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December 2010

November 2010

No More Shell Games!

Steve_rathje On November 29th, President Obama announced that he was imposing a two-year freeze in the wages of federal employees, with the intention of saving $60 billion over the next 10 years.

Question; How does freezing wages at their current level actually provide a savings?

Answer; It doesn’t! To actually provide a ‘physical savings’ cuts not freezing, need to take place. Otherwise, what is being described as savings is merely, in all reality, preventative spending, two very separate things. This freeze as they call it is nothing more than a shell game to get taxpayers to believe that the government is serious about saving money and reducing spending.

Let’s look at this from a common sense point of view. Let’s say you own a company, and that company spends a million dollars a year on payroll, payroll that it can no longer afford. Do you freeze future wage increases to save or reduce capital expenditures? No! Rather, you cut current wages and benefits immediately while analyzing the necessity of the current labor force. All departments have to participate with unnecessary personnel from each department receiving a furlough. Duties are combined wherever possible. Feasibility studies are made to determine internal costs vs. subcontracted ones. Budgets are brought inline with revisions being made, and prices are cut to stimulate sales in order to boost profits and become economically solvent again.

Keep this in mind. The average wage of a federal employee is right at $100K p/year, that in and of itself is a recipe for disaster. Why, because federal employees produce nothing that can be sold at a profit. They are what we in business call indirect labor that is labor that cannot pay for itself. This type of labor is what companies try to eliminate altogether or at the very least, keep to a bare minimum. Indirect labor merely adds to government overhead, which increases costs/taxes and doesn’t add anything to the GDP in the process.

Using 2009 numbers, which are more than likely, due to historical fact, the most accurate numbers we have that can be trusted, there are, as of January 2009, 2,748,978 civilian federal employees in the United States government. This is according to the Federal Employment Statistics published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Employees with security agencies (CIA, NSA, etc) as well as the Military and National Imagery and Mapping Agency are not included in this number.

During this time, 97.6% of civilian federal employees worked in the executive branch of federal government with a total payroll that exceeded $275 billion per year.

So what should we do? First of all, let’s cut all federal employee wages, with the exception of the CIA, NSA, etc., as well as the Military, National Imagery and Mapping Agencies by 15% immediately. That in and of itself will save $41.235 Billion per year or $412.346 Billion over 10 years even if no reduction in federal employees ever takes place. In addition, all government pensions and benefits (except the aforementioned) must be reviewed and reduced to levels commensurate with industry standards. I would also strongly suggest a 25% reduction in federal employees once feasibility studies are completed by an independent agency or agencies, and a determination made as to how many federal jobs can actually be provided by private sector companies. Based once again on 2009 numbers, a 25% cut in personnel would reduce the number of federal employees by 687,244, with an income averaging $100K p/yr, reflects an annual savings of $68.724 Billion or $687.245 Billion over 10 years.

So to sum it up, reducing federal employees by 25% or 687,244, and immediately cutting the average wage by 15%, saves the American taxpayer $120.268 Billion p/yr or $1.203 Trillion over a 10 year period. Imagine the message that would send to friend and foe alike.

How many folks reading this article, have been laid off? How many of you have gone to work one day, only to find yourself being called into the office to receive a pink slip? No one, especially your employer, likes to be placed in this situation. But in order to remain in business and continue to produce a viable product to the public, drastic measures like these are unfortunately necessary.

We all know too well how the size of government directly affects the economic wellbeing of America . Government must be reduced wherever possible, spending must be reigned in and waste a thing of the past. The shell game that’s being played by our elected representatives must come to an end, because if it doesn’t, America as we know it will become nothing more than a pawn in a game of cat and mouse where there are no winners, only losers.

Steven R Rathje Founder/C.E.O.
International Procurement Services, Inc. and
The Genesis Group, Inc.


Latest Reported Weather Conditions

Have you looked outside?  The first visible snowfall has arrived, although it probably won't accumulate to much.

