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.