Dollars and Sense – Inflationary Spending and Fiscal Insanity

Bobblehead DollThese articles have discussed money, monetary policy, fiscal sanity, and government spending several times this year.  Some have called me alarmist for raising fiscal sanity during a “Global Health Crisis.”  While COVID-19 (Sars-COV-2) is undoubtedly a viral disease with a 98%+ survival rate, I cannot in good conscience call this a “Global Health Crisis.”  The pandemic declaration was a political move, the mask mandating, business closures, and every other hysterical move have been carefully formulated to present a problem where none exists.  Has Sars-COV-2 mutated; absolutely, but the emotional hysteria has mutated far faster.

Dollars and SenseApathy

When you pass paper to a store clerk, are you spending money; no, you are spending confidence.  Your confidence in the dollar’s strength, as represented by a check, cash, money order, credit card, etc., is what is being spent.  Why was the Great Depression so lasting and detrimental; a lack of confidence in the US Dollar.  People who saved their money formed sane fiscal policies personally and acted logically lost their confidence in the US Dollar, and the dollar went into a great depression.

Since President Clinton, the US Government has been on a drunken spending spree and does not appear to be stopping unless the citizens demand they cease and desist!  What does this mean for you and me; everything costs more for two reasons inflation and interest.  When the government prints money, too much money increases prices, and too few goods chase too much money, resulting in people suffering.  When the government borrows money, the interest must be serviced; the interest will increase prices and usually absorb some of the extra capital on the market to bring down inflation.Lemmings 2

Except, Quantitative Easing (QE) is hindering the absorption of money on the market.  Hence America is witnessing something truly remarkable for the first time in financial history, the debt (principal), the interest, and the extra capital, all of these storms are combining into a major conflagration economically speaking.  Usually, at this point, a country begins to look for a place to go to war, which explains China and its expansionist policies in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.  Too much debt, too much interest, a military needing worked, and assets need to be stolen from other countries.  Typical historical thinking, war truly is grand larceny on a massive scale!

Where are America and China headed; let’s ask Czarist Russia, USSR, Nazi Germany, East Germany, China, North Korea, Italy, Venezuela, Greece, France, and who knows how many other economically unstable countries historically and presently.  Going to war will not solve this economic crisis, though some may try that solution.  The only solution worth advancing at this critical juncture economically is reducing the size of government, placing a firm halt on all government spending, and refusing the politicians to get into debt for at least two decades!  Yes, this means changing Social Security, Welfare, Medicaid and Medicare, and every other government benefit program to fit a reduced budget and smaller government model.  Failure to tighten belts for the next two decades will bankrupt America, and most of the world, making the Great Depression look like a summer picnic.Lemmings 4

Gold and Oil, real estate, Gross Domestic Products (the goods manufactured in America for sale), trade, all of these wealth tools and more cannot support the debt incurred, the money printed, nor the size of the government from the city and county to the White House.  As this trend continues, Wall Street will continue to be tumultuous, at best, and the confidence in the US Dollar will continue to slide.  But, as the dollar slides, which global currency will begin to take up the slack?

The Euro has discredited itself and is not worth the paper it is printed on.  China thinks they will step into the void and take up the slack with the Yuan, except their financial situation is almost as bad as Venezuela’s and Cuba’s, but their size and government type keep this hidden from the public.  Even though the Yuan is in junk status, the Communist government hides these facts; the truth is leaking out in higher trade tariffs and other global trade and finance costs.  Russia’s economic situation still has not stabilized with the fall of the USSR and will probably need another two to three decades until it can compete on the global economy again.Gravy Train 2

I heard a postulation that the Arabian Oil Rich nations of the Middle East would produce an OPEC-backed currency if the US Dollar fails.  I highly doubt this as a solution, but the potential is there.  Another person claimed the lack of confidence in the US Dollar would lead to the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) issuing currency for the world; boy, would that be a significant problem!  Yet, the American Dollar is being purposefully destroyed by the current crop of politicians, and nobody is standing up and declaring ENOUGH!

