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Federal “investments”?

November 28, 2015

There is an unintentionally hilarious article today in which Gannett’s Washington bureau gives federal bureaucrats a chance to defend wasteful spending against criticism from U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Az).

As part of his #porkchops series, Sen. Flake regularly points out various federal programs as wasteful.  Gannett singled out only five to prove that “one senator’s wasteful spending can be someone else’s valuable investment”.

  1. $47.8 million to conduct the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture.

This federal “investment” is necessary to educate people about where their food comes from, and to administer programs like crop insurance.  Hogwash!  Federal insurance is always a bad deal for taxpayers, and in the age of the internet we certainly don’t need the government’s help in educating us about food sources.

2. $4.6 million from the Agriculture Department to study a plant disease affecting garden roses.

This federal “investment” is to fight a mite-borne viral disease threatening the U.S. landscape-rose industry.  Why not allow rose lovers and the U.S. landscape rose industry fight this disease?  Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for it?   (Rose lovers and the rose industry would find much more efficient ways to get the job done, too!)

3. $150,000 to Iowa State University for CT scans of sharks, rays and chimeras to create 3-D virtual skeletons.

This federal “investment” is one of many National Science Foundation-funded Tree of Life research projects that attempt to determine such relationships across all species.  Lots of people, institutions and foundations care about science, so let them raise the money without forcing the expense on taxpayers.

4. $40,000 to support the Seattle Opera’s production of Handel’s “Semele and the Wrath of Kino.”

This federal “investment” by the National Endowment for the Arts is for “the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.” But do we really want the federal government to define excellence in art (or in anything else)? And couldn’t Seattle’s many wealthy art lovers support this program without the forcing taxpayers from all fifty states to participate?

5. $28,397 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to purchase a van for a library in Gaffney, S.C.

This “investment” is to increase the number of home-bound and at-risk patrons the library serves.  Couldn’t this be handled more efficiently by local volunteers in Gaffney and South Carolina?

Federal bureaucrats think that every “good” thing should become a federal project.  They are the ultimate experts when it comes to spending other people’s money.

If they continue to have their way, there will be no room left for individual volunteers, charities, or even state and local governments.

The federal government will provide everything, everywhere.  Even entertaining wealthy opera lovers in Seattle and driving books to our doorsteps in Gaffney or wherever we happen to live.

As Gannett has made so clear, every federal “investment” — no matter how ridiculous — can be defended by bureaucrats who believe big government is the only answer to every challenge.

Thomas Jefferson warned us that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”  Ezra Taft Benson added that “any government powerful enough to give the people all that they want is also powerful enough to take from the people all that they have.”

America is in big trouble unless citizens finally rise up to limit the federal government to the roles for which it was originally intended: national defense, immigration, foreign policy, protection of individual liberties, and the assurance of equal protection under the law.

We should hold federal government accountable for doing a few things well, instead of doing everything poorly.  Everything else can be left to the state or local governments—or to the people themselves.

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  1. Mal Craig permalink

    Another very comprehensive list of wasteful federal programs and agencies can be found on Ted Cruz’s web site.


  2. Tom Basso permalink

    And you could probably list a thousand other items of similar ilk. I estimate that could cut a good several hundred Billion and not miss much, except a bunch of people living lives on governement revenues would have to do it the real way.


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