Ooh, SNAP! (revisited)

Believe or not, food stamp recipients have traded their benefits with nefarious retailers in exchange for cash they used to buy drugs and weapons.

No! Corruption & fraud in a government run program?

That’s just one of many outrageous examples of abuse in the food stamp program revealed when Phyllis Fong, the Department of Agriculture’s inspector general, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday.

“In terms of fraud, we have seen many types of trafficking in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits,” she said in prepared remarks.

“By giving a recipient $50 in cash for $100 in benefits, an unscrupulous retailer can make a significant profit. Recipients, of course, are then able to spend the cash however they like.

“In some cases, recipients have exchanged benefits for drugs, weapons, and other contraband.”

“When trafficking occurs unchecked, families do not receive the intended nutritional assistance, and unscrupulous retailers profit at the expense of the American public.”

The latest estimate places the number of food stamp recipients in this fiscal year at about 46.3 million, up from 30.8 million at the beginning of fiscal year 2009. That’s a boon for the economy, don’t you know.

The sale or purchase of food stamp benefits for monetary gain is punishable by disqualification from receiving future benefits, fines, and criminal prosecution, according to CNS News.

However, it came to light in Fong’s testimony that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program, does not have a policy to ban food stamp retailers from the program even when they have been convicted of defrauding the government.

Fong said: “‘Suspension and debarment’ is a legal tool that Federal agencies can use to protect programs from repeat abusers and ensure that the Government does business only with responsible parties.

“If FNS (the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service) took steps to debar retailers with a proven record of dishonesty, those individuals would be prevented from abusing other Federal programs.

“However, in a recent audit, we determined that FNS did not debar any of the 615 wholesalers and retailers convicted in relation to 208 cases, even though a conviction is adequate grounds for debarment.”

That’s just great. These companies were not just charged, but convicted and are still able to conduct business as usual.

She also testified that the USDA does not review the criminal background on food stamp retailers and “therefore cannot comply with its own requirement to deny SNAP authorization to any retailers with a criminal history.”

These are the same beuracrats that will control your healthcare soon. Comforting.

In addition, the food stamp program does not even check the Social Security number of many of its recipients, countless of whom are using the numbers of dead people and invalid SSNs to get benefits that Fong said potentially total $1.1 million a month.

Attribution: Newsmax

Affordable Light Bulbs

Government Stupidity Defies Satire When a $50 Light Bulb Wins an Affordability Prize

 by: Daniel J. Mitchell

I’ve written about the government’s war on consumer-friendly light bulbs (and also similar attacks on working toilets and washing machines that actually clean), so I’m generally not surprised by bureaucratic nonsense.

But even I’m shocked the federal government gave an affordability award for a light bulb that costs $50. I’m not making this up. Here’s a blurb from ABC News.

The U.S. government has awarded appliance-maker Philips $10 million for devising an “affordable” alternative to today’s standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. That standard bulb sells for around $1. The Philips alternative sells for $50. Of course, the award-winner is no ordinary bulb. It uses only one-sixth the energy of an incandescent. And it lasts 30,000 hours–about 30 times as long. In fact, if you don’t drop it, it may last 10 years or more. But only the U.S. Government (in this case, the Department of Energy) could view a $50 bulb as cheap.

Isn’t that wonderful? My tax dollars were used to reward a company that produced a light bulb I can’t afford.

Lisa Benson has a very good cartoon about this light bulb, as well as the less-than-shocking news that Obamacare will be more costly than originally forecast.

Communism Doesn’t Work

Meet Elke. This inspiring woman was born in Hitler’s Germany and lived under communist rule for years before becoming an American citizen.

Her video explanation of what happened in Germany under communism and the parallels to our current administration and the path we are on will give you a chill.

Attribution: The Blaze

Ok, I’m in Love!!

Anyone familiar with guns knows of the classic American pistol, the 45 cal. M1911 & the M1911A1. It’s still one of the most widely known and loved pistols, used in The Korean, Vietnam and both World Wars. John M. Browning designed the firearm which was the standard-issue side arm for the United States armed forces from 1911 to 1985.

The Colt pistol was formally adopted by the Army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation, M1911 (Model 1911). It was adopted by the Navy and United States Marine Corps in 1913.

Originally manufactured only by Colt, demand for the firearm in the first World War saw the expansion of manufacture to the government-owned Springfield Armory.

Battlefield experience in the First World War led to some small external changes, completed in 1924. The new version received a modified type classification, M1911A1.

The differences in the M1911 and the upgraded M1911A1 were minor and consisted of a shorter trigger, cutouts in the frame behind the trigger, an arched mainspring housing, a longer grip safety spur,to prevent hammer bite, a wider front sight, a shorter spur on the hammer, and simplified grip checkering by eliminating the “Double Diamond” reliefs. You can spot the differences in the above picture. The internal components were all interchangable.

By the way, hammer bite describes the action of an external hammer pinching or poking the web of the operator’s shooting hand between the thumb and fore-finger when the gun is fired. Some handguns prone to this are the M1911 pistol and the Browning Hi-Power. It can be quite painful.