For the rest of the day:  Windy, colder and cloudy with scattered snow showers and patchy freezing drizzle. High around 30. West wind 20 to 30 mph with gusts to around 35 mph. Chance of precipitation 40 percent.  Tonight the low will be around 18 with winds continuing to gust up to 30 mph.


Branstad announces Debi Durham as head of Iowa Department of Economic Development

URBANDALE, IA. -- At a news conference this morning, Gov.-elect Terry Branstad announced that Debi Durham will serve as head of the Iowa Department of Economic Development in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.

Durham has been president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce since being named to the post in July of 1995. She also serves as president of The Siouxland Initiative (TSI), the economic development corporation serving the tri-state metropolitan area, and the Siouxland Chamber Foundation.

“Today, I am excited to name Debi Durham as head of the Iowa Department of Economic Development,” said Branstad. “When I began my campaign for governor, I stated my ambitious goal of creating 200,000 new Iowa jobs over five years. With Debi spearheading these efforts, I have no doubt we will reach this goal.”

Branstad says Durham’s experience as head of a private-public partnership will be valuable as the department begins its transition to the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress.

“I am honored to be named as head of Terry Branstad’s Department of Economic Development,” said Durham. “His bold, hands-on leadership was very successful in leading Iowa through the Farm Crisis to our state’s economic resurgence in the 1990s. Iowa is fortunate to have his leadership at its helm, and I am ready to get to work creating jobs across the entire state.”

Durham was the 2002 Republican lieutenant governor candidate, and in 2003 was named to the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame.

In both 2007 and 2008, Durham’s leadership contributed to the Siouxland metro’s recognition as the top economic development community in the United States by Site Selection magazine.

For more information on the Branstad/Reynolds transition team, please visit www.GovernorBranstad.com.


Be leery of people and programs promoting 'social justice'

Don't be fooled folks, there are a lot of questionable people and programs out there trying to and designed to pull the wool over your eyes.  The following may be one of those instances.  The use of the term 'social justice' is a euphemism for some of today's *leaders*....  Their real intention?  The redistribution of wealth.

Grinnell College: Announces $300,000 annual social justice prize program

Up to Three $100,000 Prizes Will Honor Young Innovators, Organizations Advancing Positive Social Change

GRINNELL, IA—Grinnell College today announced the creation of a $300,000 annual prize program to honor individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. The Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize will carry an award of $100,000, half to the individual and half to an organization committed to the winner’s area of social justice. One to three awards will be given each year for a total of up to $300,000 in prize monies.

The program directly reflects Grinnell’s historic mission to educate men and women “who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.” Nominees may be U.S. citizens or nationals of other countries; no affiliation to Grinnell College is required. Entries are encouraged across a wide range of fields, including science, medicine, the environment, humanities, business, economics, education, law, public policy, social services, religion and ethics, as well as projects that cross these boundaries. The program will make a special effort to seek nominations of individuals who work in areas that may not have been traditionally viewed as directly connected to social justice, such as the arts and business.

The idea for The Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize originated with Grinnell’s new president, Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., who began his tenure as the college’s thirteenth president in August, 2010. “I was attracted to Grinnell, in part, by the college’s longstanding belief in social justice as a core tenet of its liberal arts academic mission,” said Dr. Kington. “In creating this prize, we hope to encourage and recognize young individuals who embody our core values and organizations that share our commitment to change the world.”

Details of the program and its nomination process are available at http://www.grinnell.edu/socialjusticeprize. Each year, Grinnell will assemble a diverse panel of judges to evaluate the nominations and select winners who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, commitment, collaboration and extraordinary accomplishment in advancing social justice within their chosen fields. Judging criteria will also focus on how nominees embrace the values of a liberal arts education, including critical thinking, creative problem-solving, free inquiry and commitment to using and sharing knowledge for the common good.