Inflation

The US Government, and many others globally, have increased their drunken spending since Jan/Feb 2020 to incredibly extensive levels and used a “Global Health Crisis” as the excuse.  Except when Ebola was sweeping the world, we did not have this level of insane spending and government intrusion.  Ebola is far deadlier, easier to spread, and yet the Ebola disaster is barely remembered.  Bird Flu, Swine Flu, SARS, MERS, all these viruses have had their time in the media hysterical spotlight, every single one of them is deadlier than Sars-COV-2, easier to spread, and they were never a cause for a global pandemic.Gravy Train

Inflation is caused by poor economic policy, where the government grants itself the ability to print money.  Inflation is not just money and monetary policy; inflation is also confidence, faith, and trust.  Inflation is how the government acts, thinks, and behaves.  Inflation is as real as COVID-19 and just as deadly as Ebola while being more problematic for everyone.  From Dec 2020 to the end of July 2021, inflation has increased the price of goods and services by 3.8%, seasonally adjusted, or 5.4% non-seasonally adjusted, which means that prices go up as a seasonal adjustment in the summer.

Fiscal Insanity

Consider with me an analogy; you live in a community of houses and pay a Homeowners Association (HOA) Fee.  Your neighbor has decided they can write checks on your checking account, and the HOA has granted them legal protection to write checks on your bank accounts.  Because your neighbor has legal protection, you sell off assets to provide the funds for your neighbor.  You sell to other neighbors letters of credit that you promise to pay interest on, provided your other neighbors hold those letters of credit for specific amounts of time.  Except, your neighbors stop buying those letters of credit over time because they do not like how your neighbor keeps writing checks and spending your money.  How do you keep this house of cards from blowing over and losing everything?

Tax BurdenAmerica is in this position right now!  Trend lines show a steady downward trend in the value of the US Dollar.  Inflation will keep increasing prices as too much money is chasing too few products on the market.  Debt needs to be serviced and interest paid.  But, when the interest payment is the only thing being paid, and the principal will also need to be serviced, where and how does the principal get serviced when the interest is absorbing all the monthly payments?  Simple economics, money once created and put into the money market, cannot just be absorbed or disappeared.  Just like food doesn’t disappear once consumed, the offal must come out and be handled responsibly.  Well, the dollar is in an offal position and needs responsibly handled!

© 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: Come, Let Us Reason Together – Chapter 5

Bait & SwitchIn Chapters 2 and 3 of this series, the discussion regarding money and the $350 Billion dollars COVID relief monies were discussed.  As this is a continuing discussion, I would encourage you to read those missives as well for a fuller understanding of the principles being discussed.  Regardless, several facts remain pertinent:

      1. The states accepting this money will be bound to spend it in a manner the Federal Government specifies.
      2. The money being given to the states as a “stimulus for COVID economic growth,” will not spur anything but inflation and poor fiscal policies.
      3. The strings attached to this money are a noose on individual state economic growth long after the deadline to spend the money (31 December 2026) comes and goes.

Doherty (2021) writing for the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) provides some clarity on the Treasury Department’s rules and regulations regarding this $350 Billion albatross being forced down the state’s throats.  The funds being discussed originate in the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act, and the Treasury Department has released operational guidance to the states and cities receiving the funds.  Never forget, while the Treasury Department claims there is an algorithm for sharing the money, politics and political connections will be the final determinant in who receives how much of the funds being doled out.

The Duty of AmericansPensions are the first point of discussion as to where these funds can go; never forget, pensions remain the largest single expense for states in the United States.  Those bloated governmental salaries, negotiated by unions, and put in place by legislative fiat, keep the taxpayer on the hook for poor financial planning long after the initial beneficiaries of the union retirement pyramid scheme and dead and buried.  Read carefully the pension data provided by USAToday for a full and detailed discussion on just how big the pension problem is for the states of the United States.

Millstone of Designed IncompetenceJust as important, look at the total number of government workers as a share of the total workforce, and you will discover just how big your state and local governments have become.  For example, two states selected at random from the 50-state list, New Jersey, and New Mexico are displayed below, and sourced from the article:

New Jersey

  • Funded ratio: 38.4%
  • Total pension shortfall: $130.7 billion shortfall (3rd largest)
  • Gov’t workers as share of total workforce: 13.3% (20th lowest)
  • Avg. annual payout per public retiree: $32,148 (9th highest)

New Mexico

  • Funded ratio: 61%
  • Total pension shortfall: $18.2 billion shortfall (18th largest)
  • Gov’t workers as share of total workforce: 18.6% (4th highest)
  • Avg. annual payout per public retiree: $20,907 (15th lowest)

ApathyConsider New Jersey for a moment, if you met 100 new people in one day, more than 1/10th of those met will work for the state or local government in some capacity, and those 11 people are earning $32,148 taxpayer paid dollars a year for being retired.  Worse, New Jersey is kiting checks on your children’s future to the tune of $130.7 Billion dollars every year.  Raising taxes cannot help closing the funding gap in the pension.  Want more news, the majority of those retired are not living in New Jersey, so all those taxpayer monies are not being recouped in sales taxes, property taxes, and other taxes.

