no time.’ Governments sure do seem to have the time and money to arrest, prosecute, and jail non-violent drug offenders and [those who commit] other victimless crimes…” — Facebook post from Libertarian Girl (aka Marianne Copenhaver), March 16, 2015.

DISMANTLE THE TSA, SAYS GOP CHAIRMAN: “I believe we made a big mistake in 2002 or 2003 when we set up the TSA. The Transportation committee… had experts from the British, the Germans, the Israelis all come testify before the committee and overwhelmingly they told us: Don’t set up a federal [agency].” — House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) in a March 18 briefing. Shuster suggested that airport security — currently provided by the hated TSA (Transportation Security Administration), now metastasized to over 50,000 employees — be turned over to the private sector, with federal oversight. Quoted in The Hill, “GOP chairman: TSA was a ‘big mistake’,” March 18, 2015.

ONE BEGINS TO SUSPECT…

Jacob Sollum“According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, accounts for nearly two-fifths of global military spending. It allocates more money to the military than the next eight biggest spenders combined. The United States is a large country with peaceful neighbors. Yet it spends more than $2,000 per capita on defense — as much as Israel, a tiny country beset by enemies, and more than twice as much as European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany. One begins to suspect that our so-called defense budget is spent on a lot of things that have little or nothing to do with defense.” — syndicated columnist Jacob Sullum, “The Squeal of the War Hogs: Why Do Lindsey Graham and John McCain Think Half a Trillion Dollars Is Not Enough To Defend the Country?”, March 18, 2015.

STOP THE EXPORT-IMPORT BANK RIP-OFF: “[T]he federally run Export-Import Bank… is a case study in corporate welfare. Founded during the New Deal, its mission is to ‘support jobs in the United States by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services.’ In practice, it offers taxpayer-backed loans, guarantees and insurance to private companies. When a company profits from the bank’s support, it pockets the money. If it defaults, taxpayers’ pockets get picked. … In 2013, roughly 93 percent of the bank’s loan guarantees by value benefited only five companies — including Caterpillar, General Electric and other multinational corporations with hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in annual profits… In 2012, 83 percent benefited a single company: Boeing. … The Export-Import Bank’s charter expires at the end of June and businesses and lobbyists are lining up to persuade Congress to reauthorize it.” — Chris Rufer, founder of The Morning Star Company and Advocates Board member, “End This Corporate Welfare,” New York Times, March 23, 2015.

Your Tax Dollars Paid for Swedish Massages for Rabbits

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Politicians are warning us that the government is broke. It’s time for higher taxes and belt-tightening. Citizens need to pay more and expect less.

But still, our leaders heroically scraped together funding for the most important, the most fundamental, the most essential government functions.

Like providing Swedish massages to rabbits.

Yep. The National Institutes of Health spent $387,000 on this project. Yes, that’s the same NIH whose director says they “probably” would have come up with a vaccine for Ebola by now, if it wasn’t for low funding (they only get $30 billion a year).

And that’s just the beginning. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has released his annual Wastebook report.

Wastebook 2014: What Washington Doesn’t Want You To Read“ identifies “100 silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects” that lay bare Washington’s loony spending priorities. Wastebook

Total bill for these one hundred projects? A whopping $25 billion. And, Sen. Coburn warns, this is “just a fraction of the countless frivolous projects the government funded in the past twelve months — with borrowed money and your tax dollars.”

Sen. Coburn further notes: “Despite all of this obvious waste, Washington politicians celebrated ending the fiscal year with a deficit under half-a-trillion dollars for the first time since 2008 — as if adding $486 billion to a national debt quickly approaching $18 trillion is an actual accomplishment deserving praise.”

Here are a few more choice items from Coburn’s Wastebook 2014:

  • $856,000 to teach mountain lions to use treadmills.
  • $307,524 to study whether sea monkeys can be trained to swim. 
  • $371,026 to study whether mothers love their dogs as much as their own children.
  • $804,254 for a video game to empower parents to persuade their kids to eat vegetables.

