Guest post – Mike Rogers “So many departments (to cut), so little time”

by Skip

This was left as a comment on my Facebook Doodling post – it deserved to be brought to the front:

So many departments (to cut), so little time. We are living in a target rich environment, so let us set our crosshairs on DC, and fire some Federal employees. We need someone to slash and burn their way through the capital and restore self government to "We the People".

So, with all those mixed and warlike metaphors, I expect the PC police to show up at any moment – better ‘splain myself :)

So much of Washington is useless, bloated, expensive, and takes away large amounts of our liberty while delivering little of value.

You can tell an unreformed statist (Mr Gingrich) from the real Jeffersonian, when they talk about legislating a change in the way the Federal government mandates what the states should do, and how it will generously pay for part of what is mandated.

The real deal comes in with a list of useless departments and a real plan for turning over first their function and then their funding to the states, so that the states can choose…

…which to continue and which to terminate.

Furthermore, there is a limited source of revenue, no matter how much the government wishes otherwise – come rain or shine, ever since the Federal government started doling out more goodies than the people were willing to pay for, the Federal tax take has hovered around 18% of GDP. For a while, the deficits were merely shocking, the GDP continued to grow, and only a temporary pause in spending (Newt’s big gift to Clinton’s popularity) was enough to erase the deficit for a while. Now, with spending climbing through 25% and government sucking all the oxygen out of the economy, the deficits have settled in at truly apocalyptic levels, and revenues have stopped growing.

What to do? Slash Federal spending below 18% of GDP right away by freezing all department budgets at 2006 levels. Start destroying whole departments and reducing the Federal tax burden by the same amount – let the states decide whether to fund those functions, if their citizens will bear the cost!

Education - aside from the strings attached, it’s a lousy deal – who would voluntarily send money to an outside department only to get back 30-50% in services? (Typical government efficiency ratio) Obama won’t let private health companies get away with less than 85% payout ratio, and even casinos are a much better bet than Federal programs. Just close it, and rebate its cost to the states the first year while they figure out how to replace the small amount of money it pays out – without all the mandates, the costs will be lower, too.

Energy - ever since it was created, the stability of our energy supply has gone down, and the costs have gone up. We import more oil while locking up our own supplies. We try to force the adoption of sources which are not mature, while strangling the sources which we have in abundance. Close the whole worthless thing.

EPA - hasn’t even finished the job it was most (in)famous for – Superfund site cleanup. Keeps inventing new ways to regulate our lives and has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Close it and send the busybodies home.

HUD - a boondoggle which acts as a conduit for funding a whole raft of rent-seeking organizations, not to mention acting in concert with Fannie and Freddie to distort the housing market. To the woodshed with it, and "hasta la vista" ACORN as a bonus. Arguably, HUD has caused more urban blight than it has alleviated, and don’t the states and cities want to be in charge of their own Urban Development?

Agriculture - why exactly does it exist? Universities and private firms advance the art and science of farming, and the business of food production becomes steadily more efficient. Why do we need bureaucrats to tell us what to plant and what not to plant? Kill all the subsidies, too.

Interior - Huh? Cannot the states be trusted to take care of their own land? Return all Federal land to the several states, excepting established military bases and Indian reservations. Require that actual National Parks be safeguarded from encroachment, and leave the rest well alone.

FDA - Often causes more harm than good – make the pharmaceutical companies buy insurance to cover their liabilities, and allow Underwriters Labs or something similar to be the independent watchdog of product safety. If product testing and introductions are done properly, insurance rates will stay low.

FCC - does very little of value, and thus is constantly casting around for things to regulate. A clearinghouse and registry for spectrum allocation is all that’s required – cut it to the bone.

HHS - should be local services, IF the people are willing to pay. CDC – worthwhile, but even that could be subject to competitive bids by major companies or universities.

ATF - should be a convenience store, not a government department.

FBI - devolve it – it should be the FederalIZED Bureau of Investigations, and it should be the servant of the several states, not their master.

And so many more to cut…..

In summary, close down most of the domestic functions of the Federal government. Let the states and their people decide if they are worth paying for out of local taxes.

Let the states propose what research organizations or information clearinghouses they are willing to pay for at the Federal level.

Privatize any services provided by the government (Post Offices, Amtrak, Air Traffic Control, etc.) Let the market provide, and the users pay.

Block-grant and then end Medicare and Medicaid as Federal programs – let the states figure out the best way to deliver those services, such as through vouchers.

Follow something like Paul Ryan’s roadmap for Social security.

Special case – Commerce Dept. It has value, but only to "make regular" interstate commerce and international commerce. This one needs a constitutional amendment to clarify the original intent of the Commerce clause and to summarily end all regulations derived from an unconstitutional reading thereof. A MUCH smaller Commerce dept can perform the truly intended functions.

If we can’t get the remainder of the Federal government below 10% of GDP, we’re not trying hard enough – actual constitutional Federal government would be more like 5% !!

Yes, state taxes would grow as Federal taxes fell, but that’s the point – the closer to home it hurts, the more likely it is that spending will be restrained.

By the way, seeing as we are on a site named after a very well known science fiction concept, has anyone grokked the similarity between Washington DC and Trantor??

 

Leave a Comment

  • Mike Rogers

    And this article by one of my favorite libertarians lists some specifics that would guarantee a budget surplus:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnStossel/2011/02/02/i_can_balance_the_budget/page/full/

  • Rick Honer

    Adecent list but ummmmmm…..DOD???? DOD is SERIOUS money, most grossly overfunded and undernmanaged, and does the most harm to citizens and taxpayers.
    Anecdotal evidence
    A student of mine was heading home to Korea and got bumped to 1st class. He sat with 2 “guys in Army uniforms” who made a big deal about how they were flying to Korea to “Play some golf”. And then head right baack to the States. First Class. Golf. You pay for it sucker.

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