Despite their claims and advertisement of self-sufficiency and free enterprise, a report by McClathcy DC has found that the railroad industry has received $600 million in federal spending. At least half of this money has gone to nation’s four largest railroad companies. This $600 million does not include the millions more which states have invested in railroad infrastructure. For an industry which markets itself as being unaided by public funding, these large government investments speak otherwise.
“’We don’t run (ad) campaigns like that, and we move 70 percent of all the tonnage in America at some point every day,” said Bill Graves, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations and a former Republican governor of Kansas.’”
The Venezuelan government set price controls on the new and used car markets Tuesday. This is just the latest move in the country’s ongoing war against freedom – a war that is destroying their economy: shortages are rampant and inflation is around 50%. From the Wall Street Journal (may be gated):
A salesman at a Toyota dealership said his showroom gets one or two cars a month, while he gets calls and visits from between 300 and 600 consumers looking to buy. “I don’t know what to tell all these people,” he said, declining to give his name for fear of losing his job.
The electric grid is having difficulty coping with renewable energy sources – sources that were created at the behest of federal and state subsidies and mandates. And in response to the problems these activities have caused, regulators are doing the only thing they know how: creating more mandates. From the LA Times:
Green energy is the least predictable kind. Nobody can say for certain when the wind will blow or the sun will shine. A field of solar panels might be cranking out huge amounts of energy one minute and a tiny amount the next if a thick cloud arrives.
The California Public Utilities Commission last month ordered large power companies to invest heavily in efforts to develop storage technologies that could bottle up wind and solar power, allowing the energy to be distributed more evenly over time.
The whole article is well worth reading.
A business owner in Deltona was fined for placing a sign outside, informing people that it was a Toys for Tots drop-off site. As it turns out, the rule isn’t uniform – it doesn’t apply to the government itself. From the USA Today:
Moreover, Deltona’s sign code is seriously flawed. It includes a hodgepodge of exemptions and restrictions, and it appears that Deltona’s code enforcement does not even understand them, as one of the exemptions is for nonprofit organization banners like Corey’s Toys for Tots sign.
Not surprisingly, Deltona’s municipal code also grants “public agencies” an exemption from the same restriction that Corey allegedly violated.
According to the Free Beacon, an organization was awarded funds under questionable circumstances and submitted invoices for work that wasn’t performed.
The District Department of the Environment (DDOE), the agency that administers D.C.’s energy efficiency block grant program, “may have been improperly influenced by prior professional relationships between DDOE employees and a member of PME’s team,” the IG found.
PME submitted invoices for 12 of its 33 DOE-funded projects when it had not actually performed the required work, the report found. Nineteen of its projects had failed PPOE inspections.
In August we noted that a new federal regulation would slow the revolving door between the SEC and the private sector. Well, the Office of Government Ethics is withdrawing the rule before it can take effect (a seemingly unusual event). The Project On Government Oversight reports:
A notice published in Monday’s edition of the Federal Register said that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was withdrawing the new rule at “the request of the SEC” so that the agency could have more time to “effectively educate affected employees before the exemption revocation takes effect.”
That being said, OGE is planning to republish the rule in January, for an effective delay of about 90 days.
The ethics office said it expects to republish the rule in January 2014, but it then would take another 90 days for the rule to go into effect, according to Monday’s announcement. As a result, SEC employees who would be affected by the rule change—including supervisory accountants, attorneys, economists, analysts, and administrative specialists—will have even more time to take advantage of the loophole.
While it’s not cronyism, we at Crony Chronicles thought this article by The Atlantic was very interesting and thought you might enjoy it, as well. It compares U.S. Metro Area economies to countries around the world, and the NYC, LA, and Chicago metro areas would all be among the top 25 economies in the world. It’s amazing what freedom, initiative, and innovation can do:
Why stop there? On the global map, Metro New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago would all be among the top 25 economies in the world (this exercise conveniently only compares U.S. cities to countries, not international cities). That’s better than Sweden, Norway, Poland, Belgium, and Argentina.
California’s high-speed rail project faces a large setback after a judge declared that the project needs more analysis before it can tap certain bonds. From the Associate Press:
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny rejected a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds approved by voters in 2008, saying there was no evidence it was “necessary and desirable” to start selling the bonds when a committee of state officials met last March.
He said the committee, which included state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, was supposed to act as “the ultimate `keeper of the checkbook’” for taxpayers, but instead relied on a request from the high-speed rail authority to start selling bonds as sufficient evidence to proceed.
The Treasury Department is expecting to sell its last shares of GM stock by the end of the year, and it’s likely to recoup around 80% of the $49.5 billion spent on the bailout. Reuter’s reports:
“Our goal was never to make a profit,” said a Treasury official who requested anonymity. “It was to save the U.S. auto industry.”
To be clear, it’s not evident that the auto industry would have gone under without a bailout. It’s as likely that GM would have been able to sell off its profitable divisions, causing only the unprofitable divisions to stop functioning – which is a way to ensure economic resources aren’t wasted.
James Rosen and Marisa Taylor report on a squelched audit within the DOD. Among the more bizarre findings:
In reaction to the skeptical evaluations, Pentagon officials pressured their accountants to suppress their findings, then backdated documents in what appears to have been an effort to conceal the critiques.
The entire article is a fascinating read, and can be found here.