Three Blind Mice…The House, Senate, And The President!


by Ed Mattson


Veterans Day has come and gone. The Thanksgiving weekend has drawn to a close. It’s now time to get back to sharing the good and bad news of the day and how it affects veterans and active-duty military.

Today, Monday starts off my New Year, because as I wrote Friday, I believe it is appropriate to begin ending the year on Thanksgiving not on New Year’s Eve. As I pointed out, if for no other reason, we should be thankful as a nation that we got through another year without a total fiscal collapse caused by out-of-control government spending; we made headway in 2011 in the battle to get the Bluewater Navy recognized as being eligible for Agent Orange Benefits; many of our troops are homeward bound; and Veterans pensions have been included, along with Social Security recipients, in the Cost-of-Living-Allowance (COLA) increase.

The government is blinded by their own thirst for power and if looking at Veterans cuts are looking in the wrong place

But as we head off into a new year of reality, the United States and other nations still seem hell-bent on keeping the world on the brink of confrontation. World military expenditures are estimated to have been $1.6 trillion in 2010, which is a 1.3 per cent increase over military expenditures over what was spent in 2008 and 50 per cent more than 2001. For those mathematically challenged, global military spending amounts to $236 for each person in a world, where nearly ½ of the people live on less than $750 per year.

At a time when world economies are crumbling under the weight of social and entitlement spending, placing Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal on the brink of bankruptcy, the insanity of politicians to continue spending more and more on the tools of war makes it almost impossible to think we will not see more and more chaos. It’s the old story from my economics class regarding “guns or butter” meaning governments make choices on how to spend taxpayer money, but if they can’t stop the waste and corruption, they sure as heck better spend the money on guns, if for no other reason than to protect themselves from we, the taxpayer!

Even though our “super committee” of 12 hand-picked Senators and Congressmen, were selected to make budget compromises to begin balancing the teetering US economy’s budget, anyone with an ounce of common sense knew the entire idea was destined for failure. As I wrote about several month ago, Congress and the White House didn’t have the balls to pony up to the bar and make hard choices, so they dumped the job off on the shoulders of a bunch of millionaire legislators, many of whom were the cause of the problem in the first place. It was all “showmanship” pure and simple, so they could blame each other when election time comes.

Can anyone believe, with all the waste and pork at all levels of government, that each department cannot find a way to eliminate 4-5% from their frivolous spending every year. 90% of all the families in America have had to take those steps just to survive today’s economy. We have legislators flying all over the world on so-called important “jaunts and fact-finding missions”; government office meetings at high priced hotels, dining on coffee breaks with $16 muffins; and we have the “missing $25 billion” the US Treasury simply cannot find.

I think the Washington is totally out of control and so lost in CYA-politics, they are totally worthless. They think Americans are stupid and that we are not catching on to their ineptness.

Buried in the Department of the Treasury’s 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government is a short section titled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position,” which explains that these unreconciled transactions are funds for which auditors cannot account: The government knows that $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, only that it was spent. They say it’s the failure of federal agencies to report their expenditures adequately, but that locating the money is a priority…yeah, right….since 2003!

Auditing the Federal government would be for an accountant what it is for a “kid in a candy store”. It wouldn’t be hard to find misappropriations at every level and in every nook and cranny where the federal government’s shadow is cast: Federal education grants , Immigration (padding expense accounts), and 102 wasteful ways the government is spending money from the stimulus package. There’s no end to it.

Government confuses "activity" with achievement

Government’s use of taxpayer dollars is like screeching chalk on a blackboard and should make everyone want to clean out the sewer of corruption inside the Beltway. A recent audit revealed that between 1997 and 2003, our “sacred Defense Department” which seems willing to let Congress play fast and loose with Veteran’s benefits, purchased and then left unused approximately 270,000 commercial airline tickets at a total cost of $100 million. Even worse, the Pentagon never bothered to get a refund for these fully refundable tickets.

The GAO blamed a system that relied on department personnel to notify the travel office when purchased tickets went unused. That doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me, but all that money could have picked up the tab for about 17 new Abram tanks. It was also found that the government double paid for 27,000 DOD airline tickets , reimbursing on expense account tickets they paid for directly.

