US Govt. Pays Millions In Benefits To Dead Farmers


farmerThe federal government is still paying out millions of dollars a year in subsidies to dead farmers, according to a new government audit released Monday that said the Agriculture Department doesn’t do routine checks required to make sure it is paying benefits to the right people.

The Government Accountability Office said that from 2008 to 2012 one agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, made $10.6 million payments on behalf of more than 1,100 people who’d been dead at least a year. Another branch, the Risk Management Agency, paid out $22 million to more than 3,400 policyholders who’d been dead at least two years.

Some of the payments may have been legal because they were for work done before the farmers died, but GAO said the problem is the two agencies don’t perform the routine checks – such as looking at the Social Security lists – to see.

Read more: The Washington Times

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  1. Understanding politics : The limousine theory

    Why a limousine?

    In Israel

    Why a limousine? Well, in a limousine you have driver, in official uniform and a smart cap, who is charged with driving the vehicle. He holds the steering wheel; sometimes he decides to turn it to the right and sometimes to the left. Sometimes he decides to step on the gas and sometimes the brakes. So, the uninformed observer could easily reach the conclusion that he, the driver, also decides on the destination of the vehicle.

    But of course he would be wrong.

    You can change the driver. At most, this may result in a change in the style of driving – with one chauffeur being a little more cautious and another a little less so. One might even take a different route from the other. But this will not change the ultimate destination of the limousine. For this is not determined by the person holding the wheel, and who appears to be in charge, but by the occupants of the backseats, behind the shaded panes.

    Identifying the backseat occupants

    Clearly, our allegorical chauffeur represents Israel’s elected politicians, whose overall destination remains unchanged – regardless of who holds the wheel. But who are our backseat occupants? Who comprises the previously mentioned “extraneous source of influence that imposes outcomes on the political system very different from those one would expect from the unhindered operation of that system.”

    The principle fallacy that must be summarily dispelled is that these policy U-turns can be ascribed to “international pressure,” as if foreign diplomats and governments were the backseat occupants giving directions to the driver.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    After all, it is impossible to invoke international pressure to explain either of the two most dramatic processes that took place in the past two decades, the Oslo Accords and the disengagement. These were all Israeli initiatives, conceived and promoted by Israelis alone.

    In the case of Oslo, the entire process was covertly (mis)conceived exclusively by Israelis without any international coercion.

    Indeed, the PLO, cosignatory to these unfortunate accords, was still listed as a terror organization by the US government during the negotiating process. Similarly, the disengagement was not a product of American pressure. Quite the reverse, Washington initially opposed unilateral initiatives and had to be persuaded by Ariel Sharon as to the merits of the idea.

    Moreover, current endeavors to reinstate the notion of unilateral withdrawal – now from Judea-Samaria, are again a domestically driven initiative – led by the NGO Blue & White Future, headed by well-known Israelis, and by the Institute for National Security Studies, closely associated with Tel Aviv University.

    The backseat occupants (cont.)

    We are thus compelled to conclude that our allegorical backseat occupants are homegrown, for whom the specter on “international pressure” is merely an instrument for them to brandish and with which to manipulate public opinion – and policy-makers perceptions – in furthering their own agenda.

    So who then are these influential “backseaters”? They are groups in the country’s civil society elites identified and discussed in previous columns and who control the legal establishment, dominate mainstream media, and hold sway in academia (principally, but not exclusively, in the social sciences and humanities). These groups comprise an interconnected of influence that dominates the socio-political process in Israel. From their positions of unelected privilege and power, they are able to determine the parameters of the public discourse in the country, and hence the perceived constraints acting on the decision- making echelons.

    Accordingly, the have the ability to set the overall direction of the national agenda at the strategic level and to impose their views on elected politicians and the general public.

    Ingredients for remedy

    The capacity to counter this pernicious phenomenon requires a firm grasp and clear vision of the mechanisms that drive it. It will not be remedied by electing different politicians (i.e. changing drivers), but by promoting, emplacing and empowering new competing civil society elites who can challenge the incumbents and displace them from their positions of unelected influence (i.e. by replacing the backseat occupants).

    The first step in advancing this crucial revolution is to engender a total revaluation of the strategy of giving by religious or right-wing benefactors. For one cannot win a war without a war chest…