Yet, the Federal Government just borrowed $1.9 Trillion to give the states $350 Billion, and the monies provided will not even pay a years’ worth of pension payments in most cases.  Let alone pay for all the other accounts that have been stripped to pay for the pension gap.  For example, infrastructure (Roads, Bridges, Highways, Broadband Internet, the Electrical Grid, etc.), Teachers, Community Colleges, Unemployment Insurance, Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities, and Health and Human Services, just to name a few cash strapped state programs.

Plato 2A few days ago, I was discussing broadband Internet grids, and there susceptibility to failure with people who work for a major Internet Service Provider.  In Umatilla County, as an example, the Internet either currently, or previously, went down nightly for 5-6 hours at a time.  Read the outage reports and you will find regular large geographic areas of the country suffering with Internet latency and connectivity issues.  Yet, your state legislators must focus not upon the potholes damaging your car, not upon shaky bridges and overpasses prone to failure, but upon pensions for retirees.  All due to labor unions and promises that should never have been made in the first place!

Pensions are the number one reason I, personally, think that government workers should not be able to unionize, and that the government pensions should be as rigidly controlled as the private sectors pensions.  Yet, the inverse is true, unions growing in the public sector, shrinking in the private sector, and the taxpayer is left with the bill.  Since the government can continue to kite checks, our children’s great grandchildren are already up to their necks in debt that is unsustainable.

Plato 3Come, let us reason together for solutions that actually work.  I offer below the following suggestions, feel free to agree, disagree, add more, and discuss openly in the comments.  We, the owners of government, must re-take control of the government, and to do so, we must communicate and act.

      1. Reduce the size of government immediately to the size posted on 31 December 1999. This is an immediate and interim step.  To be followed by a position by position, value discussion, where technological solutions to replace workers is decided.  Eventually culling government size back to a Pre-1930’s level.
      2. Automate as many functions as possible. The processes of how government function are necessarily complicated to justify a jobs program.  This culture of complication must cease forthwith, the processes cleared of unnecessary complications, and streamlined to allow for automation of the processes.
      3. Take the pensions and eradicate the unions. Privatize pensions should be the letter of the law for all, public and private sector employees.  Thus, creating a new market and investment industry.
      4. Privatize public maintenance of roads, the fuel taxes are sufficient to pay for this and improve road maintenance immediately.
      5. Privatize wastewater and water generation and distribution.
      6. Privatize and deregulate all utilities, allowing for maximum competition, and ending the private geographic monopolies the tech companies and Internet providers have established.
      7. Privatize K-12 and Community Colleges changing the pay structures for teachers and reducing the “staff” positions. Get focused on delivering a product, the product is an educated student who can read, write, and do math, thinking logically, and critically.  This means ending the surplus of standardized tests and putting the teacher in charge of the classroom.

PatriotismNever Give Up!Not every child should be forced into college.  Not every job requires a college degree.  Opening the community colleges produces certified, trained, and non-debt laden students that are workforce ready.  Workforce ready means able, willing, and skilled in working, be that in academia for a degree, or in the workforce as a tradesman the requirement is the same and the distinction needs removed from the leaders of K-12 educational leadership.

The aim and the intent of all government programs is to get out of the way and let people act as they think best for themselves and their families.  Not pushing children to college for a degree and a life of debt payments.  Not forcing them into the military because you are too lazy to teach them how to read, write, think, and speak.  Not forcing them into poverty to support a government jobs program.  The government will not go “quietly into that dark night.”  But, with enough insistence the government we currently know can be cut, reduced, and forced to retreat.  We, the citizens, need to take back our government through the ballot box, through the judicial branch, and through demanding change in the legislative and executive branches at all levels of the government.

Knowledge Check!First step, believe it is possible; live like it has already occurred.  Second step, join others to raise the cry and demand the changes.  Third, support only candidates who already live fiscally proper, morally upright, and ethically dedicated.  Fourth, never give up!  Never lose focus, and never relinquish the moral high ground for a bowl of pottage or 30 pieces of silver.

