If anyone has been following the news of late they cannot have missed the examples of government efficiency. I am of course speaking of the cash for clunkers program and the wonderful job the VA has done in taking care of our veterans.
Let us take a quick look at the cash for clunkers program. The government in all its wisdom decided it would be a good idea to offer people from $3500 to $4500 for their old “clunkers” as trade-ins on new more fuel efficient vehicles, cars that would get a whopping 5 miles more per gallon. To start off, the federal government had to come up with regulations for the program a 136 page book; nothing is ever simple when it comes to bureaucrats. Then once a dealer has gotten the rules down a 60 plus page form had to be filled out to get their money, again bureaucracy at its best.
Now the thinking behind this program was to accomplish two goals. The first goal was to stimulate the economy by selling cars. To me this appears to be another bailout of the auto industry and their respective unions, but that is a subject for another day. The question to ask is was the economy stimulated? I would answer no it was not and I say this for several reasons. First, car sales did spike during this period but I would wager that most of these sales would have taken place eventually and people just bought cars now as opposed to later in order to take advantage of the government’s largess. Secondly eight out of the top ten cars sold were foreign made thus benefiting other countries as much as our own. Of course as usual when it comes to government programs there are always unforeseen circumstances. In this case there were projected to be about 750,000 clunkers turned in, of those about 60% or 450,000 would have been sold to used car dealerships, typically mom and pop businesses. Destroying these operable vehicles will adversely affect these small used car dealers as well as the people who cannot afford new cars and rely on cheaper used autos for transportation.
The second goal that this administration wanted to accomplish was to reduce pollution, in particular CO2 emissions (they call it a pollutant). According to figures the 5 miles per gallon increase in mileage for all trade-ins would mean a yearly reduction in CO2 emissions of 365,000 metric tons. Sounds like a lot but the estimated yearly output of CO2 worldwide is 29.1 billion metric tons. In other words CO2 would be reduced by about one tenth of one percent. Of course this figure does not take into consideration the amount of CO2 generated in the production of these new cars which in some cases were not needed and this does not take into account the carbon dioxide generated in the destruction of the clunkers. Therefore goal number two was a failure as well.
Since health care has been a big issue in the news lately and our Congressman Tom Perriello points to the Veterans Administration as good example of a government run healthcare program, I was shocked, yes shocked to hear the news about the current VA problems. It seems that this well run example of government efficiency sent out over 1200 “death notices” to Gulf War veterans. They were notified that they had ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a neuro-muscular disease that usually kills within five years. I think that these war heroes have been through enough without terrorizing them at home with medical malpractice.
These past few years have not been banner times for VA Hospitals. Just this past month the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia revealed that 98 cancer patients were given incorrect radiation doses. This spring an investigation into botched colonoscopies which may have exposed over 10,000 veterans to HIV and other infections was begun. Then of course there was the Washington Post expose in 2007 describing the terrible conditions at Walter Reed and other VA hospitals. I agree with Perriello that our veterans deserve the best treatment available but they are not getting it, and yet this Congressman wants the same for all Americans?
These are just two examples of government “efficiency”, a clunkers program that runs out of money the first week of a three month program and a VA health care system that is failing. It would take a book to mention all the other government programs that are out of control. Are these the people that you really expect to fix our health care? To quote Barney Frank: “What planet are you from?”