Monday, June 15, 2009

Stimulus fraud could hit $50 billion

Swindlers, con men, and thieves could siphon off as much as $50 billion of the government's planned stimulus package as the money begins flooding the economy in coming months, according to David Williams, who runs Deloitte Financial Services Advisory and counsels clients on fraud prevention. Williams predicted that about $500 billion of the total $787 billion stimulus would be channeled into the traditional procurement network for government contracts, while the rest will be spent directly by the government or outside the corporate network.

"The rule of thumb typically is that of the about $500 billion worth of money that's going to run through the procurement process, somewhere between 5% and 10% of that usually finds it way into potential problems," Williams said. "That's sort of the benchmark that I use."

Companies will face increased pressure to try to stem the tide, and need to be prepared to safeguard data as well as the cash, according to Williams.

Williams said this week that the money flowing from the current stimulus package is particularly vulnerable to fraud because almost all movement of money is now done electronically. "We're telling our clients to be very careful and to make sure their firms are resilient in terms of dealing with the potential opportunities for fraud and waste," Williams said.

That means keeping an eye out for the traditional scams such as billing for services not performed. But it also means firms must become even more diligent about electronic records and network security. "It becomes ever more important that firms remain diligent about their data," Williams said.



A wise Jew speaks

I think that, in his article below, Dominic Lawson ("Liebsohn" ancestrally) arrives at a more optimistic conclusion than is warranted but he does see the problem. I noted the selfsame problem on May 27

If Alan Michael Sugar – soon to be Lord Sugar – didn’t exist, he might have been invented by antiSemites. That, at least, would have been the view of my maternal grandmother, part of a Jewish family that had built up a very successful business, starting with a barrow in the East End of London and ending up as the catering and food empire J Lyons & Co.

Yet the family were at all times anxious not to draw attention to their success. None of them would have dreamt of buying a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley; none of them acquired a country estate, still less an exotic home overseas. If they gave to charity, it would be anonymously.

In my grandmother’s view, this was all very wise: she had a great fear of antiSemitism (not surprisingly, given what had happened in Europe during her lifetime) and felt that any ostentatious display of wealth, besides being inherently vulgar, could provoke dark forces lying just below the civilised surface of British society.

So the idea of Sir Alan Sugar appearing on peak-time television driving a Rolls-Royce Phantom with the number plate AMS1 before yelling at various humiliated Gentiles, “You’re fired!” would have filled her with despair. I suspect she might have had a similar reaction to Michael Winner’s unashamedly sybaritic columns in this newspaper, detailing our hero’s brutal put-downs of errant staff at some of the world’s most expensive restaurants and hotels.

If I am to be entirely honest (not always a good idea), I must admit I have inherited a bit of my grandmother’s neurosis: a small part of me wonders if it is entirely wonderful that Britain’s two best-known Jews seem so comfortably to tally with the antiSemitic stereotype of the money-obsessed loudmouth.

This reflects much worse on me than it does on them. Why should anyone moderate his naturally brash or exuberant behaviour to appease the prejudices of others? In any case, it can’t be said that either man is too stupid to be aware of the impression created. Sugar told Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, a few years ago: “The Jew [in England] is portrayed as Fagin, and you won’t shake that out of people’s heads. It’s an underlying thing – that the Jews are a little bit sharp, a little bit quick, not to be trusted, possibly. If you ask a group of nonJews in a pub what it is that they don’t like about Jews, this is what they’ll come out with . . . that they hoard money.”

Sugar’s reference to the Charles Dickens character is well judged. George Orwell observed in 1945, as Britain became fully aware of the horrors of the Holocaust: “There has been a perceptible antiSemitic strain in English literature from Chaucer onwards.”

In his fascinating essay AntiSemitic Stereotypes in the English Novel, Professor Philip Jenkins looks at Our Mutual Friend, in which Dickens – aware that the invention of Fagin had, as one contemporary critic put it, “encouraged a vile prejudice against the despised Hebrew” – created a more sympathetic Jewish character: a moneylender called Riah.

Yet Dickens has Riah say of his own usury that “if . . . I had been a Christian, I could have done it, compromising no one but my individual self. But doing it as a Jew, I could not choose but compromise the Jews of all conditions and all countries. It is a little hard upon us, but it is the truth. I would that all our people remembered it”.

So even a Dickens attempting to make amends for the crude caricature of Fagin promotes the notion that Jews have an obligation to avoid professions such as moneylending in order to save their entire race from a special form of persecution. This was especially perverse, given that medieval European governments had often restricted such practices to Jews on the grounds that they were morally inappropriate for Christians – and also that the Jewish presence in moneylending was a function of the fact that constant fear of expulsion meant they would always want to be in a business with very liquid assets.

