"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Bombshell Reports

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office has issued a new report on federal government waste, entitled Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue.   The report identifies dozens of redundant federal programs, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), who pushed for the report, estimated it identifies between $100 billion and $200 billion in duplicative spending.   The Wall Street Journal took a look today.  Here are some of the more galling aspects:
  • The U.S. government has 15 different agencies overseeing food-safety laws, more than 20 separate programs to help the homeless and 80 programs for economic development.
  • The agency found 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality [The Right Curmudgeon: How's that crap working out?]; 80 to help disadvantaged people with transportation; 47 for job training and employment; and 56 to help people understand finances.
  • The report says there are 18 federal programs that spent a combined $62.5 billion in 2008 on food and nutrition assistance, but little is known about the effectiveness of 11 of these programs because they haven't been well studied.
  • The report said five divisions within the Department of Transportation account for 100 different programs that fund things like highways, rail projects and safety programs.
  • The GAO highlighted 80 different economic development programs at the Department of Commerce, HUD, Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration, that spent a combined $6.5 billion last year and often overlapped. For example, the four agencies combined to have 52 different programs that fund "entrepreneurial efforts," 35 programs for infrastructure, and 26 programs for telecommunications.
Fiefdoms.  That's what we've been paying for all along.... for little bureaucratic fiefdoms where no one knows what anyone else is doing other than spending my hard-earned tax dollars.  


The second report is entitled "USA, Inc."   It's produced by an investment firm called Kleiner Perkins, and written by a partner named Mary Meeker.  The conceit is... how would you analyze America if it was a business.   She finds the net worth of the US to be something on the order of negative $44 trillion, which is what results when you have something on the order of $106 trillion in unfunded liabilities for future entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).   The report has a plethora of really great graphics, all of which are terrifying (or should be) to any thinking American.   Here's one that caught my eye:

In other words, this graph shows that entitlement spending and net interest payments on our national debt will eat the entire estimated federal revenue by 2025.   That's fourteen years from now!   Seem like a long time?   Plenty of time to do something?  Well, pardon me if I have a different perspective, since I'll be 65 in 2024.   Think Social Security and Medicare will still be around then?   I don't.

We are running out of time and at least half of our country (you know who you are, Democrats) are fiddling while Rome burns.  

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