Liberty Opinion: 27 August 2010
The blame game
I really like tools. It doesn’t matter if they are hand or power tools. The companies that make and sell tools love someone like me, because I’m a sucker for every new tool that comes to market. Back in my college days I splurged and spent a bunch of the money earned from hauling hay on a set of S-K Wayne wrenches and a big Kennedy tool box.
The economy is in the dumper and everything coming out of Washington to help, just hurts — plus we continue to spend money we don’t have.
Buying top tier tools wasn’t something my Dad ever did, as almost all of our well worn tools came from being purchased at a farm auction. I was so proud of my tools and I was literally crushed when my car trunk was broken into and they were stolen. I figured if I hadn’t of had everything so well organized maybe they couldn’t have stolen them all.
One of the problems I then had with not organizing my tools and having them laying around everywhere was that I’d lose them. Lucky for me, a son was born who liked helping his Dad do things with tools. This gave me two decades of having a good excuse for it not being my fault for losing the tool I wanted.
The economy is in the dumper and everything coming out of Washington to help, just hurts — plus we continue to spend money we don’t have. With unemployment at an eighty year high, a reasonable person would think the government could do something. Well it has and that has made the problem worse.
Take GM (Government Motors). The American taxpayer owns 61% of the company, yet they canned over 107,000 employees, followed by Citigroup, which got forty-five billion dollars of TARP yet canned 73,000 employees. Just how is that for job preservation?
I guess it is a good thing we have a never ending unemployment compensation program to pay people for not working. How about the latest bill passed out of congress where an addition ten billion dollars was spent to save school teacher jobs? Only problem is that states like California didn’t spend the money to rehire any of the teachers they had fired. No, they just rat-holed the money.
I guess it is a good thing we have a never ending unemployment compensation program to pay people for not working.
California, New York and New Jersey all have massive educational budget shortfalls. Those states are sinking faster than the Titanic. They cry that it isn't their fault being broke and politics makes sure they all are getting help from the federal government — that’s us. So when a single high school in Los Angles cost $578 million to build (two earlier schools there were constructed at a cost of $377 and $232 million each so this one just had to cost more), and one school in New York cost $235 million, and another in New Jersey was $185 million.
Where is the end of this insanity?
On the other end of the educational funding model of ‘spend it and they won’t learn anyway’ would be the Amish school system. They operate on virtually no money, and all of their kids can read, write and perform math skills at an age-appropriate level, while the billion dollar high schools in California can’t even keep 50% of the students from dropping out of school let alone pass a proficiency test.
It is always blamed as the fault of this or that, but surely not because we kept the California students from having the cultural experience they enjoyed from seeing over a million dollars of art hanging on the walls and most importantly the installation of natural light and energy saving features in these high schools. Hey, how about building a smaller buildings and make the kids walk outside to classes? It must be someone’s fault that we are forced to spend this amount of money for zero educational return.
At least we can all take some relief that the members of the elite Washington team of administration and congress are doing their part of not over taxing our public school system since all of them send their kids to private schools.
If you thought the Post Office had a corner on government waste, you need to check out the United States Mint. We currently have a billion dollars of newly minted dollar coins stored in the Federal Reserve Bank vaults and we are making a half billion new ones each year to add to that number. No one wants these coins, I have never received one in change and they tarnish quickly and look dirty. Well congress, by law, requires the Fed to order these coins four times a year and in a quantity so that every bank can have a virtual unlimited supply of them. The banks don’t want them so the Fed is stuck with an always increasing supply.
At the same time, congress also passed separate legislation requiring the Mint to produce Native American dollar coins in a quantity of at least 20% of what they make of the presidential dollar coins. Bear with me, it gets worse.
The Fed is not required by law to take these coins from the Mint so the Mint must find another way of getting rid of them. Well the Mint can sell coins to the public and they pocket (profit) from anything above the cost of making the coins. Say the metal and production cost is twenty cents; the Mint would make eighty cents on each coin purchased by someone.
Anyone can log on to the Mint web site and buy these coins. They are one dollar, with free shipping and you can use that dastardly credit card our congress has been complaining about during the last bout of financial regulations. So the Mint can “afford” to pay the shipping and the interchange fees on the credit card purchase and still show a “profit”.
On the buyer’s side of this is the fact the card holder will build travel points, rebates, cash back or even GM dollars to buy a Government Motors car, all courtesy of your friends in Washington.
Last year 121 million dollars of these coins were bought this way and of course, all of those coins were taken to the local bank to be redeemed in cash so the buyer could pay off their credit card bill and then buy some more coins.
What a country we are living in! Free air miles, Score Points, even cash back all just to move coins from the Mint no one wants or uses.
It is time for our leaders to "man up" and take responsibility.
The Mint said it’s not their fault since congress requires them to make the coins and the Fed says it’s not their fault either, and congress never accepts any responsibility for anything so it must be just be your fault for electing these folks.
I didn’t believe this story so logged on the Mint web site and then bought a thousand of these coins with my Labette Bank credit card and they are being delivered to the bank with free shipping (no armored car expense here). The bank's SVP and Cashier, Diane, told me these coins were not going into her vault and I’d have to eat them or she might just find an appropriate place to put them for me.
I do get really tired of all the banter coming from our elected and appointed leaders about nothing ever being their fault and all of our problems are the fault of others whether the blamed are from the present or the past. It is time for our leaders to "man up" and take responsibility. Nothing can be fixed until we concentrate on how to fix things and drop the fault/blame game.
Back in my shop I call the Club House, surrounded by antique tractors, I have found that with my kids all gone from home, I can no longer find anyone to blame for lost tools other than me, which is probably the reason I now own duplicates and triplicates of most of my tools. This allows me a good chance of finding a least one of them most of the time. Now, if I could just find that lost left handed monkey wrench, I'd be good to go on my next project.
Kansas Liberty columnist Bill Wyckoff is president of Labette Bank, a community bank with locations throughout southeast Kansas, and an occasional contributor to the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business News. He lives on a farm outside Altamont, Kan. A graduate of Kansas State University with an MBA from Southern Illinois University, he enjoys collecting antique John Deere tractors and driving his hemi orange Dodge Challenger. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.