by John R. Surdu
In my article, Congress Has Too Much Time on Its Hands, I asserted that Congress should be a part-time job with little pay and no benefits other than those specified in the Constitution to attract the few who really want to serve. Congressmen have too much time on their hands, and they use that extra time to create, rather than resolve, problems — and then to create new problems trying to solve the problems they created in the first place. Take away that time by limiting how much they can meet. Return power to the States. Make Congressmen live in the real world with the rest of us in fly-over country. The corollary to this assertion is that the whole of the Federal government has too much time on its hands and has becoming bloated, bloviating, self-serving, overreaching, tyrannical, and unconstitutional (re: 10th Amendment).
Before launching into my layman’s analysis of the Federal departments, let me take a detour to discuss the recent Supreme Court Dobbs decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade. There are several good reasons to welcome this decision, not the least of which is because it infuriated the Left. First, I encourage you to view this video. I’ll clearly state that I think that abortion under most – but not all – circumstances is murder, but overturning Roe vs. Wade did not end abortion in the US, despite Leftists claims that it does. As reported by the Daily Wire,
In reality, the overturning of Roe declared that there is no constitutional right to abortion and sent the power to decide abortion laws back to the states. In South Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma,, Alabama, Tennessee,, and Ohio, abortion bans have been in effect since Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to the Washington Post. South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, Iowa, West Virginia, and Utah are likely to enact abortion bans soon, most delayed by litigation, according to the publication.
Even in those states, our access to on-demand abortions of convenience remains higher than in most European countries. Legal battles by Leftists to overturn those state laws have already begun. The reason I bring this up is not the decision itself, but the rationale that indicates there is no right to abortion enshrined in the Constitution and as such this is a matter for the state legislatures to decide for themselves. I think that is the key point. I applaud this rare and refreshing originalist logic that strips power from the Federal government and puts it back in the hands of the States. This is what those evil dead white guys intended. I am hoping that until AOC and the Leftists pack the Supreme Court with 25 kindred Leftists that the current court is presented opportunities to overturn broad swaths of Federal laws and regulations under the auspices of the 10th Amendment.
“Until 1930, Federal spending was less than 5 per cent of the national income except during or just after major wars (the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I). With the same exceptions, local and state governments spent several times as much as the Federal government. For example, in 1930, Federal spending was 4 per cent of national income; state and local spending, 11 per cent. Spending at all levels of government combined thus amounted to roughly 15 per cent of the national income.
“… From 1789 to 1930, residents of the U.S. never spent more than about 15 per cent of their income on the expenses of government. In the past four decades, that fraction has nearly tripled and is now about 40 per cent.
“…There is hardly one among us who believes that he is getting his money’s worth for the nearly half of his income that government––Federal, state, and local––spends for him. Yet so long as we simply blame waste and bureaucracy, but continue to believe in the omnipotence and beneficence of government, the trend toward ever bigger government will continue.
“…That trend will stop only when and if we come to recognize that government is the problem, not the solution; that the general welfare requires that we dethrone the Federal government from its role as Big Brother and restore it to its historic role as keeper of the peace and umpire.” [my emphasis]
With that in mind, let’s examine the cabinet positions with an eye toward what could be easily cut from the Federal establishment that would improve the country.
The secretary of state serves as the President’s main adviser on foreign policy issues, negotiates treaties and represents the U.S. at the United Nations. The mission of the State Department is:
The mission of the Department of State is “to represent America’s foreign policy abroad, and to advance the intermission rests and security of the American people. The Department of State leads America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance by advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity.”
The State Department is the oldest of the Federal Departments, runs our embassies overseas, and performs other useful functions. This one can stay – and maybe should be increased in size.
