Let’s Talk – Thoughts on Several Issues

GavelMountainview Medical, the surgical center in Las Cruces, NM., informed me politely that I was not welcome as a patient for my inability to wear a mask.  Once my failure to wear a mask was resolved, I was welcome to return, but I was not welcome until then.  This was made pretty clear to me today (27 September 2021).  Regardless of a wet signature signed letter from my VA-provided primary care provider, I cannot wear a mask, irrespective of the fact that the VA had arranged this appointment and was paying the bill.  I was persona non grata.

One would think that having accepted a contract, the accepter would do everything to fulfill the contract.  Yet, apparently, a mask is sufficient legal cause to forfeit a contract.  Does anyone else find this strange and odd?  Would a lawyer please step forward and explain contract law to me.  When I have accepted a contract, my job has been to fulfill that contract to the best of my abilities or be found in breach and liable for the damages to the contract issuer.Apathy

Changing topics.  I was taught, look people in the eye when speaking to them.  Be honest, forthright, and confident enough as a person to render respect.  I have studied people and psychology for a long time.  I am lost on this topic and if you have insight, please feel free to add your comments below.  Why do women feel the need to either become hostile or play with their clothes, hair, or refuse eye contact when talking to me?  I am not horrendous to look upon; I am certainly not good-looking either.  I am not flirting; I interact with other people for professional reasons; yet, I cannot get people to look me in the eye and have professional conversations.

What has happened to eye contact in American society?  What has happened to confidence in communicating?  Look, I get it; right now, the media has everyone scared to shake hands.  I was raised providing a firm handshake, looking people in the eye, and socially interacting is the highest skill you can learn to succeed.  I was having this conversation randomly the other day, and the other person was scapegoating millennials.  I feel this is 100% unfair as the problem is multi-generational and crosses all industries and situations.  Consider the following, and let’s have this conversation.Einstein

Changing topics.  What is more acceptable to you; all talk and no action, or all action and no talk?  In reviewing some transcripts of a ZOOM meeting where President Biden was in attendance with many Democratic National Committee (DNC) leaders and party flunkies, the president made remarks to the effect that since he was the only one speaking to a point, the DNC should be grateful.  One of the reasons I have been hesitant to expand the blog is that I prefer to be a person of action.  Yet, with my disabilities, I find taking action less and less the course I can physically handle.  Thus, I must find new outlets, and training others is a course of action I am good at.  Thus, the blog was born; but not taken without reservations.

QuestionNow, America finds itself at the mercy of a person who considers himself a person of words and thinks others should be grateful to have his words on a particular subject.  In psychology, this method of thinking is generally classified as narcissistic.  A narcissist is a person full of pride and egoism, which shows extreme love for themselves and only for themself.  I cannot think of a better adjective to describe Joe Biden.  Thus, I wonder about the question posed, do you prefer a person of many words and little action, or do you prefer someone of few words and plenty of action?

Strip politics, identity, sex, gender, and all other adjectives and names from this comparison.  Simply make a distinction between words and no action and lots of action and few words.  Then lay that preference out on the world and make choices based upon that preference.  As a person of action, I prefer other people of action.  I like people of action for actions can always be guided and shifted; words mean everything is stuck awaiting action.  If you prefer words to action, please let me know in the comments section why and explain to me how words are better than action.  I am genuinely interested in and appreciate logic and reason.kpi

Changing topics.  Last week my cousin succumbed to his injuries and passed this mortal coil.  I learned something that made me furious, and frankly, I am still not my “cherub-like self.”  I had always thought my cousins escaped the chains of abuse.  My uncle and aunt on my father’s side are just so tender-hearted and innocent; I thought their kids would escape the evils of abuse so prevalent on my side of the family circle.  Unfortunately, the clutches of sexual abuse tormented their family, and my cousin did not ever receive the training needed to overcome the abuse and was a victim his entire life.

I learned from an early age how to fight.  I was raised to be the last bastard standing in a room full of bastards.  I learned how to win, fight dirty, and be it fists, words, ideas, or weapons, I was going to be the victor.  I grew the antibodies against abuse by being abused.  I do not like admitting this, but it is the truth, plain and simple.  My cousin never got this training, I never knew he needed this training, and his family has suffered incredibly from a guidance counselor in the school district who abused my cousin in the second grade.Grit - Defined

To the abused; I am sorry!  You are now faced with a choice, do you give the person who abused, or is still abusing you, power over the rest of your life, or do you choose to fight and win back your life, dignity, and potential?  That is the only choice you make, and you will make this choice every day for the rest of your life.  How you choose dictates your destiny; do you have gravel in your guts sufficient to take back what was stolen from you or not?  You have friends, associates, and support, but at the end of the day, in the wee hours of the morning, you, and only you, have the power to defeat your abuser, and you must wield the sword to defeat the abuser!Angry Wet Chicken

To the abusers; I detest you!  With all the power I possess, I will actively work against you to defeat you!  There is nowhere you can run, nowhere you can hide, and nothing you can do to evade and escape.  I am not justice; I am simply a man who will not allow you the power to continue to abuse.  I know many like me who are just as committed to seeing you stand in front of a judge and be punished for your crimes, and we will continue to work for this day to our dying breath!

I have met too many abused and broken people who do not understand the simplicity of conquering abuse.  The action is simple, choose to stop allowing yourself to be abused.  The reality and activities to support that choice are hard, painful, and the struggle is real physically, mentally, emotionally, and on every level possible.  But, I promise you, freedom from abuse is possible!  Make the choice to stop allowing yourself to be abused!  Need a friend, contact me; need help, reach out.  There are plenty of people locally and more virtually who understand and are happy to help.  Just allow us to be there for you!Angry Grizzly Bear

The accepted praxis in society is to not talk about abuse and abuse recovery as this is a topic for “someone else” to discuss.  Well, that myth ends today!  Abuse is happening too often to continue to ignore, sidestep, or push it under the table.  Abuse is not just a topic for annual teacher training classes, nurses, and doctors.  Abuse does not just happen to low-income families, bad people, or those who “deserve it.”  Abuse comes in many different types and styles, forms, and methodologies.  The single unifying factor in abuse is a single person who is gaining power over another person through manipulation and dominion.

Sexual abuse is about power and dominion, as well as sexual gratification.  Sexual abuse is NEVER about love, and I do not care if it is male-on-male, male-on-female, or female-on-female; it is always about power, not love!  Physical abuse is always about dominion and power over another person; they are always selected for their weakness.  The abused person is constantly victimized until they cannot live without the abuse, or so they are trained.  Verbal abuse is all about power and dominion, feeding the ego of the abuser on the weakness of those abused.  When directed at another for personal gain, apathy is abuse and needs to be corrected before additional harm and further abuse are committed.

Pornography and masturbation are self-abuse.  Drug abuse is self-abuse, alcohol abuse is self-abuse, and these abuses lead to physical, sexual, verbal, and other types of abuse.  Abuse of self leads to abuse of others.  Abuse of others causes society to detest and denigrate you, exasperating self-abuse and addictive behaviors, which further exasperate drug and alcohol abuse and abuse of others.  Vicious cycle indeed!

Knowledge Check!Agree or disagree, leave a comment and let’s have the conversations that need to be discussed.  Let’s openly discuss root causes and look to create solutions that can generate positive outcomes.  Better, let’s open our hearts and hands to lift and support.  There has undoubtedly been sufficient abuse, torment, anger, and hatred in this world.  We need to find different solutions!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

If Everyone Cared – More Detestable VA Stories

I-CareAs I went to catalog more of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports, Nickelback’s song, “If Everyone Cared,” was playing.  I cannot think of a better title to proclaim the need for raising awareness and what is needed to fix the VA.  Until everyone is aware and the scab hiding the infection inside the walls of the VA are ripped away to be exposed to the sunlight disinfectant, nothing will change, and taxpayers will continue to pay for the abuse of veterans who deserve so much more.

We begin with an indictment and a reminder.  An indictment does not indicate guilt or innocence, and the parties mentioned are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of their peers.

Scott Mitchell Brown, John Henry Swiencki, and David Jeffery Hughes, Jr., were all charged with one count of conspiring to distribute hydrocodone, oxycodone, and amphetamines. Brown was also indicted for stealing prescription medications, possessing stolen mail, and obtaining unauthorized health information from the Kerrville VA Medical Center in Texas.”VA 3

I am a big fan of punishing liars and thieves of all stripes and support justice served in this case.

David Naylor, 59, of Spring Hill, Florida, was sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for theft of government funds. Naylor made false representations regarding his physical limitations in connection with his application for VA disability compensation.”VA 3

While the following perpetrator has been caught and sentenced, she represents but the tip of the iceberg.

Rita Copeland, 59, of Portsmouth, Virginia, was sentenced today to nine and half years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with schemes to defraud veterans. She operated Veteran Services of the Commonwealth, which claimed to provide veterans with caregiving, contracting, and rental assistance services. In total, from at least 2017 through 2020, Copeland’s schemes impacted at least 29 victims and resulted in a combined loss of approximately $430,000.”VA 3

Again and again, the following questions are asked and never answered; yet, the questions remain pertinent.   Who at the VA had to have known this abuse of veterans was occurring and did nothing to stop the abuse?  There are too many checks and balances, too many hands, and too many inspectors for fraud of any magnitude to exist for very long without raising flags needing investigating.  Where were the VA employees?  Who knew?  What did they not do?  Are they still Federal Employees?

Another veteran died, needlessly at the hands of VA providers, due to ineptitude, failed management, poor training, and a series of unfortunate events that cascaded.  I weep for the family of this veteran and mourn for their loss.  I am sorry you have had to experience this tragedy and wish there was something more I could do than simply spread the story of this deleterious behavior and hope for sunshine disinfectant.  The patient died from “presumed anoxic brain injury (his brain failed to receive enough oxygen).”

