In a world full of tweets, Instagram posts, and BuzzFeed quizzes, many Millennials haven’t taken time to think about big government and its implications, but I’m here to drop some knowledge on you as to why we should want to shrink government bureaucracy.
Let’s look at the big picture. Government agencies are ridiculously inefficient, they regulate pretty much every aspect of our lives, and they waste billions of tax dollars a year.
Now, let’s take a look at some agencies in particular, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency’s budget is just awful. Because it’s so incomprehensible, Congress doesn’t know who at the EPA is spending the money, how they are spending it, or which laws are supposedly authorizing the spending. Which means that Congress has no way to evaluate what’s reasonable and what’s wasteful.
Next up on the chopping block is the Department of Commerce (side note: why does the Department of Commerce house the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks weather?) This department’s many agencies and offices spend about $8 billion annually giving handouts to companies that follow their favored policies, which results in higher prices of goods from companies who don’t receive the same favored treatment.
Have you ever seen that plaque outside a bank that says, “FDIC”? That’s the calling card of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which subsidizes the risks that banks take with their depositors’ money. That automatic insurance policy means that banks can make riskier decisions without facing the consequences, putting a huge amount of taxpayer money at risk.
How is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau still a thing? Created by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, this unconstitutional agency is not accountable to Congress and its director is not answerable to the president. The agency has been placing regulations on financial institutions that purport to help the little guy, while actually depriving low-income consumers of vital services like short-term payday loans.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC, not to be confused with the Southeastern Conference) was created in the 1930s. While the economy has changed drastically since then, the SEC has not. It’s still regulating with a Great Depression-style outlook. Financial markets and investment options have come a long way in eighty years – the SEC should catch up.
The National Labor Relations Board is another federal agency started in the 1930s that has outlived its usefulness. It was created to implement labor regulations and resolve disputes in the private sector, but now causes more harm than good to workers and the economy at large. Between 1980 and 2016, its labor dispute caseload dropped by 58%, yet its budget has more than doubled from $112 million to $274 million.
The Federal Communications Commission is one of the worst example of a bloated government agency standing in the way of innovation and consumer benefits. It has been in the news lately because of the net neutrality debate (you can read more here), but who gave it the authority to regulate access to the Internet in the first place? Maybe if the FCC stopped trying to expand its authority, affordable technology could make real strides.
Listen up, Millennials. We are young, and because of that we’re going to have to clean up the mess left by decision-makers today. We are going to be responsible for paying off a national debt greater than $20 trillion, fixing a crumbling infrastructure, and providing healthcare for all of the kids who ignored the government’s advice about not eating their fidget spinners. We can get a head start by shrinking government bureaucracy.
More details are available in CEI’s most recent study on government reform, Shrinking Government Bureaucracy.