Treasury, Commerce, and Labor:
There are three Departments whose functions and missions seem to be overlapping. Ignoring the fact that our economy was once thriving (before Biden) despite the efforts of these three departments, it seems that combining the three (and drastically curtaining their responsibilities) would save a lot of forcibly extracted taxpayer dollars by merging and reducing staffs. This is what happens when two companies merge outside the fantasy land of DC. Efficiencies are (often) achieved by eliminating redundant functions and by trimming functions that do not contributed directly to the mission. In that vein, the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, and Labor should be combined under Commerce and then the combined budget cut in half (at least).
The Secretary of the Treasury presides over the administration’s financial and economic policies. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s mission is “to maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities by promoting the conditions that enable economic growth and stability at home and abroad, strengthen national security by combating threats and protecting the integrity of the financial system, and manage the U.S. Government’s finances and resources effectively.” Manage the US Government’s finances? Does any management occur? Since the Treasury Department has abrogated its responsibilities to the Federal Reserve, a private contractor, what really is their purpose other than to physically run the mints and printing increasingly devalued greenbacks? Do we need a whole department for this? Treasury once owned the Secret Service, but that was “Borged” into DHS. Treasury also presides the world’s largest terrorist organization: The IRS.
to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities. Through its 13 bureaus, the Department works to drive U.S. economic competitiveness, strengthen domestic industry, and spur the growth of quality jobs in all communities across the country. The Department serves as the voice of business in the Federal Government, and at the same time, the Department touches and serves every American every day.
The Department fosters the innovation and invention that underpin the U.S. comparative advantage. Its scientists research emerging technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI). Companies use NIST and NTIA laboratories to conduct research and development (R&D). NOAA advances R&D of the commercial space industry and climate science. USPTO’s intellectual property (IP) protections ensure American innovators profit from their work.
There are some useful functions here. Like most government organizations much of their budget is wasted on overhead, inefficiency, and redundancy. Many sites rate charities on the amount of contribution makes it to the intended recipient. Does anyone know how much overhead and waste it takes to get each dollar in R&D grants and contracts to researchers? If it’s as low as 50%, I’d be surprised. In the meantime, there is much evidence of how politics plays into which research projects get funded. For instance, only projects pre-ordained to fuel the cult of climate alarmism get funded by NOAA and NIST. How does the Constitution authorize Federal bureaucrats to pick winners and losers for research?
The mission of the Department of Labor is “To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” If you have ever worked with Labor, you know that everything this department does is antagonistic to the goals of the Department of Commerce and making the US more competitive in the world. These functions should be combined under Commerce. Dissolve this department and let the States deal with labor issues.
Department of Defense:
Their Web site claims their mission is to “provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security.” I am not sure how that relates to the Wokeretary of Defenses preoccupation with decreased readiness, diversity, inclusion, mythical white supremacy, maternity uniforms, or any of the other things they seem to focus on. Even in a pro-America instead of anti-America administration, this department’s budget should be cut in half. As someone who has worked in or around the DoD for almost 40 years, DoD has too much money! There are more general officers in uniform today than at the end of WWII, and it takes general officer meddling in decision and actions that were once the purview of lieutenant colonels. Fire 2/3 of the general officers! The bloat of the Pentagon and other organizations with the DoD is of Biblical proportions. The Services maintain duplicative and redundant development efforts that consume a lot of resources unnecessarily. Often projects are started with no baseline, so (I think intentionally) there is no way to measure whether a project has the desired effects or accomplishes anything. Cut the budget in half for a few of years, only supporting necessary personnel, training, and readiness efforts, until the Department figures out what is really important. You could cut the staffing (military and civilian) at the Pentagon by 75% with no impact on readiness or warfighting! Once they demonstrate that they can be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and have their priorities and processes clearly defined, then we could consider increasing their budget again.
Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services:
These four departments should be combined into a newly styled Department of the Interior, like the old British Home Office — and then cut significantly. The Federal government owns 25% of the land of the US and the Department of the Interior manages it. Outside of military bases, Federal buildings, and national parks, why does the Federal government own any land? Where is that authorized in the Constitution?
We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.
