The federal government’s partial shutdown is affording the opportunity for Americans to see some of the D.C.’s most self-serving politics, but also the reality that we have large swaths of the federal government that are non-essential.
And some of it really, really is non-essential — as in unneeded — and should be simply eliminated to the benefit of taxpayers and all Americans who are not politically connected.
But perhaps even more portions of the federal government could be radically altered to make the behemoth far more responsive to Americans, rather than holding them hostage to the deplorable and corruptive condition of D.C. politics.
And then, of course, privatize portions of the federal government that can be handled better by private companies.
Eliminate parts, disperse more parts around the country, and privatize yet more operations.
Here are some departments and agencies of the federal government that could be and should be eliminated. Both fiscally and regulatorily, Americans would be better off if these did not exist at the federal level.
➾ The Department of Education. This should never have been federalized. Education is a local responsibility, not something to be bribed and blackmailed by politicized bureaucrats in the distant capital.
➾ The Department of Commerce. Totally unnecessary. Spends about $9 billion annually helping politically connected corporations.
➾ The Department of Labor. Again, unnecessary. The federal government should not be allowed to be referee and judge over labor disputes. Let private companies, employees and unions battle it out, using the courts if laws are broken.
➾ The Department of Energy. Politicians claim we need “an energy policy.” But what happens is that politically connected companies get a bunch of taxpayer money for politically correct business (i.e., the Solyndra solar company debacle.) The free market has continued to be the best energy policy for Americans.
➾ The Small Business Administration. Created in 1954 to foster small business development, it is totally irrelevant today, as it probably always was. Out of about 800,000 new businesses that form annually, more than 98 percent did so without SBA loans.
Of course, it would take a special kind of principled politician to make these happen — a lot of such politicians. It’s not clear we have more than a handful of those right now and hardly trending in the right direction.
Something less radical, perhaps, but way outside the box and something that would dramatically remove the corrupting impact of so much power concentrated too far from Americans: Disperse departments that cannot be eliminated around the country to relative geographic locations — the key being to get them away from D.C.
Any inefficiencies from this — which are realistically very few with modern, highly connective technologies — are overwhelmed by getting employees/bureaucrats away from the corrupting, power-hungry atmosphere of the central capital.
It is all but assured that the departments would be more responsive to those they are regulating if they were in the communities most hit by their regulations — not the distant capital. The only real downside would be the upfront costs associated with moving the departments.
So here are few examples of those:
➞ Move the Department of Agriculture to Des Moines
➞ Move the Department of Energy to Houston
➞ Move the Department of Labor to Detroit
➞ Move the Department of the Interior to the interior: Kansas City or Cheyenne, Wyoming
➞ Move the Department of Veteran Affairs to Fayetteville, N.C.
Every one of these departments staffed by lifer bureaucrats would feel more connected to the people they were regulating — from those writing implementing language for new regulations to those enforcing them. They would essentially be more customer-responsive.
And finally, privatizing some federal operations makes considerable sense. First up in that arena would be the Transportation Security Administration at the nation’s airports. The airports and the airlines have far more skin in the game of airline traveler security than bureaucrats in D.C. Their motivation to create safe flights is greater than a government agency.
And airports have been chafing to run their own security operations because of the inefficiencies and lackluster performance of the national TSA apparatus. Eliminate the TSA and allow airports to run their own security operations — perhaps making them responsive to the states, if need be.
Another great example for privatization is Medicare. The “Empowering Patients First Act” proposed privatization through providing tax credits, based on age rather than income, to help purchase private health insurance. Dealing with private insurers can be no fun, but it’s usually better than the Medicare monstrosity. And it would provide a more natural mechanism to keep healthcare costs in line.
Unfortunately, President Trump does not seem particularly inclined to be cutting costs, or government. He’s outlined a handful of fairly obscure agencies to eliminate, outlined by The Hill. Sure, please do. But almost no one has heard of any of those and they don’t amount to a hill of beans.
And those attempts obviously should have been made when the GOP controlled Congress.
But this is an opportunity, right in front of us to do more. Much more by starting the process of building an American coalition around dramatic federal government reform. There may be no better time for Americans to be sympathetic to it then at a time when dysfunction seems to be at its maximum.
Start now, to win hearts and minds on rebooting the federal government in a whole new, American-friendly way.
Rod Thomson is an author, host of Tampa Bay Business with Rod Thomson on the Salem Radio Network, TV commentator and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod also is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.
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