Just skimming the table of contents rewards you with items like these below. And each one is accompanied by a jaw-dropping description that will have you thinking you’re reading the humorous parody site The Onion:

  • Roosevelt and Elvis Make a Hallucinatory Pilgrimage to Graceland
  • NASA Wonders How Humans Will React to Meeting Space Aliens
  • Anti-Terror Grant Buys State-of-the-Art SWAT Equipment for Safest Small Town in America
  • Spouses Stab Voodoo Dolls More Often When “Hangry,” Study Reveals
  • Scientists Hope Gambling Monkeys Unlock Secrets of Free Will
  • Paid Vacations for Bureaucrats Gone Wild 
  • Taxpayers Help NY Brewery Build Beer Farm
  • Free “High-End” Gym Memberships for DHS Bureaucrats
  • USDA’s “Perfect Poop Pak” Smells Like Government Waste

Page after page, the idiocy and waste goes on and on. Read the whole thing here.

America’s Real Welfare Queens: Fortune 100 Companies

in Liberator Online, Welfare by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Welfare QueensEarlier this year Open the Books, a non-partisan watchdog group advocating transparency in public spending, issued a genuinely shocking report that added up all federal grants, loans, direct payments, and insurance subsidies going to private companies.

Among its findings: corporate-welfare payments from the federal government to the Fortune 100 companies, from 2000 to 2012, amounted to more than $1.2 trillion.

The bulk of this was in the form of contracts between government agencies and private firms, with the largest going to the military-industrial complex. While these provide some services to taxpayers, such spending is difficult to control because the huge sums also fund a massive lobbying industry busily working for more such spending.

But contracts aside, staggering amounts of money were just given away as outright subsidies — taxpayer-funded handouts to the biggest businesses in America.

Writing in National Review Online, economist Stephen Moore summarizes: “$21.3 billion… was doled out in the form of outright income-transfer subsidies to corporate America. On average, each Fortune 100 company received about $200 million in such [taxpayer-funded] handouts.

“So who are the major corporate-welfare queens? The biggest grant recipients were General Electric ($380 million), followed by General Motors ($370 million), Boeing ($264 million), Archer Daniels Midland ($174 million), and United Technologies ($160 million).

“About $8.5 billion of this largesse came in the form of taxpayer-subsidized loans. The big winners here were Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor Company, and other multibillion-dollar corporations whose franchisees received Small Business Administration loans.

“Archer Daniels Midland got just under $1 billion for USDA farm-program loans, and this doesn’t include ethanol subsidies. Another $10 billion was doled out through federal insurance…”

And the problem goes beyond even these staggering sums. Says Moore:

“That $1.2 trillion number does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in housing, bank, and auto-company bailouts in 2008 and 2009, because those payments are kept mostly invisible in the federal-agency books. It also doesn’t include the asset purchases of the Federal Reserve, indirect subsidies such as the ethanol mandate that enriches large agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland…

“Amazingly, all but one of the Fortune 100 stood in the federal soup line to take at least some form of corporate-welfare benefit.”

Sums up Moore: “Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on your couch watching TV and there is a knock on the door. There in a corporate suit is an employee of General Dynamics with a tin cup and he asks if you would contribute a dollar for a research project. You would slam the door in his face. But somehow when the government collects a dollar from each of us and gives the money to General Dynamics, this is considered in Washington a wise ‘investment.’”

Read the next article from this issue here.

Go back to the full issue here.

Three Kinds of Government Waste

in Communicating Liberty by Michael Cloud Comments are off

Champagne and Beer(From the Persuasion PowerPoint section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

1. Paying champagne prices for beer quality.

2. Buying champagne when all you need is beer.

3. Buying champagne or beer when you don’t need either.

Waste: the government doesn’t need it. Taxpayers can’t afford it.

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Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian PersuasionMichael Cloud’s latest book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively in our store, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.
In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.