At its current rate, the federal government will choke on debt within a decade, says Blaise Ingoglia, a destructive path that leaves Ingoglia nearly breathless.
But rather than fade away, Ingoglia, whose first name is pronounced like blaze, now burns to spread the word about what he calls the greatest threat to the United States in several generations. A Hernando County entrepreneur and rising star in local and state Republican Party politics, Ingoglia is behind Government Gone Wild, a series of Web videos, seminars and blogs. The approach, says Ingoglia, shows people how bad the issue really is.
A recent video Ingoglia produced through Government Gone Wild — “Brother, Can You Spare a Trillion?” — is a YouTube hit. The video surpassed 1.98 million views in late April. “The reason why this resonates with people is it melds satire and motivational speaking in a political atmosphere,” says Ingoglia. “The problem when politicians start talking about budgets and finance is people's eyes start to roll to the back of their heads in boredom.”
Still, Ingoglia, in an interview with the Business Review and a recent seminar in Sarasota, says the monotony will become a momentous problem if it isn't addressed with a sense of urgency. “The solution is education and motivation,” Ingoglia says. “We need to hold our elected officials responsible.”
Ingoglia's free Government Gone Wild seminars hammer that point. He emphasizes the debt problem is bipartisan. He also weaves satire into the presentations. “The government,” Ingoglia told the Sarasota crowd April 28, “has turned into that person who is always asking you for money.”
George LeMieux, who held a Florida U.S. Senate seat for 16 months after Republican Sen. Mel Martinez retired in 2009, spoke in Sarasota before Ingoglia's presentation. LeMieux, a Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee attorney, recently announced he will run in 2012 for the seat held by Sen. Bill Nelson. “Your government is putting you on the verge of a disaster,” says LeMieux. “The situation is far worse than you think.”
That's what Ingoglia thought in 2007, when the self-proclaimed political and economy junkie took a close look at the spending habits of Hernando County commissioners. Says Ingoglia: “I knew they were taking our money and wasting it.”
That was the impetus for Government Gone Wild, which back then focused only on Hernando County. But Ingoglia thought the concept had broader possibilities after 1,000 people attended two seminars Ingoglia put on in Spring Hill.
Ingoglia launched the national version of Government Gone Wild last year. He has since done about a dozen seminars in Florida and has received calls from groups in several states, including Idaho, Kentucky and New York.
Ingoglia runs several real estate-related businesses in Hernando County for his day job. A New York native, Ingoglia also built a side career as a poker player, having entered several national tournaments over the last decade. On the political front, Ingoglia is the chairman of the Hernando County Republican Party, and he was recently elected assistant treasurer of the state Republican Party.
But Government Gone Wild eats up most of his time lately.
“I wish we had a normal economy and we didn't have to do this,” says Ingoglia. “I would much rather be a small business owner, but I feel like there is a need to get this information out.”
One Nation, Under Water
Blaise Ingoglia aims to break down the federal government's massive debt problems into easily understandable chunks in his videos and seminars.
Ingoglia says he researches and verifies all of his data from online sources, mostly government data websites. Here are some of Ingoglia's eye-popping nuggets when it comes to debt and spending abuse:
• The federal government will pay $1.9 million per minute of debt for the next 10 years.
• At the current pace, by 2046 every dime collected by the government in taxes will go to pay off debt.
• The federal government has spent $8 trillion in interest payments on its debt since 1988. “A lot of that is going to other countries,” says Ingoglia, “making them prosperous, not us.”
• The government spent $1.5 million of federal stimulus money to spruce up apartments. Problem is, those apartments were scheduled for demolition.
• The U.S. Department of Energy could save $2.2 million if it turned off lights and used more efficient energy sources, says Ingoglia, citing a U.S. Government Accountability Office study.
• The government spent $712,000 of federal stimulus money on joke-telling software. “Why do we need joke-telling software,” asks Ingoglia on a Government Gone Wild video, “when we already have Congress?”