Thursday, March 30, 2017

Budgetary woes may leave sex week cold

Earlier this year, Wyoming’s Casper College Wellness Center hosted sex week in the college’s union building. For the third year in a row, between 250 and 300 students have joined together in this arousing event. Who knew taxpayer-funded colleges had such stimulating spending priorities?

No doubt parents and taxpayers are thrilled to know that government is doing something to fuel the sex lives of students in taxpayer-funded colleges. After all, if the government didn’t promote sex, there wouldn’t be any…oh really?

Unfortunately, college budget cramps tightened the screws on a number of programs including nursing, and released instructors and computerized electronic databases. But who needs Internet porn when students can get a taste of the real thing at the Wellness Center?

The budget squeeze has dampened programs across the state, even dousing government spending fires such as Wyoming’s Capitol building renovation in Cheyenne. Originally, the renovation was a stripped down facelift. Plans soon heated up and a towering Taj Majal arose from the wet dreams of enthusiastic legislative empire builders.

This uplift aroused quite a bit of tension. When it looked more and more like empire stimulators desired bazillions of dollars for their Taj Mahal, Wyoming’s Governor Mead drew a line in the sand on the Capitol blowout. Undeterred, excited legislators bore down hard to abort that strategy, trying to screw over another budget to deliver their baby through the back door.

Just what had these legislators so steamed? They said a historic renovation would stimulate tourism to Cheyenne and keep the construction industry in the family way. After all, if government didn’t promote tourism we wouldn’t have any…how progressive!

But with a limp minerals sector, where would the money come from to pay for these wet dreams? No problem. Politicians would dig deep into the pants pockets of Wyoming families to continue stimulating their cronies. Luckily for taxpayers, the tourism and construction industry stimulus got squeezed out in the end. As compensation, perhaps free-spending legislators can give them free condoms, just like Casper College gave to expectant students during sex week.

But Casper College is also in trouble. Although total college revenue is down by about $13 million (state taxpayers fund about half of all college spending), expenses fell by only about $5 million. This math fertility comes from the vacuum aspiration of the college’s $10 million budget nest egg. But this sucking sound has left the nest egg empty. How do sex promoters hope to continue funding sex week and other crucial college programs such as love your body next year?  All college spending would likely be stimulated by a deep dive into your pants pocket in the form of – wait for it – higher property taxes! More sex stuff at the college, however would likely come from higher student fees.

No doubt, students would be thrilled to pay higher fees for sex. After all, sex week is replete with important initiatives. For example, an information table dispensed free condoms and pens. For Valentine’s Day, the center’s “Love Table,” offered surveys for couples and small games such as guessing how many Hershey’s chocolates are in a jar…how enlightened!

Some of the more instructive presentations, and I’m not making this up, included: “Awkward, Jerk-wad, or Stalker? When ‘Creepy’ Becomes Criminal, and How to Protect Yourself.” After sex week, the center hosted a “Love Your Body, Treat It Well” week to provide information and activities to help people develop healthy strategies to take care of and appreciate their bodies…how informative!

But if college officials are not able to strip taxpayers of funds for sex at the college, and with the tourism miscarry by stimulated legislators, maybe college officials can get taxpayers to fund sex week at the new Capitol. That would certainly stimulate something.

Better still, how about a pregnant pause? Instead of expecting more money from taxpayers and students, eliminate programs that offer, and I’m not making this up, HIV testing. Cuts to the nursing program could help make this a reality.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sweet on Subsidies

Sugar beet farmers are back at the trough, with hat in hand, looking for a handout. Why? Because Wyoming had a cold and rainy winter – wow! What a surprise!

Farmers have grown sugar beets in Wyoming for years so one wonders why they haven’t noticed those cold and rainy winters before. But maybe they have noticed and just don’t care. Why might they not care? Because they can harvest your wallet.

What happens when government gives tax dollars to people who make bad decisions? Flood insurance is a good example. Flood insurance is not available in the private sector as part of the standard homeowners policy because people using their own money view flood risk as uninsurable. After a series of floods in the Mississippi basin in the 1960’s, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program to provide flood insurance to communities and homeowners. When the taxpayer takes on the flood risk, people are encouraged to continue building in flood prone areas. Gee Martha, it looks like a flood is on the way again. Don’t worry Billi-Bob, the government will give us a bucket for a bailout again.

Incidentally, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2017 High Risk report: “Since the program offers rates that do not fully reflect the risk of flooding, NFIP’s overall rate-setting structure was not designed to be actuarially sound in the aggregate, nor was it intended to generate sufficient funds to fully cover all losses.” This is a lose-lose proposition.  

But you know what’s strange? Government didn’t always give money to people who made bad decisions. Imagine what might have happened had government given money to the horse and carriage sector back when the car was invented. As more and more people drove around in cars, fewer and fewer rode around in buggies. This meant buggy builders lost customers, stables didn’t need all those stallions, and harness makers either went out of business or started making car seat covers. Did government support buggy makers? No it didn’t and we don’t see buggies on the streets these days.

However, here in Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council is in the business of keeping those metaphorical buggies on the road. It subsidizes businesses that can’t get cheap loans in the private sector, including farmers who don’t care about Wyoming’s cold and rainy winters. In fact, since 2000, the Wyoming Business Council has given out more than $5 million to a group of farmers including about 38 in a cooperative known as Wyoming Sugar. The WBC may now give an additional $6 million to these 38 farmers because the USDA, another government subsidy handout organization, declined to give them a federal handout.

But here’s a question few seem to have asked. If farmers hadn’t received payments in the past would they have moved on to other crops more suitable to rainy and cold winters?

Farmers can raise a lot by plowing. Yes, farming is an important activity and yes farmers are valuable members of society but do we want farmers and farming dependent on government welfare? I don’t think so.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sugar Subsidy Farming

Maureen Bader and Glenn Woods talk about the latest proposal for subsidies to sugar beet farmers in Wyoming. But is creating a welfare dependent agricultural sector good for the state and ultimately for the country?