by Stucky, TBP
We had such a small government when George Washington was President. There were just three Cabinet positions: the honestly named Secretary of War, who was responsible for both canons on the Hudson being aimed at England; the Secretary of Treasury, who carried the entire budget in his wallet; and the Secretary of Holding the President’s Horse. The Supreme Court only had one wig. And the Washington Monument was exactly the same height as George, and people said it looked exactly like him.
Q: So, how did government get so BIG???
A: By responding to the NEEDS of the PEOPLE!
Let’s look at the needs of farmers. In 1860, about 60% of America’s population lived/worked on farms. Farmers had many needs, and the nation needed a steady reliable source of food, so in 1862 president Lincoln created the Department of Agriculture. In his final message to Congress, Lincoln called the USDA “The People’s Department.” (That’s really true, and probably the funniest line in this essay.)
As time went by and the number of farmers increased, or at least their needs did, so did the Department of Agriculture. Even more time goes by and America becomes urban and industrialized. Farmers were soon able to produce more food than Americans could consume. Continual mechanical farm improvements kept decreasing the number of farmers until we have reached the point today whereby farm families constitute less than 2% of the population. This, in turn, resulted in the Department of Agriculture also getting smaller and smaller with each passing year, and today it is only a minor government agency with a really small budget.
If you are not rolling your eyes at that last sentence it’s because your brain is the size of a peach pit.
The Dept. of Agriculture is YUGE!! It employs about 105,000 people, 1t over 15,000 locations, in all 50 states, and even 80 foreign countries. They have a budget of about $150 Billion dollars. The BLS says there are 1.2 million farmers. Do the math; that’s 11.4 farmers per USDA employee! And all this time I thought farmers were strong sturdy independent types who don’t need no stinkin’ help from anybody. More math; we could eliminate the USDA by just giving the 50,000 poorest farmers $3,000,000 each, and they could all retire without ever having to stick their arms up a cow’s vagina again. Of course, I’ll grow 40DDD titties (I’m a male) before anyone allows a hundred thousand federal employees to be fired.
So, what do all these people DO – these workers who make, on average $68,000 per year?
Dept. of Agriculture Insiders View
Well, one group keeps a vigilant eye on the world’s oilseed (whatever that is) market. They fall under the Oilseeds and Products Group … along with the Cotton Group, the Tobacco Group, the Planting Seeds Group … which make up the Cotton, Oilseeds, Tobacco, and Seeds Division; which combined with AgExport Services Division, the Dairy, Livestock, and Poultry Division; the Forest and Fishery Products Division; the Horticultural and Tropical Products Division; and the Product Estimates and Crop Assessment Division … make up the Commodity and Market Programs of Foreign Agricultural Services; which when combined with the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, and the Commodity Credit Corporation .. makes up the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services …and combined with Rural Development; Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services; Food Safety; Natural Resources and Environment; Research Education, and Economics; Marketing and Regulatory Programs, blah blah blah, make up what is described in their publications as the “streamlined” Department of Agriculture.
Not counted in these figures are the 15,800 outside computer consultants which are needed because each and every one of these Groups, Departments, and Divisions, and about 75% of the employees therein are required to submit at least one Excel Worksheet and one Word Document in triplicate per week documenting how they helped the farmers of America, so that the BLS can lie about it in their monthly report.
And all this to what end? In 1862 there were about 650 obese Americans, most of them in Kentucky — due to fried chicken. In 2018, more than 150 million Americans couldn’t fit their fat asses in fifty-bushel basket even with a case of Vaseline and the jaws-of-life. Thank you, USDA.
As bloated as the USDA became, the same is true for every other government entity. The org chart for the Dept. of Education is even more convoluted. And to the same end. When Jimmy Carter formed the DOE in 1979 about 95% of high school students knew that Australia was an island continent. Today, the same percentage think it’s a small country in Europe!
The point of all this is the government responds to all the neeeeeeds of the people by getting larger and larger with each passing year. Although the Republicans kvetch a good game every two years about “reducing the size of government” we all know it’s Pure Politican Pandering. Most Democrats don’t even pretend. Well meaning politicians may be sincere in their pre-election promises, but once in office they discover that not only do the people have endless neeeeeeds … so do Corporations, which are now considered “people” also.
Just pretend the above airplane is a C-`130 Hercules
Let’s look at Lockheed-Martin, the maker of the USAF C-130 Hercules. In 1978 we had so many of them that the Pentagon said, “We have so many of them. Stop building them.” Really, read it here. Actually, John McCain, had the Government Accountability Office (GAO) do a study of how many more C-130s the Air Force would need between 1978 and 1998. The answer? Five.
