The beginning of rationality in an irrational world?
"WASHINGTON, D.C, February 15, 2008 - David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today announced his intention to resign his position effective March 12, 2008 in order to accept the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the newly established Peter G. Peterson Foundation."
(Arguably one of the most hated men in the government)
Hated by the Administration and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
The most hated man...
When ordinary people hear the words "government" and "hated" used together, they immediately imagine the names "Bush" and "Cheney." Or an assortment of House Members and Senators depending on your political viewpoint.
But when the words are heard by members of Congress and the Administration, the name that most often surfaces with great regularity is that of David M. Walker, a man virtually unknown by the public but whose work was touted almost daily in the media, often in glaring headlines.
The government's chief truth teller...
David M. Walker was the Comptroller General who headed the Government Accountability Office. And it was his team that is charged with rooting out corruption, waste and fraud. And, most importantly, rating the effectiveness of government programs and noting their shortfalls. Embarrassing to everybody mentioned, to say the least.
Something Congress, with their profligate spending and special interests legislation, and the Administration, with their increasingly expensive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, did not want to confront on the front pages of major newspapers or answer to in on-air media interviews.
There is no doubt that many of his own departmental employees did not like Walker, especially since he decided many of them were over-compensated and refused to sign off on bonuses, raises and even cost-of-living adjustments.
The government's gadfly...
Walker most irritated "the powers that be" when he put together slide presentations and started making the rounds trying to explain why the United States was heading toward financial hard times. His comments on under-funded social programs such as Medicare and Social Security especially irritated both the Administration and Congress... many of whom were pandering to the public for votes in the upcoming election cycle.
The final straw: Walker walks...
It is believed that one of the deciding factors leading to Walker's resignation as the GAO chief was his efforts to reform the government pay system and bring it more into line with compensation found in the real world. His own employees revolted and decided to self-organize and affiliate with a union. An act which should not be tolerated by the government as it removes the perceived impartiality of the department and may make the department susceptible to "union influence." Especially from unions which may be linked to corrupt practices and organized crime. A "watchdog" agency needs to be free of all outside concerns as many of the entities which will be investigated may have union contracts or affiliations. A direct conflict of interest.
Departing for the (not so) real world?
While it would be nice to think that Walker was departing to a position in the real world, like many other civil servants at the end of their tenure, Walker is going to head up the "Peterson Foundation" which promises both an abundant salary, great perks and, above all, continued access to the media. Unfortunately, most foundation jobs only produce little more than positions and paperwork. So we will have to wait and see if this Foundation and its new leader will measure up to the good works which were performed at the GAO.
According to Walker's resignation press release...
"Walker noted that his decision [to resign]was motivated by his desire to maximize his ability to make a real and lasting difference to address the fiscal, entitlement, health care, energy, education and other major sustainability challenges facing the United States."
"The Peterson Foundation will be dedicated to engaging in various actions designed to educate and activate Americans, especially younger Americans, the business community and the media, while also seeking and supporting sensible policy solutions to a range of sustainability and transformation challenges. Peterson has committed to contribute at least $1 billion to the Foundation and related efforts over the next several years."
From the Foundation's website...
"The Foundation's initial focus will be on:
- Unsustainable entitlement benefits. As 78 million baby boomers retire, America’s unfunded entitlement promises (i.e., Medicare and Social Security) exceed three times the annual GDP of the country.
- Unsustainable current account deficits, primarily accounted for by unprecedented trade deficits. Now at twice previous record levels, these leave America dangerously dependent on foreign capital and require America to save much more both at the national and personal levels.
- Unsustainable and ballooning healthcare costs. These costs are now more than twice as high per capita as the rest of the developed world with no appreciable differences in health outcomes or longevity. And, this healthcare system leaves 47 million Americans uninsured.
- Unsustainable and gluttonous energy consumption - and its first cousin, global warming. With less than five percent of the world’s population, America accounts for 25 percent of the world’s consumption of oil. This gluttonous consumption leaves America dangerously dependent on unfriendly and unstable foreign sources of oil and, in some cases, fuels terrorist activities. Most energy experts agree that, of course, over the longer term, building alternative energy sources is important, but if the energy challenge is to be resolved over the near-to-mid term, it must be resolved, basically, on the demand side through conservation and not the supply side.
- Unsustainable competitive gaps in our educational system. America’s economic leadership in an increasing competitive global economy is not sustainable when half of the young in our urban areas and 30 percent of all young Americans do not graduate from high school. Nor is it sustainable in an increasingly technological world where the capacity to do basic research and to invent the next big technologies is crucial and where Asian countries are now producing more master degree and PhD technology graduates than the United States. Furthermore, America's education system is not doing an adequate job in the areas of financial literacy and civics.
- The undeniable, transcendent threat to our collective future: The potential for nuclear and biological warfare materials falling into the hands of terrorists.
Seemingly all areas which should be covered by current Congressional and Administration initiatives without the intervention of another foundation fielding yet another legion of lawyer/lobbyists to make its points. Here Walker may speak out on the issues more freely and with far less restraint than was available with his government position.
For the conspiracy nuts...
Some even warn that the Foundation is actually a continuation of the vast right wing conspiracy by pointing out that Pete Peterson made his money on Wall Street as the former Chairman of Lehman Brothers and as co-founder of the Blackstone Group, served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and serves as the Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. We cede the fact that he is well-connected, a billionaire and someone who wants the best for his country and someone who wants to exert influence at the topmost levels of government.
Prescriptions for the future...
There is no doubt that both the Administration and Congress are out of control when it comes to taxing American Citizens and spending their tax dollars in a profligate manner which is either self-serving or aids the special interests who curry favor with the government in exchange for perks, privileges and profits unavailable to the ordinary citizen.
Now we have former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and the former head of the Government Accountability Office, Dave Walker, now bringing fiscal mismanagement and prudent policy to the forefront. At a time when presidential candidates and those seeking election or re-election to Congress are unwilling to discuss in-depth proposals to return the United States to a sound fiscal footing, both Gingrich and Walker will provide additional insurance that imprudent spending on wasteful programs are, at the very least, moved to the forefront of the discussion.
What can YOU do?
Continue your education on financial matters affecting you as well as the United States. Become more aware of how your tax money is being spent at the local, state and federal levels.
Complain when you see waste, fraud and mismanagement. Send an "open" letter to your Congressman and a copy to your local media sources. Only by speaking up will you become part of the solution, rather than the silent majority who simply accepts whatever inequities are foisted upon them.
Check what the candidates are saying against the estimated costs of their proposed programs. Then multiply them by a factor of one hundred and add $2 BILLION for good measure. Then decide if the program is worthwhile without having stringent controls against fraud, waste and mismanagement in place BEFORE the program is implemented.
Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.
Quote of the Day: “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” -- Voltaire
A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…
The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius
More information on the Peter G. Peterson Foundation may be found here.
Newt Gingrich's American Solutions Foundation (with a great video on "Solutions for America's Economic Challenges" can be found here.
For more information on a film on the financial future of the United States, you may want to see I.O.U.S.A. More details can be found here.
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS