Thursday, February 5, 2009

On the Lighter Side with Limis Ward

Too Much of a Good Thing


Our new president, King Hussein Obama I, is lucky that most liberals are mathematically challenged or he would have never bragged that his new "stimulus", i.e. pork-barrel welfare plan, would create 3 million jobs with 80% of those jobs being in the private sector.  Let's do the math on that one and I'll try and go slow here so my liberal readers can follow along.  If 80% of the 3 million jobs are created in the private sector, then logic (I admit, an unfamiliar subject for most liberals) would imply that 20%, i.e.100% - 80%, of those jobs would be created in the public sector.  Now before all you liberals go running for your environmentally friendly solar calculators to figure out what 20% of 3 million is; ol' Limis will give you the answer:  20% of 3 million is 600,000.  That's right, 600,000 new government jobs. 


For those of you with an attention span of more than 2 seconds, you might wonder:  what are these 600,000 new government workers going to do?  Just stand around the water cooler and talk about who's going to get voted off American Idol?  I wish that was all they were going to do but I fear they will do much worse.


Perhaps an example is in order.  Let's take a look at a sample of what some of our brilliant government workers have done in the past.  Here's an excerpt from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Handbook 4350.3 REV 1 – Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs:




Paperwork Reduction Act Certification

Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs

HUD Handbook 4350.3 REV-1



Monthly Report of Excess Income

OMB Approval No.2502-0086 (exp. 9/30/2003)


Certification & Application for Housing Assistance Payments (HAP)

OMB Approval No. 2502-0182 (exp.11/30/03)


Owner/Tenant Certification for Multifamily Housing Programs

OMB Approval No. 2502-0204 (exp. 10/31/04)


Pet Ownership in Assisted Rental Housing for the Elderly or Handicapped

OMB Approval No. 2502-0342 (exp. 7/31/04)


Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan

OMB Approval No. 2529-0013 (exp.9/30/03)


Requirement for Notification of Lead-Based Paint Hazards

OMB Approval No. 2539-0009 (exp. 12/31/05)


Public reporting burden for the collection of information is estimated to average 2,587,023 hours.  The information will be used to ensure compliance with Multifamily Housing Subsidy programs requirements, including tenant eligibility, applicant priority, tenant income and rent determinations, prohibition of discrimination and others.  Response to this request for information is required in order to receive the benefits to be derived.  This agency may not collect this information, and you are not required to provide this information unless a currently valid OMB control number is displayed.


Pretty interesting, huh?  First off all, if you understood any of that you either work in the HUD world or you're insane..  I'll translate.  The first part of the excerpt lists various forms that HUD requires the recipient of federal funds, i.e. the owner the housing project, must file with them.  The second part explains that these recipients must submit these forms so HUD can monitor compliance with the bewildering labyrinth of regulations they have issued.  Stuck right in the middle, the underlined part (by me), is that our government estimates the public will have to spend 2,587,023 hours filling out these forms. 


Of all the ridiculous facets of this number, why it was calculated, how it was calculated, who calculated, it, the most ludicrous feature is its precision.  Not 2, 587,019 hours or 2,587, 051 hours.  Nope it's 2,587,023 hours on the nose.  I can imagine a room full of government bureaucrats, some bespectacled, some balding, most over-weight and wearing ill-fitting, off-the–rack clothes from K-Mart, buried deep in the bowels of a dreary office building with  piles and piles of surveys and statistics spread out over a conference table, fighting over this number.


Bob:  God damn you Jim.  Our department spent 2,400 man-hours running this multiple regression analysis on these surveys.  How can you argue with that?  Its 2,586,958 hours.  That's the figure, it has to be.


Jim:  Your nuts.  Look at these printouts.  My programmers spent over 5,000 hours designing this analysis of the survey results.  It can't be wrong.  Those computer geeks are never wrong and they're telling me that's it 2,587,091 hours. 


Bob:  You know what they say about computers, garbage in, garbage out.  5,000 hours my ass.  I bet half that time was spent surfing the net for porn like those guys did over at the National Science Foundation.


Fred:  Was that a howl or what?  I have a friend that works over there and he used to send me the most awesome email attachments.  You should have seen these girls, they were huge.


Mike:  No shit.  Forward me some of those. 