The VA-OIG found that physicians’ failure to provide adequate benzodiazepine dosing to address the patient’s delirium tremens, review the patient’s abnormal electrocardiogram before haloperidol administration, and transfer the patient earlier likely contributed to the patient’s deterioration and ultimate death.  The VA-OIG substantiated that a non-VA paramedic documented that the oxygen flow was not active.  Facility leaders and staff reported a lack of knowledge about the failed oxygen delivery. The nursing staff did not complete all required alcohol withdrawal assessments.  A physician improperly ordered restraints, nurses failed to obtain full vital signs while the patient was in restraints, and nurses did not receive restraint training as expected.  The VA-OIG substantiated that facility leaders and staff did not communicate initiation of emergency detention with the patient’s family; however, notification is not required.  Leaders did not conduct an institutional disclosure with the patient’s family timely or in person and did not provide a relevant update.”VA 3

Did you catch that last sentence; while the patient was dying, the facility leaders and providers, including the nursing staff, were more concerned with CYA (covering their own acts) than notifying the family they had screwed up, and their family member had died.  If the nursing and staff did not have the training, why and how could they use restraints on a patient? This is blatantly illegal!VA Seal

Let’s cover one more egregious item from this summary of unfortunate events; I visited a doctor who is transitioning out of medicine who made the following comment, “Medicine has changed, practicing medicine has changed, and the practice of medicine is no longer about treating people, but checking boxes, the patient be damned!”  The patient was a “walking chemistry experiment, and no single nurse or provider took a minute to stop providing care, assess the patient, and stop administering drugs!  Instead, they just kept pumping more drugs in until the patient died and then covered their tracks with designed incompetence to protect their failed inadequacies.  This is not “practicing medicine,” you would not treat an animal in this manner; at least not and keep your license!

A death row convict is not allowed to die from anoxic brain death, as it is considered incredibly painful and a cruel and unusual method of death, which is why the gas chamber has been banned as a legal means of causing death for death row inmates.  Yet, under a medical team’s care, a patient in a VA hospital is allowed to die in this horrific manner, and nobody is held accountable.  Is it any wonder why this article is suitably titled “If Everyone Cared?”LinkedIn VA Image

Not many outside of the veterans affected and their families know that the VA has been pushing opioids for decades down the throats of veterans.  At the height of the opioid crisis, the VA shut off all opioid drugs and told the veterans to seek help for addictions to pain medications.  The VHA did not evaluate the individual patients for need, did not seek alternatives, did not try to reduce dependency over time, simply cut off all opioids, and told the veterans to deal with the problems.  Unfortunately, opioids were not the only drug series that the VHA cut off suddenly on veterans without notice, cause, or individual patient consideration, and deficiencies in coordination for the care of patients and drug mandates from VHA has lead to suicides, murders, and other violent problems as addictions cause social problems.VA 3

When discussing failures to coordinate care for patients, abuse of patients, and the need for patients to be housed in the proper treatment centers for their needs to receive the right care, the following should boil your blood and comes from Fayetteville VAMC in North Carolina.

The VA-OIG identified that the psychiatrist used the involuntary commitment process in a manner that was inconsistent with the state’s established parameters and failed to adequately assess and document the patient’s capacity to make informed decisions and determine whether the patient had a healthcare agent. In addition, the patient’s primary care providers and psychiatrist missed an opportunity to coordinate specialty care needs for the patient.”VA 3

Essentially, a bureaucrat incarcerated a veteran against their wishes, without a trial, an appeal process, and proper medical care.  Now, imagine you are the family of this veteran or a friend, and you see this occur and feel powerless to help, impotent to intercede.  Every avenue you approach is blocked because of the authorities, the bureaucrat in charge who wields their power illegally.  How do you feel?  What do you do?  Where do you turn?  Is it any wonder why this article is suitably titled “If Everyone Cared?”

I-CareAmerica, we need to care about what is happening in our representative government, in our name, with our tax dollars, and to our neighbors, family, and friends.  There are no excuses for the abuses witnessed!  There are no excuses for medical providers to get away with this outrageous behavior in private hospitals or government-paid-for-care.  Let us all heed Nickelback’s song and the intent; let us be the “everyone” who cares!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

The Walmart Effect – Competition is NOT Just Cost

Exclamation MarkAfghanistan and the fraudulent President Biden have had me thinking about the Walmart effect over the last three days or so, and I cannot help but think there are some lessons to be discussed.  More to the point, the lines of congruence between the Walmart effect and the current political situation possess the potential for correcting course and saving America.  Not just America, but representative governments worldwide.  The Walmart effect is a global pandemic more powerful and pernicious than COVID ever will be, and we need to at least recognize this truth.

What is the Walmart Effect?

Working DollarWalmart has always competed on price.  As if there was nothing else to compete upon.  Lowest prices, regardless of the junk sold, price mattered more.  Hammer the price to nothing in every aspect of the supply chain.  Hammer the costs of doing business to lower costs to consumers.  Cheapen and eliminate packaging, “helping the environment,” and reduce costs.  Force suppliers and vendors to absorb traditional costs stores assumed, lowers costs, and increase profit margins.  Everything in the Walmart model is about lowering consumer costs, and Walmart has been very successful at twisting arms and breaking heads to reduce costs.

But, what has been the result of focusing just on costs the consumer sees?  First, lots of hidden fees have become observed.  Some of which was a good thing, most of which have become more obscure, and this is not such a good thing.  Worse, think of the fuel fees and delivery charges you now pay for having a pizza delivered.  Once a fee is begun to be charged, it is very difficult to stop charging the fee.  The Walmart effect passes costs onto consumers and shows the consumer why they are paying a higher fee, then the consumer accepts the fee as the cost of doing business and does not complain.  Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why there are so many fuel fees and why they became apparent almost overnight; I promise the cost of fuel was not the reason, the Walmart effect was the reason, and making money is the purpose.

Pigeon RevengeSecond, quality and service have disappeared in competition.  Safeway, as a grocery store, has excellent service; but they cannot compete on service and quality because the Walmart effect has changed these two adjectives to be synonymous with higher consumer costs.  Believe it or not, the grocery store model has not changed in the last 200 years. Walmart changed society to believe everything was about competing on consumer costs, and the rest of the competition has played along.  Want to know a secret, you as a consumer are being deceived into believing that Walmart has the best prices, but when quality is added to the picture, Walmart is selling you junk.

Third, all big-box retailers employ science to lure you into their stores.  Bright lights, color schemes, smells, all carefully crafted to keep you in the stores.  Musical shelves where products move from day to day in the store to lengthen your time walking the aisles.  Everything is carefully planned and organized to influence you to spend more money.  Now, back to Walmart and the claim about junk.  Some of the items in Walmart are end runs of name-brand products.  Some of the items are cheap knock-offs.  Some of the fruit and vegetables are almost spoiled or completely raw.  Yet, Walmart pushes those products for sale anyway.  Purchasers for Walmart are under strict order to find products for sale at the lowest costs.  After working with a manufacturer supplying big-box retailers, I can tell you that many manufacturers hate dealing with Walmart because of the Walmart costs of doing business.Lemmings 3

Fourth, all big-box retailers represent a plethora of manufacturers trying to get their products in front of customers in the easiest way possible.  This is a truth, and a problem, for the manufacturers, are always competing, think Kraft and General Mills, Post, and other brand names.  These manufacturers compete for every dime you spend; they compete for shelf space; they compete for advertising space; they compete for every second you spend in the store, and dealing with these manufacturers is like herding long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs.  A loose conglomeration controlled by access to the customer portal, Walmart manages an extensive customer portal, Safeway, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. All control certain customer portals and commit to selling XX amount of goods for the manufacturers.  But, this is not “friendly” competition by any stretch of the imagination.  One manufacturer scores a benefit that improves their access to customers over another manufacturer; you can bet another manufacturer will be competing to repeat the performance.  All of which increases costs to the consumer in hidden fees, generally through rebate scams, BOGO “deals,” or my favorite “Rollback prices.”

Interestingly, the political situation in all representative governments is similar to America’s current situation.  A phenomenon I find both alarming and intriguing, but one with enormous potential to be taken advantage of to correct and save representative governments.  The one thing cost-focused competition cannot do is compete with service.  When customer service is truly the focus, cost competitors melt away.  Therein lay the answer, but we must first describe the lines of congruence before we can discuss solutions.Lemmings 5

Consider point one of the Walmart effect, competing on price both hides and reveals costs.  Every representative government worldwide has an entire industry working 24/7, working tirelessly to plasticize words where taxes are concerned to make progress bad and regression good.  Regressive taxes are considered good, even though they kill jobs, ruin lives, cost more, and eventually lead to the ruination of liberty and freedom.  Progressive taxes are hailed as bad, even though they cut government costs, increase liberty and freedom, allow people to keep more of their hard-earned money, and force the government to live on a budget.  While the tax language has been around longer than Walmart, the truth is, the Walmart effect has improved the tax language to the point that representative government can rob you blind, and you never know.  Just like that fuel surcharge on pizza receipts, after the cost of ingredients for the pizza skyrocketed.

Point two of the Walmart effect; where has customer service gone in government?  Since I was a kid, citizens’ accessibility to elected officials has dropped like a sack of lead.  Worse, we have seen active animosity from the elected officials towards the citizenry.  Mayors allow terrorist mobs to destroy public and private property without regard, mobs and gangs to rule, entire sections of cities lost to civilization, and elected officials do not care until they utter empty words in an election campaign.  Enter a government office for a permit, license, get a question answered, etc., and you are treated like scum, and the bureaucrat is doing you a tremendous favor by granting you an audience.  Now, how do you honestly feel when you walk into Walmart and ask an associate a question, provided you can lasso an associate to ask?

Gravy Train 3On the third point in the Walmart effect, politicians spend enormous amounts of effort to use marketing science to play upon emotions to get and keep an audience.  The same marketing science employed to keep you in a retailer making purchases keeps you “connected” to your political party.  Worse, because there are familial traditions in being one political party or another, there remain tighter ties to a political party.  These strings are played to the fullest to bind you ever tighter, so you do not use conscious thinking when voting the party line.

