Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The US postal service and Amtrak: which one will go bankrupt first?

Will it be the USPS? (H/T Wes)

Excerpt:

Inspector general David Williams says cash-strapped service, saddled with debt and low revenues, is in ‘very serious trouble’.

The chief postal watchdog has warned that the troubled US Postal Service will go out of business this year unless Congress acts to rescue it.

David Williams, the inspector general of the USPS, says the service is in “very serious trouble”, after five years lumbered with heavy debt and falling revenues.

In an interview with the Guardian, Williams warns that Congress, which has been distracted by November’s elections and the fiscal cliff crisis, must act this year to save the service.

The USPS lost over $16bn last year, and has lost about $41bn over the past five years, according to Robert Taub, a vice-chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Or will it be Amtrak?

Excerpt:

Amtrak triumphantly proclaimed 2012 to be a success. The reason? It posted a loss of only $361 million for the year. That’s its smallest operating loss since 1975, amid growing ridership along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. Although this represents progress in the right direction, Amtrak is still not worth what it costs American taxpayers.

Amtrak has never been profitable. From its outset in 1971, it has been backed by taxpayers with billions of dollars in direct aid and loans. Over the past three years alone, Amtrak has received more than $4.4 billion in federal aid, and it still was not able to finish any of those years in the black.

[...]But after more than 40 years of government funding, $4.4 billion in aid over the past three years should be particularly disconcerting. Rail transportation is not becoming cheaper because of government investment in the market; to the contrary, the price has gone up, especially as compared with other major public works projects.

[...]Rather than successfully spurring on American business, Amtrak provides slower trains at higher prices. It is a symbol of government waste because it fails to make any progress toward self-sufficiency and fails to innovate.

It is time to admit this train has left the station. Amtrak cannot and will not be run efficiently with the backstop of government funding behind it. Someday, a public-private partnership on railroads could be in the American interest, as it has been in the past. But for Amtrak, the government should shut off the spigot.

Or will Obama just borrow a few more trillion from your children, so that his public sector supporters in USPS and Amtrak can continue to vote for socialism?

The funny thing about this is that we could sell these wasteful government-owned organizations and privatize their functions. Then we wouldn’t have to sink more and more taxpayer money in public sector boondoggles.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Several stories on government spending, waste and corruption

Here are some interesting stories sent to me by ECM.

CNN: Report finds imprudent spending at USPS.

Excerpt:

The U.S. Postal Service spent more than $792,000 “without justification” on meals and events in one five-month period even as it reported losing $3.8 billion this year, the agency’s inspector general says in a report.

Employees spent $792,022 on meals and external events “without justification for food purchases, purchased alcohol without officer approval and exceeded the dollar limit for meals,” the report says.

Among the purchases were crab cakes, beef Wellington and scallops at an installation ceremony for one of several postmasters in the United States, the report says.

[...]The Postal Service reported a $3.8 billion net loss for the 2009 fiscal year…

University of Michigan links government bailouts to corruption.

Excerpt:

U.S. banks that spent more money on lobbying were more likely to get government bailout money, according to a study released on Monday. Banks whose executives served on Federal Reserve boards were more likely to receive government bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the study from Ran Duchin and Denis Sosyura, professors at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Banks with headquarters in the district of a U.S. House of Representatives member who serves on a committee or subcommittee relating to TARP also received more funds. Political influence was most helpful for poorly performing banks, the study found. “Political connections play an important role in a firm’s access to capital,” Sosyura, a University of Michigan assistant professor of finance, said in a statement. Banks with an executive who sat on the board of a Federal Reserve Bank were 31 percent more likely to get bailouts through TARP’s Capital Purchase Program, the study showed. Banks with ties to a finance committee member were 26 percent more likely to get capital purchase program funds.

South Carolina Attorney General will investigate Ben Nelson’s Obamacare bribe.

Excerpt:

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster said Tuesday that he intends to organize his counterparts in different states to investigate dealmaking that sealed a final compromise on federal health care legislation.

McMaster said the language of the Nelson provision appears to give the State of Nebraska a permanent exemption from paying the Medicaid expenses all other states in the nation will be required to pay.

Attorney General Henry McMaster said he and his counterparts in Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas and Washington state—all Republicans—are jointly taking a look at the deal they’ve dubbed the ‘Nebraska compromise.’

The ‘Nebraska compromise,’ which permanently exempts Nebraska from paying Medicaid costs that Texas and all other 49 states must pay, may violate the United States Constitution—as well as other provisions of federal law.’

White House pressuring pro-life Democrat to pass health care.

Excerpt:

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives have been pressuring him not to speak out on the “compromise” abortion language in the Senate version of the health care bill.

“They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,” Stupak told CNSNews.com in an interview on Tuesday. “Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.”

CBO double-counted Medicare savings in estimate provided prior to Senate vote.

Excerpt:

The key point is that the savings to the HI (Medicare Hospital Insurance) trust fund under the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs.

To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government’s fiscal position.

One nice things about capitalism and small government is that it minimizes corruption and waste. (Companies trying to make a profit don’t waste, and they don’t try to influence government if government stays out of the free market). But some people like big government because they think that they should have their lives subsidized by their neighbors. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for corruption and waste.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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