One of the many ways the U.S. puts taxpayer dollars back into the economy is through government grants and incentives. Some of these funds go toward infrastructure, some toward energy, and a lot is spent on research and development. And, while that’s all well and good, the general public’s concerns should not necessarily be about ‘where’ the money is spent, or ‘what’ the money is spent on. Instead, there’s a grey area about ‘who’ the money is spent on – and it may not be what you’re thinking. Sure, nobody wants to see taxpayer dollars given freely to big corporations who already suck out the souls of the American worker. But, that’s not where the majority of funds go (although some ‘insiders’ repeatedly get their contracts). In fact, the majority of funds stay within the government, or they go to non-profit organizations such as Universities (who already get a significant amount of money from the students they take to the bank!). So … what’s the big deal about Universities, government entities, and the like, getting the largest portion of those funds?
That’s it – in one word. What I like to call “normal” human beings, (you know, the ones who work from 6 – 5, rarely get holidays, pay a ton in taxes, come home sore, tired, and overwhelmed … that is to say, about 80% of the workforce?), well … these hard working men and women tend to pay a lot in taxes. Some of it’s payroll. Some of it’s property ownership (or for renters, paying their landlord’s property taxes). Some of it is in sales tax (paying the business taxes for the businesses). Sometimes – taxes are charged by utilities (to offset their own costs), and in the form of fees and dues. The U.S. government may be over $19.8 trillion dollars in debt (haha … try saying that out loud … slowly .. “19 . 8 TRILLION DOLLARS … and now say it with all the zeroes!!), but it’s not for a lack of taxes.
In 2017, the current estimated tax income to the U.S. government will be $7.14 trillion dollars. Yep, that’s for 180 million workers. That’s an average of a little under $40,000 per person!! Go ahead and do the math .. I’ll wait. See? Awesome … isn’t it?
Well … hey … the people get a lot of services … er, um … I mean the government workers don’t make outrageous comparative salaries compared to the average, non-government worker … um, I mean … well … shoot. I don’t know how to spin that in a good way. Of course, in “reality”, $40,000 per year only covers what the government expects to get. What they NEED is $110,000 per person to cover the current debt, plus another $80,000 per person to cover the current spending rates that are ALSO hurting the economy!!
Yeah … the numbers are so unfathomably large … who can keep track, right? Well … maybe there are a few areas that we should know about that makes that $80,000 per person, per year, a tad … oohhh… I dunno … excessive, much?
Grants cost money and money not spent wisely – is a waste (“hundreds of billions” <=straight from the horse’s mouth!).
The Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, of Transportation, NASA, the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense … and about 20 other agencies I’m not going to bother to list … all use grant money to further along their projects … AND GOOD intended efforts to support the American people (well … good … most of the time …). But, this brings us back to the concern about who the grants go to. Do they go to the average, upper echelon of the lower class who makes less than $40,000 per year before taxes, or do they go to government workers who make 6 digit figures, get every holiday off, and represent a smaller portion of the American economy?
Did you guess the latter? If you did, pat yourself on the back … YOU’RE RIGHT!
See, the first problem with this is obvious: not putting money back into the American public, into business, and into the economy, takes money out of the economy and makes a smaller group wealthier while widening the gap of the people burdened with paying those expenses. The second, less obvious problem comes from funding the minority (no… not ‘minorities’ … sheesh!). The minority don’t spend as much as the majority. Thus, less of the money reaches the economy, businesses make less, can’t afford to pay cost of living increases, go out of business, workers lose their jobs AND SUDDENLY … (deep breath) … there are fewer workers having to shoulder a larger share of that overwhelming 15 digit debt number and the country will CONTINUE to spiral downwards!! AHHHHHAAAAAHHHH!!!!!