© 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: Come, Let Us Reason Together – Chapter 4

Bird of PreyPSA:  I am not a cynic; I understand the concepts being discussed, and it might appear that I am cynical about insurance companies by the tone of the writing.  Please note, I am generally in favor of the insurance industry.  However, when government mandates insurance coverage to spread the risks out for the benefit of the insurance industry, insurance has become a tax.  When a business offers insurance, but the co-pays and the costs are too high, insurance is no longer a benefit, and I want the option to opt-out of the employer “benefit.”

Insurance as a concept has been around for a long time, historically speaking.  Maritime insurance was a concept from the 1340s, and Benjamin Franklin dreamed up property insurance in 1752, becoming America’s first insurer.  Insurance separated investment as a method of managing risk, making investing more palatable and shoving the consequences of natural disasters, pirates, and other methods of losing onto another responsible party.  Some of the biggest names in insurance can trace their roots to the Great Fire in London in the 1660s.  We mention all of this, as a foundation for understanding the role and the meaning of insurance.

Interest vs. Investing

Ziggy - The GovernmentInterest, in this usage is referring to the advantage to a group or single person, as well as improving one’s welfare.  Maritime shipping would take on several loads, and people who owned those loads had a vested interest (having a personal stake in something) in seeing that ship arrive on time at its intended destination.  For example, sugar has been a huge commodity in history, and a sugar mill would ship the sugar to destinations for sale.  People interested in improving their welfare could invest in the sugar mill, or with a higher risk, expecting a higher return, invest in the shipping company, or the ship.  Thus, investing became one where opportunities to increase interest became popular.

The modern stock market traces its roots to the 1600s and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, where for the first time, people interested in investing could be joined to companies needing investors, and money could exchange hands for certificates (stocks or bonds) showing interest.  A point of reference, the Dutch East India Trading Company was an original benefactor of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, and sugar, molasses, and spices were the commodities being shipped.  Not saying all the Dutch East India Trading was in non-human commodities, but sugar was a huge driving factor for separating risk through insurance that drove the stock exchange creation.

photo_slideshow_maxOne final point, government’s have interests, generally traced to those paying the highest taxes, or with the most political connections.  Government’s do not have allies, as much as they have groups of governments that share a common interest.  For example, countries belonging to NATO.  NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and was designed for those countries with interests in seeing trade safely through the North Atlantic.  Not all the countries in NATO are friendly with all the other countries, but the common interest in seeing trade and markets operate smoothly has generated NATO and kept it alive since 1949.  Government never has friends; they only have relationships based upon mutual interests.  These are cogent points that must be remembered!  Incredible as it seems, interests change, and when interests change, relationships between countries and governments force ideological changes, and today’s relationship might not be the same tomorrow, which is one of the reasons why the United Nations is such a pile of hypocrisy and uselessness!

Insurance and Investing

Insurance as described by Webster’s dictionary is a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.  The payments of premiums provide the insurance company with vast sums of cash.  Some of which are placed into long-term investments, medium -term investments, stocks, bonds, T-bills, and other methods of protecting the money paid in premiums.  The higher the risk, the higher the cost of the premium.  The one rule in insurance that has never changed from the 1300s is, if the insurance company can collect a premium, and not pay on a claim, the interest the premiums collect remains and the shareholders see larger returns on their investments.

Calvin & Hobbes - EnmityHence, lawyers and bankers have a vested interest in seeing insurance companies not have to pay claims, but still collect premiums.  Thus, contract law was established, and the insurance companies took full advantage of language to protect their premiums from paying a claim.  Another growth industry directly tied to the insurance industry, was special courts for hearing claims and awarding damages (Tort Law).  Cornell Law university provides some clarity on tort law, “A tort is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability.  In the context of torts, “injury” describes the invasion of any legal right, whereas “harm” describes a loss or detriment in fact that an individual suffers.”  Placing insurance companies squarely into the middle of tort law, and thus opening up new avenues for protecting against paying a claim from the premiums paid and invested.

