Sunday, June 22, 2014

Furloughs for Freedom: Downsizing the Government

On Milton Friedman's theory of the negative income tax - direct payments with no questions asked would be cheaper than the welfare system - it would be better to furlough all (almost all) of the government employees and keep paying them not to work because what they do is destructive.  If they stop doing it, we all would be better off.

Of course we would have a huge debate about what is the absolute minimum necessary government. Conservatives and  libertarians know Ayn Rand's specification that a government holds a monopoly on the use of (retaliatory) force. Thus, the government must have police forces.  Rand actually was echoing Max Weber who said the same thing in his address, Politik als Beruf (Politics as a Profession), to the Free Students Union of Munich in 1920.  In that address, he acknowledged that he was quoting Trotsky at the Brest-Litovsk Conference.  So, it seems that everyone left, center, and right agrees that the government should keep the police.  What about the post office or the patent office?  Both of those are in the Constitution of 1789.

Reducing government looks a lot like this.
It might be that we should pare down the government in reverse chronological order.  But perhaps in the days of FedEx, UPS, and big pharma and GMOs we do not need the US Postal Service but do need need the Food and Drug Administration.  The FBI was founded in 1908, the Federal Marshals in 1789.  Which do we need more?  Let the debates go on.   The principle remains.

 The principle is that political power is economically inefficient, and causes market misallocations, and therefore poverty.

The government decides what to do based on power - votes won or control extended - not on market, i.e., profit.  Therefore, all government decisions are misallocations of resources.  Therefore, all government decisions result in poverty.  The less government you have, the more prosperity you have.  That is a general principle.

The specific losses caused by taxes, regulations, prosecutions, and enforcement of laws are easy to see and hard to compute because of their volume and magnitude.  

In the case of truly essential services, we might be willing to accept a dislocation of resources for clear social gain.  It is better to have economically inefficient police than to have chaos, or so we say. Of course, government is much more than mere policing.

Federal Executive Departments
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Department of Commerce (DOC)
Department of Defense (DOD)
Department of Education (ED)
Department of Energy (DOE)
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Department of Justice (DOJ)
Department of Labor (DOL)
Department of State (DOS)
Department of the Interior (DOI)
Department of the Treasury
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Federal Independent Agencies and Corporations
Administrative Conference of the United States
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
African Development Foundation
AMTRAK (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
Broadcasting Board of Governors
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Commission on Civil Rights
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Corporation for National and Community Service
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Director of National Intelligence
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Export-Import Bank of the United States
Farm Credit Administration
Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Federal Housing Finance Agency
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Federal Maritime Commission
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
Federal Reserve System
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
General Services Administration (GSA)
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Inter-American Foundation
Merit Systems Protection Board
Millennium Challenge Corporation
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
National Capital Planning Commission
National Council on Disability
National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
National Mediation Board
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
National Transportation Safety Board
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Office of Compliance
Office of Government Ethics
Office of Personnel Management
Office of Special Counsel
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Panama Canal Commission
Peace Corps
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Postal Regulatory Commission
Railroad Retirement Board
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Selective Service System
Small Business Administration (SBA)
Social Security Administration (SSA)
Tennessee Valley Authority
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
United States Agency for International Development
United States International Trade Commission
United States Postal Service (USPS)

67 Federal Boards, Commissions, and Advisory Committees
(Mostly volunteers from the communities: Citizens Stamp Committee, for instance. They do entail some operational costs, even if the work of management is freely given.)
Additional Advisory Committees cost about $350 Million per year

Quasi-Official Agencies
Legal Services Corporation
Smithsonian Institution
State Justice Institute
United States Institute of Peace


The Cure for a Failing Empire
Active Defense and Passive Aggression, Part 2
Stand Up and Be Counted
Etruscans and Americans
The American Political Tradition and Profiles in Courage

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