Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TN Home to America's 'Most Corrupt Congressman'

This is one of those days when I'm realizing the more I know the less I understand. Rather unpleasant feeling really. Much of this weirdness however, is not my fault - it is the fault of someone else (blamethrower alert!) who does not seem to know diddley-squat about the world they live in.

Example: a survey of some 1400 people shows that even though they receive government aid and/or tax breaks, they don't know they do, or at least, they don't understand what they have but yet a majority of them are utterly against the kinds of aid they receive. Whaaaa?

The results reveal a striking gap between perception and reality. Almost half of people who received such submerged state benefits as home mortgage interest deductions, student loans or the earned income tax credit reported that they had not used a government social program.

People are quite aware of the visible government programs -- Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and the G.I. Bill -- but they are "least aware" of such programs as tax-free retirement accounts, the home mortgage interest deduction and government subsidized employer-based health insurance that emanate from the tax system or the public subsidy of private organizations, Mettler said."

Now the reality is this is one sampling of some 1400 people, so how accurate a portrait of folks does it present? Depends on how much veracity you give to a survey.

Another item -

A report aimed at naming who, in Congress, is the worst/most corrupt politician names recently elected Stephen Fincher of Tennessee as the worst. And this is just based on how he campaigned for office, not for what he has been doing since he got elected.

I'm pretty sure one would have to have a family member or a great friend in the finance business to suck up the money Fincher has ... oops, the report says he does have that kind of back-up for his plays:

As a candidate, Rep. Fincher filed a financial disclosure form reporting he expected to earn roughly $60,000 from his farm in 2009. On a subsequent form filed just seven months later, in May of 2010, he reported earning more than twice that amount. Oddly, on both forms he claimed the farm was his only asset, and that he did not have a bank account of any kind. Once elected, he also disclosed nine loans he’d failed to report earlier.

In July of 2010, his campaign reported it had received a $250,000 loan from the candidate. A lie, as it turned out. In fact, the loan was made by Gates Banking and Trust Company, where Rep. Fincher’s father serves on the board of directors. The bank refused to reveal the loan’s terms or collateral.

Even the Federal Election Commission (FEC) took notice of Rep. Fincher’s shady finances. While finding Rep. Fincher’s campaign committee had probably violated federal campaign finance laws, in typical toothless FEC fashion, however, the commissioners split 3-3 on whether or not to access a civil penalty. A majority is required to take any action."

And naturally, the group that created the report cited above is cited themselves for being horribly biased and one-sided, despite the fact they issued this statement about their newest report, which names 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats on their list: "
Neither political party has a monopoly on shady conduct. In fact, it’s the only thing that seems bipartisan these days.”

And one more item -

American ranks 25th for Internet service.

What does it mean? It means rules and regulations which most of Americans know nothing about - giant communication corporations and little-known Congressional legislation are in charge of your Internet. I suppose we should just be grateful we have any Internet service at all. At least, I can use mine to read and learn about things which end up depressing me.

So there's that.

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