So for me to worry about whether Sugar encourages antiSemitic stereotyping is to commit the same error that Dickens attributes to the mind of the moneylender Riah: making an individual responsible for appeasing the collective prejudice of a multitude of bigots.

There are in fact, as one Jewish friend put it to me half-jokingly, “two sorts of Jew: book Jews and money Jews” – but it seems to be only the latter who are taken as the stereotype. This ignores the “book Jew”, who is interested in ideas rather than material possessions and who leads a life dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and intellectual discovery.

This is something that the Swedes of the Nobel prize committee have never failed to appreciate: Jews have gained almost a quarter of the Nobel prizes awarded worldwide since the beginning of the 20th century, with a particular concentration on physics, chemistry and medicine. When one considers that Jews make up barely a quarter of 1% of the global population (and just 2% of the American population), this record ought to encourage a more sympathetic stereotype.

On the other hand, even to make this point is to draw attention to what I think remainsa distinction between English Jews and English Gentiles, at least of my generation and background. The former have no desire to hide their intellectual light under a bushel, while the latter regard it as courteous to pretend that they are no more hard-working or determined than anyone else, regardless of how many hours of midnight oil they burn. This might be described as traditional English modesty or hypocrisy, depending on your point of view.

You can see an element of the discomfiture caused by this slight cultural difference in the reaction of many Tory MPs to John Bercow’s campaign to be Speaker of the House of Commons. The 46-year-old Bercow, who would be the first Jewish Speaker, has openly campaigned for this position in a way that even those colleagues who can stomach his shameless schmoozing of the government front bench regard as unseemly. English upper-middle-class Gentiles are no less given to plotting and planning for personal promotion than their Jewish counterparts; but they feel it is simply not done to be open about it.

Perhaps there is something of the same irritation in the attitude of many Labour MPs to Lord Mandelson (whose father was advertising manager of The Jewish Chronicle). What infuriates them is not so much that Mandelson’s brain is much faster than theirs at political calculation, but that he makes absolutely no attempt to disguise this fact.

It will be interesting to see how the Labour benches in the House of Lords greet Sugar when he takes up his place – assuming that he does find the time in his busy schedule to grace them with his presence. They will treat him rather as my grandmother would have done, I suspect.

Yet, if she were alive today, she should have been encouraged by Gordon Brown’s decision to ennoble the owner of AMS1. The prime minister has appointed him “enterprise champion” only because he desperately wants some of Sugar’s popularity to rub off onto the despised Labour government – The Apprentice is watched by up to 10m faithful and devoted viewers.

This, in turn, demonstrates that the sort of figure who once might have been seen as a caricature of the money-obsessed Jewish tycoon is now taken to the nation’s heart – and that therefore my grandmother’s fears were unwarranted; but I still can’t watch him in action without feeling a spasm of unease.




I have just put up here a wonderful story of bravery from Afghanistan

Obama fires honest official: "An inspector general fired by President Obama says he was given no warning and only one hour to decide whether to resign or be let go, hinting the action was retaliation for a report highly critical of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA basketball star and an Obama supporter. Gerald Walpin, a 2006 Bush appointee who reviewed grants awarded by AmeriCorps and other national service programs, said the telephone call he received Thursday evening from White House counsel Norman L. Eisen informing him he was ousted "occurred totally out of the blue." Mr. Walpin said he and his staff had always acted with the "highest integrity" during his two-and-a-half-year tenure. "We performed very well the responsibility of the independent overseer of the agency, and reported things as we saw it," he said. [More on the story here and here]

The Food, Drug & Tobacco Administration: "I'd like to echo Tevi Troy's concerns about the tobacco legislation that seems to be taking the express route to the president's desk. Unless Congress is about to dramatically increase the FDA's resources, its new tobacco obligations will come at the expense of its other, more important functions. I hear Naderite pro-regulation types complain that the FDA is resource-starved all the time. Requiring the FDA to control the tobacco industry will only make this problem worse. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg of this bill's problems. Among other things, the federal government will have vast new control over the advertising and promotion of a legal product. The First Amendment concerns about some of the bill's requirements are very real — and there will be years of litigation over its implementation. It's also a concern that the path to the bill's passage was paved by the cooperation of the nation's largest tobacco company, Philip Morris (aka Altria or whatever its name is now). Large incumbent firms tend to like government regulation because it squeezes out competitors. But it should also make regulation advocates wonder: If Philip Morris likes this bill, how much can it really do to control cigarette consumption and protect public health?"