But, Lockheed-Martin was near bankruptcy. The squeezed Uncle Sam for a billion dollar bailout, then got busted for using $22 million dollars of the bailout to bribe Pentagon officials to keep building C130s, which led to Congress passing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act … which led to Lockheed-Martin standing in the runway holding their dicks.
So, they bypassed the Pentagon and went directly to bribing Congress. Their Lobbyists went batshit crazy funding many millions of dollars in donations to key representatives. One of those key people was Newt Gingrich, Congressman from Georgia, where the C-130s were built. So, Newt basically told the Pentagon, who really only wanted 5 more planes; –“Don’t be silly!! You want many many more than just five!!“. And so, to the tune of about $400 Million, the USAF ordered 256 C130s it did not want …. all because corporations also have neeeeeds.
Lockheed-Martin is still building newer-faster-better upgraded C130s today to the tune of several billion dollars — for use both domestically and overseas to our suckers, err allies. Domestically, the C130’s are usually sent to Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases to obscure and poor places like Harrisburg, PA. Their function is to fly around and look busy so that the local Congressman can show he deeply cares about his constituents by screaming — “Nooooo! National Security!!!” every time the Pentagon tries to shut down the base. From a beneficial military aspect, if the Russians ever try to take over Harrisburg, they’re in for one big helluva surprise! Don’t believe all this? You can read about it here and here.
Let’s do one more quickie … this is fun, right? “The Navy is not asking for a new helicopter carrier, but Trent Lott wants it to have one.” —- that’s the first sentence in this NYTimes article. And here is an excerpt from a CNN interview with Trent Lott (who served with distinction as a cheerleader at Ole Miss.).
PRESS: “Senator Lott, as you know, that $370 million is for the LHD-8 helicopter carrier the Navy says it doesn’t want. But you put it in there. It’s being built in your home state. This is just pure pork for Mississippi and nothing else, isn’t it?”
Summary: The Navy didn’t want the ship. Lott said, “You do so want it! Give me an estimate.” The Navy said “$295 million“. Trent said (actual quote) “wrong answer“, and that he was looking for something in the range of “$375 to $500 million“. So, the project got funded at $375 million. The ship ultimately cost $1.5 Billion. Great for the people at the shipyards in Pascgoula, MS … not so great for the rest of us.
Let’s go back to the USDA and talk about the Great Prune vs. Plum Debate. You will learn that on of the worse aspects of government is that government thinks all it’s citizens are idiots, and the bigger the government the more idiotic you become, which means government must become even bigger to handle all you idiots, which means … well, that avalanche never stops growing in speed and destruction.
Here you will learn that — “Prune trees were introduced to North America in 1856 by Louis Pellier”. Louis went to CA looking for gold but apparently wasn’t any good at it and so — as so many gold diggers are apt to do when their dreams are dashed — he decided to grow prunes. He is probably responsible for coming up with the California French Prune. It’s prized for “its smooth small pits”.
She said, “dried prunes have been known for decades by the common or usual name `prunes’. We are concerned that calling prunes by another name could be misleading to the consumer.” In effect, she is the Benevolent Goddess who is acting on behalf of her minions who have the IQ of, well … a California French prune. She also demanded the industry provide written explanations such as; (here)
“The effect on FDA regulations of renaming prunes.”
“International aspects of changing the name.”
“Results of consumer research including US and foreign studies.”
“Other labeling options and why they would be ineffective.”
“Why . . . the prune is marketed more successfully in Europe than in the United States.”
“A plan of action for educating consumers about the name change and information about plums and prunes.”
The name change from “prune” to “dried plum” was finally approved in 2001 … over two and a half years after the initial request.
It all sounds so hopeless. But, I know what you are thinking; — “All we have to do is drain the Swamp, and get the Right Kind of People elected!”
Let’s see if that’s true. Suppose YOU (yes, you, dear reader) are running for Senator. I would certainly vote for any person here on TBP, even the Village Idiot, with just one exception. (That would be the wackadoodle hyper-religious Fundy known as “Grace Country Pastor”. People like him would impose a Theocracy, reinstate witch burnings, start a nuclear war in order to bring on the Great Tribulation, and his State of the Union Address would take four days because he’d quote half of the Bible.)
Of course, I do realize that in all practicality you can never be elected. To get elected as Senator you would need a BUNCH of $$$$$, and pretty much the only way to get campaign money is to already be a member of Congress. Well, you could run if you had you own Stupid Rich Crazy Money — which means that here on TBP, only Llpoh could run. That won’t work either because speaking of running … he ran off to Australia. I apologize for the digressions.
Nevertheless, by some miracle you get elected as the new Senator from Pennsylvania, and your grand plan is to fight for the regular taxpayers. Except that once you get to The Swamp … you never again see any regular taxpayers. What you will see are lobbyists and other organized groups who are seeking Access to the Political Process. (Translation; “money”.) Here is the Basic Deal With The Devil: if you give them access, they will give you support. (Translation; “money”.)
