Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'It's Alive...It's Alive...'

A Nation of Fools by Peary Perry

“It’s Alive…It’s Alive..”

To start us off this week, I offer the following quote :
"The problem is, and always has been, that once government programs and agencies are created, they quickly become sacrosanct and virtually impossible to destroy. As Ronald Reagan said, 'Government programs, once launched, never disappear ... a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!' So it doesn't matter that the Department of Education doesn't educate, or that the Department of Energy doesn't produce energy. It's government and, thus, by definition good in the minds of the Washington establishment." --columnist Cal Thomas
Truer words were never spoken. One has to wonder if anyone, anyone out there has a complete understanding of just how many agencies are in our government? Or better yet, what the functions and annual progress indices are for any of these agencies. I was surfing the internet the other day and ran across an interesting federal agency called the FLC. Never heard of it? No wonder, here is a description of what it is and what it does:
“The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) is the nationwide network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace.”
I’m certain this made you feel better didn’t it? How many government employees are working at this place? What is their budget and what do they produce or accomplish? How can we find out if we wanted to do so? You can’t look at their website and see any of this information. Public companies post this kind of information on their annual reports and websites for the entire world to see, but I bet you’d have to file a freedom of information request to see anything about this agency. I realize my question might be broad, but private enterprise companies are judged based upon their annual performance. Generally this consists of something as simple as …did we bring in more revenue than we spent in expenses? It’s all fine to discuss such things as these next couple of items (from their mission statement):
• Promote and facilitate the full range of technical cooperation between the federal laboratories and America's large and small businesses, academia, state and local governments, and federal agencies.
• Provide direct services to member laboratories and agencies in support of their technology transfer efforts.
• Enhance efforts that couple federal laboratories with American industry and small businesses to strengthen the nation's economic competitiveness.

But my question is how much actually got accomplished in any given year to improve the gross domestic product of this nation by increasing any one business segment? If you are spending millions each year and have no quantitative method of assessing your effectiveness, then what is the purpose of your existence in the first place?

How many agencies such as this one do we have in this country? Who reviews them after they have been completed to determine if they are really making any headway with their programs or are they just engaging in pointless watermelon talk? Watermelon talk is a local term for; well you know what it is, don’t you?

I once bid on a government contracting job that employed about 50 people and had a budget of several million a year. My bid came in at about ½ the cost and used about ½ the number of employees. The bid was rejected and the entire process stayed with the municipality. In an after action meeting I inquired why the government needed twice as many employees as it would take for me to do the job. Their answer was that the government supervisors kept asking for more employees to get the job done on time. No one had ever asked if the employees were being efficient with their time (they weren’t) or if the processes could have been improved upon (it could have been) or was anyone actually looking at performance on a regular basis (no one was) so their budget requirements keep being increased year after year.

If you and I ran a private business the same way the government runs their business, we would have been broke a long time ago. But then isn’t that the current status of our national debt? Fiscal responsibility should be more than an election year slogan; it should be a mission statement.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Talking out of both sides of their mouths.....

A Nation of Fools by Peary Perry

“Talking out of both sides of their mouths”

The Boston tea party of 1773 was committed by a group of angry colonists disguised as Indians or Native Americans… if I need to be politically correct. These die hard citizens were rightfully disturbed over the increase in taxation from England along with a host of other unwelcomed rules and regulations. As you know from history, this is one of the pivotal events leading up to the Revolutionary War and the establishment of the United States as an independent and sovereign country.

It now seems as if history is once again repeating itself by the creation of a new, but different tea party in our country. This time it is somewhat different from the first one.

Tea party opponents try to uncover the so called ‘disguise’ of the members of this new political movement and seem to be stumped because they cannot find its core or even its leaders. It’s almost as if all of the members are still disguised and are hidden from view. In the minds of those opposed to the tea party concept, the members of the tea party are still running around refusing to show their true identities.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

What’s humorous about this situation is that none of the members are hidden at all; no …they are all in plain sight and walking freely among us. They are simply us. They are our neighbors, our relatives and our friends. They come from all walks of life and are members of all political parties. They are not hiding at all, which is what makes their detection all that more difficult.

I say again….History repeats itself. It is not uncommon for those in opposition to something to put labels and disparage any form of things unknown. In this instance the tea party movement to the established political parties (of both major parties) is an unknown. The major parties simply do not know how to react to a grass roots movement that has only been in existence for a short time and has no central leadership or even organization behind it. They keep looking for something that does not exist.

It simply is what it is.