Finally, we come to the fourth Walmart effect, the one with the most pertinence to current political dogma, the bundling of obscure groups into a ruling party.  I have never been shy about admitting that two-party political rule is terrible for America.  I am all for having 10-15 separate major political parties; in the confusion generated by the many voices, better governance occurs, mostly.  I respect the Israelis for their political system with their separate and ungainly political parties because of the need to gain coalitions and be very connected with and responsible to the people in those coalitions and the citizens they represent.  Recognizing that the political system does not always work, a robust system of codified laws is mandatory to keep the government in check and accountable to the people.

Bobblehead DollFrankly, I do not care what side of the political spectrum you come down upon.  What matters to me is how your representative governs.  Once an elected official of a representative government gains office, they cannot simply think they only represent that political party while in office.  Thinking this way is the epitome of the Walmart effect and stems from competing on cost alone.  Worse, thinking that the representative only represents those who placed them in power places that elected representative into a position to abuse their office.

Using others is what Walmart has done because they control such a vast portal to customers, and the manufacturers have been paying a steep price in more than dollars and cents ever since.  Unfortunately, so have the customers.  The harm to the manufacturers is delivered to the end consumer, and Walmart does not care as they are just a portal through which a manufacturer sells goods.  The same thing for the politician, all of society is harmed when a politician can be purchased and influenced; when harm comes to one person because of their political leanings, everyone suffers.

Knowledge Check!Therein lay the other answer to the Walmart effect, recognizing that we must join together, or fall individually, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle since we are all interconnected.  Service and joining together are the only paths forward.  We must not allow divisive political agendas, carefully crafted scientifically marketed political pogroms, and slick groomed politicians to sway us from the important points of freedom, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness.  We cannot afford the governments that have ballooned and festered over the last 60-years.  We cannot afford the Walmart effect; the cost is just too great!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Chronicling the VA – May We Remember the “Pobrecito!”

I-CareA Spanish-speaking Mexican colleague taught me this term, “pobrecito,” meaning “poor little one.”  As I chronicle the VA ineptitudes, failures, criminal behaviors, and abusive actions, I am always conscious of the pobrecito, the poor little one, the poor victim who got harmed.  Too often, the victims never receive any compensation, acknowledgment, or retribution, nothing for having become a victim of the VA.  Too often, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) investigates long after the abuse has occurred, and the victims are not covered in the scope of the investigation, or worse, the victim was killed, and the family is left to mourn, and nobody can help.

Angry Grizzly BearWhy chronicle the VA abuses; because the needs to be held accountable, speak the language, and have tougher skin and broader shoulders than the VA’s normal victims.  The VA is slowly learning they can harm me, but they cannot shut me up!  I will not stop fighting the VA for humane treatment, honorable service, and dedicated systems.  The VA is sick because apathy and inertia were allowed to replace common sense and decency, leadership was replaced with cost accounting and bureaucratic red tape, and human kindness was eradicated and replaced with drones and robots.  I know how to make the VA better; I do not have all the answers, but I know how to launch the revolution and begin cleaning the VA, and I will not stop calling upon those responsible for fixing the mess they created!

Starting this week’s VA-OIG headlines of crimes and inspections, we find a couple in South Florida who used the system to bilk more than $20 Million in purchase order scams.

Earron Starks was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay over $2.4 million in restitution. Carlicha Starks was sentenced to three years of supervised release, including one year of home confinement, and ordered to pay $501,000 in restitution. They paid kickbacks to VA employees as part of a large-scale bribery scheme, which enabled the Starks couple and other corrupt vendors to receive over $20 million in purchase orders from VA medical centers in West Palm Beach and Miami. Fourteen additional defendants were charged for their roles in this scheme.”VA 3

Who’s the pobrecito in this case; the taxpayers, the veterans, and the United States.  Federal Employees had to not only know the crimes occurring but be complicit in the crimes.  Will they lose their retirement benefits, have to repay their wages, and face criminal charges and jail time for their culpability?  Fourteen additional defendants, how many were supervisors in the know and on the payroll who were promoted during this scheme whose supervisors failed to do their jobs and scrutinize the work of their underlings?  The shadiest part of this entire scheme is encapsulated in the following sentence:

All VA Employees were either terminated or resigned.”

Name me one private-sector employer who could get away with a massive scheme and enjoy similar benefits!Survived the VA

We find another VA employee embroiled in theft of equipment which sold the stolen goods in Ohio.

Kevin Rumph, Jr., of Fairburn, Georgia, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1.9 million in medical products while employed at a VA community-based outpatient clinic in Atlanta. Between 2013 and 2021, Rumph made hundreds of unauthorized purchases of equipment used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. He then stole and sold the equipment to a vendor in Ohio. Sentencing is scheduled for November 17, 2021.”

I have worked in purchasing in both the US Military and in the private sector.  If I went to my bosses with “hundreds of purchase orders for supplies,” they would naturally be curious.  Repetition of hundreds of similar requests would raise red flags and demand audits of my records and proof of need.  Why did this not occur at the VA?VA 3

In the US Navy, I was in charge of ordering stock and saw requests for certain o-rings spike, as I knew the Chief Engineer would spot this and ask why, I asked why, went to the equipment records, dug up the maintenance reports, and asked questions of the mechanics and technicians.  In doing so, we discovered an unreported problem with machinery.  This is called due diligence; why was it not being practiced by the supervisor of Mr. Rumph?  You cannot tell me a seven-year trend line is something that was an anomaly and easily missed in budget reporting year-over-year!

Exclamation MarkLet’s admit a truth for certain; COVID has been a farrago of gargantuan size from day 1.  In acknowledging this, no blame is being proportioned to the front-line workers in any way, shape, or form.  But, the administrators, policymakers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have certainly proved they could unscrew the inscrutable!  Worse, the bureaucrats proved that their idiocy was highly contagious, infecting more people than COVID, spreading faster than COVID, and killing more people than COVID.  Our proof of this concept arrives from Houston and the Michael DeBakey VAMC.

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) conducted a healthcare inspection regarding allegations of incompletely screening for COVID-19 and treatment of a patient with serious mental illness who presented for same-day care at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (facility).”

Findings:

      • The VA-OIG substantiated that facility staff did not complete the patient’s COVID-19 temperature screening.
      • The VA-OIG substantiated that facility staff failed to manage the patient with COVID-19 symptoms medically.
      • Sent the patient to the drive-through testing area without medical evaluation, did not isolate the patient, complete a care plan, or follow the policy for transporting patients suspected to have COVID-19.
      • The vulnerable patient disappeared while in the facility’s care, was found off-site four days later experiencing a medical emergency, taken back to the facility, and died the following day [emphasis mine]!
      • The VA-OIG determined that the Mental Health Intensive Case Management team failed to address documentation discrepancies related to the patient’s surrogate and educate the family on COVID-19 visitor policy and screening processes.
      • The VA-OIG identified the facility’s noncompliance with the missing patient policy.
      • Facility leaders’ failure to report an adverse event and ensure a timely review of the patient’s episode of care.
      • The VA-OIG identified facility leaders did not timely or accurately disclose to the patient’s family the medical mismanagement that led to the patient’s adverse clinical outcome, e.g., death!
      • The VA-OIG concluded the failure to screen, isolate, and evaluate the patient resulted in potential COVID-19 exposure to staff, patients, and the public when the patient moved through facility grounds.VA 3

What was not covered in the scope of the VA-OIG investigation was whether the staff had proper training on the written policies or if training had been suspended due to the “pandemic health emergency.”  Failure of training has been a running and recurring theme for the VA before the pandemic, and the failures of training have led to thousands of “adverse clinical outcomes” at the VA, up to and even including death.  Yet, as evidenced in this example, small decisions lead to catastrophic events.  The infected patient was mentally unstable and missing for four days; how many people interacted with the patient as a superspreader event?  Who is at blame at this VAMC for this event, the leaders!  They failed their people, failed this patient, and failed this family!

Detective 4Before continuing, we must pause and take a moment to send heartfelt congratulations to two VA Health Care Systems (VAHCS) who passed their comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIp), if not with flying colors with significant improvement, and are deserving of the highest praise.  Would the leaders of the Fort Harrison VAHCS in Montana and the Western Colorado VAHCS in Grand Junction please stand and take a bow.  Your improvements, conduct, and capacity to achieve reflect that success is possible with good leadership.  Keep up the good work; find ways to improve daily, and may continual success be ever yours!

Finally, we come to a regular topic, the failure of the VA as a whole entity to manage to pass a simple audit on financial matters and the continuing debacle where hiring is concerned during the pandemic.  Let me refresh your memories on the hiring debacle; first, the VA-OIG found that VISN leaders “were generally pleased with the “flexibility” provided during the pandemic for speedier hiring.”  What did the American people get for reduced hiring practices at the VA?  More criminal employees, more employees with shady pasts, more employees with sticky fingers, and more employees who could not find employment in public schools, now working for the federal government.VA 3

How did that relaxing of hiring practices work out for the American people and the veterans receiving care; not very well!  But, let’s all relax; the VISN leaders are “generally pleased.”  Frankly, I would be shocked if anything ruffled the VISN leaders’ feathers long enough for them to care; they are mostly at the top of their career ladders and failing a presidential appointment to Washington, know they are set for life.  So, why rock the boat?!?!

As for financial audits, the VISN leaders know that money continuously is appropriated to carry them and their poor decisions forward.  Just ask the Denver VAMC where the construction cost overruns are still costing the taxpayers, and no one was ever held liable for that boondoggle or any other crime and scheme for that matter.

Question 3Why?  Why are victims left to rot, the assaulters and victimizers promoted, and the VA as an organization left in the hands of disreputable, dishonest, unethical, and immoral people?  Why is the VA a culture of corruption, greed, envy, sloth, and disinterest when the US military is the exact opposite?  America is not what is found in the halls of the VA, why has the VA been allowed to become something anathema to the American people?

Knowledge Check!Great Britain, you find similar in your halls of government.  Your people are amazing; your government workers are just as despicable and deleterious as the American VA, IRS, and DMV.  Australia, great people, absurdly detestable government workers.  France, interesting people, but the government employee seems to have been drug from the bottom of the scum sucked from the Seine.  I have met incredible people in Italy, Greece, Germany, South Korea, etc., but the story rings true everywhere; the government does not represent you.  Pobrecito; what has happened?