We have a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
Any great country should be able to feed itself under all circumstances. Period. As such, these seem like reasonable functions at the Federal level until you understand their roll in stopping domestic oil production and their preference for some obscure woodpecker or owl over humans. What do they really do to improve agriculture in the US – particularly when administration policies are driving us to food shortages? Anything?
The Department of Health and Human Services oversees all health-related policy. The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is “to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.”
While the NIH and CDC have shown themselves to be run by political sycophants and fascists instead of apolitical health professionals, this department has useful functions. HHS includes the FDA, which may be the only federal that should get a pay raise. Due to budget constraints, the FDA performs very few food inspections and instead relies on companies to self-inspect. We probably don’t need any more rules, but it might be useful to have more food inspectors. Also, it would be useful to change the culture from looking for ways to shut down companies to instead working to expedite getting food back into production as fast as feasible. The FDA should be limited to assessing whether foods and new medications are safe. Period. Let doctors and real scientists (not like Fauci, the CDC, or NIH) decide whether they are effective.
HUD’s mission is “to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination and transform the way HUD does business.” This certainly seems like it could be combined with Health and Human Services.
The Department of the Interior is often facetiously referred to as the “department of everything else.” According to their Web site, the Department of the Interior
- protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities.
- plays a central role in how the United States stewards its public lands, increases environmental protections, pursues environmental justice, and honors our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes.
Good so far, and then they lost me: “Our mandate from President Biden is clear: we must address the four intersecting challenges of COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change.” Really? How does woke racial equity have anything to do with their mission or the mission of any other Federal agency, for that matter.
Again, let’s combine these departments and then cut their budget in half. Most of the Federal land within State boundaries should be turned over to the States. As in most cases where I recommend cutting the budget in half, let’s try it for a couple of years. We’ll see those agencies have to figure out what’s important and not do other things. I think we’ll learn that we can get along nicely without those other things.
Department of Education:
Disestablish the whole department, cut all their funding form the budget, turn control of education back to the states and local school districts where it belongs – logically and Constitutionally. Their mission statement includes this sentence: “ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” They are utter failures!!! F- to you Department of Education. The US spends more money per student on education than any other country in the world, yet our educational outcomes are consistently in the bottom of the middle third in the industrial world. Under the Department of Education all our children have been left behind, and our schools have become woke indoctrination camps instead of education institutions. Their mission statement includes language about “federal education programs.” I have a bias FOR the 10th Amendment, so I don’t see anything in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to have “federal education problems.” Kill this whole department, fire the people, and sell the buildings. Then watch our educational outcomes grow.
Department of Energy:
Disestablish the whole department. Turn the labs over to the Department of Defense. DoE has not created one single watt of power ever. Our power infrastructure is a shambles. We have plans to build clean, small, safe nuclear power plants, but not one has been built in fifty years. What has the department done for the nation? Not enough to warrant its grotesque budget. Their mission statement says, “The Energy Department seeks to “ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.” Their site goes onto list three major functions:
- Catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in energy technologies. [I am not 100% sure what the government doublespeak means, but I think it means drive up gas prices in favor of unreliable renewable energy while ignoring safe and efficient nuclear power and knowing that the power grid cannot support three Teslas on the same neighborhood black.]
- Maintain a vibrant U.S. effort in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity with clear leadership in strategic areas. [What does this have to do with energy? If this means designing clean, safe, efficient nuclear power plants, should we spend the money in this engineering if we never build another nuclear plant?! That seems like a waste of money to me. Move any useful functions – if there are any — to Commerce.]
- Enhance nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation, and environmental efforts. [Move this function to the DoD.]
So, there’s another department we can disestablish and save a LOT of money.
