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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“Lord, what fools these mortals be…”

And Puck was never more correct than this is applied to the idiocy in our government these days.  I understand, the Tea Party wants things done under a strict constitutional and financially sane basis.  I understand that the Left side of the aisle wants to protect the interests of their constituency.  But in between the “pass no law that doesn’t complete the job” on one side and the “we can’t cut funds for this necessary and important project- we must raise taxes instead”  are people like the lady interviewed on CBSNews tonight, who got laid off from IBM 24 weeks ago and because Senate Dems keep saying “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure”, and House Republicans aren’t bright enough to say, “y’know, sometimes standing on principles can be accomplished in baby steps”, she’s going to have NO INCOME in about two weeks.

Now, the rub of this is, is that many will say, “She must be willing to take a lesser job.”  And that is right;  she, and many others, must be willing to scale down.  She’s going to have to make changes in her lifestyle to accommodate a lesser income.  We did it;  Laurie and I haven’t always been in the veritable paradise that is Woodbridge.  In fact, in between  the home abandoned to bankruptcy and here, we were living in the “scale down” capital of Allen County.

  Our “neighborhood” was the very same that the FWPD was shooting at when they were missing their targets in the firing range.  (And, may I point out, they would have had to clear about three streets worth of trailer park to hit a living thing.  The back of the park were the trashed out trailer shells that squatters, opossums, and termites took a pass on.)  Our trailer featured: a front door whose base was about ready to rot out; two toilets with lists to one side severe enough that you couldn’t spare a hand to read the paper; a water heater that leaked so bad it had to be replaced after less than a week (supposedly just installed); pipes that froze upon hearing the forecast of below-freezing temps, along with a water meter that shattered on four different occasions; neighbors that had to be dissuaded from stealing the Sunday paper by my stuffing a decoy full of dog poop (which they took twice before learning the lesson); and management that made us sit for three weeks before accepting an inquiry call from Woodbridge.  So, yeah, we get scale down.

But here’s the thing-  ever go to your mortgageholder and say, “I’m not making as much as I did last month.  How about you let me find a “scaled-down” home and let me pay a scaled down payment”?  Yeah, that’s not so easy.  And it’s people like that, chained to mortgages and loans they can no longer afford, that are getting hurt.  We hear a lot about underwater mortgages and what Washington wants to do to fix them, but what good can they do when the only way to “scale down” your payments is in bankruptcy court?

And everyone is all about the big ways to cut spending- get rid of the Department of (insert name here, Rick Perry), slash the military, etc.  But Tom Coburn (R-OK) has just shown a better way- he has released his latest copy of Wastebook, where he lists his top 100 wastes of our money.  I had the idea of going through this bit by bit, until I’ve milked it for all the entertainment value I can, so you can see and enjoy where your money is really going.  Tonight, I thought I’d look at a couple of items from one of my (and I’m sure one of your) favorite places to waste money- that valuable and trustworthy ally of ours, Pakistan.
13) Remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan – (U.S. Agency for International
Development) $10 Million
In 2010, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, a Pakistani arts organization,was awarded $20 million over the next four years,  to create ―130 episodes of an indigenously produced Sesame Street.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the first $10 million for the project in FY 2011. The Pakistan Sesame Street would be produced in cooperation with Sesame Workshop , creators of the original Sesame Street.
According to news sources, the show will be renamed ―SimSim Humara and set in a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The only character adopted from the original Sesame Street will be the furry red monster Elmo. The rest of the puppet cast will be made up of new local characters, including a conceited welldwelling
crocodile named Haseen O Jameel, a spirited adult woman, Baaji, who enjoys family time and tradition, and Baily, a hard-working donkey who longs to be a pop star.
Besides the television show, the grant also includes funding for the following:
 ―Radio programs based on the main puppet characters‖
 ―A dynamic website where children can ‗interact‘ with their favorite puppet characters‖
 600 events with ―live puppet performances using vehicles with trained puppeteers
performing shows‖
 600 events with ―mobile video vans displaying pre-developed puppet-based programs to
children and communities‖
 9,000 small gatherings involving ―thirty trained District Ambassadors playing video
shows using laptop computers.
The television and radio shows will include 78 shows in Urdu and 13 shows in each of the four major regional languages.

Answer me this- even assuming that this was doing anything other than teaching future America-hating terrorists how to read, how many of these children will have access to this “dynamic website,” once the “district Ambassadors” clear the square?  (Answer:  Pakistan has 4.24 PCs per 1,000 people, 158th out of 168 nations.)
Martin savings:  It would cost $2.69 billion to give every child under 14 a tickle me Elmo- and $1.21 billion to give each kid a Elmo hand puppet.  However, when you only give them to the 4.24 in 1,000 who have computer access (and thus might actually give a crap about Elmo), you cut those numbers to $11,429,686 and $5,143,358.  Thus, a potential savings of $4,856,642.

2) Mangled Mango Effort Could Hurt Farmers It Meant to Help –
(Pakistan) $30 Million
In 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) undertook a four-year, $90 million effort to spur hiring and sales among Pakistani businesses. Two years later, the USAID
Inspector General (USAID OIG) found ―no measurable increases in sales and employment.
In four of five product areas USAID targeted – leather, livestock, textiles and dates – the agency abandoned its efforts roughly a year after it began them, with virtually nothing to show. For the
remainder of the project, it focused its effort (and funding) on the fifth product area: mangoes.
USAID‘s goal for mango farmers, to boost their sales by 20 percent, was as ill-fated as its grand plans for Pakistan‘s date farmers,
ranchers, and leather and textile manufacturers. Nearly $30 million into the project, the USAID OIG audited the effort and concluded it was not on track to achieve its main goal. The mango effort, which consisted of providing 13 mango farmers with equipment to clean, freeze and store mangoes, was ―stalled.
What brought the mango effort to a standstill? Although the contractor executing the project, Chemonics, stated it
had implemented several enhancements to mango production, the USAID OIG found only one farmer had received the promised
but could not operate it because
of a design flaw.
To make matters worse, the bungled effort could actually hurt the participating farmers by forcing them into default on loans they had taken out against expected sales that now may not happen, the OIG found.

So $30 mill later, USAID and Chemonics  couldn’t accomplish something you or I could have with a few $600 freezers and $25 K for ten billboards.  Savings by the Martin plan, $29,996,200.  And I priced the freezers at Lowes, so you know THEY’LL work.  Tune in next time for more “fun with government waste”.


  1. Yep, we understand scale down too. We don't have smart phones, we don't have cable or satellite at home and I clip coupons and comp shop like a crazy person!

  2. Your post title does say it all!!! And if I don't get another chance, I did want to wish you a Merry Christmas Chris! Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!