Special Interest Politics

SpecialInterestsYears ago in another political season, Jeb Bush was asked in a news conference what he would do for black Floridians. He paused and then answered succinctly, “Not much.”

There was instant furor amongst the news blatherers, but they totally missed his point. Policies should be directed toward helping the whole of America. Once you start to slice and dice efforts, with this program directed at one special group and that one at another, you get a hodgepodge that helps few and squanders resources mercilessly.

We have entirely too much payola in which politicians curry favor by bribing one group or another. Policies should be evaluated by how well they promote the general welfare. Some that target special populations will survive that test, others won’t. But many politicians across the political spectrum have built careers as purveyors of largess to favored constituencies. It’s despicable, and as H.L. Mencken was want to remark, they probably should be hanged from the nearest tree.

More Real Money

money_in_toiletAs Senator Everett Dirksen sardonically remarked about profligate government spending: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” I was reminded of this when I read the following disturbing news item.

More than 6.5 million Social Security numbers exist for Americans who are 112 years or older, a new inspector general’s audit found, even though there are only 35 people known to be older than 112 in the entire world. The audit came after a man attempted to open bank accounts using active Social Security numbers from people born in 1869 and 1893. The inspector general found 70,000 active but too-old Social Security numbers were used between 2006 and 2011 to claim $3.1 billion. (NPR)

For a small fee, say $1B, I will show them how to search their records for anyone older than any specified age.

The Social Security Administration maintains a Social Security Number Verification Service that purports to keep every active SSN in a searchable database. This service primarily exists to allow employers to verify employees but it is open to anyone in the public with a valid reason to use it. Like all massive databases it probably has deficiencies, but it would probably suffice for my task.

Please don’t tell Health and Human Services about this, as that might jeopardize my fee.