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Ineffective Governance – Chronicling the VA

I-CareIn a scheme fit to fully infuriate patients and pad wallets, the VA providers prescribe medications; generally, the medication provided is a cheap knock-off, a generic mixture, or drugs with rebate incentives where the hospital providers are “encouraged” to use one drug more than another and the “higher cost” is rebated back the hospital in a profit-sharing scheme.  All these schemes and more play out at your local hospital and VA facilities, so please do not think this is industry-specific to the government.  However, as proved by the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports, t improper controls and governance wastes the rebates, harms patients, and still cannot get the programs correct.

Angry Wet ChickenI have three prescriptions hindered by the pharmacy practices of the VA, where the knock-off drug is useless, the mixture of the medication does not do as well as the original medicines prescribed, and where the cost of an ingredient has changed one medication to another and made the prescription less effective to the point where more medication is required for less overall effectiveness.  If the patient has to take more medication, does that mean that the cost savings never happened or that the cost savings were pushed down to the customer?  Does the patient even have a voice in the pharmaceutical decisions?  Why?

We begin the VA-OIG reports with a New Jersey man, who from 2017 thru 2020 stole more than $8.2 million in HIV medication from the VA.  Where were the supervisors when procurement officers for the VA over-ordered medication, stole the excess, sold the stolen goods, and pocketed the profits?  Where were the oversight accountants?  Where were the hospital directors?  People had to know, yet somehow the scheme could exist and thrive; this is as much a failure of leadership as it is ineffective governance, poor inventory control, and useless organizational controls.  Truly a pathetic example of VA leadership!VA 3

On the topic of ineffective governance of pharmaceutical contracts, and diversions of drugs, the VA-OIG report the following:

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) spent about $6.6 billion on prescription drugs in fiscal year (FY) 2019. Most were dispensed to veterans by medical facility pharmacies. VHA pharmacies can return drugs that become damaged or expire before use through a reverse distributor for credit or destruction. In FY 2019, VHA expected to receive about $52 million from drug returns.  The VA-OIG found VHA pharmacy chiefs did not effectively implement the program and did not follow requirements in VA’s contract with the reverse distributor, Pharma Logistics. These issues increased the risk of drug diversion and ultimately put about $18.1 million at risk. Pharmacy chiefs did not always secure, and track drugs held for return or complete required analyses to maximize returns. They also failed to meet contract requirements to return for credit-only drugs due to expire within 120 days. VA’s National Contract Service and network contracting officers needed to do more to ensure contract terms were met. The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Services and the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management did not effectively govern the program or communicate requirements to medical facilities” [emphasis mine].

VA 3Someone help me out, for I cannot understand how incompetence can be designed into these systems, policies, procedures, and responsible parties retain their positions of power.  What happened in 2018, 2017, 2016, and earlier?  We have a single fiscal year (FY) snapshot at a program that is an absolute failure.  By any measurable standard, that should have ignited a full audit of previous years until finding a successful year when the program worked.  Will there be a follow-up to this investigation to see if the VA-OIG’s recommendations are followed and implemented?  The VA-OIG has the leadership caught dead to rights on ineffective governance of a program worth $6.6 Billion to the American Taxpayer, and no accountability or responsibility of personnel is to be found anywhere.  Why?

Plato 2In a separate investigation, the VA-OIG found:

In October 2020, VA ended its contract with Pharma Logistics.  The vendor continues to process and issue final invoices to facilities as the returned drugs become eligible for and receive manufacturer credit. The final invoice process will continue until at least April 2022.  VHA medical facility pharmacies lost at least an estimated $2.1 million worth of drug return credits because pharmacy chiefs did not always effectively monitor or review job settlement statements before Pharma Logistics issued final invoices.  In addition, although the vendor established a dashboard that provided information on the status of drug return credits at the facility level, it cannot provide a national report on all outstanding credits.  This hurt VHA’s ability to maximize potential drug return credits and minimize the risk of lost credits.  VHA will continue to be unable to ensure it is receiving all credits for drugs returned by medical facilities if pharmacy chiefs do not routinely monitor preliminary invoices, reconcile job settlement statements to identify outstanding credits, and request extensions to final invoices to allow additional time for credit processing. This risk will persist for any future drug return contract(s)—whether awarded nationally or locally—if the reimbursement structure remains the same” [emphasis mine].VA 3

Did you catch that; the vendor created software to help track medications, making it easier to return medicines, and the VA pharmacy chiefs could not follow the dashboard and increased the risk of losing money for the VHA.  You were hired to perform a job; a collateral duty of your job is inventory management, tools are provided and supported to aid you in making decisions, and you refuse to use these tools.  How is this the vendor’s fault?  Why do you still retain your position?  Ineffective governance is barely the tip of the VA’s problematic iceberg created the good ship America has hit!

Liars, Thieves, and Fraud Artists Beware

GavelA Norwood, Massachusetts woman has been indicted, remains presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, by a jury of her peers, for stealing social security and workman’s compensation benefits.  The Norwood woman’s actions are continuing to support the claim that complexity breeds criminal abuse.  Unfortunately, also proving that the government is not doing their jobs in checking tax records before providing benefits.

A man from Georgia has pled guilty to running a Ponzi scheme and defraud the American government during the COVID pandemic.  Frankly, I am thrilled to see another fraudster being stopped before his crimes become astronomical in scale.  I remain convinced that the government procurement system is wide open to abuse, and the complexity of the procurement system is too costly, cumbersome, and risk inviting.  The criminals see too much opportunity in the government procurement system, and the complexity breeds the ability to lie, steal, cheat the American taxpayer.

QuestionThe following remains a case where there are too many lawyers and not enough truth to ascertain what in the world is going on.  If you have further insight, please weigh in.  “Sunrhys LLC, a landlord and property management company, headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, agreed to pay $16,618 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by overcharging a tenant and by fraudulently obtaining federal funds from a federal program designed to provide housing to homeless Veterans. The United States alleged that Sunrhys violated the agreement and the HUD-VA Support Housing program requirements by fraudulently overcharging a veteran for monthly rent between July 2019 and April 2020.”

Highlights, Audits, and Inspections

July 2021 – Highlights:

Each month, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) publishes highlights of our investigative work, congressional testimony, and oversight reports. Each month’s highlights are meant to provide a brief overview of the most significant OIG work conducted in that period.”

blue-money-burningThe VA-OIG conducted a financial efficiency review of the Miami VAHCS.  From the findings, the VHA, VBA, National Cemeteries, specifically, and the VA generally, could learn much about fiscal responsibility.  But this was already well documented!  The VA has never successfully passed an audit with transparency, accountability, and responsibility; why am I the only person demanding to know why?  Want to laugh; the VA-OIG recommends “more scrutiny” for financial transactions to the VA as a recommendation.  Like the current system for scrutiny is working, and just a bit more effort will help.  Go ahead and read the report for more specifics; my stomach cannot handle writing about the gross inefficiencies, the actual harm, and out-of-control governance failures.  Fiscal insanity is one thing; what is occurring at the Miami VAHCS is beyond insane and bordering on the unbelievable!  Almost the beginning of the Twilight Zone.

Survived the VAThe Sheridan VAMC in Wyoming continues to be performing well and deserves hearty congratulations for the results of their latest comprehensive healthcare inspection.  I prefer to issue congratulations than butt-kickings, and the congratulations are well deserved.  Keep up the good work moving forward.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Compliance Problems and Dead Veterans – More Shameful VA Misconduct Chronicles

Angry Grizzly BearThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) is filling my inbox by mid-week again, and the volume never ceases to amaze and mystify.  Over the last 10+ years of reporting on the VA-OIG reports, I have learned that when the volume is exceedingly high by mid-week, there are reports the VA-OIG is hoping to get overlooked in the crush.  Luckily for them, I am here to ensure nothing gets overlooked; you’re welcome!

We begin with more fiscal insanity and the failure to comply with regular auditing and business financial practices that would see a private company’s owners in prison.  Let’s be clear; Congress passed specific legislation to single out government agencies to demand they comply.  One of these unique pieces of legislation is called the Payment Integrity Information Act (PIIA), which audits the VA regularly fails.

Please note, last year, the VA failed two programs on the PIIA; for the fiscal year 2020, the VA failed two of the programs, consistent failure is a leadership problem.  Yet, the VA-OIG claimed the following:

To VA’s credit, it noted a decrease in improper payment estimates two years in a row and a decrease in its improper payment rates for nine programs and activities.”VA 3

Consistent with the previous fiscal year’s PIIA reports, yes; still a leadership problem, yes.  But I am not so generous as the VA-OIG, for I know many a non-profit and for-profit organization that has been fined heavily, bankrupted, and put into conservatorship over the same actions.  Nothing ever happens to the leaders at the VA failing to do their jobs!  12 programs and activities totaling $11.37 Billion, and never are the leaders held accountable for failure; let that sink in for a minute or two.  Read the report, you tell me, should real people be held responsible for failing to follow the law?

Gravy Train 3The VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIp) of the Roseburg VAHCS in Oregon; for the regular readers, I bet you can guess what was found.  Yup, the employees feel morally distressed in how they are being pressured to treat the veterans.  Are you surprised; I am not, but there still might be some people, somewhere in America, surprised that the VA abuses the veterans they are honor-bound to serve.  The most tenured leaders have been in place since 2016.  I wonder if the moral distress and the leadership hiring are correlational data points, for I know that from 2012 to 2017, there was a lot of shuffling of VA leaders at the local VAMC/VAHCS level due to dead veterans in Phoenix from death list scandals.

