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January 23, 2015

NASA Spends $392,000 on A Communications Book Should We Encounter Aliens

IPI expert referenced: Bartlett D. Cleland | In The News | Media Hit
  Forbes

NASA Spends $392,000 on A Communications Book Should We Encounter Aliens

In his latest report on government waste, outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn found that the federal government spent an eye-popping $50 million on paid administration leave. Worse, about 40% of the money went to workers who had, shall we say, behavioral problems at work.

Government employees who were caught doing things such as charging booze on government credit cards, surfing porn on government computers and sexually harassing co-workers were often “punished” by getting paid not to show up to work—sometimes for years.

Some of Coburn’s examples make you wonder what it takes to get fired from a government post. The IRS’ Lois Lerner, for example, pocketed $50,000 in paid leave after her role in targeting conservative groups was exposed.

The head of Iran operations for the CIA was put on paid leave after creating a work environment so hostile, it put that division in disarray. So was a Secret Service agent found passed out in a hallway from a previous night’s boozing while on presidential security detail.

Coburn also found incredible examples of waste at agencies that constantly claim poverty. A prime example is the National Institutes of Health, which in the wake of the Ebola outbreak said it could have developed a vaccine by now if it weren’t for budget cuts. The same NIH had $2 billion to blow on Swedish massages for rabbits, studying whether moms love their dogs or their children more, researching writing on Buddhist meditation, and developing a mobile app designed to help parents get their children to eat vegetables.

NASA, which currently can’t launch a man into space on its own, blew $350 million on a launch tower for a canceled rocket system, wastes $43 million maintaining other facilities that serve no purpose, and spent $392,000 on a book offering communication advice should we encounter aliens.

The government doesn’t need more money to do its job. It needs a major housecleaning.

—Investor’s Business Daily

IRS Violates Federal Law for More Than A Decade

Under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the agency is required to provide annual recommendations “for reducing the complexity of the administration of Federal tax laws; and for repeal or modification of any provision the Commissioner believes adds undue and unnecessary complexity to the administration of the Federal tax laws.”

But as noted by the National Taxpayer Advocate, the agency has not bothered to produce such a report since 2002. Only two such reports have ever been issued, in 2000 and 2002.

Each year Americans spend six billion hours complying with the four million word Internal Revenue Code. But the IRS apparently can’t be bothered to compile the report. When asked by the NTA to explain themselves, the IRS said it would require “about two full time employees working for about a year” to produce the report.

It is difficult to believe that the IRS, with 82,982 employees, cannot find two employees to carry out such important work.

—Alexander Hendrie, Americans for Tax Reform

An Illiberal Education

On America’s college campuses, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell which are the jejune undergraduates and which their supposedly mature professors. The confusion is not aided by the likes of Charles Angeletti, a professor of American civilization at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

At the start of each class, Campus Reform reports, Angeletti requires his students to recite an ersatz Pledge of Allegiance of his own devising. Among the claims that are made within the oath are that the United States is reserved for “Republicans,” that the nation is repressed “under Jesus,” and that its constitution offers “curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you, if you don’t watch your step.”

Angeletti claims that he is merely encouraging his students to think for themselves. Is he sure that asking them to read a childish and petulant script is the best way to do it?

—National Review

A Pirate’s Bounty

According to a new Bureau of Economic Analysis report, arts and culture contributed nearly $700 billion to the U.S. economy, or 4.32% of GDP in 2012. This total was higher than other core American industries such as agriculture, construction and transportation.

In other words, the impact of the arts and culture industry on the U.S., measured in economic and financial terms, is huge.

Theft of arts and culture is also correspondingly large. In 2005 piracy conservatively cost motion pictures, sound recordings, business software and entertainment software/video collectively at least $25.6 billion in lost revenue.

But the harm of piracy goes deeper. The U.S. economy loses $58 billion in total GDP annually, 373,375 jobs, and $16.3 billion in earnings; and federal, state and local governments lose at least $2.6 billion in tax revenues annually. In addition, the arts and culture industry generates approximately $25 billion in trade surplus, an uncommon feat amongst American industry. No matter how you look at it, copyrights, the innovations and art they protect, are critical to the U.S. economy.

—Bartlett Cleland, Institute for Policy Innovation

 

Avarice Amok in Minneapolis

Community Action of Minneapolis is supposed to provide energy assistance, skills training and other services for poor people. But a state audit found that it spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars over a two-year period on cruises, trips, spa treatments, a loaner car, and bonuses for staff and board members.

—Charles Oliver, Reason

 

Truly Hawkish

A hawk attacked a remote-controlled drone intruding into its airspace, forcing it to crash-land in a Massachusetts park. “The hawk came out unscathed,” said the drone’s owner, Christopher Schmidt, “and having defeated his prey, was happy to retreat.”

—The Week


 

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