Thursday, October 29, 2009

Inaccurate stimulus numbers

So a little while ago, the article doesn't specifiy when, but recently a report appeared that said that the Stimulus had created over thirty Thousand jobs. The White House immediately started using that number to show that the stimulus program is working and on its way to perfection. However, the number is overstated by at least 5,000. Thats as much as the AP could count from the basic, non-exhaustive search it did. These are numbers reported by companies with federal contracts, that counted jobs multiple times. So they said they had hired maybe five people, but only hired one, and kept the rest of the money. Here is a link

Is it any wonder why certain segments of the population are distrustful of the government? It gives contracts to companies and helps them out, sure, but there are so many contractors that it becomes easy to hide overbilling in all the noise. Its hard to draw any specific conclusions about the current government, because I'm sure this has been going on for quite a while. It is easy to think of all the possibilities for corruption that can flourish in an environment such as this. With this in mind, does it make sense that an enormous government program, like health coverage for all, would be spotlessly clean and honest and efficient? When such a relatively small amount of money spent on the stimulus is being wasted?

I'm sure it wasn't Obama's intention to waste money as part of the stimulus, and it likely isn't his intention to waste money with the Health Plan, but when you have so much money flying out to so many parties, some of it is going to evaporate. This number which is reported on the recovery.gov website is a survey from 9,000 contractors. Each one of those is a company, not just a person.

Maybe larger government programs with expanded powers isn't what we need, maybe all we need is just a government with less employees and more efficient spending, just on things that are absolutely necessary.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vocabulary

My cousin recently annoyed my mom by accusing the University of Utah of being Gay. It got me thinking about alternates to the word Gay when what you really mean is that it is bad or you don't like it. So, a new periodic feature, that I'll call Thesaurus Anyone?

In this case, Jordan just meant that he didn't like the U. Presumably because our football team has a better record this season. (So Far) So instead of saying, "The U is Gay" How about saying, "The U is Useless." Or "The U is Icky." "The U is Defective" "The U is Incommodious."


Have a nice day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

'It's for the Troops! Stop asking questions!'

Here is a link I saw on Wethearmed.com
It describes how senators 'think' they are serving the public good.

Here is the wethearmed thread I saw it on.

And here is some expertly applied sarcasm by yours truly.
About Senator Kennedy "Sen. Kennedy served on the Armed Services Committee for 27 years, where he fought to deliver top-of-the-line body armor and armored Humvees to protect our troops and save lives. Educating Americans about these battles is a core mission for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, which showcases one senator's ability to make a difference,"

Translated as "Ted Kennedy was an incredible human being, much better than the rest of us. We must tell the world how he used to stick up for our country's soldiers by spending this money on a Center. Of course none of us are as good as He was, so we won't fund the soldier's safety, because we just aren't as generous as Ted Kennedy."




Mr. Wheeler said that senators took most of the cash for the projects from the "operations and maintenance" or O&M accounts.
"These are the accounts that pay for troop training, repairs, spares and supplies for vehicles, weapons, ships and planes, food and fuel," Mr. Wheeler said.

"The operation and maintenance title is fully funded," Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, said during the debate on the bill. "There is no shortage. ... The committee is deeply concerned that the critical operational needs of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are met with the finest equipment available."

Translates to
"You took money out of military maintenance accounts. The military now has less money to fix and train with."
"No, we didn't"
"Uhh, yes you did. You took 655 million bucks out of the maintenance fund."
"Nope. Wrong. They are fully funded."
"How can they have less money and be fully funded?"
"It's the Magic of Government!! You wouldn't understand because you aren't out here every day, fighting for our troops."
"But you took money away from the troops."
"Look, Shaun, I understand that you are new here. The way this works is that you ask me a question, I give my answer, then we move on. Got it? Just one answer per issue, ok?"
"Oh, right. Sorry about that."


Mrs. Landrieu said she was "proud to fight" for money for the World War II museum, which is not just a "monument to the brave men and women who served during World War II," but also "a constant reminder to future generations about the tremendous sacrifice of millions of Americans." She added that the earmarked funds "will help to increase tourism to New Orleans."

