BSA in trouble

Returning from my Christmas break, I have 4(!) stories to cover this time out.

The Scouts BSA (formerly the Boy Scouts of America) may be declaring bankruptcy. Could this financial situation have been prevented? I think so.

There’s a crackdown on illegal immigration on the southern border. Old news? Not really.

How much of federal government spending is on auto-pilot? How much just get automatically renewed, with built in increased, every year? The answer will surprise you. It surprised me.

Can bank regulators just cut off certain businesses’ access to the banking system? Yes, and you can thank Obama for that.

Mentioned links:


Mexico announces crackdown on illegal immigration: ‘Get in line and you can enter our country’

Shock Report: 86% Of Government Spending Is Now On Autopilot

Newly Unsealed Documents Show Top FDIC Officials Running Operation Choke Point

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Show transcript

In mid-December, the Boy Scouts of America…sorry, the Scouts BSA, as they’re now called…was reported to be considering bankruptcy. Membership has gone from a peak of 4 million to about 2.3 million these days. This in spite of allowing openly gay scouts in 2013 and scoutmasters in 2015, as well as the decision this past year to allow girls. This was supposed to keep the Scouts relevant to the culture at large.

Turns out that the culture “at small” is actually larger than first thought. People, including me, chose scouting for our boys precisely because of what it was then. There’s less and less of the environment that scouting provided in the culture at large. The coveted status of Eagle Scout got that way because of what scouting was. But the Left in this country decided it knew better, and they wanted to remake scouting in their image. So then you have the entire Mormon Church, for example, exiting the program, which was a huge blow to membership.

To be clear, some of the membership issue is the BSA’s own fault. As with other institutions, abuse by scoutmasters was sometimes swept under the rug for decades. Scouting has had rules in place for many years to reduce this sort of problem, but no institution run by humans is going to be immune to that; not the church, not the schools, and not the Scouts.

Scouts was a big thing, for generations, because of what it was, not in spite of it. I for one am very sorry to see it diminished.

They’re cracking down on illegal immigration at the southern border, and may close off the border entirely. Old news you say? Not if I’m talking about Mexico, and I am.

Mexico is considering shutting down its southern border with Guatemala. They are going to end the migration of illegals across the river on the border, and insist that all immigrants come over the bridge; the designated crossing point.

Sound familiar? It should. Trump’s been making noise about closing the border. Is Mexico racist for doing it? Asking that of a liberal might begin a long pause as they contemplate the double standard.

OK, here’s a story that legitimately shocked me. I knew it was true but not to this extent and it’s rather discouraging.

In 2015, the federal government spent $3.7 trillion dollars. Not much of a surprise, though you might not have known the exact amount. But here’s the shocker. Of that $3.7 trillion, how much of it was on “autopilot”? How much of it was automatically allocated and didn’t require Congress to authorize it for that year?

The answer is, $3.2 trillion, 86.5% of all the spending that year. Can you believe that? How in the world does that happen?

Here’s the thing. Over the years, Congress has passed laws that allow federal spending without any annual congressional approval. The biggest chunk is for “entitlement programs” like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare. Congress provided these programs with “permanent appropriations.” Spending levels are set automatically, based on eligibility rules and benefit amounts.

But that’s not all. Congress also gave federal agencies a variety of other ways to raise money and then spend it without having to get approval from lawmakers each year. These include contract authority, borrowing authority, and “offsetting collections” (which are fees, fines, or charges for permits). Then they can spend that money on their own.

How in the world can we possibly rein in spending if the vast majority of it is just automatically renewed every time? This is something where our representatives have dropped, not the ball, but the ball-and-chain. Deficits will continue until we start demanding accountability.

I’m open to getting story ideas from you out there, and listener Barb pointed me to an article, linked to in the show notes, about a program created during the Obama administration that allowed bureaucrats in various federal agencies to shut out certain disfavored (but otherwise legal) businesses from the banking system.

It’s referred to as Operation Choke Point, and I speak of it in the present tense because it’s still a thing, although representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), introduced a bill to shut down the policy in February of 2016. It’s had a tough time passing, and he reintroduced the bill in May of 2017.

Basically, Choke Point allows regulators to pick and choose certain businesses and tell banks they regulate to shut down the accounts of businesses they don’t like. Now, you may think that payday lenders and firearm dealers should be scrutinized more than others, but is that the job of a federal bureaucrat or of Congress? And remember that these are still legal businesses. We have such a regulatory state that so much damage can be done merely on the whim of some person you didn’t know even existed. This is what conservatives mean by wanting smaller government.

Representative Luetkemeyer could probably get the job done faster if he suggested that Trump use Choke Point to shut down the bank accounts of abortion clinics. There would suddenly be a stampede to end the program.

Filed under: Budget & SpendingGovernmentImmigrationSmaller GovernmentTolerance and Diversity