While I would like to say that there is a big difference between Dems and Republicans on size of government, that would be an overstatement. Neither has really cut the size of government and in fact it has grown under administrations for both parties. The biggest difference is that Dems see pouring more money down a rat hole as the answer to everything. They believe that government is smarter than you are and so they should make all the decisions on what to do with your money, and they can fix all your problems by spending more of your money.
In fact, if memory serves me correctly, Obama once made a statement to the effect that he would decide how much of your money he would let you keep. The tone of the comment was along the line of its all the governments money and so they can decide what to let you keep. Sort of his you didn’t build your business and Hillary’s corporations don’t create jobs the government does. This is ass backwards. The question should be how much of your money is the minimum necessary to carry out the basic functions of the federal government — defense, foreign relations, regulation of interstate commerce, federal judiciary, patents and trademarks, immigration and providing a basic safety net for the truly needy not the truly clueless. The rest of the government activities should be the purview of the states. And if you don’t like how your state is handling its powers and responsibilities, then you are free to move to another state that does things more to your liking.
Republicans, at least in theory, believe government should be reduced in size and scope, and that you know best what to do with your money. That’s what most of the Republican candidates running for president espouse anyway. Which is easily contrasted with those running on the Democratic side, all of whom have espoused new expensive government programs and higher taxes, albeit only on the one-percenters. Of course it has been demonstrated that that isn’t possible, but it doesn’t stop the promises.
In terms of the need to reduce the size of government, consider this question. When was the last time you heard of a government agency being abolished when it served its function and is no longer needed? Never would be my answer, although it’s possible that some minor obscure agency has been eliminated, but I’m not aware. Instead, government departments and agencies act like the blob in that great old Steve McQueen movie and just keep gobbling up stuff and growing.
Now my basic premise in this and a few more rants on reducing the size and scope of all levels of government is that government does NOTHING efficiently and effectively. And to end up this first rant on the subject, I’ll give you a couple of examples to illustrate my point.
The first relates to when the government operates as a business and monopoly in the sale of alcohol as is the case in North Carolina. The result is that prices are 25% to in some cases 50% higher than they are in Florida, and selection is greatly curtailed. The reason is not higher taxes, it is the lack of competition and the fact that it’s government employees working in the stores with the full panoply of benefits. This fact was really brought home to me by an op-ed piece in the Washington Post 8 days or so ago by the Maryland State Comptroller about the prohibition era style regulation of alcohol sales in Montgomery County, Maryland where I lived for around 30 years. In Maryland alcohol sales are a county by county decision, and I believe that at this point only Montgomery County controls and operates exclusively the wholesale and retail sale of alcohol – just like the State of North Carolina. The result is that if you cross the border between Montgomery County and Prince Georges County, you see the kind of price differentials that I cited above for the difference between N.C. and Florida. So clearly taxes are not the issue. It is the inefficient nature of government, which as a monopoly has no incentive to be economical or efficient.
The other example that I will give you is from personal experience. In the agency in which I worked, there was an office which was charged with conducting investigations into violations of our regulations. It had approximately 50 employees who were primarily former Secret Service agents or former military investigators or other people with a criminal investigative background. And just so it’s clear, these were overwhelmingly very competent individuals in their field. I was the attorney responsible for prosecuting if you will any violations that they found. Now due to a change in the way we conducted enforcement in the agency, it turned out that 50% of their workload was investigating whistleblower allegations. In reviewing their reports, it became clear to me that a criminal investigative background was not the best background for investigating these complaints. Rather you need people who understand labor, employment and personnel matters and systems. And if you’ve read my earlier rants, you will recall that I have that kind of expertise. I put together a proposal that had support in which with a total of 8 people — 2 administrative types, 5 individuals with the appropriate background and myself — we would take over 50% of that office’s workload. It ultimately was rejected because that office convinced the powers that be that they would need 45 or 46 employees to do the other half of their workload.
That my friends is the reality of government efficiency.