Okay, maybe I sound a little silly. But, the facts are very serious. This is a REAL problem that has been going on for over 30 years now! And, we’re not talking hundreds of millions … we’re talking trillions! That’s one of the reasons the debt to human being ratio is so unbalanced. Let’s look at a few examples:
The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has recently announced their funding opportunity (L17AS0001), for the study and support of cultural resource management, recreation resource management, protection of endangered species, and so on and so on. So, this sounds like a REALLY good project. We can’t all manage those resources that we depend on from far away, so having some oversight is probably a good idea. The grant is awarding an average of $25,000 per award with a ceiling of about $397,000 for 15 – 20 awards. Now, let’s say that a person who makes $40,000 per year and is used to working sun up to sun down could bust their buns and get this done pretty quick. But, what about the government worker who needs to fill space and time, makes $165,000 per year (not all of them do … but a LOT make over 6 digits), and needs $165 per hour, minimum, to complete the work? The U.S. is a big place and cultural resource management is a big task and … well … that’s why the grant has already planned on “potential” subsequent funding. But, hey – that’s only $397,000 … that will cover about 10% of 1% of the nation. What if BLM needs to do that, say, 100 times per year just to get through the entire country in the course of 10 years. Now, it’s $3.97 million dollars … every year .. for 10 years, that by the time year 5 has come around, the studies from the first year have gone out of date and new studies are needed requiring doubling the amount of money spent. And, this goes on, and on, and on. Who’s eligible? “Any state, local government, Indian tribe, institution of higher education, or nonprofit organization“. In other words – companies that charge $165 per hour and more, living off of those government funds that drive that debt up, up, up!
How about EPA-OAR-OAP-17-01? The EPA will award $1,050,000 to 1 agency, limited to: “States, local governments, territories, Indian Tribes, and possessions of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, international organizations, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, or other public or private non-profit institutions, and individuals.” But, guess what? Based on a little, historical background, this will be limited to Universities and government agencies. Last check, Universities only needed more money because they overpay their administrators in what I’ve estimated to be an overwhelming 4:1 or so average vs. the teachers and milk that money for all it’s worth. Last check, the government got paid through direct department invoicing of the tax authorities … so why do they get extra money?
What about the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s “WaterSMART” grants, in the sum of millions of dollars every year, that go to ‘studies’ about ‘how’ to get water smart, sometimes fund irrigation districts and government entities (ensuring that about 10% of the funds go to the actual cause), and so on. The National Science Foundation’s National Robot Initiative pays out millions to universities and government authorities to discuss how to improve robotics. The Department of Energy claimed they were authorized to spend $32.5 billion, but created 14 million jobs, although the majority of those funds all went to federally funded sources and never saw the American public.
And – please, when looking at the economy, there’s a huge angst about social welfare programs. Yes … they need regulation … but compared to the entire budget – they’re nothing. And, while social welfare programs are outside the scope of this article, don’t get caught up in mixing the GDP and social welfare. Why? Social welfare isn’t designed to kick-start the economy or give back to the GDP (so it’s an apple’s to oranges misleading comparison), it’s designed to keep people from drowning in it. Grant funds are SUPPOSED to be used to push the economy upward! Grants are supposed to boost our national heritage and preserve our country while putting people to work doing it (“real” people … not overpaid government administrators).
But, it’s not only about spending money on wasteful programs that rake the average Americans over the coals. Flooding money out of the pockets of citizens and into specialty groups kills innovation. How many opportunities for technology, medicine, and other resources has been lost because the funds went to fill the pockets of Ph.D.’s who didn’t actually “do” anything with it except regurgitate their same report from last year? Many of the world’s greatest inventions came from the garages of REAL people, innovators without college degrees, people who weren’t stuck in one mindset because they were dreamers who couldn’t afford “school”, and private business! (<= all separate links so you can see the reality of what I’m saying). The truth is, a simple search through a site like “grants.gov“, and you’ll see grant after grant being repeated. Why?
