Notes Book

Big Piles of Money

Getting together a group of people and collecting a big pile of money has got to be one of the principle pastimes of mankind.

I'm sure we can all name many social groupings based on this principle: corporations, governments, churches, beer runs, etc.

The government divides these groups into profit and non-profit organizations. In profit organizations, the people charged with spending the money are supposed to spend it in such a way that can bring back more than they spent. If they fail at this for any length of time, their big pile of money will disappear, and they will need to go looking for another.

Non-profit groups are allowed to spend their money without bringing in more. But the people who provide the cash usually hope to see some particular thing accomplished by the people who are spending the money.

It is a tribute to the law of unintended consequences that "non-profit" groups have some of the worlds largest piles of money: the US government, the Catholic Church, etc.

It should follow then that some of the "non-profit" groups are better at maintaining the size of their pile of cash than some of the for-profit groups. The usual way of defining "profit" and "non-profit" utterly fail to describe the actual cash flow involved. Since some organizations are officially described as "non-profit", and pay no taxes, it is considerably easier for them to have money left over at the end of the month than it is for "profit-making" groups. When the government defines your enterprise as "non-profit", you have a much better chance of actually making a profit.

Anytime there is a large pile of money, there us almost certainly a criminal conspiracy to steal the money. The conspirators may or may not succeed, and they may or may not even ever actually do anything illegal, but they almost always exist. They vary in sophistication and resources from small criminal and terrorist organizations, to major political parties.

It is also hardly unusual for those who have control of one of these big piles of money to resort to criminal means to keep that control.

The person who has a say in how a big pile of money is spent can easily turn a profit without ever actually stealing any of the money. Information about the spending plans for these cash cows is quite valuable, and it is very difficult for those who "own" the big pile of money to monitor every communication of these who actually control it. The more people involved, the easier it is for those who control the cash to take advantage.

If it weren't so pathetic it would be hilarious to watch the legislators claim they are going to pass laws to make sure events like Enron, the savings and loan crisis, or the teapot dome scandal "Never happens again". It would make about as much sense to claim to be able to pass a law that would repeal gravity.

We'll never eliminate the problem of graft and corruption, but we could minimize it by keeping the groups of people and the piles of money as small as possible. Unfortunately, corruption seems to be a growth industry in the USA. The venality and gullibility of the public never ceases to amaze. When the Feds collect taxes and pass them back to the states which then pass them back to the local governments, that means more and more bureaucrats get a cut.

Also, evil trees bear evil fruit. Money that is stolen in the first place, as in government taxation, is more likely to be stolen again. It's true that occasionally the deacon of the church absconds with the church treasury, but that absolutely pales in comparison to the cash that disappears from the US defense department.

We hear a lot these days about a "few bad apples". When the cops are caught beating someone up for no good reason, we are told that we should not let our image of honest cops devoted to protecting the public be tarnished by a few fascist nutcases. When corporate executives or government officials are caught with their hands in the till, we are told by the statist media that most public and corporate servants are hardworking and honest.

I don't buy it. Even the "good cops" we see on TV think nothing of lying and cheating to accomplish their mission. Why would people spend millions to get elected to positions that "pay" less than $200K a year. I believe statists are at least neurotic, if not downright nuts, but I do think they have an excellent record of looking out for their own bottom line.