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Category Archives: Corruption

A Good Use For The Donald’s $5 Million: Finding Voter Fraud

If Donald Trump still has that $5 million (the offer he made for President Obama’s college and passport records) jangling loose in his pockets, perhaps he could help the country address its lingering doubts about the fairness of the presidential election: $5 million to whomever can document irrefutably that voter fraud was used to swing the election to Obama. If fraud did occur, that will likely be enough of an incentive to induce a whistleblower or two to step forward. And if no one steps forward, then we can set the conspiracy theories to rest.

Like the idea? Let The Donald know.

 

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Marco Rubio: A Fresh New Face but the Same Old Corruption

Thumbs Up for the Sugar Farmers (But Not You Lowly Taxpayers)

Senator Marco Rubio (R. FL) is charming and eloquent, and is in the running to be the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. His memoir, An American Son, has recently been released to great reviews. All of which proves the old adage, watch what they do, not what they say.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rubio voted to maintain an “egregious quota program that gouges American consumers to benefit a mere 5,000 or so farmers.”

Are you surprised to learn that Rubio receives hefty campaign contributions from some of those farmers?

-Ed Walker

 

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A Practical Alternative to Government Regulations

An Engineering Thinking Solution For Protecting The Public

Let’s challenge the assumption that we need the government to protect us, by regulating commerce at all levels.

Why Regulations Are Not Effective (proof by counterexamples):

a. The Food & Drug Administration is supposed to protect us from tainted foods and harmful drugs. It does neither, by its own admission (“FDA Science and Mission at Risk“).

b. The Security and Exchange Commission is supposed to protect us from financial crooks. It doesn’t (remember Bernie Madoff?).

c. Restaurant inspections are supposed to protect us from food poisoning. They don’t (you’ve seen the newspaper reports of folks getting ill at restaurants, all of which are regularly inspected).

Here’s the basic underlying reason why regulations are ineffective: Although the government is never shy about dipping into the pockets of the taxpayer, there will never be enough money to pay for enough inspectors to inspect businesses often enough to eliminate the problems that the inspectors are supposed to find and stop. Why? Because there is no financial incentive built into this open-ended regulatory system. Regulators are not able to make a profit at regulating, unless they are corrupt and take bribes. Unfortunately, such corruption is not uncommon.

A second reason is that the public says, “Yeah, but we have to at least try to stop the problems or they would get completely out of hand. So even though regulations are not completely effective, we’re still better off having the regulations.” This reasoning, however, will not stand up to analysis.

One, it assumes that other factors, such as loss of business and potential lawsuits, are not significant. To the contrary, these free market incentives are very powerful motives for keeping businesses honest, even in the absence of regulations. In fact, for the great majority of honest and competent businesses, government regulations amount to a useless added burden that drives up costs. And these costs are ultimately paid by you, the consumer.

Second, it assumes that there is no better alternative. To answer this, Engineering Thinking offers the following plan:

The ET Plan For Eliminating Costly Regulations

Replace them with the following single requirement:

Each business shall be required to prominently post an easily readable  certificate at the entry to their place of business (or on their web portal, or on their products, etc.)

-A red certificate if they have no liability insurance

-A green certificate if they have liability insurance (as certified by the applicable government accounting agency, with the insurance carrier and amount of coverage noted on the certificate).

Failure to post a certificate, or posting a false green certificate, will be punishable by a minimum jail term and fine.

That’s it. You buy products or services from a “red certificate” business, you’re largely on your own. Its prices might be lower because they carry no insurance, but your risk will be higher if you have a problem. If so, you will still be able to sue, but you will have had fair notice that the business will likely not have enough assets to cover any damages.

The red certificate also allows small start-up entrepreneurs such as taxi drivers or hair stylists to get a foot in the door with clients who are willing to accept lower prices at increased risk. Presently, licensing and regulations often amount to a corrupt system where established wealthier businesses, through contributions to public officials who pass restrictive licensing/regulation laws, effectively block competition by making it too expensive for potential competitors to start a business. This limits consumer choice and drives up costs.

On the other hand, you may prefer to buy products or services from a “green” business. The prices might be somewhat higher, but you will have financial recourse if something goes wrong. Plus, you will be assured of obtaining safer products or services. Why? Because insurance companies do not like to pay for losses. An insurance company will not provide liability insurance to an unqualified person, so if someone claims to be, for example, a medical doctor, they will need to convince the insurance company that they are qualified to practice medicine. Plus, the insurance companies will provide their own ongoing inspections and monitoring to ensure that their clients maintain safety standards.

