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11/10/2015 - 16:14

CNN reports today on the recently passed “democracy voucher” initiative in Seattle, and other proposals for taxpayer funding of election campaigns. From the story:

But Ken Boehm, chairman of the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center, argues the reform movement has a basic flaw, as candidates who accept the vouchers are blown out of the water by bigger spenders.

"If the opponent signs up for this, they get their little vouchers and they can send out some posters and stuff, but in terms of voter contact, they're getting creamed," Boehm said. "I don't know how they address that and they can't, because constitutionally you can't put an overall cap on spending."

11/10/2015 - 10:43

Jason ForcierOne of the stimulus-funded alternative energy companies that National Legal and Policy Center reported about most the last few years was A123 Systems, which the Department of Energy awarded $279 million to crank out special batteries for electric vehicles.

The examples of government failures in picking successes in industries and economies are countless, with President Obama’s plan for subsidies of a million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015 serving as Exhibit One. He was only off by several hundred thousand.

11/03/2015 - 11:14

Giant technology companies who deliver much of their services via “cloud” computing – such as Apple, Google, and Facebook – have claimed for years that they generate the massive amounts of electricity they need from renewable sources, despite their obvious dependence on fossil fuels.

For example, Apple has said it has “achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers,” but as NLPC has reported and an investigation by liberal Web site Truthout.org confirmed, Apple does not power its servers with “green” alternative energy. Instead – as in the case with its western North Carolina facility – Apple sells the power from the solar farms and fuel cells it owns in NC to utility Duke Energy, and also buys renewable energy certificates (or “indulgences”) to “offset” the carbon dioxide emissions its electricity produces.

11/02/2015 - 12:20

A report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security has found that the Department’s Federal Protective Service (FPS) division wasted about $2.5 million of taxpayer money in 2014 on an extravagant fleet vehicle program. It is not surprising that images show that the vehicles in question appear to be manufactured by crony company, General Motors.

10/27/2015 - 16:46

Conducting union business and performing employment duties are two activities that don’t, and shouldn’t, overlap.  Yet in a number of jurisdictions, taxpayers are being forced to pay for both.  In Arizona, at least, this trend has hit a detour.  This August, the Arizona Court of Appeals, affirming a lower court decision, ruled that a Memorandum of Understanding forcing the City of Phoenix to compensate local cops for union activity, while not necessarily violating the state constitution’s Gift Clause, imposed grossly excessive costs.  This was a significant, if incomplete victory for public accountability.  And further pushback against release time clauses is occurring in courts and legislatures across the nation. 

10/27/2015 - 10:40

Tesla logoImagine a product that performs so well, that an evaluator says it busted through the top of its grade scale, yet that same scorer can’t recommend the product due to issues of reliability.

That would be a seeming disconnect in the real world, but in this case we are talking about the immortal Tesla Model S. The illogical appraiser is Consumer Reports.

10/19/2015 - 12:51

Decades ago, the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund was a project of organized crime.  In the future, it may well be a project of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federal agency that insures pension plans against insolvency.  Ironically, this could put PBGC itself at risk.  This September, the troubled fund, which enrolls over 400,000 active and retired union members in 37 states, filed a restructuring plan with the Treasury Department proposing benefit cuts of nearly 23 percent.  The action is the first under a new law.  Central States Executive Director-General Counsel Thomas Nyhan explains:  “The longer we wait to act, the larger the benefit reductions will have to be.”  Yet the union, with help from Congress, helped bring about this dilemma.

10/19/2015 - 12:00

Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon reports today that emails released by the State Department show that a Clinton Foundation donor asked the State Department to help his company secure loans from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to build Marriott Hotels in Haiti.

The circumstances add to the impression that under Hillary Clinton the State Department often resembled a commercial enterprise, with the proceeds pouring into the Clinton Foundation. As the article details, Marriott International, its partners and affiliates, and the developer, Richard L. Friedman of Boston, flooded the Clinton Foundation with donations. From the article:

10/15/2015 - 10:37

Smith Electric logoThe painful and fruitless existence of Smith Electric Vehicles, waster of $32 million in U.S. taxpayer funds, has been extended after yet another near bankruptcy.

The Kansas City electric delivery truck manufacturer, whose actual business negotiates in government grants, tax breaks and other subsidies – rather than a product anyone actually wants to pay for – had announced at the end of September, via its British investor Tanfield Group, that it needed to raise $4.5 million by October 2nd and $10 million by the end of the month. Without the cash infusion, Tanfield said, “the company is likely to be forced to seek protection under US bankruptcy laws or close down its operations.”

10/14/2015 - 09:30

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the UAW’s voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) fund was underfunded by approximately $20.7 billion in 2014, which was the latest reported period. The shortfall has grown from the previously reported 2013 figure when the trust was estimated to be 93% funded. The latest funding figure, which was hurt by growing medical benefits costs, plummeted to 74% in one year.

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