The VA-OIG claimed the following:

The VA-OIG identified concerns with root cause analysis action implementation and outcomes measurement. Leaders were knowledgeable about employee satisfaction and patient experiences. However, they had opportunities to improve their knowledge of VHA data or system-level factors contributing to specific poorly performing Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning measures.”VA 3

Tell me something, how can you have a job for more than four years, be rated as knowledgeable about the measurement analytical methods, but not be knowledgeable about root cause analysis, action implementation, and systems-level factors contributing to poor performance?  To gain your position, you had to grow professionally through the bureaucracy and the various sub-levels of VA leadership to lead a VA Hospital.  Yet, somehow, after all this time and experience, you have inadequate knowledge about the essential functions of your job.  Quoting Colonel Potter here: “HORSE HOCKEY!”  Does this sound remarkably akin to designed incompetence to anyone else?cropped-bird-of-prey.jpg

Meaning, I do not believe your lies!

Traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the case of Dr. Robert Dale Bernauer Sr. (74), who has pled guilty to workers comp fraud and four other charges of fraud, where the total amount of fraud existed from 2011 to 2017 and more than $1 Million.  Co-Conspirators and the insurance company are not named but should be.  Worse, this scheme involved workman’s compensation insurance for Federal and State employees, Federal agencies, State agencies, and private employers.  While the lawyers and attorneys all crow about catching a doctor who committed fraud, and I am glad he was caught, where are all the state and federal employees who had to know this was going on and did not do their jobs?

Through the insurance company, the doctor was charging 1500-2000% higher for medication marked up. Indeed, this should have raised some eyebrows and questions somewhere in the six years this fraud lasted.  Who is asking why this did not raise red flags at the state and federal levels?VA Seal

Weep America, another veteran, has died by suicide, and the VA is culpable due to bureaucrat inertia and outright failure to follow the guidelines and rules as established.

The VA-OIG found that staff did not adequately evaluate the patient’s condition when reviewing the patient’s high-risk status.  Facility staff did not assign a Mental Health Treatment Coordinator (MHTC) prior to discharge or establish a facility MHTC policy, as required.  The Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health – Veterans Enhanced Treatment (REACH VET) provider did not outreach the patient as required.  Facility staff did not comply with Veterans Health Administration suicide risk assessment procedures and did not notify facility leaders or suicide prevention staff of the patient’s death by suicide” [emphasis mine].VA 3

Why was the staff allowed to fail so severely here; they were not appropriately trained.  Staff failures and training failures are symptoms of leadership failures, and a veteran is dead!  Which staff has been fired for their failures?  Which leaders have been fired without retirement or potential for rehiring for a deceased veteran as the final act in a chain of events that began with failing to perform their job?  How many times will this story have to repeat before Congress acts to reflect the interest and the responsibility invested in their office by the electorate?  How many times is this story repeating without the benefit of the VA-OIG doing a full-blown investigation?Angry Wet Chicken

Unfortunately, the following report involves the abuse of an intimate partner and bureaucratic inertia.  While the complete record is not revealed (thankfully), what is revealed is detestable to the Nth degree and includes 214 days of spousal abuse, bureaucratic inertia, and mental health failures to protect the spouse and help the veteran, ending with the veteran’s suicide.  The saddest part of this story, it took almost three years for this suicide to be investigated by the VA-OIG (2019).

“The VA-OIG found that despite the patient’s and spouse’s intimate partner violence (IPV) reports, inpatient mental health unit staff did not consult with the IPVAP point of contact or ensure the spouse felt safe with the patient returning home upon discharge. The inpatient psychiatry resident did not timely complete a progress note addendum, which resulted in other clinicians not having access to critical IPV-related information for 34 days. Facility staff failed to consider a consultation with the Office of Chief Counsel, although the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) advises employees to “work with your Office of Chief Counsel” regarding state reporting requirements for victims of IPV. Outpatient mental health staff did not consult with the IPVAP point of contact or document discussion of IPV resources or treatment options, as the OIG would have expected. The Facility Director did not ensure the development of an IPVAP protocol, as required. Although a licensed independent provider was appointed as the IPVAP coordinator, facility staff and leaders did not identify the assigned IPVAP coordinator as a resource at the time of the patient’s care in 2019. The VA-OIG also found that VHA guidance about IPV training responsibilities was unclear.”VA 3

Let’s talk about some realities of mental health.

      • 50% of the patients seeking mental health see no improvement.
      • 10% of the patients seeking mental health support will be injured by the mental health provider.
      • 33% of the mental health patients choosing a pharmacological solution experience harm or no relief.

If you add these numbers up, that’s 93% of the population seeking mental health support not being helped or being harmed by mental health providers.  This does not mean that mental health providers need to give up, but they need to work harder to find solutions and meet their patient’s needs.  It means timely provider notes are mandatory!  It requires providers to have a plethora of options for treatments, obtain patient buy-in, and follow up with the patient.  It involves treatment facilities to write procedures and operating policies that allow for rapport between a patient and a provider that is not disturbed as long as that relationship is healthy and progress occurs.

Knowledge Check!America, it is time, and past time, for the Department of Veterans Affairs to be overhauled from stem to stern.  To be held up to scrutiny, transparent audits and the leaders held accountable and responsible for the failures and abuse of veterans, their spouses, and dependents.  These last two stories, especially, have left me spiritually sick and mentally angry!  There is no excuse for the inertia evidenced, no excuse for the designed incompetence, and no excuse for the abuse to continue!  Where is Congress?  Where is the US President?  Where are the House and Senate speakers (Major and Minor) raising a rhubarb and demanding hearings, opening Department of Justice inquiries into misconduct and malfeasance when these egregious VA-OIG reports are brought before them?  Where is the media in demanding the politicians pay attention?

Satire? Obama ISIS Speech Depresses Nation | Hooper's War - Peter Van BurenWeep America!  Those who have defended you and me are being fed into the machine of bureaucratic inertia and spat out as broken or dead constructs — bereft of hope, lost in red tape, and denied solutions and care.  Pets and farm animals are treated better than veterans, and I cannot help but wonder if this was designed purposefully to satisfy the whims and fancies of the politicians currently in office.  Treat an animal like a veteran is treated, and you will be publicly shamed on national TV faster than a snake can shed its skin.  You will receive more media attention, more lawyers and politicians will hound you, and consequences galore will fall all over you.  Shameful!  Utterly shameful!

References

American Psychological Association. (2012, August). Recognition of psychotherapy effectiveness. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/policy/resolution-psychotherapy.aspx

Corbett, L. (2013, December 17). Psychotherapy based on depth psychology is a superior approach [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/e4JQamcq24c

Lilienfeld, S. (2007). Psychological Treatments That Cause Harm. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(1), 53-70. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40212335

Smith, B. L. (2012). Inappropriate prescribing. Monitor on Psychology, 43(6), 36. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/prescribing.aspx

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Gasoline Taxes – The Epitome of Forced Taxation and Government’s Broken Promises

Exclamation MarkI do not care that Alaska has not increased its gasoline taxes in 50-years.  Frankly, the fact that the Federal Government has gone 27.4 years without increasing the Federal Fuel Taxes is not a problem.  Nor that the Federal Government has to either get the current taxes renewed, or the Federal Gas Tax goes to $0.042 a gallon is not a tragedy, but a good thing.  Gas taxes are not the problem; the problem is that the fuel taxes, excise taxes, surcharges, and fees built into a gallon of gas that equals more than $1.00 per gallon, are never prioritized to the infrastructure projects the tax was collected initially to pay for!

IronyI find the following ironic; the Federal Gasoline Excise Tax is actually two taxes combined.  $0.01 per gallon is paid as the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) fee.  Why is this ironic; because the government LUSTs after all types of money to misappropriate.  Before creating acronyms, one would think that the government would consider how much of a joke those acronyms will make.  One of the seven deadly sins that are constantly causing scandals for politicians, LUST!  Yes, I find this tax acronym very ironic and applicable to the discussion on why the roads and other infrastructure is rated as a C- and falling.  I find LUST very appropriate to the discussion on the misappropriation of funds and how the government wants to increase taxes to pay for something already well funded but where the money is consistently diverted.

QuestionPlease note that each state will have additional taxes, fees, surcharges, and tax projects built into the cost of a gallon of gas or diesel, aviation, or propane.  Fuel taxes are a tax scheme that seems to always pay for anything but roads, bridges, and infrastructure.  Some basic facts regarding gas taxes:

      1. The average state gas tax is $0.3006 per gallon of gas.
      2. The Federal Government gets $0.184 per gallon of gas.
      3. States have added other fees to a gallon of gas, including:
          • Environmental
          • Underground storage (payable even if the tanks are above ground)
          • Inspection fees
          • Certification and other weights and measurement fees
      4. If your state taxes Ethanol, your gas taxes include the Ethanol tax, as well as a fuel tax.
      5. All fuels are hit with taxes, and some of those taxes are disproportionately assigned to heavier vehicles. For example, diesel has a different formula for taxes due to the trucking industry using roads and bridges more; at least, this is the excuse used to tax diesel differently.

Gas Tax Revenue – Poor Roads and Infrastructure

Since I was a kid in Maine, who closely observed the gas tax debate, I have wondered the same question.  “Why are the roads so poor if the government is collecting all these taxes on gasoline?”  Now, keep in mind the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. “Taxes are the price of civilization.”  Meaning that to “enjoy” the pleasure of a free society, the government will levy taxes.  But, the money collected does not have to go for what the tax was intended to pay.  Hence the broken promises of gasoline taxes.

Plato 2Fuel taxes are used for a myriad of uses, and the priority is all confused about how to spend fuel taxes:

        1. Schools
        2. Pay down the National Debt
        3. Mass Transit
        4. Cleaning up underground fuel leaks
        5. Law Enforcement
        6. Environmental Protection
        7. Pension Shortfalls
        8. State Debts
        9. Federal Highway Trust Fund Deficits of all types
        10. Enforcement Costs, including weights and measurement certification
        11. Roads
        12. Bridges

Now, do not forget the other obstacle in fixing roads and bridges, the labor costs, especially if the workers are unionized.  The government bidding processes for projects, especially in all forms of construction, are obscenely complicated, which increases costs long before a shovel hits the dirt.  If unions are involved, the time for the project and expenses will, at a minimum, double before the project completes, creating deficit spending.  I am not cynical here; I have witnessed this occur too often not to admit the truth.

