Saturday, May 10, 2008
Who Rules the Nation?
The Complexity of Our Government
Few people realize the enormous complexity of the US Government. Everyone knows there are three main divisions of the government: Administrative; Legislative and Judicial. Each of these divisions is rather large in themselves, with the greatest manpower vested in the Administrative, mainly because of the Department of Defense. So be it; the job of running the nation and defending her is certainly a huge one. It has been stated that over 40% of the legal workers in the US are government employees.
There is another organizational aspect that escapes too much attention, in my view, and that is the many and diverse semi- autonomous agencies of the government that have huge staffs, a charter from the legislature, and an annual budget of perhaps in the billions. These Agencies include some well-known operations, among them the: Bureaus of the Census, ATF, Immigration, Prisons, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CIA, the FBI, the Social Security Administration, the Postal Service, Customs and Border Patrol, and the IRS (every one's favorite!). But the total extent of these Agencies is not clear to the average citizen.
To get a better handle on the number of these entities, I went to the Louisiana State University Library (on line), and discovered that this Library had a definitive list! In categories, the list includes:
Committees, Commisions, and Boards 63
Executive Agencies 834
Independent Agencies 132
Judicial Agencies 45
Legislative Agencies 79
Quasi-Official Agencies 24
That is a total of 1,177 federal organizations that affect you and me in some direct or indirect way, and that we pay for through our taxes. One would think that to understand each of these Agencies thoroughly, and to prune this tree effectively would be an impossible job. And so it has been, what with bureaucratic turf battles, congressional support for favorite efforts, and budget battles of titanic proportions. The inertia built up over time has become a millstone around necks of those that would cut the budget and cut the complexity of our government. President Bush, for example tried to foster changes of a modest nature in the Social Security entitlements and was rebuked strongly by Congress.
The IRS has been a favorite target for some wanting radical changes to the tax code, which has become a nightmare for the average and above average wage earners who pay 83% of all taxes.
Some have argued for a flat tax that everyone pays if they make over a certain amount per year. Something like 18% of earnings. So far, these ideas for change have not been acted upon.
The point here is that these 1, 177 self-perpetuating and self-serving organizations need to be thoroughly overhauled and cut where cutting makes sense, and combined where it makes sense. I have not heard any candidate talk about these factors in our bloated government.