One more comment about New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. He has nailed what’s wrong. One of his latest briberycolumns caused a stir when he said that debt ad bloated government are “symptoms of a country in a state of incremental decline and losing its competitive edge, because our politics has become just another form of sports entertainment, our Congress a forum for legalized bribery and our main lawmaking institutions divided by toxic partisanship to the point of paralysis.” Wow.

Bureaucrat Beat has called what our Congress does legalized bribery, but we never heard a national columnist do it. Friedman is right. They go to Washington, D.C. to rake in the bucks. Until that stops, we will continue to get what Friedman said – debt and bloated government. Stop the bribes and take back our government. What do we have to do? Demand a constitutional amendment that outlaws campaign funds?

The problem goes further than this. When the guys at the top are corrupt, all the other guys say, hey, why not us too? How about the California Welfare Department? They actually created aid cards that welfare recipients have used to get millions in cash from Las Vegas and elsewhere.

Welfare recipients have used the state-issued cards at hotels, shops, restaurants, ATMs and other places in many states. Between 2007 and 2010, Las Vegas drew $11.8 million of California welfare money. The Los Angeles Times reported that hundreds of thousands were spent in Hawaii and thousands on cruise ships sailing from Miami.

Hey, there’s got to be a better way. Where’s the accountability, the security, the common sense. Clearly not with welfare aid cards. This gives welfare fraud a whole new dimension.

deadfishWe talked about DWP’s apparent plans for an “Owens Valley Solar Ranch”. Who knew? They did. Anyway, the LA Times reported another DWP story. The agency has tried to get out of spending the money to change their natural gas burning plants that use sea water to cool their boilers. The process uses hundreds of millions of gallons of ocean water and kills countless fish and other marine life.

The news story says all of this would cost DWP $2.3 billion and lead to electricity rate increases. The State Water Resources Control Board at first insisted. DWP whined and raised the specter of rate shock for customers. The good news – DWP will alter some of its plants in the next 5 years. Others won’t change for decades. Regulators compromised. Wonder how the fish feel about this?

How will California cities and counties feel if the state legislature actually slips through a bill that would let online travel companies off the hook when it comes to collecting and paying transient occupancy tax. Good grief. These people are into legalized bribery too. Wait a minute, isn’t that an oxymoron?

Whatever. But for sure this kind of last minute scheme to tack a provision onto the budget bill for the online travel companies – that’s slimy and sleazy. Of course, with all of the dithering in Sacramento, didn’t you just know they would try to start stealing from counties and cities. We probably don’t know the half of it. The budget they were set to pass has major billions in cuts. We almost don’t want to know the details.

And, as promised, a few more details from the Citizens Against Government Waste 2010 Pig Book. It’s all about pork barrel spending and earmarks foisted on us by our elected criminals in Washington.

The Pig Book says that Congress passed earmarks totalling $61,600,000 on 30 projects in the Commerce, Justice and Science departments. $14,000,000 for the “Cooperative Institute and Research Center for Southeast Weather and Hydrology at the University of Alabama. $6,000,000 for six projects for the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.” More later.

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.

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