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46 Comments

  1. PRW > SJW.

    I’m from Seattle, the place that has $15 minimum wage. We had that Kingdome stadium fisaco. $67 million of tax payer money. 2016, the government sponsored Pronto bike scam. Such embarrassment.

    You know Mr. Groovey, if I’m this cynical now at 25, what’s going to happen to me in another 25 years?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Sadly, Lily, you’ll be even more cynical. But the good news is that it won’t pain you as much. You’ll just the tune the politicians out and vote “no” on everything. And since I’m sure you’ll be financially independent by then, you’ll be able carve out a little island of sanity/freedom in an insane/unfree world. Sigh.

  2. Ha, again you should move to Montana. The government is so damn cheap, it might even turn you into a democrate! Forget balanced budgets, they hoard the cash! 🙂 It’s like trying to pry a nickel out of scrooge’s hand.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You are by far the best advocate for the state of Montana I’ve ever met. The state should be advertising on your blog, for heaven’s sake! By the way, Mrs. G and I are formulating vacation plans for this year, and Coeur d’Alene and Glacier are a serious consideration. We’ll keep you posted.

  3. Great article and I can’t find much to disagree about. Power corrupts & government is the ultimate source of power.

    I am glad you mentioned the sports stadium facts. I’m sure the exorbitant spending is for every nation, but in the U.S. we have baseball, football, and basketball that all command high price tags for individual stadiums. I am a college & NFL fan so I do contribute to the problem.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I love it. That old saw about power and corruption is so true. And I hear ya about stadiums. Meh. I love sports, but I can’t stomach the thought of subsidizing billionaire owners and millionaire players. Talk about the rich getting richer. Thanks for stopping by, Josh. Hope all is well in your neck of Tennessee.

  4. We in St. Louis are excellent at giving money away to billionaires for sports stadium boondoggles. They’re talking about giving $80 million to a group of ‘investors’ to build an MLS expansion franchise. It’s highway robbery. I just let my representatives know that they shouldn’t count on me remaining here if they have to raise taxes to pay for it. Great stuff

    • Mr. Groovy

      You would think that the big wigs of St. Louis would have learned their lesson after the Cardinals and Rams abandoned the city for Arizona and Los Angeles respectively. But apparently not. Sigh. I do like your style, though, Travis. It never hurts to rattle the cage a little and let your reps know that you’re not tethered to St. Louis–you’re tethered to the internet and can live anywhere. Oh, the joys of our digital revolution. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  5. I have a deep and furious disdain for our national institutionalized system of bribery. I am all for taking personal responsibility, but of course anyone thoughtful enough to be to be reading this blog and pondering money in this way is among the privileged. Even if they have not been privileged with money, they have probably been privileged with living in a decent community, or having a decent education or just parents who read to them as a child. The sad truth is that people who are not lucky enough to have that perspective are completely screwed if we have a government that does not care to help anyone apart from those who offer bribes. Government may be a colossal disaster, but there are certain things that only the government can do. I can recycle to my heart’s content, but it does not matter if there are no laws in place to address environmental issues on a larger scale. And I can take care of myself, but without decent education and any kind of safety net, that does not help a poverty-stricken, emotionally scarred kid growing up in foster care. We have to at least hold at hope that the government can do some things to make people’s lives better. Charity alone is never going to cut it.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. Voluntary charity is never going to cut it alone. So we definitely need a level of coerced charity (i.e., government subsidies and welfare for the poor). But here’s my problem. We’ve been providing ever greater amounts of coerced charity since 1965 and things haven’t gotten any better. In fact, the number of dependent and dysfunctional people has been trending up rather than down. So it’s not a matter of money. The taxpayers have been more than generous. It’s the way we do coerced charity. Take education, for instance. Many inner-city public schools stink. So how about trying something new? How about giving every inner-city child a voucher (i.e., the education equivalent of food stamps)? How about forcing public and private schools to compete for the inner-city child’s business? Well, that ain’t gonna happen until someone out bribes the NEA because public school teachers are steadfast against competition.

      Here’s the bottom line. Coerced charity isn’t going away (which is good), but neither is crony socialism (which is bad). If today’s poor want to become middle-class, they better get themselves some privilege. The good news is that privilege is free. You don’t need permission from the government to procreate responsibly. You don’t need permission from the government to study math. You don’t need permission from the government to be a good worker. And you don’t need permission from the government to obey the law and respect your neighbors.

      Thank you for joining the conversation, Linda. You make a lot of excellent points. And I agree with much of what you have to say. I just have some issues with government. Perhaps I should seek a little therapy?

