Saturday, 31 July 2010

Something to Ponder

Ronald Reagan uttered this once: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

You can imagine yourself standing there...on the streets of some small town in Bama, and this guy pulls up. You show some friendly nature....reach out a hand to shake the fellow's hand. Then you let the guy know that he's welcome to the town.

His response? ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

You pause and twist your head a bit....then you let the guy know that you can't think of many things that he could help on.

He responds that he'd like to repave all of the main drag through town. You think about this for a while and state the obvious that the road might have a few potholes but....wouldn't it be a fair sum of money to waste on such an endeavor? He responds that it's government money....and it's ok. You decline because you think it's a waste.

Then he responds that he'd like to build a new water plant. You ponder on this....the old is twenty years old and running ok. He says that it's only capable of supporting 5,000 residents....while his new one would satisfy 10,000 folks. You think about this and over twenty years....your town has grown from 1,805 residents to 2,106 residents. You state the obvious....wouldn't it be a fair sum of money to waste on such an endeavor? He responds that it's government money....and it's ok. You decline because you think it's a waste.

Then he responds that he'd like to build a new community center to replace the one built in 1972. The building is kinda old but the roof is ok and no one is really complaining about this. You state the obvious....wouldn't it be a fair sum of money to waste on such an endeavor? He responds that it's government money....and it's ok. You decline because you think it's a waste.

Then he responds that he'd like to beef up your police department with new cars, new SWAT weapons, a new building and new uniforms. You stand there for a minute and ponder this. You have three full-time cops and four part-time guys. You make more than enough off speeding tickets. And the police station was just renovated five years ago. You state the obvious....wouldn't it be a fair sum of money to waste on such an endeavor? He responds that it's government money....and it's ok. You decline because you think it's a waste.

Finally, he responds that he has the funding to build a new municipal airport, and could arrange for one small airline to land four planes a day to fly locals out to Atlanta. Most folks drive an hour up the road to some regional airport and that's been going on for thirty years. No one has ever said nothing negative about this deal. You state the obvious....wouldn't it be a fair sum of money to waste on such an endeavor? He responds that it's government money....and it's ok. You decline because you think it's a waste.

The government guy starts to look confused. He wanted to help you.

You finally put your arm around his shoulder and let him know that help isn't exactly what you were dreaming about at night. And unless he wanted to cut your taxes....there weren't many reasons to overstay his visit in your town.

Just something to ponder.

Lack of Credible Evidence

The Portland District Attorney surveyed the mess, and finally called Al Gore this week....to let him know that his problems were over. There just wasn't enough credible evidence (at least not yet).

Al probably sat back in the easy chair....sipped a Michelob beer....and kept thinking about the astonishing amount of luck that a plain country boy from Tennessee can have. He went to Nam and never saw a day of action. He didn't put any effort into education but still pulled degree out of Harvard. Then he got into divinity school at Vanderbilt and shuffled around there. Then he got into politics and eventually got to be Vice President of the United States. And finally, he did something special enough to get a Nobel Peace Prize.

A country boy can't have this much luck.

What's next? It'd be a natural tendency to ask that. I'm personally hoping that Al meets up with Jessica Simpson and marries her. Then we could have a 5-star reality show.

As for lack of credible evidence? Well....it happens. Unless you tape the incident or have a witness....the DA can just toss the case. One would hope that it wasn't taped....because that would mess up this entire case....you know.

Farmers, Cash, and a Dopey Program


Small time farming in America...is dying. It's been dying for the past fifty years. There are dozens of reasons for this...and it's not worth arguing about. This week...someone pulled the curtain back and you glimpsed an amusing part of this small farmer saga. The bulk of the story is compliments of News Busters.

Back in 1997...four hundred black farmers sued the US Department of Agriculture. They basically said that discrimination had been going on with farm subsidies. Farm subsidies had been going on since 1982...so there were fifteen years worth of problems, if the judge agreed. He did.

When the smoke settled...the court decided that $50k for each damaged individual was fair. How he arrived at this round number...doesn't matter. Most everyone involved in the suite was completely satisfied with this $50k number. The end-all number of folks injured at this point...was simple to pinpoint.

Something clicked. Two thousand more black farmers jumped into the law suite, and they were added to the $50k group.

Then, something clicked again. Just over twenty-two thousand more black farmers joined the situation for $50k in damages.

It was free money at this point and you merely filled out some paperwork and said you were a black farmer and you'd been damaged by the US Agricultural Department's policy.

Around two years after point...the USDA and the US government came to this point of saying "Ok"....here's $50k for 16,000 black farmers. These were the folks who met all the conditions and showed enough proof to move to the payment line.

A funny thing was revealed at that point. There were close to 70,000 black farmers who claimed that they were wrongly denied their $50k in damages. They were upset.

Enter the US Census folks...who accidentally turned this 2-star event into a 4-star event. They basically said...across the entire nation...there's only 39,697 black farmers in existence (2007 figures). And as if it mattered...their numbers were less in the previous decade. It's best not to talk about that though.

So the most black farmers that you could dig up....are roughly 40k black farmers. Yet you have the sixteen thousand paid and the seventy thousand saying they were screwed over and denied their money. Think about that for a moment.

To fix things...even wrong things....congress passed a farm bill in 2008...with $1.25 billion attached. This was supposed to fix all 86k black farmers....even though we know there just weren't more than forty thousand.

So the curious part of the story now twists over to US Department of Agriculture's own Sherry Sherrod (the Breitbart story of the week....who was fired and then rehired by the Agricultural Department).

Sherry and her husband own a farm cooperative. They ended up with $150k as their damages paid out. The deal was supposed to be 'per farm or per farmer'....so they somehow figured out the right wording....and somehow got three times the prescribed amount of money....as anyone else.

Naturally, you'd have to stand there and scratch your head over the method of counting and payment. Then you'd step back to the 70,000 black farmers mentioned and wonder where they came from.

Somehow....I have this vision of a couple of ACORN guys sitting there and figuring a free cash deal....and rigging up paperwork for not just dozens....but hundreds and thousands of folks to just claim farmer status and hope for some stupid US Department of Agriculture administrators to just hand out the cash.

So if you stand and ponder over this for a while....you come to admit that there's a mess brewing on the stove. How many folks declared fake farms and claimed fake farmer status? How many got double or triple their payments because of the method they filled out the paperwork? You just don't know. Should a Presidential Commission come into play to figure out what went wrong and reclaim money? There's a list of problems here.

You have to wonder how this gets fixed....if it ever does.