Speaking strictly about the one agency where I have a great deal of information, if the rest of the government is operating like the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it is high time for an overhaul. It is true the agency has been abused. Fees paid by inventors for patent prosecution services have been routinely raided by Congress, and diverted to other purposes.It is also true that the agency is very customer-oriented, and some parts of it understand customer frustration, so that they have a help desk that is amazingly valuable. They are agile and helpful to the point that they keep up with the many, many changes to the website well enough for an attorney to get work done, although the process is painful and time consuming. But periodically, they inject themselves into policy discussions where they have no expertise and no mechanism for developing expertise, cause a lot of trouble, get a lot of criticism, and after a while, withdraw some truly stupid rules.The latest bit of nonsense is that they are busy creating a nice, compact database of patent attorney financial information. They want credit card information and bank account information preserved on their website. In order to make a bank transfer to cover fees, a firm's bank account information MUST be transmitted to them for an eight-day period to allow THEM to verify the information. This is unusual, to say the least.Yes, the USPTO has its pinheads, and it lets them run amuck, until somebody puts a stop to it.What they need is some rule changes, and a policy NOT to amass financial information.Valerie
Anecdotally, it has struck me that few people on the left seem to understand—at all—what Trump meant when he promised to "drain the swamp". I keep hearing people saying things like "Such-and-such cabinet member once worked for Goldman-Sachs! Some draining the swamp!" or "So many millionaires! How can he drain the swamp with these people?"The wording makes me think they literally didn't understand that he was talking about the federal bureaucracy. It doesn't seem to even have occurred to them.
It does come against a backdrop of administrations of both parties, for decades, saying we can save all this money by clearing up all the fraud, waste, and abuse.Whenever I've asked folks (not senior politicians; I'm not that big a deal) to name two examples of fraud, two examples of waste, two examples of abuse, most of them cannot name any. The few who do name one or two get really irritated when I ask them my follow-up: since you know what these are, why haven't you cleaned them up already?Such remarks have become just empty noises, like "Hihowarya?"It's easy to misunderstand Trump's meaning, even for those who aren't overcome with TDS.Eric Hines
Ask the folks around the Hall for examples of abuse and you might need a notebook of significant size to record them. Here is an obscure abuse- I am on a couple of antique arms forums. Come to find out, the US Customs is in the business of destroying various antique artworks entering the US by prying off any ivory decorations, hilts, carvings, etc, under the insane rules we have now. Now it is very difficult to explain exactly how a Indian dagger three hundred years old is imperiling the fate of the African elephant in 2017 but apparently it is a crisis. The endangered species acts and their bizarre offspring seem to be placing any organic substance at risk of confiscation. Feathers ,ivory, wood, teeth, etc. - anyone with any trace of these materials on an object is theoretically at risk, regardless of provenance. I can't wait till a Rulhmann desk is ritually burnt at the stake for incorporating ebony, rosewood and ivory. http://ruhlmann.info/furniture/(of course the marxist sjw's have no clue on how markets work, so every time they have a chance to actually score a blow against poaching, they screw it up. Case in point is the virtue signal of destroying stocks of poached ivory, instead of certifying it and selling it to compete with illegal ivory, thus driving down the price and reducing incentive, and having the second benefit of providing funds for anti poaching efforts.)
Ask the folks around the Hall for examples of abuse and you might need a notebook...You'll get an earful about that 'follow-up question,' too.
A formative experience for me was litigating with the FDIC in a bank holding company bankruptcy case around 1990. The FDIC cooked up truly silly legal theories in an attempt to extort about $800 million from my client. Although we had an incredibly hostile judge, even she had to admit, after we had wasted a huge amount of time and effort in dismantling the charges at the summary judgment stage, that my client owed the FDIC nothing and the FDIC actually owed my client about $15 million. I saw no evidence that anyone at the FDIC, or among its counsel, was concerned with anything but extortion. They were furious that they didn't have the legal power to force the bank holding company to dump more money into banks that the FDIC had seized strategically, and they were pretty open about their agenda to create leverage to bring that goal about. Since then I've received a pretty consistent impression of what the FDIC will do any time it thinks it can get away with it, which is often. The Washington Mutual case was a disgrace. The FDIC's original goal, to insure deposits and impose some financial discipline on its member banks in return, gets completely lost in the politics and power play.In contrast, the many private financial players involved in the dispute, not only my client but the investors who were at loggerheads with my client, had fairly straightforward agendas to protect their financial interests and enforce their contractual rights. In comparison with the FDIC, they seemed saintly. That was when I began to be lost to the Democratic Party I'd always assumed was my natural home. I was quite receptive to Newt Gingrich's arguments about how badly the typical government agency stacks up against the most venal and supposedly cold-hearted giant corporation, as in the DMV vs. MacDonalds. "A vote for Democrats is a vote to put the DMV in charge of your life" was a winning argument for me, then and since.
Texan99, did the FDIC ever actually pay that $15 million it owed?
Nah. The creditors got tired of waiting around while we duked it out, and cut a deal with the FDIC. With all the banks seized and dead, there wasn't really a functioning debtor any more, just some leftover staff to tie up all the loose ends left after the destruction. In that kind of situation, sometimes creditors want the debtor to hang around and do this stuff, and sometimes a more hands-on group of creditors comes in and wants to run things its own way. In this case, as soon as we won the first round of decisions against the FDIC, the original creditors sold their claims to a new batch of investors and skedaddled with what they thought was the most they could salvage out of a bad situation. The new batch wanted to shut everything down, judging that there was no more upside.
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