  6. I’m late to the party. Let me tell you, though, as a lifelong resident of Illinois, I have nothing but faith in my government. Oh, wait.

    But you know I get a little touchy on this subject because I do view myself as a public servant. And I really hope I do serve the public…at least my kiddos and their families.

    Where I get particularly frustrated is how it seems like the government might not do much to help people but can do a lot to make life much more difficult for many.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I love it, Penny. Do you guys have a state budget yet? I have no doubt that you’re a public servant. I think most teachers who work with young kids are. From my experience, though, that changes at the junior high and high school level. I had a few excellent teachers in high school, a lot of mediocre ones, and a few bums. My high school gym teacher would just give us some equipment and then go back into his office. Absolutely no instruction or supervision. This came back to bite the school district in the you-know-what when a kid got hit in the eye with a hockey stick and lost his eyesight in that eye. I think the lawsuit was settled for $6 million.

  7. A truly cynical take on the machinations of government, Mr Groovy. And one that is probably a result of too many years banging your head against the bureaucratic brick wall I’m guessing.

    One point that I absolutely agree with you on is that, at the end of the day, it’s up to us as individuals to look after our own well-being. It’s not the responsibility of government or any other welfare organisation to hold our hands and wipe our bum in life.

    I understand that there is welfare in place for those who are unable to take personal responsibility for making it on their own, but if you have any desire to live comfortably and achieve your goals, there’s only one person that’s gunna get you there. Ain’t that the truth.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You’re a wise man, Martin. I’ve been terribly traumatized by my time in government. I’ve seen too many things that can’t be unseen. Case in point. A young contractor trying to make it to the next level won the concrete contract for my municipality. But he never got any work. It wasn’t until someone whispered in his ear and told him about this thing called “pay to play.” And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as he made a contribution to the Republican Party (the party that controlled my municipality), he got a bevy of concrete jobs to work on. Imagine that.

  8. Great article, Mr. Groovy. As someone who works often with public officials, I also harbor disdain toward that sector. I’ve seen way too much fluff passed off as substance for me to actually believe they are truly competent at serving the public.

    Anyway, I’d be honored to call myself a PRW. In my opinion, it’s way more empowering to do for self than rely on others to do things for you.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I try to stay balanced. Government employees, after all, did raise the flag on Iwo Jima. And government employees did put a man on the moon. But something happened over the past 20 or 30 years. There may be a lot of heroes working for the government, but they’re getting overwhelmed by the bums, the inefficiencies, the corruption, and the legacy costs (i.e., pensions). We’re told that our infrastructure is falling apart, and we need to urgently spend billions to shore it up. Does anyone really think those billions will be spent wisely? A bridge repair that should cost $400 million will more than likely cost a billion. I have very little faith in government, and I’m steadfast against giving it more money.

      On a positive note, though, I’m with you, Katasha. In this age of whining, finger pointing, and excuse making, I’m proud to be a PRW. May our tribe grow!

  9. I’m inclined to agree Mr. G. You said it all with “When was the last time a government project finished on time and under budget?”

    I’m sure there’s plenty of good people, but when you make it impossible to fire someone who is a poor worker, that makes it hard to improve your operations and efficiencies

    Indeed, I targeted a government agency a few years ago because for mid level roles, they pay the same as the private sector AND you get a pension. Who would turn that down? I had a job assessment thing with the IRS in Iowa.

    People were friendly, but the hiring person basically said there aren’t really any opportunities for advancement. Everyone who is already there would have priority over me, not because they are a higher quality worker but because seniority. I don’t think I could subject myself to 20+ years of of bureaucracy though. Unless I was financially independent and viewed that as a way of hoping to improve the system and give back.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You’re a wise man, TJ. Anyone who is conscientious and looking to get ahead should probably stay clear of government. Seniority is king in the public sector.

  10. PRW – love it! I’m happy to live in a society that has safety nets; they provide a great service, but I feel they are also widely abused. We could greatly reduce the strain on them if everyone would become a PRW!

    (hops on soapbox) If you need help, by all means ask for it, but I believe you should first try to help yourself. If you’re unable to do so, turn to your family next. If family can’t help, turn to close friends. If you can’t help yourself, and your family and friends are also unable to help, THEN you can and should turn to the government for help. But that should be the last place you turn for help, not the first. (hops off soapbox)

    Also, as a Seattle resident, I wish we still had the Sonics in town. I do believe there is a community benefit to having a professional team in your city. It creates several entry-to-moderate-level paying jobs, supports local restaurants, cab/uber drivers, and other local merchants. I’d like to see an NBA team back in Seattle sooner, rather than later. I’m also a sports fan, so I’m biased.