Types of Insurance

ApathyImportant to understanding, Carl Marx and communism uses the ideas of mutual insurance companies to create a society where all share the risks, all benefit in the gains, at least in theory.  However, like insurance companies, someone in communism must enjoy all the benefits for taking the risk of establishing the community, and the reality of China, Cuba, and USSR become evident.  Where the leaders take everything for themselves, and the regular people live in squalor and depredation.

Janet Hunt wrote an great article on types of insurance companies and her article can be found here.  Currently there are nine different types of insurance companies available and are detailed below:

    • Mutual Companies – owned by policy holders who are also considered shareholders, sharing the risks, and benefiting from the lack of paid claims.  The mutual society of this type of insurance company shares dividends and when losses occur, generally the shareholders (policyholders) might not see an increase in premiums.
    • Stock Companies and Mono-Line Carriers – Stock companies are corporations and the distribution of dividends become payments to shareholders.  These insurance companies are very averse to paying claims.  Mono-line carriers only carry a single type of insurance.  For example, a company might only carry car insurance, specializing in just car insurance provides savings in overhead, and they might have agreements with other carriers to provide linked coverage for other insurance products.
    • Lloyds of London – When you want to insure the weird, Lloyds of London is the carrier of choice.  I cannot tell you how hard I have laughed at people willing to insure body parts, unusual, or high-risk items.  Share my laugh, look up what policies Lloyds has written insurance policies for and you too can have a good chuckle.  Lloyd’s does carry insurance for mundane and normal, but those policies do not make me laugh.  I feel sorry for the citizens of the United Kingdom, since Lloyd’s of London is backed by parliament, the taxpayers are on the hook for Lloyd’s losses eventually.
    • Alien Carriers – These are insurance carriers that are owned and operated in one country, doing business in another country, selling premiums, and paying claims.  Important to note about alien carriers, the lawyers charged with engineering methods to control risks to paying claims can create a nightmare using the laws of both countries.  Alien carriers can also be operating in one US State but be owned and governed in another US State.
    • Domestic Insurance – These are companies who are owned and operate in a single US State, or other geographical area.  For example, a domestic insurance company in Texas, might or might not have the ability to operate outside Texas, where it would be considered an alien provider.
    • Direct Sellers – Do not use insurance agents, selling directly to the public or insurance consumer.  To be considered a direct seller, the majority of the business occurs online or over the phone.  Direct sellers are pretty straight forward, and some of the biggest names in insurance providers are direct sellers.
    • Captives – A captive insurance company is a unique insurance provider, generally specializing in one type of insurance product for a specific industry or groups of individuals.  For example, if a business owns a fleet of vehicles, they will have insurance through a captive insurance company who specializes in handling the risks of fleet vehicles.  Another type of captive insurance company occurs when a parent corporation needs insurance but builds a branch of their company to handle the insurance instead of going through an insurance company.  In this model, the parent company keeps the premiums in-house and has a vested interest in protecting their investments.
    • Standard Lines – This is your normal insurance company with insurance agents, local offices, is regulated by the state board of insurance, pay fees into the general state guarantee fund, and are subject to the laws and ordinances of the state in which they operate.
    • Excess Lines – Think of these companies as insurance for high-risk individuals and companies, who cannot get insurance through a standard line company.

I know, that is a whole lot more than you think you want to know about insurance companies.  However, my only logic for making these distinctions in this article is to aid in understanding the classifications of insurance company, and some of the peculiarities in insurance products.  I feel the more you know, the better questions you can ask, leading to improvements in your bottom-line.

Emtional Investment CycleWith all the ties to investing, savings products, and the flow of money into and out of an insurance company, the discussion of insurance companies remains critical.  Especially when the government can create an insurance company, then mandate that company be used to provide coverage, creating a tax and fee that the taxpayer might not realize.  For example, around the time that states began demanding drivers have car insurance, GEICO began selling policies to non-government employees.  GEICO is an acronym for Government Employees Insurance Company, and by selling policies to non-government employees, the government is able to reduce the risk of insuring their employees.  Thus, an argument can be made that the government only created GEICO to reduce the risks of insuring government employees, as well as benefiting from a flush of cash from premiums paid.

Ziggy on GovernmentBoth Lloyds of London and GEICO leave me worrying for taxpayers.  However, since the US Government is the only provider for some types of insurance, specifically flood insurance, which is mandatory for homeowners living in a flood plain, one must ask more questions about where the money goes and why?  What steps have been taken to protect the public from large scale incidents where the insurance company will have to make massive payments?  What does the government invest in to protect the premiums paid against the time of claims?