Fred:  Sure.  After this meeting ends, I've got nothing to do anyway.


Oliver:  Hey Fred, don't forget your man Oliver over here. 


Bob:  Alright, alright, let's get back on point here. 


Oliver:  Does that mean I don't get the pictures.


Boss:  Mike, do you still have Form 78986 – List of Attendees handy?


Mike:  Sure do boss, right here.


Boss:  Give that to Fred.  Fred, send out some of those pictures to all the attendees.


Fred:  Thanks Mike.  I'll take care of it Boss.


Jim:  Now as I was saying, we have to nail this down.  We can't just put any damn number in there.  This publication goes out to project owners, management agents, auditors, and all sorts of other people out there.  It has to be right.


Bob:  No shit Mr. Oblivious.  We all know that.  That's why we've been sitting here for three days fighting over this. 


Jim:  And if it isn't right, we'll look like fools.  People will lose faith in us.  They'll wonder what we're doing down here. 


Bob:  And that's why I had our mathematicians working on this.  My number of 2,586,958 hours is statistically valid.


Jim:  You know what they say about statistics.  There's three types of lies, lies, damn lies, and statistics.


Bob:  I'm so sick of hearing you say that and you can't even get that right.  Its three types of liars, liars, damn liars, and statisticians.


Jim:  You're wrong, you're wrong.  Its lies, damn lies, and statistics.


Fred:  I think Bob's right.


Oliver:  No, Jim's right.


Fred:  You kidding me.  My uncle used to say that all the time.  Its liars, damn liars, and statisticians.


Oliver:  And my favorite preacher back in Alabama always said lies, damn lies, and statistics.  He was a man of God you know.


Mike:  I knew I'd heard that phrase somewhere.  I think it's in the Bible.


Bob:  First Corinthians


Jim:  No, it's Second Peter.


Bob:  You kidding me, it's First Corinthians.  I was just reading that last night.


Jim:  And I'm telling you its Second Peter.  That's just the type of thing Peter would say.


Bob:  Well that doesn't mean anything.  Peter wrote that one too.


Jim:  No he didn't.  It was Paul.


Bob:  Come on.  Paul was tied up in Tijeras when First Corinthians was written.  There's no way in hell that he wrote that one.


Fred:  Does anyone have a Bible?


Mike:  Yea.  I got one holding up that short leg of my desk.  I can pull it out.  My desk doesn't have anything on top of it anyway.


Fred:  Come on, let's go get it.  That will settle this once and for all.


Bob:  I'm coming too.  I need a break.


Jim:  Right behind you Bob. 


All exit leaving only Oliver and the Boss.


Oliver:  Jesus Christ, are we ever going to settle on this goddamn number.


Boss:  Sure we are.  I already know what it is.


Oliver:  What?


Boss:  its 2,587,023 hours.


Oliver:  Where do you get that from?


Boss:  I made it up.


Oliver:  Why'd you pick up 2,587,023?


Boss:  Because if I said it was 2,500,000 or 2,600,000 it would sound made up.


Oliver:  But it is made up.


Boss:  But the people reading it don't know that.  It's precise.  It makes us look smart.


Oliver:  Then why have we been sitting here for three goddamn days.


Boss:  That's simple too.  My budget for this project was $1,328,590 and I'm still $2,500 short.  We've got to rack up those dollars somehow.  This meeting should just about do it.


Oliver:  Makes sense to me..  Up for lunch?


Boss:  Sure.  Go get the guys.  We gotten spend that money.





In case you're wondering why our government spends time calculating these ridiculous estimates of the time it takes to fill out their crap, I'll give you the answer.  It's required under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 codified in the Subchapter I of Chapter 35 of Title 44 of the United States Code.  Believe it or not, one of the purposes of the act is to minimize the paperwork burden for the public resulting from the collection of information for the Federal Government..  Just kept that in mind next time you're fighting through your tax returns.


And don't worry that our bureaucrats who are empowered under this act are just randomly making these decisions about what crap we have to fill out.  §3508 of the Act provides for public comment and hearings before a government agency is allowed to issue a new form.  Just call this reason 2,587,023 that that our government wastes so much money.  And don't forget, this all happened before King Hussein Obama I got his hands on the government. 

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