    Thanks for another great post!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Awesome, Ty. I love the way you summed up the natural progression of charity. Family, friends, churches, civic associations, non-profits, and then government. Start with voluntary charity and move up to coerced charity (when all voluntary charity avenues have been exhausted.) And I hear you about the “social” or “community” benefits a sports franchise brings to a city. Teams do give a city an identity. And there is value in that. But if the taxpayers are going give hundreds of millions of dollars to a billionaire owner, shouldn’t they at least get some equity in the team?

  11. I agree that the government is unlikely to save you, and that political incentives don’t favor the little guy, Mr G. I agree that you should take responsibility for yourself as you can. And the stadium subsidies are ridiculous.

    But now I’m going to step on my soap box for just a minute and speak to another point, not that you raise specifically but that I think has to go hand in hand with discussions of personal freedoms and personal responsibility.

    Responsibility for the whole is just as necessary as responsibility for self. If we shed responsibility for our communities, we aren’t really taking personal responsibility.

    I think that the government is obliged to provide a social net for those who cannot take personal responsibility due to their age, physical or mental limitations, or those whose circumstances are greatly tied to people who can’t take on that sort of responsibility.

    I do think that my acceptance of personal responsibility does not absolve me of my responsibilities to my community or my fellow man (even the ones I don’t agree with.) And I think that responsibility for our community health and well-being falls on us all.

    Liberty and freedom come with a great responsibility…to do no harm, at the very least. To not infringe on the rights of others. Our right to free speech does not mean that all we say is right or decent or honorable. Our right to earn a living or make a profit does not absolve us of the responsibility to pay fairly for what we receive (both for materials and service) or to conserve resources for the future.

    Okay, sorry if that’s a bit off topic. But it’s very dear to my heart, and I thank you for indulging me.

    • Mr. Groovy

      No worries, Emily. I love when you go off topic. But your point is very valid. We do have a responsibility to ourselves AND to our fellow countrymen. What you and I would probably argue about is how much of our responsibility to our fellow countrymen should be handed over to the government to manage. I’m all for a sturdy safety net (i.e., coerced charity). But I don’t think it should be extended to the middle-class and the rich, and I don’t think the government should be given a blank-check to manage it. The compassion-industrial complex shouldn’t have an unlimited right to my or anyone else’s paycheck. Finally, here’s something else that concerns me about our government-managed safety net: it’s not working. Every year we give more and more of our money to the compassion-industrial complex, and every year the number of dependent Americans grows more and more. Meh! It’s so frustrating. I want to help. But I also don’t want to be a serf. Sorry for the rant, Emily. Hope Jon and Little Bit are doing well.

      • Thanks for your response, Mr. G. the fam is fine. You’re making a good point about charity shouldn’t be for the middle class and the rich, and maybe the government shouldn’t manage it. But it’s hard to say who should then. There are many wonderful charities doing good work with minimal administrative costs…and then there’s Goodwill.

        Plus, there are some structural problems causing poverty that could go away (the war on drugs and related high incarceration rates come to mind) and that couldn’t, like automation and the related erosion of reasonably paid work for folks without much education. Did you see Amazon’s new grocery store idea? No cashiers.

        Some people can address the structural changes with more and better education, but schools are struggling because of lack of resources ($15 per student per year for textbooks in our lovely state, and decreased per pupil spending.)

        I love that we can agree and disagree respectfully Mr. G. Keep pushing and I’ll push back, but together we’re pushing both sides higher.

        • Mr. Groovy

          Excellent rejoinder, Emily. Have you heard of a negative income tax? I think this is the way we should go. It would make things a lot simpler and would cushion the blow of automation (yes, I did see that Amazon video). And I hear you about the war on drugs. I’m okay with legalizing marijuana. But I’m very leery about legalizing anything more potent (crack, meth, heroine, etc.). What we save in jail costs may be totally swamped by hospital and rehab costs. Very tough problem.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. The number one principle of personal finance is this: master what you can control. You can’t control what Washington does. But you can control how early you get up, what car you drive, how well you perform you job, and how much you save. Thanks for stopping by, FP.

  12. I go back and fourth in my level of disdain for the gov – somewhere between high and moderate.

    I have seen first hand the waste that happens in a city. Lazy employees, wasting gas and materials – basically setting taxpayer money on fire.

    There are always shity employees at every organization , it’s a fact of life. The part that bothers me the most is if an employee sucks at a non government agency the paying customer suffers and can take their business elsewhere. Being the customer of the government – I can’t take my business elsewhere and they set the price I pay.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You nailed it, AE. Government has a conscripted clientele, which it serves with a very-hard-to-fire workforce. Not exactly the recipe for success. Public schools suck? Too bad. You’re paying for them whether you like it or not. DMV clerk was rude to you? Deal with it. He’s been that way forever. It’s been weeks and the Highway Department hasn’t filled that massive pothole on your street? Oh, well. That sucks for you.

