One story after another emerges about dysfunctional federal programs plagued by waste, fraud, and abuse. The core problem is that the government has grown so large that trying to make it function with efficiency and soundness has become impossible.
House and Senate budget negotiators, led by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, have been meeting to find ways to trim spending and solve the federal budget mess. Many pundits are giving them low odds at agreeing to major reforms.
If we did a poll of free market economists about federal programs that are the most wasteful and ridiculous, energy subsidies would be near the top of the list. It’s not just that energy subsidies make no sense in economic theory, but also that there are so many news stories highlighting the folly that it’s hard to see why policymakers persist in wasting our money.
One of the many problems with Big Government is that it abuses our privacy. The potential for abuse has been greatly heightened in the information age. The problem is not just that government officials themselves can abuse the vast troves of data that they collect, but that thieves, hackers, organized crime, and other private actors can gain access as well.
House and Senate negotiators are working out details of a big farm bill that may pass this year. No industry in America is as coddled as farming, and no industry is as centrally planned from Washington. The federal sugar program is perhaps the most Soviet of all. Here’s a sketch of the sugar program, which the supposedly conservative, tea party-dominated lower chamber may soon ratify:
People shouldn’t be surprised about the botched roll-out of Obamacare and all the damaging effects of the law that are now generating headlines. Over the decades, federal efforts to subsidize and manipulate the economy have failed over and over again.
Thank goodness for whistleblowers in the government, whether regarding intelligence activities or the mundane bureaucratic waste that occurs in every department. Congress does a generally pathetic job of oversight and presidential administrations are rarely transparent—despite their promises. So the citizens who pay for our $3.6-trillion government rely on federal workers who witness illegal and unethical activities to come forward and inform the press.
The real loss for fiscal conservatives this week was not that Obamacare wasn’t defunded or that there were no entitlement cuts in the deal that reopened the government…Instead, the bigger concern is that the Republicans caved in on renegotiating the discretionary spending levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act and sequester.
The federal government has been subsidizing so-called clean coal for decades, and the hand-outs have resulted in one bipartisan boondoggle after another.
A Wall Street Journal story today begins “America’s road to recovery may face a costly detour due to a fraying transportation network. One in nine of the country’s 607,380 bridges are structurally deficient …”