John Stossel opines:
This week Republicans and Democrats got together to avert a government shutdown.
There’s so much that ought to be shut down.
Useless Cabinet departments, for example, like Housing and Urban Development, Labor and Agriculture. Agriculture employs almost 100,000 people. Why? Independent farmers grow our food. They don’t need a giant department.
Let’s get rid of the Department of Education, too. Why does it even exist? Education is a local responsibility and none of the federal government’s business. Yet its spending is up 300% over the last 10 years.
The department didn’t even exist before 1979. Has education improved since then? No. Government’s grand plans, like No Child Left Behind and Common Core, helped no one but bureaucrats.
Trying to justify itself, the department funded studies of everyone’s favorite government program, Head Start. The “experts” were surprised to learn that the much-praised program has no effect. By third grade, there was no difference between kids that attend and those who don’t.
Education is best left to local governments and parents.
There's more at the link, a long list of government departments and agencies that contribute nothing of importance to our nation. Recommended reading.
I wish more politicians had the spine to apply a cost-benefit analysis to every organ of government. What does it cost, and what is it delivering in terms of real benefit to the nation? The problem is, they're applying a different benefit consideration. Too many politicians want to know, "What benefit is there to/for me?" when it comes to establishing or maintaining a government service. Benefits to the politician include the publicity value of having his/her name attached to something highly visible; the votes of the public servants who benefit from the jobs thus created or maintained; and the
bribes "campaign contributions" offered by corporations and other agents for providing them with something they need or want, irrespective of its value to the country.
A quintessential example is the massive subsidy granted - I should say rubber-stamped - each year to the agricultural industry, for producing corn that's converted to ethanol to add to our fuel supply. It's completely unnecessary, and offers no advantage over simply using pure gasoline - indeed, it's widely known to damage small engines such as lawnmowers, chainsaws, generators, etc. The only reason the program exists is that "Big Ag" lobbied for it, pushed it through Congress, and ensures its continuance through ongoing contributions to support politicians who vote for it every year. We'd save billions as a nation by discontinuing it, but those currently benefiting from it would lose those billions, so they make sure to protect themselves by lobbying and subsidizing their tame representatives and senators.
I reckon at least a quarter of the federal budget, if not a third, could be cut simply by eliminating the agencies, departments and funding responsible for such non-essential, wasteful expenditures. It'll never happen, of course - not without the wholesale elimination of the entire, fundamentally corrupt chain of influence devoted to maintaining them.