You’ll be sitting in your new D.C. office when group — Brass Knob Polishers Union — from Intercourse, PA comes a knocking. They will tell you that they are last remaining Knob Polishers in America, and the entire town of Intercourse relies on polishing knobs to put food on the table. You will be shown mind-numbing spreadsheets and a slick Powerpoint presentation detailing how important knob polishing is to the nation and that district. You’ll hear terribly sad stories how this once thriving industry, and the cherished way of life it represents, is about to be totally swallowed up by the Chinese who employ woman slaves you polish knobs all day for a dollar and a half. They will somehow make it a National Security issue, and as far as they are concerned, it is the most important issue facing America today. They only want $25 million, which is less than a drop in the big fat federal bucket of moohlah, so you promise to “see what you can do”.
Five minutes after they leave your office you are meeting with the Association of Organic Racoon Breeders, who will back you up against a wall with 2×4’s, and you’ll soon be amazed what a huge industry raccoon breeding is in America, a much needed service since so many citizens randomly club these animals to death. Next comes the Federation of Manufacturers o Rubber Bands That Hold Lobster Claws Shut in Supermarket Tanks, and if you don’t help their beleaguered workers than you are no better than the cowards who stood by and did nothing when Hitler invaded Hungary.
And so it goes day after day after day. An endless stream of people who want you to do something for them … a “something” that never results in saving taxpayers any money. You look around and immediately realize you are not alone. Every other politician is also fighting for the neeeeds of their special interests. And so you say to your counterpart in CA — “Hey, I’ll vote for the Dried Plums For Every American Act if you help get me $25 Million for my district of knob polishers.” He gets a several million dollars worth of access from knob polishers, and dried plum growers from America and around the world now love you. You are meeting needs all over the place, in your district and out, and you’re feeling damn good about yourself as you master the art of the deal.
You almost immediately learn that part of that deal is that it is a bad idea to ever vote against spending money on anything. The taxpayers whose money you actually saved won’t know about it … but, the interest group you voted against will know about it, and will be all over you like stink on shit forevermore. Vote for cutting the size of the Dept of Agriculture by 100 employees, and farmers will hate you. Vote for reducing the budget of the Dept of Education by $1,000 and the teacher’s union will hate you. Dare to even suggest that retirees pay One Extra Dollar towards their prescription drugs and AARP will be at your door the next day beating you sensless with their handicapped placards.
And so it goes … this great game of access and support. Pretty soon you are like every other schmuck in Congress stuck doing basically only three things; handing out money, looking for money, preparing for your re-election (no doubt as a fiscal conservative). You started out as a good egg. But, you wound up as minced meat. The House always wins.
I know that this has been a pretty negative article against government. Perhaps you’d like to ask me; — “Surely, there must be SOMETHING good about government??” Yes, dear reader … yes there is!!!
It’s called Social Security — this is where the government sends YOU money!!!
How cool is that?? It is the best thing ever devised by humans. Yet, there are people who call this beautiful gift a SCAM, and they want to abolish it. These people are usually Millennials or self-loathing Boomers. Do not listen to them.
Question Of The Year: So, what can be done about this?
My gut feel is …. not a damned thing.
In the history of this country, please point out which year government actually became smaller. Instead, it gets bigger and bigger and consumes more and more resources of every kind (money, natural resources, and people). Any actual cuts are imaginary, just for show, and never permanent. Government debt grew by $1.2 trillion this year. Trump wants another branch of the military, the Space Force. Every government agency WILL get more money than the previous year. To significantly cut the larger budget items — especially the military — will result in millions of jobs lost, and perhaps a full blown Depression, or worse.
Actually, Americans want even more government! A stunning 62% of American agree with this (here) — ” “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems”. Only 35% want less government. And God help us when the Millennials come into power. A remarkable (in a bad way) 54% right this very moment prefer Socialism over Capitalism (here)
There is no peaceful solution. The entire structure of our government needs to be torn down, and re-imagined (can we please truly follow the Constitution this time??!!) from the ground up. I just don’t see any mechanism by which that an be accomplished peacefully. The current governance of America is just way too big, far too complex, amazingly corrupt, and with waaaay to many pigs at the trough (free shitters and other beneficiaries) for a peaceful way out of this mess. The only thing I hope for is that this Big Fat Bitch of a Pig (USGov) keeps on eating and growing, and eating and growing …. until it explodes from within, collapses, and lies helpless on the ground (so that Real Patriots have a chance to descend upon The Bitch Pig and stab it death ourselves.)
Of course, another American Revolution Part II would do the trick. But, 1) I’m a peace loving guy and 2) I don’t think there are enough Men With Brass Balls left in America to do the job (most American men are now little pansies who would rather spend time polishing their knobs.)