The Aldrich Alert
Gary Aldrich

A Publication of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty

Snow job

December 6, 2002

by Gary Aldrich - Volume 2, Issue 52

I’m not sure when the GOP decided it was easier to sell tax cuts to the public than to hold the line on government growth. Could it be the same time that too many in the Republican Party decided that they really do love Big Government?

I have to confess that I, too, was once drawn to Big Government. I worked for the FBI at a time when it was a highly respected agency that was granted whatever budget it asked for from the Congress just on the strength a sterling reputation. The badge, the gun, the suit and the dark shades all contributed to an undeniably pleasurable power trip. Putting bad guys in jail for a living was just the frosting on the cake!

But best of all, I never had to worry about unemployment.

Nevertheless, when I made my way around the hallways of the other federal agencies, conducting my investigations, I realized just how miserly our FBI budget really was. Marble floors and quality rugs, better furniture than I had in my own home, the latest computer equipment and decent office space in a nice neighborhood was not the usual environment for the average federal law enforcement agent.

But other federal bureaucrats routinely enjoyed these luxuries and much more, and I always wondered why.

We didn’t get handsome expense accounts like some feds, but there was always the universal luxury of bloated personnel. There had to be, because nobody ever got fired. Enormous pools of do-nothing federal employees exist in every agency right now, and that means that the work which needs to be done may take two or more feds to accomplish it – one to work and one or more to watch the worker. Ask any honest federal employee and they will be happy to tell you this truth. After all, why should they hide the truth when they know nothing is ever going to be done about it?

You see, few political leaders will ever talk about a significant cut in federal employee ranks, but they will promise you a token tax cut. Are the American people too dumb to understand that even if they give you back a little of your money, they’re going to spend it anyway? Republicans and Democrats alike feed at the troth of seemingly unlimited federal funds and few ever speak of downsizing.

Don’t wait for agency heads to point out waste either. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen leadership of that kind in Washington, D.C. Who can blame administrators for being shy about mentioning the corruption, incompetence, and fraud? We’ve gotten so used to it, anybody who brings it up is deemed somehow “odd.”

And don’t wait for the media to take up this apparently lost cause. The strength of the media these days actually resides in Washington, D.C. Reporting on state government is boring – besides, who wants to go to a state capitol to have a party when you can be wined and dined by the President and his staff? Can you imagine a governor’s office correspondence dinner? Please!

And yet, what is at the root of so many of our problems today? Ronald Reagan used to say that the federal government isn’t the solution to problems - it is the problem! He knew that people were better off if they were able to keep more of their money. He also knew that so many of our “problems” were ones that individuals could solve themselves. Even when they could not solve their own problems, local governments were often in a better position to address them and do the job more efficiently, more effectively.

Today there is a federal solution to just about any problem you have. Fluff in your pillow? There are numerous agencies overseeing that. Water in your toilet? Rest assured we have several agencies on top of that problem. Leaky diapers? Don’t fret – help is on the way! Relax and enjoy the comfort of knowing that some federal-nanny bureaucrat somewhere has a report on his or her desk that talks all about it.

But what’s the cost of this nanny-state we’ve created, and is it really in our collective best interests? Incrementally, our money and our liberties are being washed away, right down the drain with the bath soap that’s been inspected by about seven different agencies. Remember, 70% of the cost of the federal government is personnel and personnel related costs like retirement and healthcare.

Just think – legions of healthy, happy, federal employees with too much time on their hands, just dying to snoop into your home, your car, your office, your bank accounts, your medical history, your bedroom – and especially, your wallet.

Today, in Washington, D.C. a heavy snow is falling. More than half the federal employees stayed home because they didn’t want to get their toes chilly. Plus, they are not considered “essential”…indeed.