When a person begins discussing savings instruments, investments, and the links between insurance companies and government, a lot of potential questions arise, and the answers become more sparse inversely to the specificity of the questions asked.  For example, if a savings account interest is so low, due to inflationary spending by the government, what interest does the government, as a holder of savings accounts, receive for their investment?  Where does the government invest their premiums from insurance payments?  How is the government protecting their customers from inflation as a result of poor fiscal policy?Plato 2

Never forget, an insurance company must pay dividends to their shareholders who have invested interests (money).  GEICO is a Berkshire Hathaway company, and stopped being publicly held in 1996.  The questions for why the Government Employee Insurance Company is wholly owned and operated by Berkshire Hathaway opens a lot of questions.  This would be akin to Lloyds of London being sold to a private company, where parliament stopped caring or backing Lloyds.  Why becomes a major question requiring detailed answers.  Look at the political situation in America at the time of the sell, and more questions rise, and less answers are provided.

Knowledge Check!America, when it comes to cash flow, money, and government fiscal policy, we need answers.  We need the elected representatives to understand basic economics, and we need to hold a tighter rein on those elected representatives.  The current fiscal health of America is poor, solely because of the elected representatives and their bureaucratic minions.  We must have a solution that protects America, and this solution needs every citizen involved and engaged.

© 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: Come, Let Us Reason Together – Chapter 2

Bird of PreyAs American state, city, and county governments, begin to become greedy little children over the $350 Billion the Federal Government is “handing out for COVID relief” to “spur a national recovery from the economic toll of COVID-19.”  I wanted to take a minute and speak some reality to the situation.  Let us logically review what has happened since November 2019 in the light of a non-partisan, apolitical review.  I urge you to take what is said, conduct your own research, and come to your own conclusions.  As Dumbledore said, “I could be as wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who believed  the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron.”

    1. COVID-19 started in Wuhan Province, China. It was delivered around the world by the Chinese Government’s intentional decision to allow travel while infectious.  The virus was further enhanced by the political nature of Government, the intrusion of Government, and the mass hysteria whipped up by the global media.  Power-hungry people looked upon a virus with a 99.02% survivability rate and saw a golden opportunity to seize power from those who elected them to office.Apathy

These are basic COVID-19 facts that have never been refuted, and the adults in the room have recognized the power-mad politicians and the media usurpers from the beginning of the “pandemic.”  While politics continues to play an over-sized role in COVID, while people are still suffering, and while some “normality” is breaking out, the money spent to date will eventually need to be repaid, and no one is discussing this problem.  Worse, more money is being printed and pumped into the economies of the world to “spur growth,” and this is never good fiscal policy!

    1. Printing money causes inflation. Too much money, not enough goods, raises prices beyond sustainable limits to rebalance the economy; hence inflationary prices will continue until excess money is absorbed.  This is a fundamental economic fact everyone should know.  Money is created through several processes, but printing it to throw at a problem, does not resolve the issue; it only prolongs the misery of the original problem.   The original problem was not COVID-19 but a runaway government from the Obama reign, where the economy stalled, the money pumped in did nothing, and a recession dragged on artificially due to the political hands in the economy.  The same problem from Obama’s reign will lead to the same economic issues under the fraudulent president.Plato 3
    2. Fiscal insanity is not fixed by Federal impropriety and investment. Too many states, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maine, and so many others, are in dire financial straits.  However, their fiscal health was already failing before COVID-19.  Investment by the Federal Government will not change the underlying issues and make a fiscally insane state fiscally sane.  In fact, the opposite will occur; the funds being handed to the states under the auspices of “spurring growth” will exacerbate fiscal problems.  More to the point, the excess money in the markets will mean more financial problems for the rest of the United States, which will bleed into the global economy!Plato 2

You cannot buy your way out of fiscal problems!  The only answer to spur growth is to reduce Government!  Reduce regulations!  Reduce the intrusion of Government!  Eliminate taxes!  Instead, the same tired act is being performed, print money, give it to the states, complain about inflationary prices, blame the rich, and increase taxes!  The only thing the Trump Presidency proved, without a shadow of a doubt, if America can get the millstone of Government off her neck, her economy BOOMS!  Yet, what has Washington and too many state capitals done, doubled down on policies that do not work and try to call this “progress.”