Working DollarChris LeDoux sings a song, “Working Man’s Dollar,” which tells the story and details the difference between a working man’s dollar and the dollar in other places.  The fuel tax was first adopted in Oregon, and the proceeds were earmarked only for fixing, maintaining, and building roads, bridges, and other travel infrastructures, like tunnels.  Except, the money never is prioritized to the failing roads, bridges, and infrastructure costs.  The working man’s dollar, collected through forced taxation, is not respected by the government authorized through the ballot box to allocate spending.

I was in Maricopa County when a stadium was pitched to the residents to be located in Scottsdale.  A gas tax hike was proposed as part of an overall tax plan to pay for the stadium.  I asked, “If the stadium was worth the investment, why not just sell bonds?”  I never got an answer.  Not every citizen was interested in the stadium, not all citizens were going to benefit from the stadium, but every citizen was being asked to help pay for a stadium.  The stadium in that election failed, but the ideas did not die; a new location was proposed, and the voters there accepted the stadium’s tax hikes.  Want a surprising non-surprise, the stadium is built, but the taxes have never gone away, including property, sales, and fuel taxes!  Where is that money going?

Bait & SwitchNow, the Federal Government has a bunch of fuel taxes and surcharges (taxes called a fee) about to expire.  The question every voter in America needs to ask themselves is this, “Did the government properly use the funds dedicated to infrastructure?”  If so, then the fuel taxes should continue at the Federal level.  If not, then the fuel taxes should cease, for the government refuses to spend money according to the purpose it was collected.  Every single state in the union should be asking the same question and answering accordingly.

I lived in Albuquerque, NM., for several years.  To get potholes fixed, you had to ruin your car in an accident involving the street, then sue the city, county, state, whatever for the insurance costs.  Only then was that particular patch of road deemed important enough to repair.  There are bone-jarring, teeth-rattling, car-destroying potholes all over Albuquerque.  These never get fixed because the city has been too busy dumping tax money into a rapid transit project that is barely used, overly expensive, and desperately not desired by the taxpaying citizens.  They had “ART” (Albuquerque Rapid Transit) crammed down their throats by a judge.  ART has been a disgrace from Day 1.  Yet, money keeps pouring into ART instead of the many roads, bridges, overpasses, and other infrastructure that desperately needs repair.  A friend of mine hit a pothole, doing 35mph, dented his rim almost 2”, ruined his front alignment, and cost him a considerable sum.  That pothole is still there, still causing dents, still eating tires, and the city cannot fix it, the state will not fix it, the county was supposed to fix it, the Indian reservation owns it, and the federal government makes the pothole worse every day by traffic of federal employees going to work.

Tax BurdenHence the reason why fuel taxes are considered a tax scheme!  If you pass the buck enough, nothing gets done, and the money collected can be used in other projects while responsibility is determined.  Except, there is no money to fix the problem when the responsibility is determined, and the wheel just keeps spinning around.  Are you sick and tired of the games politicians play, yet?  Now, imagine your electric bill going up to pay for the fuel taxes not paid for by electric car owners, and tell me about proper government action and accountability.  My friend could not sue because responsibility cannot be determined; his insurance would not pay for the damages because the road damaged his vehicle; guess who was out almost $10,000.

Tax Scheme 2Some states are changing how the gasoline and other fuel taxes, including electricity due to the rise in electric vehicles on the road, are being priced and collected.  However, the problem is not the tax; it’s the fact that the tax never pays for what it was intended to when collected.  Some states got an increase in fuel taxes through their state legislatures this year.  Other states and the Federal Government are taking fuel taxes up in the coming months or the next legislating session.  But, not a single politician, anywhere in America, has stepped up to state the obvious, the current taxes collected are sufficient to pay for roads and bridges; we have to allocate more of the current money collected to roads and bridges.

Broken Promises – Broken Roads and Bridges

Question 3Is the problem apparent?  How many of your state taxes, lotteries, and other fees are supposed to pay for education?  Yet, education always seems never to have enough money.  How many taxes and fees go into the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation, all of which are supposed to pay for infrastructure, e.g., roads, tunnels, bridges, overpasses, highways, etc.?  How much is the pension crisis costing your state, driving taxes and fees upwards, but the money never is delivered to pay down and lessen the pension crisis?

I repeat, only for emphasis, “America does NOT have a cash collection problem; it has a spending problem.”  At all levels of government, the elected officials are acting worse than drunken sailors on a seven-day binge, and this behavior needs to cease!  We cannot spend our way out of the hole dug through deficit spending!  The answer is not allowing the government to steal more money from our pockets, but to demand the money taken is used for the purposes intended!

Tax SchemeWe must tie political decisions to misappropriate funds to the legislators and executives making the decisions.  Thus, holding accountable the people who are being poor managers of the people’s money.  More importantly, when re-election decisions are made, the media, the influencers, and the political parties need to report this information.  Being able to hide funding shenanigans and criminal activities should never occur; businesses cannot do this, the government should not be able to do this.  Audits, investigations, and transparency are critical to putting the right people out of office and into prison, and keeping the honest and faithful stewards in office and working.

Knowledge Check!The size of government must shrink to an affordable level, from the city to the Federal; every government body in America, including those non-Government agencies acting like government agencies (USPS), need to be forced onto a diet of less money!  There is no excuse for the government to be the size it has become.  There is no excuse why we, the owners of the government, cannot demand government shrink, become efficient, and keep the promises made regarding money collected, used appropriately, and ended at the time promised.

Angry Wet ChickenAs sure as carts to horses and ducks to water, a Federal tax, fee, or surcharge, will be found shortly on your electric bill to cover the costs of electric vehicles on the roads.  When the Federal government does this, the state, county, and city will jump in with both feet, claiming “fairness” and “equality” so everyone is “paying their fair share” of the costs for infrastructure.  It doesn’t matter that you do not own an electric vehicle; the government will help you finance one through increased taxes and misappropriated fees collected.  Just like the “Obama Phone” scheme being abused by many people and paid for by a small minority.  Broken promises indeed!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Literacy and Liberty

Gadsden FlagThere is a legal axiom that everyone should know and fear in the biblical sense, “Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse.”  When I first heard this hypothesis, my initial thought was, “How totally bogus!!!”  As I have learned, as my literacy levels have climbed, and as my understanding has deepened, I understand the principle in this axiom more completely.  The principle is not to sow doubt and fear in a populace but to promote learning because liberty is both precious and easily removed.  As a point of reference, the preciousness and removal of liberty have been studied. Through their ignorance, those who are illiterate of the law are more susceptible to be disadvantaged by the law.

How did the housing bubble happen?

Sure, the government reduced regulations, played with interest rates, and created the problem.  Banking is a business, and the first rule of business is to return profits to the investors, so the banking industry dove headfirst into getting people into homes.  State governments helped fuel this problem with deregulation, tax breaks, and incentives, increasing their debt levels to invest in housing people.  I will fully support that everyone involved possessed altruistic motives: altruism, the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for others’ well-being.

Detective 2Except … research supports the conclusion that despite fairness doctrines written into laws, illiterates are more disadvantaged in legal dealings.  Never forget, functional illiteracy was a desire of Dewey in the late 1860s as a means of reducing the power, liberty, and freedom of populations through K-12 education.  We must start understanding the origins of the problem to empower and plot a working solution.  Academic research is purposefully vague and inconsistent on the lines of congruence between functional illiteracy and individual wealth and economic mobility, all while taking advantage of the inconsistencies where the law is concerned.

Stevens (1985) reviewed the data and found a relationship barrier, “the crudeness of the literacy/illiteracy measurements, and a finer distinction was required.”  The data he used was from the 1870s and showed that literacy barriers were dependent upon age; the older the person, the less likely they were to be literate and more likely to be taken advantage of by the law.  Does this sound familiar where the housing bubble was concerned?

Root Cause AnalysisJen Deaderick, writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER; 2018), provides vital insight into how hard and deeply the housing bubble affected lower-income people and minority populations.  One of the more brutal consequences of the housing bubble was the extreme credit card debt carried by lower-income minority populations and how these populations have never recovered to 2007 income levels.

Demos and NAACP co-authored a research report declaring how credit card debt in lower-income and minority households is seen as a “safety-net.”  While these populations are actively working to pay down their credit card debt, the credit card usage remains high, and the pay-down and usage cycle hinders wealth growth.  I have now asked this question of school boards in several states and with teachers in high schools, “Why is economics not taught in high school?  Especially how to budget money, creating money, money intelligence, etc.”  The answer is always the same, “That is a good idea, but there is no time or interest in teaching those uninteresting topics.”  I have found that teachers are some of the highest credit card users in the various professionals, far outstripping commissioned salespeople.

Returning to the premise that functional illiteracy, chiefly where finances and the law are concerned, sees a tremendous and disproportionate abuse of lower-income and minority people at the hands of contractual law.  According to the law hypothesis stated above, their illiteracy is their fault, and thus the abuse is their problem.  Yet, if a person’s illiteracy was purposefully inflicted upon them by, say government, who is responsible for the illiteracy?

Oops!I fully submit that after K-12 Education, a person is recognized as an adult, fully responsible for their actions or inactions based upon what they learned in school, to become a productive member of society.  I have learned and am still learning tough and difficult lessons regarding personal literacy and financial decisions, literacy and law, liberty and literacy, and much more.  Yet, I read, I try to expand my mind, I make choices and suffer or enjoy consequences based upon those choices.  I understand the process because I have wanted to know more.

Research on reading shows that a vast majority of Americans never read a book after high school, including those who go onto college.  Worse, many students in junior high and high school never read a book; but complete reading assignments using search topics and Google.  Why; because being literate is considered “nerdy,” “reading is difficult,” “reading is not intellectually challenging,” and the excuses run on ad nauseam and ad infinitum.  All of which has been the aim of the acolytes of Dewey and Wundt since the 1860s.

Stevens (1985) expressed an idea important to literacy and freedom.

