Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Presents...A Frant!

     NB: The third word in the title is a present-tense verb...and boy oh boy, is the present ever tense!

     I like FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education. It was founded by one of God’s true gifts to Mankind, the great Leonard E. Read. It’s included among its operators and organizers such free-market notables as F. A. “Baldy” Harper and Dean Russell. It’s done a lot of very important work promulgating the defense of free markets and freedom generally. It deserves the support of all advocates of freedom.

     But as the saying goes, even Homer nods. And FEE has just published an article titled – drum roll, please:

How $10 Million for Gender Programs in Pakistan Got Tied to a COVID Relief Bill

     ...which doesn’t explain how $10 million for “gender programs in Pakistan” got tied to a COVID relief bill, except by making a general reference to “logrolling” and “public choice” economic theory.

     Breathes there a student of politics, public policy, and legislation who doesn’t know about logrolling? What conceivable good is a thousand-word article that “explains” one of the most egregious cases of absurdity in legislation since World War II without actually explaining it?

     Whereupon your humble Curmudgeon has decided, despite the hour, that it’s time for him to take up his leaden rapier once again.

     “Grab much too much, or you’ll get nothing at all.” – Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

     In the more, ah, speculatively inclined circles of Christian thought, a great deal of attention is given to “signs of the Last Day.” This is, in my opinion, unwise. After all, Christ Himself said that “you shall know not the day nor the hour.” Why then should anyone strive to predetermine and predict “the day and the hour?” You can’t get a better authority than the Son of God, so give it up!

     But of some things we may be reasonably certain. One of them is that the days of integrity in legislative office are over. Federal legislation no longer has more than an incidental connection to its avowed purpose:

The primary purpose of all federal legislation is to enrich legislators, their relatives, their cronies, and their electoral backers.

     Grab-bag bills such as this “COVID relief bill” are not exceptions. Indeed, the more piously a legislator trumpets his concern for the commonweal in promoting such a bill, the more likely it is that it will fill his rice bowl, or those of his relatives and friends, with luscious gravy from the federal tureen. The “urgency” of providing American citizens “financial relief” from the dislocations brought on by the Kung Flu lockdowns is a prime opportunity for loading up a bill with cleverly disguised personal enrichments.

     And this particular bill allocates $10 million to “gender programs in Pakistan.”

     As a rule, the longer a legislator has sat in his seat, the more influence he has over Congressional operations. They can contrive to extract large payments – sometimes in the multimillion-dollar range – from massive spending bills. However, brand-new Congressvermin have very little pull, and must make do with the crumbs from the big boys’ table. This is likely to be such a case.

     Now, to preserve the appearance that an appropriation of $10 million to “gender programs in Pakistan” is really about gender programs in Pakistan, a few steps are required. There must be an office established for the creation, operation, and supervision of gender programs in Pakistan, probably as a sub-sub-subdepartment of the Department of State. That office must then be staffed. though perhaps not with many actual bodies. A titular director, a secretary for him, and a small staff will be hired, and “work” will begin.

     Several months later, the director will issue a “white paper” about the design of the gender programs in Pakistan and how his office will establish the infrastructure for them. The paper must be no less than a certain length, and its Flesch-Kincaid Score must be no less than a certain value, to discourage outsiders from familiarizing themselves with it. All of that will surely absorb nearly the whole of the $10 million. Perhaps a few dollars will make it into the hands of some Pakistani government official, though in these latter days of the Republic that’s not guaranteed.

     What has actually happened, rather than the creation and operation of any gender programs in Pakistan – a virulently Islamic country that would never countenance any such thing – is this:

  • Several well-paid federal sinecures have been created;
  • Relatives or cronies of some Congresscritter have been hired into them;
  • Expenditures have been directed toward firms in some Congressclown’s district;
  • The federal deficit for fiscal year 2021has been increased by $10 million.
  • Another office has been added to the federal bureaucracy.

     Extinguishing that office and the associated federal jobs will be a labor for the ages. Should it take fifty years to kill it, whoever might succeed in doing so would deserve the honors of millennial heroes.

     I have no Congresswhores’ names to put to the above narrative. Yet I am confident that it is as near to an exact description of how “$10 million for gender programs in Pakistan” found its way into a “COVID relief bill” as it is possible to concoct. I mean, really! “Gender programs in Pakistan?”

     What is significant about this particular case in federal graft engineering is only that someone noticed it before it could be enacted in law. In all other ways, it’s just “business as usual” for Leviathan and its innumerable remora.

     Apologies for polluting your Christmas Eve with the above. It’s a compulsion of sorts for me to drip vitriol onto such infamies. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s almost a reflex at this point.

     But on to happier matters. As you might have expected, the Fortress is ablaze with the Christmas spirit. The tree is lit and the packages – all two of them – are arrayed thereunder. The CD of traditional Christmas carols is in the player and will start as soon as local ordinances permit. (We play The Messiah tomorrow – the whole thing, not just the Alleluia Chorus.) The crab cakes went bad, so we’ll be having chicken teriyaki for our Christmas Vigil dinner. What about you, Gentle Reader?

     May His Coming fill your home with light, love, and joy.



First and foremost, Merry Christmas one and all.

You've nailed it here... and I've learned a few things like the Flesch-Kincaid Score.

For decades now we've derided honor, and morality, and decency - and created men and women whose sole purpose in going into "public service" is to service their own wealth.

Paul Bonneau said...

"The primary purpose of all federal legislation is to enrich legislators, their relatives, their cronies, and their electoral backers."

In other words, the parasites plunder the productive classes. Government is a gigantic looting operation.

There are other, less degrading ways to make money though. The reason people do it anyway, is the secondary purpose of all legislation: to enjoy the exercise of power, to reward friends and punish enemies.

My favorite example was the mohair subsidy. Apparently Congress decided the subsidy was needed to encourage mohair production, for uniforms in the Spanish American war. At least that's the story I heard; who knows if it's true.

Ragin' Dave said...

Merry Christmas, Mr Porretto.