Alaska’s Juneau Empire recently examined the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership and found that its claims of success aren’t backed by reality. MEPs are a nationwide network of centers that provide technical and managerial assistance to small and medium-sized firms. Federal funds from the Department of Commerce pay for one-third of the costs of MEP centers, with the balance of costs being paid by state and local governments and the private sector.
Regulatory “capture” occurs when a government entity tasked with protecting the public’s interest instead protects the industry is it supposed to regulate. The latest example is the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service. The MMS was created in 1982 to regulate the oil and gas industry and collect royalties on the resources extracted from federally leased land and waters.
A couple of weeks ago, David Boaz discussed the Old Testament story in which the people of Israel ask Samuel for a king to rule over them. God’s instructions to Samuel can be summed up as “tell them to be careful of what you wish for.” David brought up the passage in the context of civil liberties, but the story’s lesson also applies to economic liberties.
The White House’s misbegotten “Summer of Recovery” continued today with the release of another administration “analysis” that purportedly demonstrates the stimulus’s success in “transforming” the economy.
The president’s stimulus package contained an $8 billion downpayment on a national system of high-speed rail. The money came with no state matching requirements, which generated state applications totaling $102 billion. When Congress added a 20 percent state matching requirement to an additional $2.3 billion for high-speed rails grants in this year’s budget, state applications only totaled $8.5 billion.
The Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development held a high-profile conference this week on the “Future of Mortgage Finance.” The federal government is currently backing more than 90 percent of new mortgages through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration.
A New York Times article on Alaska’s love/hate relationship with the federal government underscores why weaning the states off their addiction to federal dollars would be difficult. A lot folks in Alaska (and across the country) say they want smaller government, but aren’t as enthusiastic when asked about giving up their own federal goodies.
The release of updated industry data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which show that the average federal employee continues to earn significantly more in compensation than the average private sector employee, has Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry on the defensive.