Sunday, December 9, 2007

Oodles of Wasted Taxpayer Money

So here I was in college, about 12 year ago, when a friend on mine says, "You have to take a look at this job!" So I did. It turned out to be driving a taxi for the local school desegregation program ("deseg," as we called it), which consisted of taking Child A and transporting him/her to School B, with School B being 12 miles from where the child lived, even though School C was right across the street from where the kid's home was. Sometimes -- almost always, actually -- School C was on the corner or maybe a block away.

For transporting A to B I was paid $25. Even better, I picked up another child maybe three blocks away from Kid A, and took him/her to another school 12 miles away, maybe a mile or so from my first drop-off. For that I was paid another $25. I was doubling-up on rides, and since they were paid from separate government accounts, the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing. That, I am convinced, is a perfect description of how all government works.

These two rides took the grand total of one-and-one-half-hour's worth of my time, for which I was paid $50. Then, in the afternoon, I would pick up a five-year-old in kindergarten, and take him/her home for another $25, even though this kid had a school A) across the street, or B) on the corner.

Then, in the afternoon, I would repeat the morning run for another $50. I worked four hours a day and made $125. Each week I was written a check for $525 for a 20-hour week. And this was 12 years ago.

If I wanted to take extra rides in the evening, or during the day for kids who were late getting to school, I could make $600 a week for hardly any extra work at all. Some drivers, who actually worked the whole day, were making $1000 a week.

The owner of the cab company, who was a crook but still a friend of mine who actually seemed to like me, had been a big-time bookie arrested by the FBI and convicted by the feds. He served no time because he ratted out his partner, who as far I know is still doing time in the joint.

This crook/owner/friend of mine was taking about half of each ride, which meant my $25 ride was really $50. So you see how much the taxpayer was being ripped off to transport thousands of kids every year to schools many miles from where they lived. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars.

This crook/owner, who I will call Harry, was a multi-millionaire, all on taxpayer money. This confirms my theory that anyone who becomes rich from the government is a crook. All of them. Harry came in every day in his brand-new Mustang, with his mistress in the front seat. Her name was Joanne and boy, could she screech. Fortunately, she liked me, so I got away with a lot. Harry "worked" about four hours a day, which consisted of his sitting at his desk with Joanne next to him, while he smoked cigarettes, shot the bull with everyone, and basically did nothing else except write checks on Friday.

Harry did not care about anything except stuffing taxpayer money into his pocket. His friends said he had a trunk of money buried in his backyard so the IRS couldn't find it.

Since Harry did not care about anything except stuffing oodles of money into his pockets, the drivers could get away with anything short of killing the kids. The deseg bureaucrats didn't care, either. Being bureaucrats, they gave up their brains and gonads a long, long time ago.

One example of a driver who could get away with anything is one low-life who I will call Vladimir. He would drive while stoned. Not a little stoned, but a lot. I once saw him in the office with his eyelids halfway down his eyeballs, and as I looked at him, one of his knees collapsed and he almost fell down.

He and I did not like each other, so I was always looking for a chance to catch him alone and poke him in the solar plexus, but I never got it. I did once drive by him on the highway, where his car (with two kids in the back seat) had rear-ended another and spun both of them high up onto the embankment. Both cars were totaled, although fortunately the kids were okay. Vladimir was high, as usual. He told us he had turned around to yell at the unruly kids, and, pow, crashed into the back of a car while doing maybe 70 mph.

Of course, he kept his job, since Harry didn't care.

No one ever got fired. The closest was one guy who got 30 years in prison for exposing himself in front of a little girl. And he wasn't exactly "fired." It's just that you can't drive a taxi while in the pen. The reason he got 30 years is because it was his second conviction. Harry, I'm sure, knew about the first. If the deseg bureaucrats knew about it, they didn't care. They probably didn't know, since they never investigated the drivers. Wasn't one of the rules, I guess.

One guy even set the cab company on fire because Harry spelled his name wrong on his check. Fired? Ha! Harry, being a criminal, had a fondness for criminals. That always made me wonder what he saw in me, since he genuinely seemed to like me.

Of all the dozens of kids I transported thousands of miles, only a handful were ever helped by the deseg program. Maybe three, I will estimate. It would have been cheaper just to move the entire families to the county.

One, a girl who was about 12, was sort of nerdish. Her glasses were always sitting crooked on her face, and she never knew it. She told me she reminded herself of Doogie Howser because she was almost a genius. She was, too, and sometimes cracked me up so hard I almost had to pull over.

I can think of two others who were helped by the deseg program, both girls. Was there anyone else? Nope.

I did this job for something like five years. It was really, really hard to quit a part-time job that paid full-time money.

When I asked around as to how long the deseg program had been in effect, I was told, "Oh, I dunno...since the early '70s, maybe." Yikes! This was hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for all practical purposes thrown out the window! It made several multi-millionaires out of the owners of the cab companies involved, and was good money for the drivers even though they were independent contractors and had no benefits whatsoever, but every cent of it was money unwillingly extracted from the taxpayers.

Not only were taxis involved, but regular school buses. These buses would bus kids from one neighborhood to a school several miles away, in order to achieve racial parity.

Since many parents did not like the deseg program, and did not want their kids going to school with kids bused in from neighborhoods several miles away, those who could afford it pulled their kids out of the local school and put them in neighborhood church schools. This included both black and white.

People will always find a way around the stupid rules of government bureaucrats. This truth is something those in the government will never learn.

These church schools existed on almost every corner. Where I used to live, there was one across the street, and on the corner. As a result, the local public schools were populated almost exclusively by poor kids, no matter what their race or ethnic group. So while the public schools were integrated racially, they became segregated economically.

Just about anyone with a few working brain cells could have predicted this. In fact, they did. Of course the government and liberal do-gooders and other boneheads did not believe.

They do now, though, since the deseg program is being phased out, and will soon be completely gone.

And what good did all of it accomplish? For all practical purposes, not a darn thing. It did make several crooks into multi-millionaires, though.

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