The new role of the government? To certify/monitor the financial health of insurance companies, to decertify/prosecute those companies that exhibit unethical behavior regarding claims, and to prosecute businesses who operate without an appropriate certificate. All of the licensing and regulatory nonsense simply drops away, because it is no longer relevant. Insurance companies will now provide the regulatory function in a cost-effective fashion.

The advantages of the above red/green plan are numerous: Lowers the cost to the consumer; eliminates the governmental regulatory bureaucracy and related inept  micromanagement; increases consumer choice; offers entrepreneurs a chance to get a business started; eliminates corrupt artificial barriers to competition; and last but not least, enhances consumer safety.

-Ed Walker

 

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Engineers Are Shocked!

It seems like the free market is great, except when it comes to government grants where the taxpayer funds your salary.

Senator Tom Coburn, known for his efforts to try to reduce wasteful federal spending, recently cited three robotics projects as being examples of such.

My, my, how shocked — shocked! — and offended some of my fellow engineers are at the notion that perhaps their efforts do not best serve the needs of the taxpayer (“U.S. Senator Calls Robot Projects Wasteful. Robots Call Senator Wasteful,” by Erico Guizzo, 14 June 2011 IEEE Spectrum.

Although the federal government wastes tons of money on projects that are perhaps less worthy than robotics research, why should the government spend taxpayer money on any research? Shouldn’t the private sector be responsible for that, rather than the taxpayer? Let’s apply a little Engineering Thinking to this heretical notion and look at the big picture:

Proposition: Government (taxpayer) spending on research achieves better societal good than private spending.

Analysis: If government-funded research achieved better results, then the old Soviet Union would likely still be in existence, and would be the dominant technical behemoth on the planet. But whoops, no, that grand experiment failed. The Russians have been there, done that, and have the “Socialism Doesn’t Work” t-shirt to prove it. Likewise, socialist-leaning European countries would be kicking our technical butts, but they’re not.

Conclusion: The empirical (historical) evidence is simply overwhelming that the taxpayer — and society at large — is better off with minimum governmental “investments.” That so many of us are willfully ignorant on this — when our salaries depend on us to be so — is just anther example of how easy it is for some of us to be corrupted.

-Ed Walker

 

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More Big Gorilla Insights: High-Speed Rail

Is High-Speed Rail A Good “Investment”?

In an earlier post (“Hunt The Big Gorillas: Climate Change, Birthers, and Chocolate“), the Engineering Thinking concept of the Big Gorilla was described.  As stated in the prior post, if you are weighing several factors while trying to make a decision, and happen to spot one that is so large that all the other factors become negligible by comparison, you have found a Big Gorilla. Then, by focusing only on the Big Gorilla factor, you can quickly make a good decision.

The Big Gorilla is helpful when evaluating claims by politicians who want to spend our money on “investments” such as high-speed rail. In my state of Florida, our governor recently decided not to accept federal funds for development of a high-speed rail system, part of the Obama administration’s national rail plan.

The reaction of many ranged from dismay to anger. “How can the governor give up federal money?” was one common lament. One could argue that federal money is not free, since it  comes out of the pockets of taxpayers, and the federal government is already so much in debt that it doesn’t make sense to borrow yet more money. The politicians and special interests, however, find clever ways to counter such arguments, saying in essence that the spending will pay for itself and be a net benefit. This is generally the argument that governments always use to extract money from taxpayers: we (the government) know best how to spend your money wisely for the common good.

So here’s where a Big Gorilla can brashly step in and clear away the brambles of confusion: If high speed rail (or any project) is going to pay for itself, then it’s highly likely a private business will already be there, implementing the project.

One of the major benefits of a capitalist system is, if there is a need that justifies an investment, then it will be automatically provided by a private business.

Naturally, private firms would love to have public funding for “community” projects such as high-speed rail (sports stadiums are another good example). Having you — the taxpayer — providing funds and eliminating financial risk is a no-lose deal for the private firm. It is also a prime example of capitalism being corrupted by an inappropriate deal between politicians and private businesses. Invariably, such firms will provide donations and other forms of support to assist in the reelection of  those politicians who helped secure the public financing.

Bottom line: always look for a financial connection between the politicians who promote a project, and those who implement the project. Corruption is its name.

-Ed Walker

 

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ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Hip Replacement Corruption

Wright Medical Group receives the ET Shameful Behavior Award

Due to severe hip pain, 42 year old professional umpire Mark Hirschbeck received a hip replacement, using a ceramic joint made by Wright Medical Group and recommended by his doctor, John Keggi.