Do as I say, not as I do: "Your post about Judge Sotomayor’s hiring of law clerks reminds me of the tension between Justice Ginsburg’s employment practices (as of the time she was nominated to the Supreme Court) and her own aggressive support for disparate-impact statistics as evidence of intentional discrimination. In her 1993 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, it was learned, much to Ginsburg’s visible embarrassment, that in her 13 years on the D.C. Circuit she had never had a single black law clerk, intern, or secretary. Out of 57 employees, zero blacks." [Typical Leftist hypocrite. They have no real principles at all]

‘Stimulus’ Kills Pennsylvania Steel Jobs: "Obama signed his US$787 billion economic recovery bill into law in February. It dictates that the steel and manufactured goods bought with federal funds must be made in the U.S.... As many as 600 steelworkers in Pennsylvania, whose union lobbied for the Buy America law, are slated to lose their jobs at Duferco Farrell after the company lost orders from its biggest customer because some of its goods are partly produced abroad. Capitol Hill legislators are stubborn, Kristof Champney says, and believe it's sufficient that the bill contains a requirement that international trade obligations must be honoured. "When we speak to members of Congress and tell them that provision has no application at all municipally or regionally, they look at you with a blank stare of confusion and then you see efforts to try to save face," she said.... A Canadian embassy official said earlier this week that many Capitol Hill legislators have been surprised to hear how many jobs in their jurisdictions are tied to trade with Canada... Braddock predicted the ramifications of Buy American are going to get more severe in the months ahead, including further job losses in the U.S. - a turn of events that could finally bring about a change of attitude on Capitol Hill.... "What we're really talking about here is the two leaders of the biggest trading partnership in the world, Canada and the United States, coming together to avoid protectionism. If we can't do this, do you think anyone else in the world can?"

The Roe train has left the station: “Roe v Wade is a done deal. That train has left the station, and there’s no turning back. If one is seriously pro-life, the only reasonable alternative is not to try to overturn it, but to move forward. To side with parties and movements that resist all taxpayer funding of abortions and reject all regulations, federal or state, that might force private hospitals to perform abortions. There is no ‘right’ to an abortion at taxpayer’s expense, but there is a right to refuse to provide or host an abortion."

You can have community without coercion: "“No sooner does one speak up in support of individualism than some clever folks will accuse one with wanting to isolate individuals, to destroy human community life. But this really is bunk and is either a misunderstanding or an out an out attempt at distortion. Just because human adults require independence of mind and a sphere of personal authority, which is secured by protecting their basic rights, it doesn’t mean at all that they do not greatly benefit from community life. There is little that’s more satisfying to human beings than one or another kind of association they can forge with their fellows. Think of marriage, family, company, team, chorus, orchestra, and on and on with the myriads of ways people come together and make the most of it. Alas, there is one way of forming communities that is simply unsuited to people, namely, coercively, when they are herded into groups they do not choose based on their own understanding and goals.”

Should conservatives join the Democratic Party? “Effective political action demands a realistic assessment of existing reality. This is why I registered to vote in the Democrat primary in 2008. When John McCain secured the Republican Party nomination, there wasn’t anything left for me to do but try to influence the yet-to-be-decided Democrat Party nominating process. It’s also why I haven’t switched back to the Republican Party following the election. Power today has shifted to the Democrats. They own the Presidency, both Houses of Congress, the Federal Judiciary, and the news media. This is where the game is played in 2009, and if you want to participate, this is where you need to be.”

Boaring Israelis: " Palestinian Authority media outlets continue to blame Israel for problems caused by wild boars in Samaria, despite Israeli efforts to cull the animals. On Thursday, PA farmers near Ariel complained that “Israeli settlers” had engineered a wild boar attack that destroyed agricultural produce. The farmers' claims were repeated by the head of the regional PA farmers' union, who accused Israelis living in Ariel and nearby towns of planning the attacks. The union head did not explain how Israelis allegedly trained the pigs to destroy only Arab crops. Arab residents of Samaria have made several similar claims over the past three years. The claims have been backed up by PA armed forces, whose officers have been quoted as confirming to PA media that Israel is behind wild boar attacks." [No mention from these nutcases that pigs are unclean to Jews too]


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Jan said...

So, my friend,--do we support a democratic government in Israel,with its long traditions of friendship to the west, or as you say, do we engage in a free for all post- Iranian election who has committed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Think (maybe even pray) about it before you answer? Blessings to you, J. Webb