It is obvious that if literacy skills are required to exercise voting rights, for example, the worth of liberty for the illiterate person is severely diminished.”  In the decisions of State v. Sweeney (1950) the Court argued for “equal opportunities under the law,” but added: “lt is not possible for constitutions or legislation to make all men equal in understanding, intelligence and education.”  State legislation tended in the direction of equality of education even to the point of “compelling the youth of our country to take advantage of these opportunities.” But the Court acknowledged that “in every phase of our social and civic life, the uneducated man is at a disadvantage.”

Detective 4Except the case can be made that the State, with the Federal Government’s aid, has created the uneducated person, purposefully to abuse a population for political power.  When teachers tell a student they cannot learn, need Ritalin, are dyslexic, as agents of the State, they are declaring the student’s potential—locking the student into a life of purposely being taken advantage of by contractual law and other forms of law.  Who gave the teachers the right to demand a student be placed on harmful drugs to exist in a modern classroom, the State.  Who gave teachers the authority to diagnose a student as “dyslexic,” the State.  Why were teachers granted this power; why was the power stripped from parents; because Dewey wanted to control populations through literacy ability.  Dewey considered a literate person a danger to society, following an unnatural god, and possessing the power of a tyrant because they knew their language and could express themselves.

My next younger brother, Steven, is an imaginative, brilliant, and incredible person.  But, he got frustrated when trying to learn; the more frustrated he got, the more unbearable to be around he became.  Years of being told to shut up, sit down, and pay attention, has left him a shell of a person.  Teachers actively refused to answer his questions because he has a problem correctly describing the question in words.  He does not have a learning disability.  His brain works differently from the rest of a classroom population.  When he found a teacher that could help him, that was the height of his education in K-12.  He was passed onto another teacher to “be their problem” until he dropped out of school in frustration.  Unfortunately, in my family, two other brothers followed the same pattern.  Three lives have been blighted and wasted because the teachers measured potential by poverty and failed to educate, the school boards refused to teach and educate, and the State supported the teachers and school board.

Theres moreHow often does this story repeat in your family?  How often does this story repeat in your school?  How often does it repeat in your community, state, and nation?  The short answer, “Too bloody often!”  These are the people to whom the law abuses, contracts are a noose around their necks, voting ballots are a blur, and who will never leave the captivity of illiteracy!

Would you, the audience reading this blog, be surprised to find yourself in the same category as my brothers?  Abused by contractual law, abused by other laws, held in captivity due to your limited education and poor literacy abilities.  I am not judging you or your potential; by merely reaching out to find information and reading this blog, you are trying, and I commend you for your efforts and will help your progress any way I can.  But, we all have been abused, seen our potential limited, and lost liberties and freedoms based solely upon the education received at the hands of the State.  Surprised; I was when I started researching these topics.  Now, I find myself feeling more like a soaked chicken with a raging case of hemorrhoids.

Scared Eyes!Your command of your language has been intentionally limited, and each successive year, it has been reduced.  For example, while insignificant, my knowledge of literature is greater than my sister’s, and her command of the language is magnitudes greater than my youngest brother.  Want an interesting experiment, next time you have multiple generations of your family around, ask them what words mean and how to use them in sentences.  You will find similar generational gaps in literacy, even if those family members do not read.

I met an incredible family in Northern Ohio, 18 kids born to the same husband/wife team.  When the younger kids need help with homework, they call a big brother or sister.  Dad is a construction worker, very skilled with his hands, brilliant in planning and carrying out projects, but never considered “worthy” of higher education.  Mom is well-read, intelligent, and a savvy thinker, but the school boards deemed her potential.  In both cases, the school board was exceedingly wrong, but the hold was too powerful to shake.  Their story is replicated, maybe not with as many kids, from Maine to Washington, from Florida to Montana, and every stop in between, and it remains abhorrent to me!

LookYour potential to learn is not governed by what a teacher or school board has determined.  Your potential is only limited by you and your choices.  If you know someone who struggles, please help them, for you will find that empowering a mind to learn is the most incredible feeling in the world!  To know you have brightened a mind to shake off the shackles of captivity gives you the confidence to improve your own understanding and to repeat the feat!  Please, help end the abuse of the law, through literacy which increases liberty and freedom!  Because we are all connected, increasing liberty and freedom for one person increases liberty and freedom for everyone.  The truth is apparent, “One raindrop raises the sea!”

Reference

Stevens, E. (1985). Literacy and the worth of liberty. Historical Social Research, 10(2), 65-81. https://doi.org/10.12759/hsr.10.1985.2.65-81

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the photos displayed.

Insane Abuse – The VA Edition: The Leaders of the VA Must Shift the Paradigm

I-CareDuring new hire training for working at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) New Mexico Medical Center (NMVAMC), the first day contains a lot of warnings about what you can and cannot do as a Federal Employee.  Annually, there are mandatory classes that must be passed to remind an employee of their obligations as a Federal Employee.  Leading to a question, “How could an attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of General Counsel (OGC), be allowed to break the law for eight years?”  The department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) investigated after a second complaint about the same person was received, and only then did the OGC take action.  The attorney in question was released from government employment, but where is 8 years’ worth of wages being requested back?  Did the attorney lose anything other than an undemanding job and title where they could be paid for not working for the Federal Government while advancing their private practice, violating ethical laws, and breaking several Federal Statutes along the way?

What this attorney has done is insane, it is an abuse of trust, and for it to go reported and not acted by the senior leaders at OGC represents inexcusable abuse!

ProblemsOn the topic of insane and inexcusable abuse of the VA, the VA-OIG investigated the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System in California and found a supervisor in an “other than spouse” relationship with a vendor and they used the VA property to improperly conduct business on contracts the supervisor oversaw.  These actions are a clear and blatant violation of the Federal Statutes on contracting as a Federal Employee, even if these consenting adults were married, it would remain illegal, unethical, immoral, and inexcusable!  Yet, because the supervisor quit during the investigation, the VA-OIG has no power to take any action.

Federal Employees are blatantly breaking the law, abusing the trust and honor of their stations, flagrantly flaunting ethical, moral, and legal regulations with impunity.  Why?

From the VA San Diego Healthcare System, California, we find another VA-OIG inspection. Staff manipulated time cards for seven fee-basis medical providers to pay these individuals on a salary or wage basis rather than a per-procedure basis.  While the medical center took appropriate action and no VA-OIG recommendations were made, the question remains, “Why was this behavior allowed in the first place?”  Another supervisor, improperly acting in their office, and abusing the VA; this behavior is inexcusable!

moral-valuesThe VA-OIG performed an audit, also referred to as a “data review.” “The data review consisted of a sample of 45 employees and found the employees were paid an estimated $11.6 million for overtime hours for which there was no evidence of claims-related activity in the Fee Basis Claims System in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, representing almost half of the total overtime paid. Significantly, 16 of the 45 employees each received more than $10,000 in overtime for hours during which there was no claims-related activity.”  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Community Care (OCC) is backlogged and this is leading to late payments to providers, delays in care, and is generally a bad thing.  However, the sole reason for the overtime being abused was due to a lack of processes, poor supervision, and training.  These are the same three excuses that are used by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and is designed incompetence at its most disdainful and egregious level.  Worse, this was a sample of employee misconduct on overtime pay.  How many more cases are floating in the OCC that were not included in the audit that will pass unresearched because the VA-OIG did not refer the cases for disciplinary recommendations?

The VA-OIG cannot be everywhere and clean every hole in the VA organizational tapestry.  This is why supervisors and leaders are in place to execute organizational rules, regulations, policies, and monitor employee performance.  Why are the supervisors and mid-level leaders not being held accountable for failing to perform their jobs?  If overtime pay is going to be clawed back from the employee, the managers, team leaders, and supervisors need first to write and train to a policy standard.

Root Cause AnalysisThe VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive inspection of the Eastern Kansas Health Care System, Kansas, and Missouri.  The findings are startling for several reasons, one of which being the deficient lack of leadership leading to poor employee satisfaction, patient care issues, lack of knowledge in managers and supervisors, and minimally knowledgeable about strategic analytics.  Essentially, there is a lack of leadership in this healthcare system.  The director has been working with a team for 2-months, but the director has been in charge in 2012.  Leading to questions about long-term staffing replacement, staff training, building the next generation of leaders, and why this long-term director can brush off the criticisms of leadership failure because the team has only been in place for two months at the time of the inspection.

Again, the VA-OIG audited a system and found a lack of training, lack of oversight, lack of leadership, and made recommendations to “close the barn door, after the horses got out.”  From the VA-OIG report we find:

“The VA-OIG found that VA lacked an effective strategy or action plan to update its police information system [emphasis mine]. In September 2015, the VA Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC) acquired Report Exec, a replacement records management system, for police officers at all medical facilities. Inadequate planning and contract administration mismanagement caused the system implementation to stall for more than two years [emphasis mine]. LETC spent approximately $2.8 million on the system by the fiscal year 2019 [emphasis mine], but police officers experienced frequent performance issues and had to use different systems that did not share information. As of April 2019, only 63 percent of medical facility police units were reportedly using the Report Exec system, while 37 percent were still using an incompatible legacy system. As a result, administrators and law enforcement personnel at multiple levels could not adequately track and oversee facility incidents involving VA police or make informed decisions on risks and resource allocations. The audit also revealed that information security controls were not in place for the Report Exec system that put individuals’ sensitive personal information at risk [emphasis mine].”

Behavior-ChangeNo controls, no direction, no strategy, no tactical action, losing money, and not even scraping an F in performance.  The repetition in these VA-OIG investigations is appalling!  Where is the accountability?  Where is the responsibility and commitment to the veterans, their dependents, and the taxpayers?  Where is the US House of Representatives and Senate in demanding improvement in employee behavior?  Talk about a culture of corruption; the VA has corruption in spades, and no one is taking the VA to task and demanding improvement.

The VA is referred to as a cesspit of indecent and inappropriate people acting in a manner to enrich themselves on the pain of veterans, spouses, widows, and orphans.  There have been comments on several articles I authored which would make a non-veteran blush in describing the VA.  These actions by supervisors and those possessing advanced degrees do not help in trying to curb or correct the poor image the VA has well and truly earned.  A behavior change is needed, culture-wide, at the VA for the tarnished reputation of the VA to begin recovering.