When I suggest that there is probably more than 20% waste in government spending, I don’t mean, just “sloppy accounting”. I mean waste in the form of theft, embezzlement, overspending, encouraging wasteful spending to maintain department budgets (spend it or lose it), and on and on, and on.

The use of federal credit cards was suppose to save the taxpayer money by eliminating the cumbersome task of putting everything out under the bid process but a recent audit revealed that employees of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) diverted millions of dollars to personal purchases through their government-issued credit cards. Sampling 300 employees’ purchases over just six months, investigators estimated that 15 percent of the employees abused their government credit cards to the tune of $5.8 million purchasing rock concert tickets, tattoos, lingerie, bartender school tuition, car payments, and cash advances. And talk about lack of oversight, there are 55,000 USDA credit cards in circulation today, including 1,549 that are still held by people who no longer work at the USDA.

The abuse doesn’t stop at the Agriculture Department either. The Department of Defense has uncovered its own credit card scandal. Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used government-funded credit cards to charge at least $102,400 for admission to entertainment events, $48,250 for gambling, $69,300 for cruises, and $73,950 for exotic dance clubs and prostitutes. Yup…these are the same folks that put Veteran’s benefits on the negotiating table during the budget cut hearings.

We have kids down living in tents on Wall Street, picketing the government to forgive their student loans. We have the Obama Administration wanting to take total control over the entire school loan process, and yet they do not have the business acumen to operate a lemonade stand. As a matter of fact, somebody please tell me ANY department of government at ANY level, that functions fiscally responsible, is a solid investment of taxpayer money, and is operated with the same due diligence, as the private sector. Yet we see these misguided Occupying Crowds, want us to put in jail “those abusers of capitalism” (big financial banks and institutions), that are operating under the current laws on the books. If the laws are bad, change them, but private sector waste is most often caught and punished while nobody is held accountable in government.

Don’t believe me? “In 2002, the Department of Education received an application to certify the student loan participation of the Y’Hica Institute in London, England. After approving the certification, the department received and approved student loan applications from three Y’Hica students and disbursed $55,000, but they overlooked one small problem…Neither the Y’Hica Institute nor the three students who received the $55,000 even existed”.

The fictitious college and students were created (on paper) by congressional investigators to test the Department of Education’s verification procedures. All of the documents were faked, right down to naming one of the fictional loan student applicants “Susan M. Collins,” after the Senator requesting the investigation. These are no innocent mistakes. It shows that our government is rife with idiots and dolts!

Such carelessness helps to explain why federal student loan programs routinely receive poor management reviews from government auditors. At last count, $21.8 billion worth of student loans are in default, and too many cases of fraud are left undetected. Tracking students across federal programs, verifying loan application data with IRS income data, and implementing controls to prevent the disbursement of loans to fraudulent applicants could save taxpayers billions of dollars.

This is the same government Mr. Obama wants to continue in its quest to take over all segments which are now operated by the private sector, an/or to create regulations, permitting, licensing, and oversight to restrict our free enterprise system. Our government is quickly reaching the point where it will either totally control 50% of the US commerce, or be in a position where those responsible for America’s success, will simply give up. As it is now, if the government doesn’t own it, they want to tax it out of business to satisfy their thirst for power.

Do-It-Yourself Web Sites.

Top Producer September 4, 2005 Byline: John Phipps The Internet is now so old-hat that late-adopters can jump on board easily and cheaply. This stage of progress is one of the most enjoyable because most of the kinks have been unraveled by pioneering souls whose trails we can follow safely and rapidly to catch up. in our site public domain images

When I began to look into Web site hosting services, I was shocked to find that (a) I was overpaying for my own Web site and (b) I was doing it the hard way. Building and maintaining a Web site for your farm or business is now a job that requires as little as an hour of time, no special skills (unless you count grammar) and literally no money-that’s right, you can have a free Web site.