So how could a classic handgun such as this be improved upon?

Just Watch!

Greedy Bankers…Oh Wait

The former chief executive of The New York Times Company received $24million when she was forced out of her job, it has emerged.

Janet Robinson received the huge pay-off – larger than the company’s profits from the last four years combined – despite overseeing an 80 per cent fall in the company’s share price.

She presided over seven years of falling profits and squeezed revenues in the wake of the economic downturn and the threat to newspapers’ business models posed by the internet.

Ms Robinson’s ‘golden parachute’ deal has been criticised by Times staff, who face the prospect of lay-offs and a pension freeze in response to the firm’s ongoing struggles.

The 61-year-old former CEO, a 28-year veteran with the company, has yet to be replaced by chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr, who is temporarily acting in her place.

Ms Robinson’s package includes a $4.5million consulting fee that The Times had agreed to pay as part of her exit package, as well as pension benefits and performance-related payments.

In 2011, her last year with the company, it lost $39.7million, but she was paid a salary of $1million.

Her $24million departure package is equivalent to around 2.4 per cent of the entire market value of the company.

The New York Times Company, which owns the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and About.com as well as its flagship newspaper, insists it is on the right track despite the troubles of the Robinson years.

It had 406,000 paying digital subscribers at the end of 2011 after it rolled out an online pay system last year.

The focus on an improved digital strategy helped circulation revenue grow five per cent to $241.6million in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the company.

However, it is currently lacking a digital boss as well as a CEO, after former digital head Martin Nisenholtz retired.

Attribution:  Daily Mail

The Big Fat Oily Lie

Just today President Obama warned supporters that they would likely soon hear Republican calls of “drill, drill, drill” as election season heats up, and but warned that solely relying on new oil exploration would not solve America’s energy woes.

The President exclaimed to his uninformed supporters, “America uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. If we drilled every square inch of this country …. we would still have only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves.

“If you have got 2 and you need 20, there is a gap.”

Let’s put this myth to bed, once & for all. To be more accurate, I should say, let’s put this lie to bed. He is lying and he knows it. It’s that, or he is the most illinformed world leader on the planet. I’m sure it’s the former.

 

Scarce Oil? U.S. Has 60 Times More Than Obama Claims

By John Merline of Investors Business Daily [emphasis addded]

When he was running for the Oval Office four years ago amid $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, then-Sen. Barack Obama dismissed the idea of expanded oil production as a way to relieve the pain at the
pump.

“Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling,” he said. “America still has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves.” Which meant, he said, that the U.S. couldn’t affect global oil prices.

It’s the same rhetoric President Obama is using now, as gas prices hit $4 again, except now he puts the figure at 2%.

“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” he said. “Not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”

The claim makes it appear as though the U.S. is an oil-barren nation, perpetually dependent on foreign oil and high prices unless we can cut our own use and develop alternative energy sources like algae.

But the figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.

The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.

When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:

At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.

Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska’s North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.

Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.

As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Then, there’s the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it’s heated.

A separate Rand Corp. study found that about 800 billion barrels of oil shale in Wyoming and neighboring states is “technically recoverable,” which means it could be extracted using existing technology. That’s more than triple the known reserves in Saudi Arabia.

All told, the U.S. has access to 400 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered using existing drilling technologies, according to a 2006 Energy Department report.

When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.

And even this number could be low, since such estimates tend to go up over time.

Back in 1995, for example, the USGS figured there were 151 million barrels of oil in North Dakota’s Bakken formation. In 2008, it upped that estimate to 3 billion barrels, then to 4.3 billion barrels — a 25-fold increase. Now, some oil analysts say there could be as much as 20 billion barrels there.

And USGS in 2002 quadrupled its oil estimate in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.

To be sure, energy companies couldn’t profitably recover all this oil — even at today’s prices — and what they could wouldn’t make it to market for years. But from the industry’s perspective, the real problem with domestic oil is that the government has roped off most of these supplies.

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, for example, put a huge swath of land off-limits to drilling. And in 1982, Congress blocked access to most of the oil in the Outer Continental Shelf. Much of the oil on federal lands is also off-limits.

Obama and others say the industry’s claim about lack of access isn’t true, since they aren’t even using many of the offshore leases they already have. The industry counters that this is misleading, since a company needs the lease before it can determine if any oil exists there — a potentially time-consuming process.

In any case, any attempt to get at these vast new oil supplies is sure to face fierce opposition from environmental groups worried about oil production’s direct impact on the environment, as well as global warming worries.

But given today’s prices, most of the public is willing to expand drilling offshore, in ANWR, and in shale oil reserves, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll.

“This is not a geological problem — it’s a political problem,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research. “We’ve embargoed our own supplies.”

Killer Turbines

From Erica Ritz of The Blaze:

Continuing to survive primarily on federal handouts and subsidies, the wind energy movement has recently come under fire. While it is typically seen as a “clean” and “eco-friendly” alternative to fossil fuels, as the bird carcasses accumulate, the movement is starting to see closer scrutiny. According to Robert Bryce of the Wall Street Journal:

Over the past two decades, the federal government has prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest wildlife-protection laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Eagle Protection Act.