Only for emphasis do I repeat previous recommendations for a culture-wide improvement:

  1. Start a VA University.  If you want better people, you must build them!  Thus, they must be trained, they must be challenged to act, and they must be empowered from day one in the classroom to be making a difference to the VA.
  2. Immediately launch Tiger Teams and Flying Squads from the VA. Secretary’s Office, empowered to build, train, and correct behavior. These groups must be able to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and make changes, then monitor those changes until behavior and culture change.
  3. Implement ISO 9000 for hospitals. If a person does not know their job but has held that job for over a year, every person in that employee’s chain of command is responsible for training failures.  Employees need better training, see recommendation 1, need clearer guidelines and written policies.  Hence, with the VA University training, each process, procedure, rule, regulation needs written down, and then trained exhaustively, so employees can be held accountable.

There is a theory in the private sector called appreciative inquiry.  Appreciative inquiry is the position that whatever a business needs to succeed, it already has in abundance, the leaders simply need to tap into that reservoir and pull out the gems therein.  Having traveled this country and witnessed many good and great employees in the VA Medical Centers from Augusta ME to Seattle WA, and from Phoenix AZ to Missoula MT I know that appreciative inquiry can help and promote a cultural change in the VA.  I do not advocate a “one-size fits most” policy for the VA, as each VISN and Regional Medical Center has a different culture of patients, thus requiring differing approaches.  However, the recommendations listed above can improve where the VA is now, and form a launch point into the future.Military Crests

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

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The Ugly Face of Government Largess – The Bureaucrat!

Government LargessCharles A. Reich, an American legal and social scholar as well as an author who was a Professor at Yale Law School, in his paper “The New Property” writes about how government largess created the bureaucrat.  The same bureaucrat who invents rules to exercise authority creates problems to stop work, and generally acts in a manner conducive to a feudal lord over the taxpayer, to pick winners and losers through government magnanimity, rather that specific individual bureaucrat’s magnanimity.  Well, the bureaucrat has one thing correct, their enmity is destroying America!

New Mexico is facing a severe teacher shortage, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is facing not only a significant teacher shortage but also remains completely clogged with bureaucratic drones that thwart efforts by people to help meet the teacher shortage and improve education in New Mexico’s largest public school district.  With a regular need for 300+-substitute teachers and pages of teacher openings, logic would say, “Let us innovate, create, and participate actively in alternative teacher licensure programs to fill this teaching gap.”  Herein is the mind of the bureaucrat most obvious; APS refuses to participate, sponsor, host, or help those seeking a teacher license a path forward to obtain a teaching license through alternative licensure.

Government Largess 2The APS bureaucrats did three things this Summer, they hired Kelly Education Services to attempt to improve the substitute teaching pool.  Except, the contract with Kelly does not go into effect until October 14th, the better part of two months after the school opened for a new year. The bureaucrats over substitute teaching, never changed the convoluted and insane practices to reduce costs and help those seeking licensure to afford to become substitute teachers.  The school board approved a much-needed pay raise for fully-licensed teachers; while minimizing the opportunities for alternative licensure, and increasing the paperwork and procedures to become a licensed teacher. As well as making the current teachers suffer more under onerous district mandates.  The mind of the bureaucrat is entirely on display, and APS’ actions constitute child abuse!

APS is also suffering from a school principal and other administrative staff shortage.  Between NM State and APS, the bureaucrats have created a system of public education geared to keep those students in poverty, as far away from education as possible.  To continue to actively seek ways to prevent students from learning, by providing lower student standards, less emphasis upon reading, writing, and arithmetic, all the while continuing to rely upon “magic-bullet” expensive programs that cannot deliver, due to the bureaucratic interference, by APS.  The NM State Professional Licensure programs are replete with hurdles to stop, thwart, and actively protect the APS bureaucrats.  Hence, NM State is guilty of child abuse, by protecting bureaucrats who keep students from becoming educated.

Today, I drove from Albuquerque, NM to Santa Fe, NM, specifically to the New Mexico Professional Licensure Bureau, to have a conversation with the state officials regarding alternative licensure for teaching, and to renew my substitute teachers license.  My conversation lasted less than five minutes, with a bureaucrat who represents the epitome of a useless bureaucratic drone.  The bureaucrat fell back on answers using policy, blame-shifting tactics, that included answers that provided no information and was intended to frustrate the applicant; all while acting like I was an interruption to her day.  The cubicle secured room behind the “service-window” has piles of work laying in dusty dormant heaps throughout the office walkways.  The office ambiance resembled a sleeping cave, where the lights are turned low, and with tall cubicle walls; thus, it is apparent the bureau is not home to efficient work.  The office has a “service-window,” where the applicant can approach and attempt to conduct business.  But, to contact this State Office, you must first run the gauntlet through rent-a-cops with Schutzstaffel (Nazi-Germany SS Para-military troops) wannabes standing “guard” in the front of the building.

Department of Homeland Security, you have created a monster, and the blame is all yours!  SCG, no website found, is the current contractor to Homeland Security for the Federal Buildings in Santa Fe, NM.  These Rent-a-Cop Bureaucrats think that they can judge how a person is feeling, and deny access to a Federal Building based solely upon their discretion, and personal opinions of the citizen entering the building.  I have now had this same issue at three Federal Buildings in NM.  While I was very disgruntled the first time this occurred, by the 15th time, I can only say, “Department of Homeland Security, please cease hiring snowflakes, rent-a-cops, and thugs as “security” for Federal Buildings.”  Better still, train them in professionalism, dignity, and how to do the job you have hired them to perform, without hassling the citizen trying to conduct business in a Federal Building.  Security at a Federal Building should not be the first hurdle a citizen must navigate to reach the bureaucrats.

I asked for a supervising officer when the “security officers” began hassling me, and was told, “You can be detained for trespassing in a Federal Building.”  I asked them, “Under what charge?” Then was told a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo, that was not accurate!  One officer pulled out a cell-phone and supposedly called the officer in charge (OIC), and related a bunch of lies to inflate his reasoning why he was hassling me, and refusing to allow me entrance.  I asked again for an OIC and was provided a lecture in a wild attempt to justify their continued unprofessional behavior, for my attempting to enter a Federal Government building.  I was threatened, again, with being detained, and then they “mercifully allowed” entrance, provided I was escorted to the NM Professional Licensure Bureau, to ensure I was not going to “cause an unprofessional scene.”  I was followed to NM Licensure Bureau, and one of the officers entered into the bureau to report me as a “difficult person” to the staff in the office.

Government Largess 3The mind of the bureaucrat looks for every opportunity to thwart a citizen in interacting with the government, that citizens hired through the ballot box, where the bureaucrat can then pick winners and losers in receiving government largess.  The best line of this interaction, “We are here to protect the workers in the back, from people like you.”  I was then told how disgruntled people, frighten, scare, intimidate, and disrupt a “professional” workplace.  Upon exiting the building without any answers or receiving assistance, I saw the woman who kept popping her head up on the second-floor atrium where the elevators let you off, who witnessed this interaction, talking in hushed and hurried tones with the single officer remaining in the front, as the officer that “escorted me” was still not back on duty at the security checkpoint.

To recap, a “security officer” considers it his duty to be off-station, at a two-man security post, to attempt intimidation of a citizen needing to conduct business.  Two “security officers” harass and hassle a person entering the Federal Building because they collectively decided the citizen’s attitude was not “sufficiently professional” to obtain entrance.  The “security officers” do not know the law, and cannot execute the law faithfully and without bias.  The only recourse available to the citizen is to swallow this abuse, harassment, and profiling, to rescue their day and complete the work they need to accomplish to obtain employment.

Department of Homeland Security, you are directly responsible for the wasted time, energy, and the idiocy of the two “security” officers at 120 S Federal Place, Santa Fe, NM on duty on 19 September 2019, at 1300.  Just as I hold you in contempt and responsible for the continued actions of bureaucratic “quasi-security officers” in Albuquerque, and I have filed more complaints against the unprofessionalism and ridiculous disregard that oozes from the pores of every single rent-a-cop in Federal Buildings experienced in New Mexico.  I cannot fathom how or why I have these access problems only in the Federal Buildings in New Mexico.  I have not had a single issue in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and a host of other places across America.  I will congratulate, and thank you, for the attempt at correcting the issues at the Federal Buildings in Albuquerque, as that situation has slightly improved; now fix the rest of the bloody Federal “security officers” in the state of New Mexico.

America, we have a significant problem with the government, it started in the 1930s when the government took advantage of a catastrophe to seize power from the citizens, and this problem has only increased in the almost 100-years since.  The bureaucrat that works in serving the public is an extension of the officers elected in the ballot box.  Thus, I implore; please hold those elected accountable for the drones, the power-hungry, and those who consider their work on the public’s behalf as executing government largess, responsible and, accountable.

“We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people; and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure, for a limited period, or during good behaviour” [Emphasis added].  – James Madison

Only those elected can positively influence the actions of the bureaucrat hiding in their cubicles lording their power over citizens.  Only those elected can be held accountable and responsible for what the workers and staffs do in the name of those elected.  We, the legal citizens of America are the government we elect, and I advocate the position that I am not a peon, serf, or “huddled mass” beholden to the government.  The government, from the local dog catcher, school board, and judge to the President of the Republic of these United States, is beholden to you and to me.  Those bureaucrats hiding in offices that make your life so difficult are obligated to us as well.

Image - Eagle & FlagI refuse to be the property of the government, standing like Oliver Twist, begging for slop from fat and repugnant government officials.  America, we deserve a more responsive government, our Constitutional Rights declare that the power over the Government is ours to hold, and the government must come to us to ask for more.  Let us use the control we hold and demand accountability and responsibility from those elected.  Where those elected are requiring compliance, and keeping those working in public service accountable for the abuse and mistreatment the citizen receives at the hands of bureaucrats.

Reference

Charles A. Reich, The New Property, 73 Yale L.J. (1964). Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylj/vol73/iss5/1

 

© 2019 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.