To help readers take the leap, Top Producer reviewed several Web site hosting services and selected three to show how literally anyone who can read this page can build and maintain a Web site. The cost varies from $0 to around $200/year, a far cry from the $3,000 projects some farmers have outsourced to design firms.

We have constructed three sample sites that you can visit to see how it would work as well:, and (If your Internet service is provided by Agristar or a similar satellite service, try the free tests at each hosting site first. I experienced time out errors because of a technical glitch on First some ground rules:

* No whining about not being able to type. Nobody cares. I have been a professional writer for more than a decade without using 80% of my digits. If you have to, write out the information longhand first. Best of all, much of the content can be cut and pasted.

* Broadband is better. Shifting to broadband from dial-up is the single most helpful step for Internet beginners. Prices are coming down, availability is increasing, and the rewards are immense. Launching a Web site via dial-up is certainly possible, however.

* Stay in your comfort zone. Publish what you want when you want. Happily, you can proceed at your own pace, in the privacy of your own office. Web sites need not be elaborate, animated, nor dazzling. In fact, simple is better.

Getting started. You will need a domain name: Regardless of your hosting arrangements, your domain name will be registered with the Internet governing body (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICAAN]). This is done automatically and usually complete within a few hours.

You will be asked to select both a domain name and a suffix. Tip: Go for a “dot-com” suffix. Other extensions- .net, .biz, .name, etc.-are becoming more commonplace, but the vast majority of people will assume your site ends in “com” when they have forgotten. Make finding your site as foolproof as possible.

Using your farm name is a great way to be memorable, especially if your farm also shares your family name. Have a plan B ready, though (maybe C, D and E). The hosting site will search to see if your proposed domain name is already taken. here public domain images

Use short words or phrases. Avoid dashes, abbreviations and cute spellings. Remember, this is your e-business name and it will be hard to change later. For more naming advice, check the sources in the box below.

Prepare your content. Compose your message, gather biographical information, list your main points. Decide what images (if any) you want to use-and reduce them to manageable size. Use your photo handling software for this (I like Picasa2-a free download from Don’t make customers wait while an enormous picture loads.

Construction. Visit any of the three sites below to begin your design. Each has its own easy Web site builder program. The best way is to just plunge in-you can change everything later (and you will). Don’t feel like you have to use all the available pages, but definitely have a clear, inviting home page, an “About Us” page, and a “Contact” page.

Before you start your design, you will have several template choices. Select the best match for a traditional business like agriculture. Stay conservative on fonts and type sizes. Too large or unusual is like shouting, too small can be frustrating for readers with smaller monitors. Remember, you are not painting a barn-every square inch doesn’t need text.

Buy a digital camera. Start taking some pictures now-nothing has the impact of current photos in a Web site. You can also use appropriate public domain images that fit your Web site. Charts, such as yields or growth curves, can be powerful graphics, as well.

Stay involved. Think of your Web site as another field to be tended. Visit it at least weekly and refresh the content as often as possible. New photos, ideas, accomplishments, enterprises, etc. will draw visitors back and enhance your image as a timely manager.

What good is a farm Web site?

* Sales. Like it or not, we’re all in sales. Either we’re selling what we produce or what we can do (sidelines like trucking, drainage, excavation, etc.). A well-maintained Web site is like an always-current brochure that anyone in the world can pick up to learn about you. And it works 24/7.

* Communication. With new Web site services, anyone-really anyone-can update a site with fresh pictures, information, links, prices, etc. This means your cousin in California can stay active in the farm, promoting a stronger family and commercial interest. Your kids at college or a third-grade class in an urban area can see how things are going during the crop year. Best of all, you may never again have to give phone instructions on how to get to your farm!

* Visibility. To grow your operation, you need to stand out from the crowd. Careful construction will make your site pop up on major search engines like Google. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry. The thing to know is that your service or product can achieve a name-brand status.

* Competitive position. Web sites will be a standard part of commercial farm operations in the future. Now it’s not much harder than using an ATM to access your bank account. Building a site demonstrates you are serious about keeping up with the leaders.

John Phipps, [email protected], farms near Chrisman, Ill Web Connection * Web site host reviews * * site advice * website advice * domain name advice.

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