“This prize represents a significant expansion of Grinnell’s educational philosophy,” said David White, chair of the board of trustees and Grinnell College class of 1990. “It extends the college’s mission beyond our campus and alumni community to individuals anywhere who believe, as we do, in the importance of social justice throughout the world.”

Nominations for the 2011 Prize are due by Feb. 1, with winners to be announced in May 2011, as the capstone of President Kington’s inaugural activities. In October of 2011, the college will hold a special symposium on campus featuring public lectures by prize recipients regarding their experiences and perspectives in shaping innovative social justice programs.

Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four-year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations and pre-professional programs.



The Year of Uncertainty

By John Hendrickson

MOUNT PLEASANT, IA. -- The term “uncertainty” has dominated the economy in 2010 as the recovery from the “Great Recession” continues to be slow. Unemployment remains at 9.6 percent, and economic growth is currently too slow to create the needed jobs to reverse unemployment. Federal spending continues to grow as the national debt (at least $13 trillion) and deficits increase at dangerous rates consuming much of the Gross Domestic Product. The Federal Reserve is attempting to stimulate the economy by initiating “quantitative easing,” which will inject more money into the economy. The threat of inflation and further economic decline is a reality. In order to resolve the uncertainty and solve our national economic and social problems, we must return to our tradition of constitutional limited government.

An additional cause for major anxiety is the looming tax increase in January 2011 that will occur unless the Bush Tax Cuts are renewed. It is uncertain if Congress will extend all of the tax cuts before next year. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health-care reform) is also causing concern with its cost and impact on jobs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not only questionable constitutionally, but it will add to the entitlement burden that is already in crisis with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which threaten to consume the entire budget unless reformed. The expansion of the regulatory state has also brought considerable uncertainty to the private sector.

“In order to reverse the current uncertainty policymakers must focus on cutting spending, reducing taxes, paying down the debt, and protecting the dollar — in other words following a policy of limited constitutional government,” said John Hendrickson, a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Public Interest Institute's INSTITUTE BRIEF, “The Year of Uncertainty,” can be viewed at www.LimitedGovernment.org.

For an interview or more information on this issue, contact John Hendrickson, Public Interest Institute Research Analyst.


Cubs Going After Rays' Slugging First Baseman?

According to reports, the Chicago Cubs are interested in Tampa Bay Rays First baseman Carlos Pena.

A 1998 first-round pick, Pena is now a free agent.  He hit 28 homers last season, batting just .196, but knocking in 84 runs and scoring 64.

Pena, 32, has hit 144 homers in the last four years, an average of 36 per season over that span. 

The Cubs need to fill a void at first base, something they unsuccessfully tried to do with platoon players after the departure of high profile player Derek Lee last summer. 


Iowa City Police Department Re-Accreditation Assessment Team Invites Public Comment

IOWA CITY, IA. -- A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®), will arrive December 11, 2010 to examine aspects of the Iowa City Police Department's policy and procedures, management, operations, and services. Verification by the team that the Iowa City Police Department meets the Commission's state-of-the art standards is a part of a voluntary process to maintain accreditation. Accreditation is important to the Iowa City Police Department as it keeps our policies current with the best practices across the United States.

Accreditation is for three years, during which the Department must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with the standards under which it was accredited. The Iowa City Police Department had to address 463 standards in order to gain accredited status. This is the Departments 3rd re-accreditation, with the initial award of accreditation occuring 2002.

The assessors for the accreditation process are: Team Leader - Chief Phillip Baca of the Commerce City, Colorado Police Department and Lieutenant Nick Armold of the Huntington Woods Department of Public Safety, Huntington Woods, MI. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other locations where compliance can be verified. Once the CALEA Assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full Commission, which will then determine if the agency is to be granted accredited status. The CALEA Program Manager for the Iowa City Police Department is Maya Mitchell.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a public information session Monday, December 13, 2010, at 7:00p.m. The session will be conducted at the Iowa City Public Library, meeting room A, located at 123 S. Linn, Iowa City, Iowa.

