A Stones Throw 6-6-13

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Everyday there is a new story about the abuse of power and the abuse of taxpayer’s money. Almost every day there are articles that claim those in authority had no idea that abuses were happening – until they learned about these abuses from the media.

The latest, of course, involve the Internal Revenue Service.

There is no question whether the IRS abused its power by targeting certain groups which it felt were politically incorrect. The IRS, after being exposed by the media has admitted this.

There is no question whether the IRS spent lavishly on employee meetings and seminars at the expense of the taxpayer. The IRS, after being exposed by the media has admitted the expenditures – but claims those expenditures were not excessive.

Unfortunately, when neither the President nor the Attorney General know anything about either the abuse of power or the abuse of taxpayer’s money, it is difficult to expect them to be able to do anything about it.

It is also difficult to expect top government officials to be able to ferret out other current and future abuses.

Face it. If the head of the Internal Revenue Service can visit the White House 157 times without revealing anything that is going on with the IRS, either he too is clueless, or he is hiding important information from his boss – or I suppose there could be one other answer.

In a sense, none of this matters. What really matters is that there is a simple solution.

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As most who have read ‘A Stones Throw’ in the past know, I am what some consider a sports nut. It is through my love for sports that I found the solution.

Actually there are two solutions, each of which could oversee, catch, and correct the problems found in our government today.

First and foremost, I would ask the NCAA compliance committee to oversee the financial aspects of all government agencies. I feel confident this committee would find not only the major violations, but most of the smaller violations.

A case in point – recently a female member of the University of Portland golf team had the audacity to wash her car on the U of P campus. Someone who was aware of NCAA rules reported this terrible act to the college which then reported it to the NCAA.

The NCAA determined this act was a violation of NCAA rules. It determined that this young lady obtained “extra benefits” when she used University water and a hose owned by the University.

As a result, this young lady has been sanctioned, and will not be allowed to participate in any NCAA sport-related activity until she has re-paid the school $20 which is the value of the water and the use of the hose – as determined by the NCAA compliance committee.

When I read this, I had several thoughts:

• First, I now understand why it costs $15 to get my car washed and hand-dried at one of those automatic car washes. Actually, this is cheap. Either that or the water at the University of Portland is far more expensive than the water all of those car washes use. And the use of a hose in Portland is more expensive than the use of 100 feet of automatic brushes used by all of those car washes.

Or the NCAA Compliance Committee has lost touch with reality.

• Second, I wonder how much water an athlete at the University of Portland – or anywhere else for that matter – is allowed to use on campus. Is the amount dictated by the number of glasses of water recommended daily plus the number of showers approved based on personal hygiene needs and athletic exercise? I hope athletes can get this answer soon so others do not get sanctioned and/or suspended for using too much university water.

• Finally, and more importantly, if the NCAA can get involved with the minutia of water usage, how effective would it be if it got involved with monitoring the use of taxpayer money and assets?

I don’t know if the major abuses would be stopped, but I bet people wouldn’t be taking “post-it” pads home for personal use.

I wonder how much the NCAA would value a “post-it” pad.

Regardless – with the NCAA Compliance Committee on the job – the use – or abuse – of taxpayer money would be safe.

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As for the abuse of power, I would add the NASCAR Compliance Committee to work with the NCAA.

While it appears that government agencies are able to continually abuse their powers without any of those responsible for oversight finding the abuse – of if they do find the abuse – choose to ignore it – I am sure that NASCAR would have no such problem.

Again – a case in point. Recently, NASCAR issued one of its strongest penalties against driver Matt Kenseth and his team for having an engine component that violated the minimum weight requirement found in the technical rules of NASCAR.

Kenseth’s car was found to have an engine component that was .3 of a gram too light.

It didn’t matter that the component came from Toyota and not from the race team itself – it was .3 of a gram light.

Personally, I have no idea how much one gram is but a conversion chart shows that three-tenths of a gram is equal to about one-hundredth of an ounce. I can’t imagine that one-hundredth of an ounce in a car that weights at least 3,400 pounds can give someone a competitive advantage.

This really doesn’t matter to NASCAR. The component in question was .3 of a gram light.

I wonder how our government agencies would fare if their activities received the same scrutiny – probably not well.

The bottom line is I think it is time the NCAA and NASCAR Compliance Committees take over the oversight of the activities of the various government agencies.

If so, no abuse – no matter how minor – would be tolerated.

Unless, of course, you consider the Compliance Committees for both the NCAA and NASCAR are guilty of the abuse of their own power.

We don’t really need more abuse of power.

So – any suggestions?

– Mike Cooney