This, as you might well imagine seems baffling to career politicians. They are used to everything being done on a quid pro quo basis. The theory that you would actually do something or be a part of something without having some sort of ulterior motive is beyond their normal range of comprehension. You and I both have witnessed our elected representatives going at each other tooth and nail at 10am and then praising each other at cocktail parties at 10pm. All in a days work for them. Their lives are lives of compromise and give and take depending upon what each one of them can give or take. From what I’ve seen, very little consideration is given to those of us who have voted to send someone to Congress to work on our behalf. No, the normal behavior is to do what works for their purposes and then if there is anything left over for us then it may or may not trickle down to our level.

Is it any wonder that the average American is sick and tired of this farce and is now ready for some real changes, not just the same old tired campaign slogans we have been hearing for years and years? We all know the potholes and roads get fixed just before elections, but what about all the rest of the time? Why can’t our government be more responsive to our nation’s ills and problems when there is no election to be considered?

No, our problem is that since the 1700’s our nation has become more and more diverse and in an effort to win the hearts and minds of voters, the politicians have tried their best to carve out a piece of the pie for each individual group. Our growth over these past 200 plus years makes that almost impossible. We are too complicated and diverse to tailor our government so that each and every one of our needs is addressed by the state. Perhaps it was possible in 1773, but certainly it isn’t possible now. We need to get back to basics and address the issues that are of concern to all of us, not just a few.

The sole purpose, in my opinion, of the rise of the tea party movement is to unite people across this land who are seeking the solutions to our common problems. The unity being expressed by the growth of this movement should be applauded and encouraged, not spoken about as if it were a secret society.

It is no secret; it is the will of the people. It was no different in Boston in 1773.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

'Run...the voters are after us!!!'

A Nation of Fools by Peary Perry

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‘Run…the voters are after us!!!!!’

I suppose I’m just na├»ve or something, but I always thought being a member of the United States Congress was an honorable position and one we should all look up to for guidance and inspiration.

Having said that, I’m of the opinion that those who run away from adversity and challenges are often called by less than inspirational names….such as cowards or ‘yellow’ or shirkers or (and I love this old word)…a poltroon.

So as in the course of any major military battle, since recorded history began, the commanding force that ran from the challenge at hand was deemed to be cowardly due to their actions. Thus we can safely attach that same label to any and all who shirk from their respective responsibilities, can’t we?

Obviously, there is a point to all of this bit of explanation… and that is to illustrate the actions of our current federal congress that recently fled the nation’s capital leaving a multitude of tasks unfinished. Several members advised that the session had … ‘just ran out of time’… before the fall break. Small wonder that they didn’t have time to convene on really important national items, but did manage to allocate forty minutes of their time towards considering whether or not to recognize the Washington Stealth Lacrosse team for its winning season. Nothing against a winning team, but I do think we have larger fish to fry, don’t you?

So, the Congress packed up its bags and quietly slunk out of town and back home for the remaining few weeks before the 2010 mid term elections. Or perhaps hop on another taxpayer funder junket to Paris (for info on the Islamic world), Dublin (Information on US/Russian relations) or Punta de Mita Resort in Mexico (for conference on South American policies). Oh and be sure and invite your spouse, since they come in handy at the embassy parties given in your honor. At taxpayer expense, naturally.

What a wonderful life they have. Great benefits, excellent retirement options, good travel, better than average pay, lengthy vacations and multiple opportunities for private enterprise all at someone else’s expense. All you have to do is make big promises and get yourself elected, then make more promises to get reelected… this a number of times and you are on easy street for the remainder of your life.

Of course every once in awhile some of those nasty old voters may want to bring you to task for running away from the very things they elected you to do for them.

Such as you did this past week, when you left town before you:

1. Told anyone how you would vote on the upcoming decision to extend or deny the Bush tax credits (due to expire on December 31st)
2. Enacted and passed a budget for the forthcoming year. Choosing instead to just vote on a stopgap measure for the next two months.
3. Failed to consider ethics charges against two house members who are up for re-election as the outcome of their trial might endanger their reelection chances. (You think?)

These items as well as slew of others just as important were left hanging until after the mid term elections. So none of us in this country actually know what our budget is going to be or what our tax rates will be until after we elect or not elect those who were sworn to represent us.

A fine kettle of fish this is.

The entire country is basically frozen in place, afraid to jump in any direction because no one knows what the Congress is going to do….and they won’t tell us. No sane business man or woman wants to lay their lives and fortunes on the line by building a new plant or facility and hiring more workers without being able to calculate their overhead costs.

Who can tell me right now what any healthcare plan for any of my current employees or future employees will be or might be? No one, that’s who.

Who can tell me what my taxes will be in the coming year? No one, that’s who.

Who can tell me if the person I vote for will even be my representative (if mine is one of those currently involved in the ethics investigation) after their ethics trials are held? No one, that’s who.

Run, run away and keep on going…..then perhaps we can elect honest and responsible people to look after our affairs after you are long gone. Good riddance and don’t come back.

We don’t need cowards, we need real Americans.

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