Because they didn’t accomplish their goal in the first place. I recently answered two Federal Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for the Department of Energy, looking for innovative answers and solutions into the directions they should take to try and overcome a staleness in innovation, find advanced solutions that keep eluding them even though they throw money at it, and ways to solve this growing problem. I was very clear:
“Worse, inventors who do not carry letters behind their names (such as P.E., M.A., Ph.D., etc.), are viewed very poorly. This is a sad statement on the abuse of learning institutions and science to put an emphasis that promotes capitalism but strikes down ingenuity. Many of the most important advancements in human history did not come from Ph.D.’s, or M.A.s, or university-certified individuals. … There is an extreme disconnect between the creativity and inventiveness of an individual and someone who simply went to college long enough to prove that they had the money and the means to get letters behind their name (not to say that this is not important and not a testimony to knowledge – but rather, to demonstrate that a bias exists).” (RFI: “Supporting Clean Energy Startups”, M3k Today, Inc., 2016)
These are international summits and national platforms I have submitted this information to – hoping against hope – that they will actually listen. But … I’m not holding my breath. The status quo will continue and things will keep being done the WRONG way. So, money was spent, for the 188th time in a row, to prove wood burns in a stove … but that’s only in coordination with the EPA banning wood burning stoves. (<= yeah, re-read that again … it’s funny! It’s sad. And, it’s true!). If you spent money to buy groceries just to bring them home and throw them all away … would that make ANY sense at ALL? NO!! Some big schmoozers, like Natel Energy (<=these guys are a hoot … sorry, personal opinion only), keep proclaiming in conference after conference (national and international) just how awesome their technology is while they haven’t a working site to show for all the government funds they keep sucking away! Congressman Bill Posey shows on his website, $54 billion in wasteful spending in 2015, including $325,000 FOR ROBOTIC SQUIRREL RESEARCH!
YES! I SAID THAT! ROBOTIC … SQUIRREL … RESEARCH!
We don’t need flipping robotic squirrels! (Okay … maybe we do … I don’t actually “know” as I limit my foraging activities to non-squirrel populated regions … but it just sounds stupid!). I would personally love to take that $325,000 and do SOMETHING GOOD with it … like feeding the mass of starving children who are DYING on the streets! Not spend $263,000 on the effects of tourism … IN NORWAY!?!?! Side note … see the problems with globalization, yet (it’s real)? In 2015, $400 billion was spent on trying to fix the F35 jet fighter … that will cost over $1 trillion in taxpayer funds before all is said and done. Wonder why we can’t afford to increase our military? We’re spending trillions on technology that DOESN’T WORK!
Because … simply put … it’s money being thrown at greedy, overpriced developers who had some inside, personal relationship with Uncle Sam, abusing their privilege while Uncle Sam abuses his authority, and has squandered our money, because the government has NO oversight, No accountability, and NO sense of responsibility to the people from whom THEY ARE TAKING THE MONEY!! And, we’re not talking about the $25 billion spent on unused, vacant properties by our government, we are talking about giving limited contracts to a limited set of folks who will mishandle the funds, charge upwards of 80x the amount the average American worker would charge, driving our economy into the dirt! While grant monies that ARE actually spent on American businesses (SBIR) typically require a cost share … this hurts a lot of opportunity for the small guys. The $180,000 grant that requires a business or individual to match it with $45,000 of their own funds (a 20% cost share match), doesn’t go very far when the individual or small business must spend the $180,000 on some federally funded agency or university and only get about 10% of the services (for such little amounts in the eyes of those agencies), that they could have obtained just doing it on their own or privately contracting.
And, none of this covers the fraud that has occurred … even on top of the waste (and it’s really … really … REALLY bad).
Now, you’re probably thinking that this WHOLE article and concept makes absolutely no sense and is so absurd that it cannot possibly be true? But … you’d be wrong. Subsequently, the state of mind you’re falling into (you know, thinking this is silly and not something that really matters to the “real” people, like yourself), is the one that has been designed for you: a workload of too much stuff, fast-paced daily living, and trying to survive that you don’t see these things happening or have time to understand the consequences. But, let me ask you:
=> Would you like to make $165 per hour, with all the benefits, pay, vacations, $401k’s, and paid holidays?
=> Would you like to make over $100,000 per year?
