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Blog Posted in avatar   Walter "Bruno" Korschek's Blog

When the right hand of government does not know what the left hand is doing

By Walter "Bruno" Korschek
Posted Aug 18, 2012 in Politics
Many days it seems that our Federal government has grown so large and unwieldy, becoming more like Jabba The Hutt of Star Wars (a parasitic blob that wastes resources) than an efficient and effective organization. We often come across ludicrous situations where one part of the Federal government is doing something that is in direct conflict with what another tentacle of the government is doing:
- A little while ago the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department were doing the exact opposite of each other. One entity was busy trying to reduce the volume of long term Treasury bills in the market and increase the amount of short term Treasury bills while the other entity was trying to expand the volume of long term notes and reduce the volume of short term notes
- The Department of Agriculture has increased the amount of cheap corn in the market with its farm subsidies, making obesity provoking foods less expensive and more widely used due to the proliferation of cheap corn fructose while other parts of the government were trying to reduce the use of corn fructose infested foods to fight obesity.
Just two examples indicating this thing called the Federal government has gotten so large and cumbersome that it cannot help but get in the way of itself every day. If the loss of taxpayer wealth and loss of freedom was not so tragic, some of these antics and working at cross purposes would be kind of funny in a Keystone Kop kind of way.
Unfortunately, these actions do waste incredible amounts of taxpayer money and do rob us of our freedom as the government intrudes to our personal lives more and more with its bureaucratic bumbling.
Consider the latest crashing together of different government priorities and how this crashing negates the use of taxpayer wealth in the process. Specifically, the latest cross purpose example comes out of the recently passed Senate farm bill. Most of the following information comes from an article in the July 8, 2012 issue of Money News:
- The Federal government and every state government adds a multitude of taxes onto each pack of cigarettes that consumers buy in order to 1) collect taxes on each pack sold and 2) to discourage the purchase and use of cigarettes (not included in the Money News article).
The Federal government recently announced a new $54 million, 12-week TV ad campaign it will be airing to encourage smokers to give up the smoking habit.
- State level and Federal spending on anti-smoking efforts like this have topped $800 million in some years.
- Which raises the question that if government entities want to discourage smoking, why does the latest Senate approved farm bill contain continued taxpayer financial support for the industry responsible for the product targeted by those anti-smoking ads, namely the tobacco farming industry?
- From 1995 through 2011, the Federal government has paid out $1.329 billion in subsidies for the tobacco industry. In 2011 alone, Federal taxpayers paid out over $190 million in tobacco subsidies to 58,350 recipients, according to analyses done by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
- North Carolina receives the largest share of the subsidies — 39.7% of the total or $528 million from 1995 through 2011 — followed by Kentucky at 28.7%. The taxpayer waste is not even spread out across a lot of states if only two states sop up almost 70% of the total subsidy.
- Smoking is a leading cause of disease and death in this country and is a prime driver in our problem with escalating health care costs. As a result, the Federal and state governments in this country spend taxpayer money, sometimes to the tune of $800 million a year, to discourage Americans from smoking. This is so important in one part of the Federal government that it is launching a $54 million television ad campaign to encourage people to stop smoking.
However, in the past seven years, the same people running these same government entities have also given away over $1.3 billion of taxpayer wealth to tobacco farmers to help them grow tobacco that leads to disease and death and contributes to our escalating health care costs.
Wouldn't this money have been better spent by either returning it to the American taxpayer, using it to fund lung cancer research, or to help treat victims of lung cancer, a cancer that is most often caused by tobacco smoking? These seems like better uses for over a billion dollars than giving it to tobacco farmers who grow a product that governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to discourage people from using. Makes no sense.
But making no sense by our political class should not come as any surprise. They do it every day. How else to you explain the fact that these same politicians have overspent and incurred a national debt of almost $16 TRILLION without resolving a single major issue facing American families today: our public schools still fail to educate, we are still losing a war on drugs, our borders still leak, we still do not have a national energy policy, our health care costs continue to rise, our infrastructure continues to decay, etc.
There really is only one way to stop this insanity. We need to begin reducing Federal government spending by 10% a year for five years. Not only would this result in a tremendous relief to our national debt problem and spur our economy, it would force these politicians to focus on a much smaller set of priorities since they would have far less taxpayer money to spend and waste and divert their attention. With a smaller set of priorities, maybe, just maybe, they might resolve an issue or two.
Lord knows paying tobacco farmers to grow tobacco to be consumed by consumers that the Federal government wants to discourage consumers from consuming is not the right priority.