Translated-

Everything is ok, as long as you say its for the troops. Even taking money from the troops. Maybe that New Orleans memorial should include a factory floor where tourists can assemble refurbished magazines or something.


$25 million inserted by Mr. Inouye for the Hawaii Federal Health Care Network. Mr. Inouye's Web site says the health care program "supports applied research, development and deployment of technology to improve access and the quality of care to service members, military families and impacted communities.


-IT'S FOR THE TROOPS!!! See, I said Military and Service Members. Now Leave Me Alone!


". . .reported the appropriation bills that the committee thinks will serve the public interest."

In addition to the $2.6 billion in earmarks, the bill includes $2.5 billion for 10 Boeing C-17 cargo planes that the military says it does not need, and $1.7 billion for an extra DDG-51 destroyer not requested in the Pentagon's budget proposal.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Update on Utah Construction

Since I put that photo of the plants growing through the floor on that building near my home, work has resumed. The floor is now poured concrete, and people are there everyday working on it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sponsorship

I just volunteered myself to go to Vernal to film a shotgun class for Crusader Weaponry (http://www.crusaderweaponry.com/main.php) on October 24th. I need either a ride, or dinero to get myself out there and back. Let me know if you would be willing to be a sponsor.

Shooting between Conference

We were in Manti for Conference weekend and went shooting. It was going to be really fun, except we forgot to bring the watermelon and giant zucchini that we were going to shoot. Or the 2 liter bottle on a string to practice hitting a moving target with. Oops. But we did set up a version of the Ogre Zombie Drill. Here is a video of Kristen doing the Zombie as well as one that involves reloading. I can't remember if it's the Farnam drill, or the Bill Drill, but any way here they are.




Utah construction




There is a building that was built near where I live, as part of a slew of new office buildings that were put in an abandoned section of VA property. One of the buildings, which has been up for at least a year, had a great big banner that said "coming soon; Red Butte Bakery" or something like that. The coming soon sign has been up there for most of the time we've been married. There was street resurfacing a few days ago which forced me to walk by the building. I looked inside as I went past and noticed that there is just a gravel floor that has been so neglected that knee-high shrubs have appeared.

When I was a missionary in California, I noticed that their construction industry is cram packed with contractors. There are so many, that competition works for the public good. The projects are under pressure to get done quickly, so if a contractor takes too long on a project, or milks it for more money, or does a shoddy job, then they won't ever get hired again, because there are so many other contractors to choose from.

In Utah, it seems like there are so few contractors, that when they get a job, they take their sweet time, woops! go over budget, and drag it out as long as they can. Or maybe the only requirement is low cost. For example, when I lived in Sandy, every few years the major roads would get resurfaced. Lets say they had a total of five miles of street to do. The company would take one week to first put up cones and block off all the surfaces that need work. In reality, the coning can be done before noon on one day. So the cones would hang out for at least a week, with no sign of work on the road. Then the old asphalt would get stripped off at the rate of about an eighth of a mile per day, until they got the whole 5-mile area of road stripped. Then they wait two weeks, making a total of about a month spent on just stripping the asphalt.

Then they would start laying down new asphalt. They make some headway on this, and then it snows, because that's how long its taken them to do this. So they wait for a month for a lull in storms, and for the snow to mostly melt so they get going on the resurfacing again. This continues through the winter. They finish sections of road, but they don't take those cones down, because they aren't done with whole project. Sometime next spring, the asphalt is all down. Then we get to wait three weeks for the new roads to get painted. Once they get painted, the cones stay up for another week and a half, because apparently it takes a full eleven days for paint to dry. Then the cones disappear.

A week later, cones appear, blocking the other half of the road that needs surfacing.


If this happened anywhere on my mission, the original company would be dropped after two months, and a new one would be brought in and the job would be complete two and a half weeks later.

In the Bee Hive state, where the motto is Industry, why do these thing happen? Why let a building sit unused and unfinished for two years? Stupidity? Thievery? Legislative Conflicts of Interest? A sense of powerlessness from the general public? I don't know, but its a waste of time and money.