January 13, 2014 9:31:13 AM
A new year, but some things will always stay the same.
Government inefficiency is one of them. It's always easy to waste someone else's money.
Obamacare has been a disaster. By now, three million were projected to sign up. Instead, only one million have. Billions down the drain.
No private venture would ever miss their projections by a margin that wide. It just wouldn't happen.
You can fool some of the people. A Harvard poll shows that 81 percent of the people favor the Affordable Care Act but only 58 percent favor Obamacare. Problem is, they are one and the same.
The Republicans aren't any better at grand government planning. The Southern Company just announced Kemper can't be built for $5 billion. Who knows what the final cost will be. Billions down the drain.
Kemper is what happens when the government transforms from a regulator to a planner.
Haley Barbour's other grand plans are in the tank. The plan to transform Gulfport into a huge port has failed to get off the runway. Nine years later, little has changed except $60 million in questionable expenditures for a negligible return.
The plan to supercharge the coast infrastructure with massive water and sewer projects has crashed. These sewer systems were installed miles off the coast, safe from hurricanes. Problem is, nobody lives there. Now we have sewers to nowhere with utilization rates under five percent.
Somebody invented outlandish population projections to justify these projects. Hundreds of millions wasted. A full investigation is in order.
The state Department of Marine Resources (DMR) also received millions in Katrina money. DMR officials have now been indicted on criminal charges for mishandling the money.
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker just sent out a press release extolling billions in new studies to be done by the Army Corps of Engineers. Wicker claims 500,000 new jobs could be "created."
The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has just announced an $18.5 million purchase of 2,700 acres of swampland north of the airport to be used as a wildlife refuge, courtesy of a federal grant.
That's $6,800 an acre for Mississippi swampland, blowing away reasonable comparables. What a waste of taxpayer money.
Apparently, nobody informed MDOT of the plan -- supported by all the local governments -- to build a flood control lake that would allow that land to be developed. I guess the folks at MDOT don't read the local newspapers or watch television or engage in social media.
It defies logic for a state 70 percent covered in forests to place a wildlife refuge in the middle of its sole urban area. Hey, we're talking government planning here.
I suppose it's comforting to know that nothing has changed. Government bureaucrats are still squandering billions of other people's money.
Many people believe that money belongs to the government even though it is taken directly from taxpayers under the threat of incarceration. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.
Meanwhile, for Christmas I got a brand new smartphone. I paid for it with my very own money. It cost me $200. There was no government money involved and I made the purchasing decision on my own, free of any government coercion or subsidy.
After much research, I decided on a C-Spire Samsung Galaxy S4. My Galaxy S2 had lasted three years and I was satisfied with it, but new program updates starting crashing my old phone. The reliable old chipset wasn't able to keep up.
When I got the Galaxy S2, it took me a week of intense obsessiveness to master the brand new Android operating system.
This time around, the learning curve was about a 10th of that. I have yet to find a single bug or crash, which to me is an astounding display of technological progress. I am impressed. The device is a flawless wonder.
These smartphones will change the world for the better. There will be bumps in the road and, indeed, there are downsides such as four people sitting at a restaurant table texting instead of talking to one another (and of course car crashes). But all in all, giving one-fourth of the world's population all the knowledge of the world at their fingertips is going to produce a technological advance the likes of which we have never witnessed. Fasten your seat belt.
Technology destroys the existing to make way for the new. Many businesses, including my own, have been altered by the new technology. America has half the number of professional journalists today than it did 10 years ago. The cost to the republic in fraud and malfeasance will be enormous.
The professional journalists have been replaced by bloggers in their pajamas and proud moms posting pink-cheeked children on splendid vacations to Facebook by the gazillions. So much for investigative reporting.
But there is no use crying over spilt milk. Change will come and cannot be denied. The democratization of the media was inevitable. Now that we have access to all this information, the populace must develop the skillset to filter and decipher it -- a job we formerly left to the professionals.
As we face all these changes, our American attitude of innovation will give us a competitive edge in the world, as will our fundamental American optimism and faith.
Take the issue of robots replacing humans on the assembly line. Many people see this as a bad thing, causing the loss of jobs. I see it as a good thing, freeing man from routine tasks so he can concentrate on higher level challenges.
The key here is freedom. If Americans are left free to innovate and prosper, we will. If the government takes over and replaces free market decision making with government planning, we will stagnate.
There are trillions of free market transactions each year in the world. Each one of those transactions involves a buyer and a seller making a free choice using their own money. Nobody parts with their money without it being in their interest, without it meeting a need.
How can government bureaucrats sitting in offices ever hope to replace a free market system as intricate as that? They will only muck it up. Time and time again.
Enough already. Like most people, I will shrug off the government waste insanity and go about my business of providing for my family and trying to serve God and country as best I can.
Besides, I've got important things to do, like program my default ringtone. It's a good one: the introductory keyboard lead to The Who's "We Won't Be Fooled Again."
1. Ask Rufus: Stand Fast Mississippians LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Birney Imes: On the road with Louie and Sprocket LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Kathleen Parker: The new SAT don't care 'bout no fancy words NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Charles Krauthammer: The wages of weakness NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Roses and thorns: 3/9/14 ROSES & THORNS