The joint subsequently shattered, “leading to an infection and four more surgeries that left Hirschbeck permanently sidelined. He later learned that Wright paid tens of thousands of dollars to a foundation Keggi helps run and gave him a trip to a conference in the Bahamas. Keggi recommended the ceramic device over the kinds of implants used in 97 percent of cases.”

-from “New Hips Gone Awry Expose U.S. Kickbacks in Doctors’ Conflicts” by David Armstrong, 11 June 2010 Bloomerg.com

 

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ET EXTRA: Protecting Your Life: Swine Flu Vaccine Corruption

The World Health Organization receives the ET Shameful Behavior Award:

“Scientists who advised the World Health Organization on its influenza policies and recommendations—including the decision to proclaim the so-called swine flu a “pandemic”—had close ties to companies that manufacture vaccines and antiviral medicines like Tamiflu, a fact that WHO did not publicly disclose.”

-from “World Health Organization Scientists Linked to Swine Flu Vaccine Makers” by Todd Neale, 5 June 2010 ABC News

 

ET EXTRA: The Tragedy Of Congressional Arrogance

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

It looks like the U.S. Congress is getting ready to pass a massive Health Care bill. Regardless of one’s views on the need for health care reform, it can be stated flatly that the process that has unfolded over the past months is anything but rational.

If Congress had presented their proposal to an engineering review team, the response would be shock, followed by hilarious laughter. The engineering team leader would then have admonished Congress to get their act together, and not return until they had a concise and logical presentation, backed up by appropriate research.

Politics does not have to be corrupt and immoral. Unfortunately, for the majority now controlling Congress, it is. And make no mistake, the actions of Congress are not going to make life better for the little guy. If you’re an average person — a  truck driver, or a lady selling cosmetics in a department store — it may make you feel better to think that government is going to take care of you at the expense of “rich folks,” but the opposite is true. Do your own research, employ engineering thinking (and in particular avoid emotional blockages), and in my view you will come to the same conclusion.

Engineering Thinking awards its maximum Five Jacks award1 to Congress for its irrational and bull-headed obsession for enacting a bill that will make things worse — much worse — rather than better.

-Ed Walker

Note 1: The Jack, or knave, is considered to be of lowly and untrustworthy status.

 

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ET EXTRA: Fraud And The Global Warming Debate

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic

It is now becoming apparent that a massive fraud has been underway regarding the debate over global warming. (For a good summary see this article by James Delingpole in the Telegraph.co.uk.)

As a result, Engineering Extra is sad but compelled to assign its highest Five Jacks Shameful Behavior rating to those scientists and engineers who have been involved in such a monumental betrayal of the public trust. If not exposed, this betrayal may have led to unscientifically-sound legislation (“cap and trade”) and EPA regulations, which could cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

As pointed out in an earlier post (see Scientific Sins in “Advice From Professionals: Who Do You Trust? (Part 2)“), engineers and scientists are not immune to corruption. Normally, however, such corruption tends to be weeded out over time by the scientific method.

But what about the Global Warming fraud? How did this happen? It happened because the work of these renegade scientists was funded by the government, which is not subject to the scientific method.

By contrast, engineers and scientists who work in the private sector are disciplined by the competitive nature of the marketplace. False data or exaggerated claims will be gleefully exposed by competitors, appropriately causing the fraudulent firm to lose profits and possibly face bankruptcy. In the private sector, therefore, there is a strong and ongoing survival incentive to root out junk science.

But scientific organizations that receive all or most of their funding from the government have no competition, ergo they have no long-term concerns about market competitiveness. To the contrary, some employees of such firms — in order to maintain their jobs and secure promotions — provide their political masters whatever it is that those masters wish to hear, regardless of whether or not it drifts from the truth.

To Minimize Corruption,
Science and Engineering Should Be Performed
By Competitive Enterprises,
Not By The Government

Corollary:

Scientific Advice To The Government Should Be Provided
By Private Firms Through Competitive Bidding,
Not By Government Employees

-Ed Walker

 

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ET EXTRA: Fraud And The Health Care Debate

Engineering Thinking Extra Is A Short Review Of A Current Hot Topic


A Five Jacks Shameful Behavior Rating (Our Highest)
for a
GALLERY of FRAUDS

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
Yale professor Jacob Hacker
Ezra Klein from the Washington Post
NY Times columnist Paul Krugman

As asserted in “We Interrupt This Blog…”, a major problem with the governmental system is that it tends to become corrupt. A striking example is today’s health care debate over the so-called “public option.” Please see the following link for clear evidence that our elected officials, and their like-minded supporters, are actively lying to us: “The Public Option Deception” by Morgen Richmond (biggovernment.com).

 

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