It's been a rough day so the boss lets you head home early. As you near your house, you see an unmarked van idling in your driveway. You park on the street and carefully open your front door to find a team of government agents digging through your bookcases, file drawers and medicine cabinets. Mail is scattered everywhere.
“Who are you and what are you doing?” you ask.
“Oh… you weren’t supposed to know about this,” the bureaucrat replies. “You never interrupted us before. Get off work early?”
“But what are you looking for?”
“That’s none of your business. Goodbye.”
This is the experience of many citizens of corrupt and totalitarian countries around the globe. But now it’s the experience of a growing number of Americans every day.
Government makes us pay for a lot of stuff we don’t want. Cowboy poetry and robot squirrels and gherkin specifications and… look, there’s plenty of stupid out there. But at least these silly expenditures result in some end product, no matter how trivial.
Did you know that the government is actually paying their workers not to do government work? Instead, they are giving them tax dollars to work exclusively for their labor union. It’s enough to make a cowboy poet madder than a wet coyote in a prickly-pear saddlebag.
This little-discussed scam, ahem, practice is called “Official Time,” but it pays for anything but official business. Instead, federal employees are paid to represent their public employee labor union to their fellow employees.
Hallie Kuperman loves to dance. But what she loves even more is sharing this passion with visitors to her social dancing club, the Century Ballroom.
Hallie purchased the vintage dancing space 16 years ago, turning it into a Seattle institution. The Century Ballroom not only teaches swing, tango and the foxtrot, it also hosts cabarets and other live performances for an eclectic crowd of all ages. The club’s trendsetting owner has become a prominent and beloved figure in the community.
Business was swinging until a surprise bill arrived from Washington’s Department of Revenue. The state agency decided to reinterpret an obscure old tax, audited the Century Ballroom, and demanded a check for $92,000.
Obviously Hallie doesn’t have that kind of cash lying around, so she now faces the possibility of closure. "I am angry that we are even in this position," she said. To try to keep the doors open, the ballroom is holding a fundraiser this weekend. Here’s how she explains her frustrating predicament:
There are dumb ideas, really dumb ideas, and then there are government ideas. Faced with $15 billion of debt, dual defaults on their retiree benefits, and a hopelessly out-of-date business model, the U.S. Postal Service is trying desperately to get out of the red.
A few weeks ago, the Postal Service hiked stamp prices. Days later, they begged Congress to let them stop Saturday mail delivery. I’m sure if they keep reducing services and raising prices, they’ll be back on top in no time.
But punishing customers isn’t their only bright idea. At long last, the postal service has finally decided to step into haute couture.Cliff Clavin, meet Derek Zoolander:
Early Friday morning a meteor screamed from the sky, creating a jagged contrail and exploding over a city in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Several dashboard cameras captured the amazing descent, while handheld cams recorded the jarring boom that seemed to set off every car alarm in central Asia.
The footage taught me three important facts:
Kasey Locke is a bright, beautiful six-year-old girl. But she faces challenges most kids never will. At age three, Kasey was diagnosed with autism.
￼When she started kindergarten at her Phoenix, Ariz., public school, Kasey’s parents worked with school officials to incorporate a new learning method that worked well for her. When the school didn’t apply these methods, her parents continued to tutor her after school.
Then Arizona created a revolutionary new school choice option called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. Now, a portion of Kasey’s state education funding is deposited into a private account. Her parents can use that money to pay for school tuition, online classes, tutoring, books, and other expenses. Any leftover money can even be saved for college.
The state of the union is “screwed.”
That’s according to USA Today, which asked social media users to describe the state of our union in a single word. Other popular descriptors weren’t much better, including “pathetic,” “joke” and “disaster.” (The word cloud to the right shows all the responses.)
Following a grinding election cycle, the mood of the American people is downright gloomy. While President Obama’s approval hugs a lukewarm 50 percent, the federal government as a whole is at 26 percent while Congress is mired at a dismal 14. Simply put, Americans have lost faith in Washington, D.C.
I’m an avowed skeptic on anthropogenic climate change. Sure, humans might be responsible for some negligible shift in global temperatures. But these feeble contributions pale in comparison to those caused by the sun (e.g., changes in solar radiation) and earth (e.g., volcanic activity, weather patterns). I also believe that the climate is supposed to vary over time; this is to be expected, not feared.
While it’s easy for me to poke fun at environmental alarmism by the left, many smart, well-meaning people are caught up in the panic. Some cynical players are whipping up the hysteria to make money or expand political power. However, many activists and those who fund them seemingly have good intentions.
We’ve been here before. A storm bears down on the media centers of the east coast. Reporters don silly parkas, galosh into the tempest and offer apocalyptic sermons about climate change. “Repent! The End is Nigh!”
Because who would expect the northeast to get snow in February — it’s unheard of!
When I mock this predictable alarmism, Twitter lefties are quick to attack my blasphemy. “Y u hate sceince?! stoopid rethuglican!!1!” says an engaging fellow with an egg avatar and no followers. Yes, your piercing logic has swayed my scientific understanding, @m1tts4tard.
Laura Bledsoe wasn't that interested in politics of any kind, least of all conservative politics. The back-to-nature farmer would be considered a bit of a hippie to many traditional Republicans. But Laura's foray into community-supported agriculture has turned her into a Tea Party hero, highlighting a growing alliance between limited-government activists and small organic farmers.
In October 2011, Laura hosted a "farm-to-fork" dinner in her southern Nevada home. This locally sourced, all-natural meal celebrated all the virtues of the modern environmentalist and “food justice” movements; what could go wrong?
I’ll give you one guess.
Two days before the one-off event, the Southern Nevada Health District Office demanded the farm get a government-issued health permit. When Laura’s husband immediately complied, the office demanded a health inspection on the day of the event. And that’s when it got ugly.