Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cutting the Federal Government Down to Size

Our federal government has continuously expanded since its inception under the governance of each and every political party.  It has now gotten to be so bloated as to contain fifteen separate departments, only twelve of which are actually needed to carry out its constitutionally delineated duties, in my estimation. 

Within those twelve departments are nestled 282 subordinate agencies.  Of those 282 agencies, over 100 of those could be cut resulting in a far greater positive rather than negative net impact to our country and its governance. 

Just the cost savings alone by slashing the amount of federal employees being paid through our federal tax dollars would be a significant step in the right direction, not to mention the huge savings our country and the economy would see by severely pruning the bureaucracy, red tape, redundantly functioned agencies, and inefficiencies that we could correct or alleviate by doing so. 

Indeed, three departments, all created within the last 50 years, could be administered, where required, far more efficiently on the state level. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was elevated to cabinet level in 1965, is the first department that can be eliminated.  This department’s elevation was a result of the Johnson administration’s attempt to fight the war on poverty and to stem the racial discrimination that was often present in obtaining housing.  Well, we have seemingly long since lost that war on poverty despite all of those well-meaning intentions.  The need for this behemoth and its thirteen subordinate agencies have not only NOT helped solve the problem of the poor in regards to their housing needs but have actually exacerbated it in many ways.  Where the various needs still exists for the functions of this department’s administration, they can be far more efficiently and effectively carried out on the state level by those states that deem it necessary.

The Department of Energy, which was created in 1977 under the Carter administration, had the intended purpose of helping curtail our national dependency on foreign sources of energy; oil, in other words.  Thirty-four years later we can all plainly see the results of this Department’s abject failure in weaning us off of these international sources of oil, while the only curtailment seems to have occurred in the development and exploitation of our own domestic sources of energy.  

Where needed, the functions of this department can also be rolled back to the state level.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission can be reinstituted under the command of the United States Navy, where it was originally developed and run with an excellent safety record under Admiral Rickover.

Next, The Department of Education has also proven to be less than stellar in improving the educational results of our nation’s children.  One-size-fits-all programs, like the No Child Left Behind Act, have shown to be ineffectual in improving the reading, math, and science skills of our nation’s students.  Again, these functions are all much better served on the state level where they can far better administer to the needs of individual school districts in a much more efficient and timely manner than can the huge and slowly responding federal bureaucracy of the Department of Education.

Many of the sub-agencies that fall under these fifteen federal departments can also be consolidated into fewer agencies or eliminated as un-necessary, redundant, or not fulfilling constitutional mandates accordingly.  Over a third of the 282 agencies meet this criteria, again in my estimation.

I realize that the hypothetical cutting of federal departments and agencies is not politically viable and will never happen, particularly with the big government Republicans and the progressive Democrats still wielding far too much power in congress, but when the federal government is the nation’s largest employer, even when not counting the military, then we have grown far too big in the number of people necessary to administer the constitutional functions of our federal government. 

Something needs to be done, in addition to some austerity cuts in spending, if we are to pull our nation back from the very brink of insolvency.  These cuts and the passing of a constitutional balanced budget amendment would go a long way towards rescuing us from that increasingly certain demise that we will otherwise encounter very shortly.

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