Crotch Bombers, Caulking and Now Health Care?

Member Group : Reflections

So Umar Farouk Abdullmutallab got within an inch of having several hundred airline passengers fall from the sky over Detroit on Christmas day, thanks to the ongoing holes in government-run security.

The bureaucrats, some eight years after the attacks of 9/11, still can’t seem to come up with a program to connect the obvious dots.

We’ve also recently discovered that the nation’s taxpayers paid $2 million to caulk and tighten up just seven leaky houses in Texas, i.e., $286,000 per house, under the federal government’s go-green weatherization fiasco.

And still we’re supposed to have faith that these amateurish and ofttimes corrupt halfwits in government are up to the task of fixing something as complex and multifaceted as the American health care system?

I thought Cash-for-Clunkers was nuts, but Cash-for-Caulkers might well have it topped on the craziness meter.

With the clunkers fiasco, promoted as a way to prop up the U.S. car industry, we ended up borrowing money from China to buy cars from Japan and South Korea.
By the time the cash ran out, we were nearly three billion more dollars in the hole, over half a million trucks and cars had been unnecessarily smashed, and eight of the ten top-selling new vehicles in the program were purchased from foreign manufacturers, thereby directly subsidizing Detroit’s key competitors.

At $286,000 per house, the Cash-for-Caulkers deal looks like it’ll have no trouble managing to rack up even higher levels of irrationality, fraud and tax waste.

Texas got millions in federal tax dollars via the stimulus package to fix up the caulk-ready houses of the poor. In the initial four months of the program, the state spent $1.8 million and just the aforementioned seven houses had been weather-treated. A tube of the best caulking at Home Depot, enough to caulk approximately 50 feet, sells for about $7.

Rather than paying for caulking or putting jobless caulkers to work, nearly all of the $1.8 million ended up in the pockets of state employees, i.e., the planners, the green team.

Obama, nonetheless, praised the caulking program as a triple delight: "You’re getting a threefer. Not only are you immediately putting people back to work but you’re also saving families on your energy bills and you’re laying the groundwork for long term energy independence."

Actually, he should have called it a fourfer, given his leveling instincts. The program directly redistributes income by taking money from the top half of income earners (the top half of income earners pay 97 percent of total federal income taxes) to provide free weather stripping to those at the bottom who disproportionately vote for Democrats. It’s like sticking up the rich with a caulking gun.

And we’re not talking peanuts when it comes to the amount of money being redistributed for caulking and other weatherization freebies. Currently funded at $5 billion, the spending in the flawed program is scheduled to escalate to over $20 billion.

Regarding the near-successful attempt by the Nigerian crotch bomber to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tried to put a happy face on what was clearly a critical failure in security.

"The system worked," she said. "Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within, literally, an hour to 90 minutes all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take special measures." Within 128 minutes, of course, a coordinated attack on multiple aircraft could well have blown all the planes out of the air with time to spare.

In fact, "everybody" didn’t play the right role and nothing in our bloated and costly security system worked. A disaster was prevented only because of the quick actions of a few passengers and crew members after the would-be bomber’s makeshift detonator failed to work.

Regarding the airport screening in Amsterdam? "We have no suggestion that he was improperly screened," said Napolitano.

So a green light was proper, even after Abdulmutallab’s father had warned officials of several U.S. agencies, including the C.I.A., at the American embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, on November 19 about his son’s radicalization by Islamic extremists and possible contacts with terrorists?

Abdulmutallab’s warning also reportedly included the information that his son had revealed in cellphone text messages that he was in Yeman and cutting off all future contacts with his family.

Three months prior to that specific warning, the National Security Agency intercepted conversations among leaders of Al Qaeda in Yeman discussing a plot to use a Nigerian man for an upcoming terrorist attack.

Additionally, the British government in May had rejected Abdulmutallab’s application to renew a student visa and placed him on a watch list to stop him from re-entering Britain.

And so, right on schedule, Mr. Abdulmutallab arrived at the airport for his Christmas flight with no luggage, a bomb in his underpants, and a ticket paid for in cash — and no one at any of the U.S. security agencies, consuming billions of tax dollars per year, managed to connect any of the dots.

Next up is President Obama’s push to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay by January 22, with the remaining terrorist suspects at the facility to be relocated to either Illinois or their home countries. Half are from Yeman.
And these people think they can run health care?
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, the owner of Amel’s Restaurant, and a columnist with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.