Well, sadly, without letters behind your name, the ‘elite’ club has taken that option away. It’s not that the letters like, “M.A., M.S., or Ph.D.”, actually make them smarter – since they keep screwing up the grants and not making the leaps and bounds that private industry does. No, it just gives them their insider club card to take your money and keep cycling it within themselves. This is the mid to upper middle class government worker, or the high class government worker, who requires 100 people every hour working to pay taxes to pay only 10 minutes of their salary. Hey now, I’m not opposed to people making more money, or hard working organizations struggling to make a change getting funded so we have a better world …
I’m opposed to crushing the economy, causing a decline in human health, an increase in stress, an impossible debt level, and a system of proprietary government that violates the American principal of a government for the people, of the people, and by the people. By people, we don’t mean the well-to-do. The “people” are not limited to the privileged. And, frankly, it’s been that wastefulness on the overpaid scientists that’s kept both our technology and economy in a decline. The hardships you deal with – the lack of advanced medicine – and the fact there’s no flying cars all comes down to one thing: misappropriation of trillions of dollars of your taxpayer money. (And, sadly, I love science and scientists … just not the ones who eat grant dollars wastefully! Yeah … some of my best friends are scientists … and I can actually say that!!)
Well, what if that wastefulness was cut by say, 10%? That would put a minimum of $1,000 back in the pockets of 100 million workers this year. And, in turn, they’d spend it on the economy. And, in turn, prices would come down (because yes, a billion dollars flooded into commerce will ‘typically’ drive down prices) and everyone would start saving more money. As money is saved, it is put back into development and soon … more people are working. Within the course of two years … without taking any more out of the extravagant grant spending … you’d start benefiting by $1200 – $2000 per year in direct cash savings from better economics (and the additional benefits, which are more difficult to enumerate, like happier workers, better service, etc., would also be there). And, that number would keep growing. Sure … $2k isn’t a lot .. but for some of us … it means the difference of being homeless, freezing to death … and even eating. Add back in that extra billion in wasted funds and … dang … you’d be doing even better with near $3,000 extra and growing! And, in the same, cascading fashion the government grew out of control and took all the money … the people would take it right back.
So, instead of the Department of Defense spending $283,500 to monitor the potentially deadly patterns of the terrorist bird: the Sage Scrub, (<=Yes, exaggerated … but true), maybe you, or someone you know, can actually afford to send their child to school. We shouldn’t be handing money to government agencies to decide on what projects they want to fund so they can get handed more money, or else we’ll be spending ONE MILLION dollars to discuss how to tell Kenya to have fair elections rather than fund some unknown joe schmoe off the street, who may have the next greatest advancement in prosthesis to help some little girl or boy run and play! (By the way – anyone out there with a sufficient cash stream … yeah – I have this .. not a joke – just need an investor with about $45 – $60k … but I digress … sorry … advertising in my own blog … I am SO ashamed!!). Telling Kenya how to have fair elections (when they probably wished we’d stay out of their business)? <= I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to! Go ahead … check out the links throughout this article and see the grants for yourself and read the articles for yourself. I know about it through first hand experience … but truthfully, every American should know about it because that’s the purpose of the Declaration of Independence and individual freedom to not be STEAMROLLED!
Again – this is not ‘against’ grants. The topics, the areas of interest, and the focus, for many departments (such as the Department of Energy), are designed around an effort to solving a growing crisis and help not just America, but the world. Those causes ARE worthwhile … but only if something gets done … and at the current rate … it won’t. The money will be wasted until it’s too late.
I know this is not a “cool topic .. but it is important and this is just one of the “less complex” ways to begin solving a much bigger problem. That’s why I present it to you for your consideration. Not, “less grants”, per se, but grants that are no longer restricted (with no cost share), to FFRDCs, government agencies, universities, and other organizations that don’t need it, handle it properly, or deserve it (and the selection group for grant recipients now needs to include some general folks off the street … not just insider’s club members!!). The most MINIMAL outcome from this change will be that money is flooded back into the economy in the billions of dollars and in just a year or two … you would see a change in your own world (for the good). Now, this is a topic worth picketing over!! But … don’t. Just write your reps, remind them that you can vote them out of office … and will … if they don’t get some of this under control. Start a chat group. Sing out loud! You can do it!
Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!