      Come election time, you always here politicians talking about accountability. Know the easiest way to bring accountability to government? Competition. Competition has a knack for exposing sloth, stupidity, and venality. Not everything the government does is suited to competition, of course. You don’t want a municipal police department competing with a private one. But a lot is. Education, for instance, is very well-suited to competition. Give every kid a voucher (the education equivalent of food stamps), and let government schools compete against private schools for students.

      But don’t worry about competition coming to government anytime soon. Those public servants who care so much about the public despise competition. Meh.

  13. PRW, I’m in!! Isn’t that what those of us seeking Financial Freedom are all about! Take personal responsibility, don’t expect others to bail you out. Certainly not our government, regardless of who the POTUS is. It’s going to get worse, not better, folks.

    Become a PRW. Take care of you and yours.

    No one else will. Don’t be naive. Great post.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hell yeah, Fritz! We need a lot more PRWs, and a lot fewer SJWs. A nation of PRWs will be on the road to freedom. A nation of SJWs will be on the road to serfdom.

  14. The stadium thing is a pet peeve of mine (baseball, rather than football, but you get the idea). Politicians who are busy advancing agendas because they or someone in their family has a need is another. That’s not quite the same as for bribes, but it definitely speaks to that personal interest. Politicians are supposed to represent the people, not themselves. But to your point about responsibility, I agree that people should try not to rely on the kindness of strangers or the government, but sometimes there is no alternative. We do not all have the same advantages, and I do believe we should help those truly in need.

  15. This one hits close to home because our football team wants a new, taxpayer-funded stadium.
    The state-of-the-art stadium we built them 15 years ago apparently won’t cut it anymore, even though it’s in great shape and has nifty features like retractable natural grass. And it itsn’t even fully paid for yet!
    Argh. If only we’d taken that money and put it toward paying off debt or toward schools or toward parks or…
    Let’s just hope that we say no this time around.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Julie, Julie, Julie! I’m very disappointed in you. Don’t you know that grown men running around in tights is the most important thing on the planet. You should lovingly surrender your tax dollars to billionaire owners and millionaire players. Use those tax dollars instead for debt reduction, healthcare, or education? What’s wrong with you?

  16. No politicians, or agency is going to fix your personal situation. Only you can do that. Stop waiting for a handout or someone else to fix your issues, you are in control, take on some responsibility, becoming a PRW is a good place to start.

    Build a plan, get organized, change those bad behaviors. All good place to start. Baby steps!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Exactly! Government from time to time may even help you. But you can’t count on that. Life is for the active, not the passive.

  17. Like your last article touching on government, I agree with your premise and your conclusion, but disagree with a number of statements.

    First, I agree that you can do far more for yourself than the government can do for you. We should all be taking responsibility for ourselves and working to lift ourselves up rather than relying on the government. This is really the main takeaway and it is an important one for everyone to work to internalize.

    Second, I agree on how ridiculous stadium spending is at this point.

    On government employees:

    “I worked for over twenty-one years in government. And I don’t recall meeting a lot of public servants.”

    I work in government now, and I do see a lot of public servants. As a lawyer, I am surrounded by people who could make far more money going to the private sector. I have been offered almost triple my current pay to go to a big firm. But I would rather have the smaller paycheck and the knowledge that I am serving the public. There are a lot of folks like me that I work with every day.

    Of course, not everyone is that way. There are always people in every workplace and industry that are only in it for themselves. But to dismiss government employees out of hand is unfair.

    I’d offer a similar (albeit less full-throated) defense of politicians. Obviously there are politicians out there that are mainly focused on money and power. But there are also politicians out there genuinely trying to do the most good that they can.

    If you were right that policy was made by whoever could out-bribe everyone else, then we would have a lot more bipartisan support for bills. The fact that there is such a fierce divide between the parties suggests that much of the decision-making in Congress is still based on ideals and ideology (whether we agree with those ideals and ideologies or not).

    To your point about not being able to think of any situations where politicians did something right without getting money for it:
    Social Security
    Medicare
    Medicaid
    Public Housing Programs
    SNAP
    WIC
    Preservation of National Parks
    Public health programs that have eliminated diseases like polio and smallpox
    The GI Bill
    The CFPB (and other consumer protections)
    Anti-trust legislation and enforcement

    That’s off the top of my head.

    Again, I agree entirely with your conclusion, but I felt the need to step in and defend government against the undeservedly bad reputation that it has garnered.