Knowledge Check!Agree or disagree, your choice and your consequences.  I have made my case; the money being pumped into the states will lead to inflationary prices, above and beyond a sustainable level.  The states all have sticky fingers and wet lips looking for these funds.  Sure, there are many promises regarding how these funds will be spent. Still, I guarantee most of the promises are empty. The politicians will have their special interests fed first—leaving the citizens to pay exorbitant fees for food, clothing, housing, services, and products until the extra money is consumed, which might occur sometime in the next 5-years at a minimum.  Who benefits, nobody!  Who loses, everyone!

© 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.

Fiscal Insanity is not Fiscal Responsibility – Reports From the VA

I-CareConsider your home finances, you and your significant other are working hard for the paycheck.  Your significant other comes in and reports they have improperly paid the mortgage company, the electric company, the car loan, the gas company, and the credit cards over the last year to the tune of $100,000.  These funds are not recoverable, did not reduce your balances, did not pay ahead, did not apply to your account, and your significant other expects to be praised for improperly paying the bills.  What is your response?

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) released a report on how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains out of compliance with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) for fiscal year (FY) 2019.  The report is replete with the obvious, the VA refuses to be fiscally responsible for American Taxpayer dollars.  Consider the following from the VA-OIG report:

In FY 2019, VA reported improper payment estimates totaling $11.99 billion for 14 programs and activities, $2.74 billion less than the total reported in FY 2018 for 12 programs and activities.

The quote is supposed to be good news, and a major gain, and deserving of applause.  Except, two programs were added between FY 2018 and 2019, thus reducing the overall performance.  The VA-OIG report states something that should be obvious to every household in America, “Improper payments are any payments that should not have been made or were made in an incorrect amount.”  Please keep in mind, the VA is not being tasked with eliminating improper payments, simply following the legislation, and reducing those payments.  The VA has legislatively mandated targets they are “strongly suggested” to meet.

VA did not meet annual reduction targets for a program considered at risk for improper payments and did not report a gross improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for six programs and activities as required. VA satisfied the other four IPERA requirements.”

The VA-OIG inspection for improper payments was not an audit, does not demand full and open books to be reviewed by third-party auditors for accountability of taxpayer dollars, reading the VA-OIG report is simply looks like the VA, including the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemeteries, self-report compliance estimates for meeting the targets.

Wrapped up in the VA-OIG report is the following gem of bureaucrat complicity.

“… Identified that four programs and activities have been noncompliant for five consecutive fiscal years, and two activities were noncompliant for three years.”

Thus, further reducing the overall adherence to Congressional oversight and fiscal sanity in properly handling the American Taxpayer money.  The VA-OIG reported that the VA is required to submit to Congress plans to come into compliance, and it was considered good news that the VA was able to do this for two high-priority programs with a monetary annual loss of $100 Million; but overall, I have to rate the VA’s ability to self-identify and self-correct fiscal problems at a very low F-.  The audacity of the VA Bureaucrats to not even follow all the VA-OIG recommendations, on such a softball legislative requirement mystifies.  From FY 2018 to FY 2019, the VA refused to comply with a VA-OIG recommendation, and this same recommendation has been carried over into FY 2020 in the hopes that the VA will come into compliance.

Blue Money BurningReturning the original analogy, if your significant other was reporting these failures to comply, how long would that person remain a significant other?  Yet, somehow, we, the American Taxpayer, accepts this type of poor performance from government bureaucrats.  The legislation is not working to improve performance after 10 consecutive fiscal years of trying.  Leading to the following recommendations for immediate Congressional action.

  1. Order a full, open, and transparent audit of the VA.  I don’t care what is found in FY 2019, just perform a complete audit and bring all the books and budgets of the VA into a single source.
  2. Set mandates for compliance with hard deadlines to meet. Without accountability built into a system for improvement, you cannot expect improvement.  Deadlines insist upon compliance.
  3. Start holding actual people accountable for not acting fiscally responsible. The charade has to end, the suggestions for improvement should never have started, and you, the elected Congressional Representatives, are responsible for correcting the fiscal ship of state!
  4. Insist upon adherence through personal liability. If a bureaucrat cannot handle the position they have been hired to hold, they need to be removed.  Not coddled, not protected, not another paycheck!

Congress demands every business in America be held accountable to basic accounting practices; why then does the VA get a pass?

© 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:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/