May 18, 2024

Wasteful Federal Programs

Without revolution, the government continues to gow and to serve itself at the expense of "We the People"

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   Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying that “We need a revolution every 20 years just to keep the government honest.”  He is right, and we now in many ways have a “dishonest” government to prove it.  How can I say that?  Because without that revolution (which does not have to be bloody) government continues to grow and to serve itself at the expense of “We the People.”  And what is the evidence of that?  One example, as written in the April 2024 edition of Reason Magazine, is that it has taken a century to kill the Federal Tea Board, which was an unnecessary and pointless program from its inception.  How did this Board come into being?  According to the Reason article, back in 1897 Congress was so worried that British tea exporters were taking advantage of their less sophisticated American customers that they passed the Tea Importation Act.  This created a new federal commission which was tasked with rejecting any tea that was “unfit.”  So soon the commission established a “Board of Tea Experts,” which met every year at public expense to drink and test tea.  And this Board existed until 2023, even though a law went into effect in April of 1996 to eliminate it.  Such resilience!  At any level of understanding, the public will take care of undrinkable tea because they won’t buy it.  And if some tea actually harms someone, the provider can always be sued.  End of the problem.  But government operates differently, to the extent that at the end of 2023 there were 2,418 separate subsidy programs on the books, which was more than double the number that existed just back in 1990.  So this is why we need Jefferson’s revolution.

     What are some of the other equally unnecessary and wasteful federal programs according to Reason?  Here are some of them:

  1. Popcorn Board, which was created by Congress to “develop new markets for popcorn and popcorn products,” and which pays for itself by charging fees to the popcorn producers.  Similar user fee-funded boards include the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, the National Mango Board, the National Potato Promotion Board, and the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
  2. Mushroom Council, whose purpose is to “maintain and expand existing mushroom markets and uses,” and which pays for itself by taxing imported mushrooms at the rate of 0.0055 cents per pound.
  3. Christmas Tree Promotion Board, which was created in 2011 to “expand the market and uses of fresh-cut Christmas trees,” and which funds itself with a fee of 15 cents on all real Christmas trees sold in our country.
  4. Corporation for Travel Promotion, which is charged with “providing useful information to those interested in traveling to the United States.”  But, if you think about it, why not simply allow the various tour books and websites to provide this information?  And that would save each person who travels here the extra $4 visa fee that is used to fund this corporation.
  5. Rural Utilities Service, which was founded in 1936 to expand the nation’s power grids and phone lines to rural communities.  Maybe in the 1930s, but where now in our country can we find people without access to electric power and telephone service?  Nevertheless, this year alone it is costing taxpayers $154 million to fund this “service.”

Obviously this recitation could go on forever, but don’t look to the federal government to cut down or eliminate these unproductive programs.  Why?  Because governments do not relinquish power easily, so they do not look favorably on anything that might weaken their control.  Instead, people should understand that all of these programs reek of a state-run economy with bureaucrats paid to make dumb decisions that “The Invisible Hand” of the Free Market System makes correctly, free of charge?   So this situation cries out for Thomas Jefferson’s Revolution.  I hope that you agree.    

Quotation for the Week from a shy 7 year-old girl who was answering a request to name the Seven Wonders of the World, which was: “To Touch, to Taste, to See, to Hear, to Feel, to Laugh, and to Love.”  

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Here is a great idea that I have lifted from Wayne Allyn Root, who was the Libertarian candidate for Vice President in 2008: Candidates should run on a platform of ending all taxes on Social Security. Why? Focus upon this: workers have been required, often for many decades, to pay into Social Security without getting any tax deductions for their contributions. And the government has kept these contributions, often for many decades, without the contributors even receiving any interest on their money whatsoever. So why do we allow the government to tax us on the after-tax money we let them use interest-free for so long? In addition, a retired judge friend of mine made the following comment after reading a draft of this edition: “I’d add that the hardest thing I do when I figure out my 100-year-old Mom’s taxes is figuring the social security taxes with (the necessary) form. And then if I discover a small mistake elsewhere in my taxes, I must start from scratch and redo this form. It occurred to me that lots of 100-year-olds don’t have lawyer sons, nor the means to hire someone with the skill to use an app. What do they do? Horrible.”

Thus, fundamentally, this idea is about fairness – and it is totally workable. In fact, most Americans don’t even remember that Social Security was never taxed until 1984. So if it wasn’t taxed before then why should it be now? Furthermore, many of the Social Security recipients often live hand to mouth, so this action is not only about fairness, it is about assisting potentially millions of retired Americans to pay their bills in this time of high inflation. As a result, political candidates should rightfully run on the “Save the Seniors” banner! Not only would this movement be practical, it would truly be the fair and right thing to do!

Quote for the week: “Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn.” Albert Einstein

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