On Friday this column noticed the predictable conclusion that after lawmakers and central bankers launched a trillion-dollar flood of Covid-related cash, various observers prefer massive estimates of the sums of money that end up in criminal hands. But it is important to note that the problem with redistributing state wealth is not just that huge sums of money are glued to undeserved fingers. Such programs may also fail to provide timely assistance to the people they are intended to help.
Take the example of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY), who has boasted since last year about his success in technical rescue operations for operators of entertainment venues. But somehow this taxpayer money does not seem to reach many people whom Mr. Schumer wanted to subsidize. Ben Sisario, Stacy Cowley and Julia Jacobs recently reported in the New York Times:
When the emails finally arrived late last week, some business owners got the good news they had been waiting for: They would receive a portion of a $ 16 billion federal grant that goes to music clubs, theaters and other live event companies get on the ground through the pandemic. But other applicants encountered new obstacles – including the discovery that the government thinks they are dead. It was the latest bureaucratic mishap for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Initiative, an aid program launched by Congress late last year that struggled almost at every turn to provide much-needed aid.
Last year Mr. Schumer warned that 90% of independent venues could die without emergency funding. According to the Times, the government does not believe a number of the venue operators are alive:
Bob Hansan, the managing partner of Bobby McKey’s, a piano bar near Washington, received a cryptic email Tuesday afternoon that began: “Your name appears on the Match Source DMF’s Do Not Pay list.” A few minutes of frantic Googling revealed that this was a reference to the government’s Death Master File, a record of more than 83 million people whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration … Michael Swier, founder of the Bowery Ballroom and the Die Mercury Lounge in New York – and a prominent figure in the independent music world – also received notification early Wednesday that he was deemed dead and said he was upset and trying to understand how to fix the bug.
Is it time to kill a federal program that appears to be of no help to the living?
The radical past of a Biden candidate
The election of the President to lead the Home Office’s Bureau of Land Management, Tracy Stone-Manning, is often described as an environmentalist. But their early history in the movement seems to have gone well beyond political proposals.
Matthew Brown of the Associated Press Reports:
As a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Montana, Stone-Manning sent a letter to federal officials in 1989 saying that spines had been planted in trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest. The profanity-riddled letter warned, according to court documents The Associated Press received from federal archives, “many people could be injured” if logging continued.
If lumberjacks or sawmill workers don’t notice a steel spike hidden in a tree, the results can be disastrous. In a 1990 Washington Post column, Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta wrote:
George Alexander, a third generation factory worker, was just starting his shift at the
Sawmill in Cloverdale, California when the life-changing log rolled down its conveyor belt to a high-speed saw he was working on. It was May 1987 and Alexander was 23 years old. His job was to split tribes. He was nearly three feet away when the log hit his saw and the saw exploded. Half of the blade was stuck in the tree trunk. The other half hit Alexander in the head and tore through his hard hat and face shield. His face was slit from eye to chin. His teeth were shattered and his jaw was cut in half.
Fortunately, in the case that Mr. Biden’s candidate is involved, it appears that no one has been injured. According to the new AP story about the long-gone process:
Stone-Manning testified against two friends convicted in the case, saying that she mailed the letter at one of their requests to prevent people from being injured. She was given immunity to testify and was never charged with a crime … At the Treetop Times, Stone-Manning was a recently arrived environmental science student in Missoula. During this time she also worked as an informal spokesperson for the loose environmental group EarthFirst !, whose members were known in the 1980s for “direct actions” such as blocking the sale of wood to protect the environment.
Andrew Kerr of the Daily Caller has received various court documents from the case and has more to the letter, which did not contain the real name of Mrs. Stone-Manning:
Stone-Manning told a local news agency that they had a copy of the [the] Letter that she typed with a rented typewriter “because my fingerprints were all original and I was scared”.
The local news report appeared in the Montana Missoulian Newspaper in June 1993. As for the environmental group, Ms. Stone-Manning was an informal spokesperson, a 1996 article by Keith Bagwell of Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star suggested that the organization changed over the following years:
Earth first! has survived the processes and defectors of the early 1990s and is developing into an organization that its members describe as more peaceful, but no less radical. “Monkeywrenching is not what we do,” said the longtime Earth First! Member Margaret “Peg” Millet. “Some members have done it in the past, but it’s not what we are doing now.” “Monkeywrenching” is the “ecological sabotage” advocated by the author Edward Abbey and Earth First! Founder adopted as a tactic. It included acts as controversial as driving stings into trees in hopes of mangling lumberjacks’ chainsaws and burning bulldozers.
At a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee hearing, Ms. Stone-Manning presented itself as a non-partisan problem solver. But before overseeing about 10% of the land in the United States, senators may have additional questions about their past association with problem makers.
A thriving company
Recently this column noticed that the tax-exempt media company ProPublica is promoting higher rates for actual taxpayers. The organization describes a “true tax rate” that is not required by law, but reflects ProPublica’s belief that some applicants should pay more. Perhaps the group can take a moment to study their own Form 990 reports that tax-exempt groups must file with the Internal Revenue Service. For 2019 the archiving shows that the organization’s revenues exceeded expenses by more than $ 10.6 million. What is the true tax rate ProPublica should pay for this transport?
Not exactly thriving
“The Degeneration of Public Administration”, City Journal, Spring 2021
James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China, and the Revival of the US.”
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