Recently by Michael S. Rozeff: Rollover Risk and American Hegemony
Obama has sent to Congress a 199-page jobs plan. Experience shows that all such plans are filled with stupid and unsound ideas. They all are abominations. Congress debates them and likewise ends up with an abomination.
My jobs plan, which is a smart, sound and comprehensive plan, is breathtakingly simple: end the federal government. The reason is that this government has become too large, too complex, too powerful, too subject to special interests, and too intrusive. It is too totalitarian now and becoming more so. All of this is to the great detriment of most of those who live in America.
The proposal to end the federal government is not under discussion by America’s opinion-makers and opinion-expressers and, if it were being discussed, it would be dismissed as an impossibility.
Nevertheless, it is a right thing to do and it may be one of the few right things that can produce an enduringly sound America.
Ending the federal government allows people more freely to live their lives. This includes more freely arranging their health, education, welfare, security, economy, and jobs as they see fit. That this freedom will improve most people’s lives is a proposition that has been known for centuries. It is a proposition that is still fairly widely known. It may even be known by a majority of persons, at least at some times and in some places. Remarkably, it is also one of the most ignored propositions when it comes to governing.
The opposite proposition, that the government control everything it possibly can, is the totalitarian view. Its negative results find fairly frequent historical expression, even in the 20th century. When such burdensome government control is lifted or even ameliorated, improvements in living conditions are rapid and noticeable, but of course it is essential that people have the freedom to move about, to exchange goods and services, and to communicate with those who have superior knowledge in order to be able to bring about such improvements.
If ending the whole affair is too large an order, I can present numerous alternatives to ending the federal government, each of which ends a portion of the federal government. My general rule is that any proposal that ends any portion of the federal government is a smart and sound proposal. By the same token, any proposal that maintains or increases any portion of the federal government is harmful.
Removing some poison from the system is better than removing no poison. Partial success is better than no success.
Any proposal that brings the federal government back to where it was in the year 2000, or the year 1980, or the year 1960, or the year 19xx will be an improvement. If the American people managed with the smaller federal governments of those years, it can do so again. Smaller government is feasible as well as being better.
The federal government as a whole is an abomination. This is because its component parts are likewise abominations.
No matter what list of partial remedies I present, it will be far from complete because there are so many government programs and bureaucracies, so many regulations, so many treaties, so much money sloshing around, and so many taxes and tax rules. All of these are abominable.
Still, a few general examples are in order. They follow the order of importance that each activity has in the federal budget, excluding the payment of interest (see here). Interest payments will automatically decline when the spending items are cut because debt issuance will decline.
Reduce federal defense spending to $0. I intend to shock. Too radical? Then consider reducing it by a large and significant amount. We all know what this means: end the empire.
Many Americans love their empire. There is this quite pervasive and stubborn cluster of ideas that fuse patriotism, love of and respect for the military, American superiority, American ignorance of foreign peoples, American exceptionalism, and American fears and insecurities. Things haven’t changed that much since George M. Cohan wrote “Over There”. He told us the “Yanks are coming…We’ll be over, we’re coming over, And we won’t come back till it’s over, over there.”
Reduce federal health care spending to $0. This means, among other things, ending Medicare and Medicaid.
Many Americans love the idea of medical security and federalized health care programs. Many Americans are aware that there are severe problems in the health care sector. However, far fewer connect these two and understand that the federalized health care programs have caused the severe problems. A good many people understand this but still love the idea of medical security so much that they support constant tinkering with the federal programs, even though it is to no avail.
Reduce federal welfare spending to $0. This means ending unemployment compensation, food stamps, housing, and other income security programs.
Reduce so-called “other spending” to $0. This means ending such items as spending on agriculture, fuel and energy, economic affairs, community development, protection of biodiversity, pollution abatement, and basic research.
Reduce federal spending on education to $0. This means ending federal spending on pre-primary through secondary education, spending on tertiary education, and spending on “education not definable by level”. The latter are the government’s words.
Reduce federal spending on transportation to $0.
Reduce federal spending on protection to $0. This includes police services, law courts, and prisons.
Virtually everyone will think that I am going too far. But keeping the federal government intact (and expanding) means remaining mired in a hopeless pit of darkness. With respect to the monstrosity known as the federal government, there is only one progressive way to go, and I’ve just outlined it. Dissolve it. End it, wholly or partially.
Ending the federal government ends federal spending. This is not the whole story. Ending the federal government also ends federal regulations. This is of tremendous importance.
For an overall view of federal regulations, one may usefully consult the document written by Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr titled Ten Thousand Commandments. The Code of Federal Regulations had 22,877 pages in 1960. By 1980 it had 102,195 pages. At year-end 2009, it had 157,974 pages.
Even the 22,877 pages in 1960 were 22,877 pages too many.
Sound government reform can mean only one thing: reducing government spending and regulations. The more the merrier.
Programs like those of Obama are useless. They simply prolong the agony. They keep in place the restrictive paradigm that places the federal government at the apex of American life, giving it outlandish powers of control that harm most Americans. This is not freedom.
Page 6 of Obama’s proposal already shows the stupidity and complexity of U.S. laws as well as the impact of special interest groups on these laws. It announces that any funds under the program that are spent on public work must use iron, steel, and manufactured goods produced in the United States. Loopholes follow immediately. If a federal department head deems that this would be “inconsistent with the public interest”, he may buy elsewhere; or if the iron, steel, or goods aren’t manufactured in the U.S., he may buy elsewhere. Or if such purchases will “increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent”, then he can buy non-American but if so he must provide “a detailed written justification”.
I mean, really. This is all so incredibly inane. It merely demonstrates that sound government is really an impossibility.
The same page contains a provision, like the buy American provision, that is by now boilerplate in all such federal legislation. It says that any money dispensed under this program that is used to hire people must pay those people “wages at rates not less than those prevailing on projects of a character similar in the locality as determined by the Secretary of Labor” etc.
I have the feeling I am reading the burdensome pronouncements of some French monarch of the 16th or 17th century or some silly regulations of English law-makers of past centuries. Nothing has changed. Governments that collect money and spend it are nothing more than open season for hunters (looters) in the country who prey on their neighbors through such provisions. The U.S. government is one huge example of such looting and oppression. It deserves to be dissolved at the earliest possible moment.
One of the centerpieces in the Obama plan is a temporary cut in certain payroll taxes, that is, reducing the money that would otherwise go for Social Security. He then makes up for it by appropriations from the general fund, i.e., taxes in general. Lower taxes with the right hand, and raise taxes with the left hand. Who needs this idiocy?
Obama’s job plan is a joke, but so have been the economic plans that the federal government has been enacting for decades under many presidents and Congresses. This endless tinkering is getting us nowhere. We are getting statistics come out now that tell us that median family income is lower now than it was in 1996. These numbers do not tell the whole sad story by any means.
The idea that government solves social and economic problems is deeply flawed. The opposite idea is far more accurate: government creates and exacerbates social and economic problems. It is virtually impossible objectively to look at the theory and evidence concerning government behavior without reaching this conclusion.
Americans in general hate the idea of totalitarian governments. We would be hard put to find even a few among the influential journalists, bloggers, intellectuals and opinion-makers who say that totalitarian government is a good thing. Yet nearly all support pieces, and sometimes many pieces, of the totalitarian activities of government. This is another reason for condemning the whole structure and subjecting it to controlled demolition.
“Pull” it. “Pull” the federal government.
That’s the best thing that can be done for American jobs.
September 19, 2011
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.
Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.