If for some reason an individual cannot speak at the public information session, but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, he/she may do so by telephone. The public may call 356-5407 on Monday, December 13th, 2010, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Telephone comments, as well as appearances at the public information sessions are limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency's ability to comply with CALEA's standards. A copy of the standards is available at the Iowa City Police Department. Local contact is Sgt. Kevin Hurd, (319) 356-5286.


New service helps bus riders get real-time route information via mobile devices

Iowa City, Coralville and the University of Iowa Cambus transit departments have launched an information system called Bus on the Go (or BONGO for short) that provides bus riders with real-time route and vehicle information via a smart phone, text message, website or telephone.

BONGO uses a GPS transmitter on each bus to send a signal every 10 seconds that updates the latitude and longitude of the vehicle along its route. That information is relayed in real time to an online map that displays the predicted arrival times for every stop, each of which is assigned a unique number. Stop numbers can be found online at http://www.ebongo.org and will eventually be posted on signs at each stop.

Riders can check bus locations and expected arrival times several ways:

--Using a handheld smart device (such as iPhone, Blackberry, Droid or Pre) or computer to visit http://www.ebongo.org. Additionally, users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code on a bus stop sign to load up the bus stop web page on the phone's browser.
--Texting ‘nbus bongo’ with the bus stop number to 41411. There is also an option to receive a text message when the bus is approaching a user's stop – with a lead time chosen by the rider (1 minute, 3 minutes, 10 minutes, etc.)
--Calling 319-471-4155. Riders can call in, enter their stop number and receive information regarding the anticipated arrival time of their bus.

Initial costs for the UI Cambus will be $125,000, plus $50,000 annually for operating the system. Iowa City's share is $120,000 upfront and $35,000 annually, while Coralville will spend $52,000 initially and $13,000 annually.

Editor's Note:  Here's a novel idea, get to the bus stop at least five minutes prior to the scheduled arrival time of the bus.  It's been tested and works every time.  Taxpayers coughed up $395,000 for this luxury and city officials didn't make sure you were aware of the purchase you just made.....   How on earth did transportation departments and passengers survive without this?   They survived just fine, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if these departments ask for bigger budgets next year, as these costs become *higher than anticipated.*


United Nations Bans Skeptical Journalist From Cancun Climate Change Conference

LOS ANGELES, CA. -- A veteran journalist and documentary film maker, known for asking difficult questions of climate scientists and politicians, has been denied press accreditation for the Cancun Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

The UN has refused access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference to Phelim McAleer, who is well known for asking scientists and politicians difficult questions about Global Warming orthodoxy.

McAleer was notified of the UN's refusal to accredit him just days before the international conference opening today.

McAleer produced and directed Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary on Global Warming, and his reports from Copenhagen Climate Change Conference went viral on Youtube.

During one encounter an armed UN security guard prevented McAleer from asking a scientist difficult questions about the climategate e-mails and warned that if he did not stop filming he would confiscate his equipment and expel him from the conference

McAleer was also assaulted by environmentalists during a live TV  interview.

McAleer says the refusal to allow him access to the Cancun Climate Change Conference is censorship.

"I sent them exactly the same documentation that was acceptable for Copenhagen last year, but it seems they did not like my coverage of Copenhagen and are now trying to silence me and the people who have questions about this process," said McAleer.

"The message is clear—ask UN scientists and politicians difficult questions and you will be banned from any UN sponsored events. No difficult questions allowed," he added.

McAleer is a 20 year veteran journalist who covered the Northern Ireland troubles. He has also worked for the UK Sunday Times and as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist. He has worked as a journalist and film maker in countries as diverse as Ireland, Romania,  Uzbekistan , Indonesia, Madagascar, Chile, Indonesia, Vietnam, and many other countries.

For interviews please e-mail media@noteviljustwrong.com.

Greener Horizon Films Ltd ., 578 Washington Blvd., Suite 938, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292