Odds, Ends, Pleas, and Thank You

Jig Saw PuzzlePleas: It’s time to blatantly plead for nominations for Desert Beacon as a part of the Washington Post’s Blog list.   If you enjoy this blog, and would like to continue to find it on the WP’s list of state blogs — please consider clicking the link and saying a few kind words!  T’would be much appreciated.

Thank You: For your patience, somewhere between the Crud, a few civic duties, and more Crud, the Blog’s been given short shrift.  Life is now getting back to some semblance of normal and the schedule will be much more regular. I hope.

Odds:   Here we go again — the old Causality Claims — this time it’s the continual lament that people on welfare (that would probably be TANF) are using drugs and the Law Abiding Righteous Taxpayers should not be paying out for those rascals who spend the welfare money on drugs.   Nevada State Employee Focus notes state senator James Settlemeyer’s bill on the subject.  The problem is that while it can be demonstrated that a small percentage of the low income population does indulge in contraband substances; the research also demonstrates that a small percentage of the Law Abiding Righteous Taxpayers  are also engaging in the same forms of recreation.   Thus, it’s really hard to make the claim that being “on welfare” allows the indigent to engage in “recreation” at a rate higher than the general population.  Oh, and there’s another problem — the idea isn’t working in Florida:

“The utter absurdity of this law is magnified when you realize how much it cost the state of Florida to run this program. The data released today shows that Florida spent $118,140 reimbursing the overwhelming number of Florida TANF applicants — 3,938 to be exact — who tested negative for drugs. That is far more than any money saved by the program, at a net cost to the State of over $45,000. And that’s only part of the cost to the state to run this program. There are also the administrative costs, staff costs, and, of course, the litigation costs. Furthermore, the testing program didn’t deter individuals from applying for help — an internal document about TANF caseloads revealed that, at least from July through September, the policy did not lead to fewer cases.”

It is also hard to argue in favor of drug testing the welfare recipients as a way to curtail government spending, and then spend more government dollars implementing a program than the net benefit.  If we apply the cost benefit analysis so popular in some conservative quarters — the costs in this instance outweigh the benefits.   Bottom line?  If one is looking for ways to improve the state’s bottom line — this isn’t it.

NSEF is also on to another element generally not pointed out by the Law Abiding Righteous — illegal drugs aren’t the most common addictions in the United States, that dubious honor goes to (1) alcohol and (2) tobacco/nicotine.  And, while we’re about it — What if I asked, as a Law Abiding Righteous Taxpayer, that no law shall be enacted the vote upon which was taken while any member of the Assembled Wisdom was under the influence of a lovely Cabernet or Chenin Blanc from the cellars or stores of any public relations, government relations, or other Good Old Boy purveyor network?

Ends:  For all the blather about the nomination of former Senator Hagel to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense, or of John Brennan to secure the CIA Directorship — there’s an official whose term needs to end — Ed DeMarco, currently running the FHFA.

“DeMarco says his emphasis on protecting investors in mortgage-backed securities has been mischaracterized as sympathy for corporate interests when it’s really concern for ordinary Americans.

“Mortgage-backed securities are critical elements in the investments of our retired citizens that have bond portfolios and are relying on that as a source of income,” he said. “We’re thinking, ‘This isn’t some huge hedge fund that’s at risk here. This is citizens across the country.’ ” [WaPo]

OK, let’s ask: How many retired citizens have bond portfolios? Have bond portfolios which are a significant source of their retirement income?  54% of Americans estimate that Social Security will be a major source of their retirement income.  34% believe it will be their primary source.  22% of Americans are counting on their savings accounts with their local bank as a major source of retirement income.  About 9% believe that annuities and insurance will comprise a major part of retirement income.  45% are counting on Retirement Accounts like 401(k)’s.  23% are counting on Retirement Pension Plans; and 20% were counting heavily on stock portfolios and mutual funds. [Mainstreet] [See also: ICI pdf 2008]   Mr. DeMarco’s concern gives every appearance of being lashed to the interests of a very small, and recently declining, number of retirees who are not relying on Social Security, Individual Retirement plans, Pension Plans, or personal savings for their retirement income.   The rest of us would be better off if concern for struggling homeowners were higher on the FHFA’s priorities.

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