Bureaucrat Beat: Wrong Stamps, Bizarre Spending, Real Issues

At the U.S. Postal Service forever apparently doesn’t mean forever. A friend of Bureaucrat Beat recently ordered some “Forever” stamps. Instead, the USPS sent him stamps that featured the cartoon characters, The Simpsons, with the note “Sorry, out of Forever.” Sounds biblical. Our friend is not a “Simpson” man, so he asked for something else. The postal service people said that was all they had unless he wanted the wedding ring stamps. Since he’s not about to tie the knot, that really didn’t fit either. After all, these stamp pictures send messages – possibly the wrong ones. Is the Postal Service up against an inventory issue?

We have a message for political candidates – winners and losers. It’s over. You maneuvered a life lesson. Accept that elections dredge up questions about incumbents and make demands on newcomers. The smart ones listen to public complaints and try to address them. No need for hard feelings. It’s just part of public life.

So is the exposure of earmark expenditures in Washington, D.C. That’s what most of our legislators do – tag their pet projects onto bills they know will pass. So, it’s kind of under the radar and earmarks add up to billions. In 2009, legislators of both parties spent nearly $20 billion on everything from wheat genetics to barn renovations.

The Citizens Against Government Waste compile what they call the Pig Book which lists earmark projects. In fiscal year 2010, legislators have spent some $16 billion. They spent your tax dollars on lots of research institutes in their districts. $16 million on 12 projects in Virginia, including the Appalachian Fruit Laboratory and agricultural waste utilization research.

$12.5 million went to Kansas. The Farm Bureau raked in several million even though the foundation reported a fund balance of $98 million at the end of 2007. Nearly $5 million went to several states for wood utilization research. Since 1985, taxpayers have forked over $100 million to look into what to do with wood.

Since 1985, Congress has appropriated $74.5 million for shrimp aquaculture research in seven states. In 2010, $2.6 million went to potato research to make sure growers planted the right kind to sell to McDonald’s and other fast food joints. More later on what they do with our money.

And, more from Corruption, D.C. According to an article in the Washington Post, many committee chairmen and ranking members of Congress have millions invested in business sectors that their panels oversee. Like Congresswoman Jane Harman’s one million in holdings in companies involved in homeland security contracting. She has served as chair of a subcommittee overseeing technology-oriented efforts to improve homeland security. The Washington Post investigation found that “The membership of some committees had disproportionately large holdings in companies or industries they oversee.” Fix this one tomorrow morning with an Ethics Chief who interviews each committee head. In fact, members of Congress and the Senate should divest themselves of any holdings that might conflict with their decision-making duties. It’s such a money game in Corruption, D.C. they’ve lost track of right and wrong.

BP Oil Company has merely lost track. A video spoofing the British oil firm guilty of the Gulf oil spill has attracted some 3 million hits. Who can resist making bloody good fun of the perpetrators. The video on YouTube is called BP Spills Coffee. Check it out. BP executives spill a cup of coffee on their corporate conference table and go into a high level dither for days. Even the Haliburton coffee delivery couldn’t fix it. Very on point.

Here’s a point for Mammoth parents – on the Dual Immersion language classes continuing into Middle School, be up front with each other. Those in favor see value in their kids continuing to learn two languages. Those against raise a fairness issue since not all kids could get into the Dual Immersion classes in grade school. They both have good points. Don’t be afraid to be up front.

In Inyo County, pretty soon the Inyo Water Commission will have only two members. Two of the five’s terms have already expired and another member is moving. We hear Inyo officials are scared they might have to appoint someone who actually knows something about the water agreement and the condition of the Owens Valley. It’s high time to quit the charades going on in the Technical Group, Water Commission and Standing Committee. Real environmental issues do exist. If you want to call yourself a public servant, address them.

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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