But the Obama administration—like the Bush administration before it—has never prosecuted the wind industry despite myriad examples of widespread, unpermitted bird kills by turbines. A violation of either law can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for two years…

Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20 miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400 raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed hawks—as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—are being killed every year by the turbines at Altamont.

…Bats are getting whacked, too. The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that wind turbines killed more than 10,000 bats in the state in 2010.

ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court…to the deaths of 85 birds [not eagles] at its operations in several states, according to the Department of Justice. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Exxon agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees. In July, the PacifiCorp utility of Oregon had to pay $10.5 million in fines, restitution and improvements to their equipment after 232 eagles were killed by running into power lines in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That is far fewer than the estimated 10,000 birds (nearly all protected by the migratory bird law) that are being killed every year at Altamont…

Despite the deleterious effect that the windmills are having on wildlife, the wind industry is pushing to keep both its carte blanche and generous subsidies. According to Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington D.C.-based lawyer who wrote a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “It‘s absolutely clear that there’s been a mandate from the top” not to prosecute the wind industry for violating wildlife laws. “To me,” he said, “that’s appalling public policy.”

In 2011, wind energy was the second-largest recipient of the government’s $24 billion in energy subsidies. According CNN Money, proponents say that, “while renewable technologies may be more expensive now, federal support provides a crucial market and…given time and economies of scale, renewable technologies will eventually be able to compete with fossil fuel.”

Chu on This

Could this station be the one the Obama family fills up the old war wagon? I rather doubt it, but it is only about a mile from the White House.

That’s bad, but sadly it is not worst in the nation. Although I can’t find a photo, I have confirmed prices in Los Angeles. At some stations the prices start at $5.99 for regular, $6.09 for mid-grade and $6.19 for premium. Holy Crap!

So at what point will the economy just come to a screeching halt? If this keeps up, I’d say very soon.

Here’s an idea. Maybe we can petition Nancy Pelosi to allow us to use our food stamps to purchase gas?

If you have been paying attention you would realize this is exactly what this Administration desired. This is the Green Utopian model playing out. Strangle the oil, gas & coal industries & force people into their sunshine and lollipop alternative energies.

Why else would anyone hire Steven Chu to be the Energy Secretary? He’s a Global Warming advocate & champion of anything and everything “Green”.

Here’s just one example of Chu’s great ideas for saving us all from ourselves!

In 2008, Steven Chu was quite clear what he wanted for this country. As of February, 28, just 2 weeks ago, his view hadn’t changed.

But just Tuesday, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Senator Mike Lee (R-Ut.) asked Secretary Chu: “So are you saying you no longer share the view that we need to figure out how to boost gasoline prices in America?” Chu responded: “I no longer share that view.”

Share that view with whom? It was his view. My guess is between his testimony in Feb. and now, he was taken to the woodshed and told he had better shut up about his and the administration’s true intentions.

I’m also sure that he was told that after the election, there will be no restraints and they can go full speed ahead with their plans to forcibly change our behavior.

If Obama wins a second term, the new slogan will be “Yes We Can, Walk to Work”.

We’re Hummin Now

By Ed Carson, INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY:

The U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February vs. expectations for 206,000, continuing a recent trend of decent hiring activity. The unemployment rate held at 8.3%.

But America remains mired in the longest jobs recession since the Great Depression. It’s been 49 months since the U.S. hit peak employment in January 2008. And with nonfarm payrolls still 5.33 million below their old high, the jobs slump will continue for several more years.

The previous jobs recession record — 47 months — came during and after the comparatively mild 2001 recession, which saw unemployment climb to only 6.3%. The average job recovery time since 1980 is 29 months, not including the current slump.

The labor market won’t truly return to health until some 10 million positions are created to rehire all those who lost their jobs and to absorb new workers.

The longest jobs recession in decades coincides, not coincidentally, with the longest stretch of anemic economic performance on record.

U.S. gross domestic profit hasn’t risen 4% or more in any quarter since the first quarter of 2006. That’s by far the longest such stretch on record going back to 1950. The only other sizable sub-par stretch was a three-year span from late 2000 to mid-2003 during the prior recession and sluggish recovery.

The current expansion, which began in mid-2009, is particularly disappointing, given the deep recession that preceded it. The best growth was a three-quarter run of 3.8%-3.9% gains.

After the severe 1981-82 recession, the U.S. economy enjoyed a five-quarter stretch of 7% or more — following a 5.1% annualized gain.

The U.S. economy is up just 6.2% above the level at the end of the recession vs. 14.9% in the 10 quarters after the 1981-82 slump.

President Obama may take hope that the U.S. economy has picked up from near-stall speed to a modest pace in recent months. But after the mild 1990-1991 downturn, the U.S. economy rose tepidly for a few quarters before growing more than 4% in every quarter of 1992. That still wasn’t enough to keep the first President Bush from losing to Bill Clinton.

And nobody is predicting 4% growth in 2012.