Department of Transportation:
The mission of the Department of Transportation is “To deliver the world’s leading transportation system, serving the American people and economy through the safe, efficient, sustainable, and equitable movement of people and goods.” Maintaining the interstates seems like a worthy goal. I’d like to see more effort invested in revitalizing our rail infrastructure, including making passenger rail a viable alternative to air travel in certain areas. As transportation networks extend across state lines, this seems like a rare, constitutional function of the federal bureaucracy. Still, a review is needed to understand how much this department and its subordinate federal agencies have overstepped their Constitutional bounds and to root out waste and bloat.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs:
While my personal experience, my dad’s experience, and my uncle’s experience with the VA have been positive, I am still not sure why there is a whole federal department for this function. I have never understood why this is not part of Health and Human Services or DoD.
Secretary of Homeland Security:
Disestablish the whole department! Immediately! This outfit has shown themselves to be domestic enemies of the Constitution.
They have designated parents at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. They are persecuting 6 January rioters for an afternoon of trespassing, but they have completely ignored the months of BML and Antifa riots, murders, arson, rape, and wanton destruction of private property. They are suing Arizona to stop them from ensuring that voters in federal and state elections are citizens. They are persecuting Texas for trying to do DHS’s job of protecting the nation from invasion. They have completely violated federal immigration and border laws. This organization has become the enemy of the American people. Abolish it. Fire the staff. Reform the various agencies and return them to the departments from which they were ripped in 2001.
DHS was created after 9/11 to improve communications between law enforcement agencies. Their Web page describes their key mission areas as:
- Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security Threats, like concerned parents at school board meetings.
- Secure US Borders and Approaches. Just this week a mob of 500 illegals crashed the border while the cartels smuggled hundreds of pounds of narcotics into the country. Far from protecting our borders, DHS has actively made our borders and nation less secure. Why should citizens pay for their government to be their enemies?!
- Secure Cyberspace and Critical Infrastructure. This is a good idea, but do we need a bloated, arrogant, and illegal federal department for this? Where is progress on guarding our SCADA systems? Why have these arrogant jerks even allowed our critical infrastructure systems to connect to the Internet where Russia and Iran can freely target them?
- Preserve and Uphold the Nation’s Prosperity and Economic Security. Hah! DHS is the enemy of national and economic security. Fire them!
- Strengthen Preparedness and Resilience. I am not 100% what this means, but chances are they are spending a lot of taxpayer dollars not successfully doing this.
- Champion the DHS Workforce and Strengthen the Department. This in and of itself is enough for me to what to dissolve this department. This shows that these federal departments are more interested in feathering their nests than in serving the American people. Frankly, none of us should care about the DHS workforce, per se. We should only care about getting valuable services from our government. I care about safety and security of our once great nation.
Dissolve DHS. Radically fire the top levels of leadership within DHS, GS15 and above within NSA, CIA, FBI, and other federal agencies. Go completely scorched earth on these enemies of the people. The senior leadership in these organizations have politicized them and turned them into the US equivalent of the SS, Gestapo, and NKVD. Promote people who believe in the Constitution into those vacated positions. Then dissolve DHS and give the various agencies back to the departments from which they were ripped in 2001.
Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist asserted that as much government as possible should be as local as possible. He asserted that the people are more able to judge whether they are getting their money’s worth from local government than the federal government. They are also able to influence (and curtail) local spending more than federal spending. (Toward the end this video, Friedman gives his own opinions on which Federal departments should be abolished. His list is slightly different than mine.) Friedman said,
Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government– in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.
We as a nation must insist on stripping the Federal bureaucracy of most of its power, influence, and budget and push any functions deemed necessary by the people to the States where they will be more transparent, efficient, and influenced by the people.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Those functions the States and the people feel are not important should be abolished. Once that emasculation of the increasingly overreaching, tyrannical, and Unconstitutional federal government is complete, then the States need to look at pushing functions to counties and cities. Again, the counties will then determine if those functions are necessary, and the people can decide if they are willing to pay the government to perform them. The first step is to abolish and combine Federal departments.
I know this is tilting at windmills, but perhaps the People are fed up enough to get this ball rolling.