I enjoyed attorney Michael Davidow's comments linking the Tea Party Arguments to Herman Melville's writings. An understandable viewpoint from an obvious Progressive. However, as a card-carrying member of the Tea Party Patriots, as well as a member of the New Hampshire Bar (Bar no.864 - am I really that old?) I feel the need to clarify what the Tea Party is really about.
First of all, Tea Party members are not anti- Federal government: Nor is the movement a campaign "...against modernity...." Rather, they view government like a prudent farmer views a fruit tree. In order for his tree to flourish and produce healthy fruit, it needs periodic pruning to cut off and get rid of the deadwood and useless suckers. Unfortunately, in the Tea Party's view, with the exception of a little trimming around the edges by Reagan and (as to only defense) by Clinton, the tree of the Federal government has not had a decent pruning since Calvin Coolige. To demonstrate that this view is based on facts and not unfounded opinion, here are a few statistics about just how big and bloated our Federal government has become.
Duplication. In 2010, The Federal Government Accounting Office (GAO) began a study of duplication and fragmentation in and among Federal Government Agencies (Opportunities
to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and
Enhance Revenue-GAO-11-441T). Their full study and report are far from complete, but in March of 2011 they provided their first (preliminary) testimony to Congress covering only nine program areas. Here is a brief synopsis of their findings in five areas.
• Food Safety. They found 15 different agencies are involved in various areas of food safety, even though the Dept. of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration are officially charged with food safety.
• Domestic Food Assistance Programs. There are 18 different programs for providing food to low income families spread between the Departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services.
• Preventing/curing Homelessness. Over 80 different programs are in existence, spread over eight different agencies; VA, Depts of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human services, Interior, Education, Transportation and Agriculture.
• Ensuring Teacher quality. There are 82 distinctly different programs involved over 10 different agencies, including not only the Dept. of Education, but Departments of Defense, Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. (Now here is a successful government endeavor!)
• Financial Literacy. Fifty-six Different programs spread over more than 20 different agencies.
Growing Criminalization of Conduct by Regulation. The Federal Constitution identified on three federal Crimes; piracy, treason and counterfeiting. In 2007, it has been estimated that there are now 4,450 regulatory created Federal Crimes and the rate is growing at the rate of 500 new crimes per year being created by the bureaucracy without Congressional involvement. Most do not require a finding of "criminal
intent." (Revisiting the Explosive Growth of Federal Crimes, Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum No. 26, June 2006, John Baker.)
Financial Size. The US now has the Largest absolute government in the world. According to the C.I.A’s World
Fact Book, 2011 (ISSN 1553-8133) in absolute dollars, not per capita, the US government is the largest government in the world; whether you measure it by absolute revenues raised, absolute money spent, or total accumulated debt. Here is a comparison between the US and China (which has a large and growing standing army):
US population: 309 million. Tax revenue raised: $2.092 trillion. Federal Spending (2010): $3.47 trillion.
China population: 1.33 billion. Tax revenue raised: $1.49 trillion. National government spending: $1.27 trillion.
The Ballooning Cost of Regulation. According to The Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis and the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, in a study entitled “A Decade of growth in the Regulators’ Budget: An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for the Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011," May 2010. www.RegulatoryStudies.gwu.edu), by Susan Dudley and Melina Warren, the cost for our federal regulatory state for 2010-“on budget” – was $55.4 billion. “On budget” means what the US Congress actually appropriated and spent on regulatory enforcement.
However, according to a husband and wife team of economists – Nicole V. Crain
and Mark Crain, who study the cost of US regulations, the “off-budget” cost-i.e.
how much our regulations cost businesses and individuals to comply with our regulatory
state exceeds $1.7
trillion dollars, and absorbs almost 12 percent of the US Gross Domestic
Product, and if you are a small employer with 20 or less employees, the cost
to your business for regulatory compliance is $10,450
per year per employee according to their study done in 2010 for the
SBA, Office of Advocacy (The
Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms, by Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain,
Lafayette College Easton, Pa., Sept. 2010www.sba.gov/advo) And this
is all before the Affordable Care Act.
Federal vs. Private Sector wages-Disparity in Pay. In a recent study undertaken by the Free
Enterprise Nation (www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2350099/posts) Federal civilian wages averaged $79,197 in 2008, more than 50 percent greater than the average private sector employee’s wages of $49,935. From 2000 through 2008, private sector wages rose 28.5 percent while pay in the federal sector climbed 53.7 percent. Likewise, when wages and benefits are combined, federal civilian workers averaged $119,982 in 2008, compared to wages and benefits in the private sector, which averaged only $59,909.
Thus, the only connection between the writings of Herman Melville and the Tea Party is the fact that the Tea Party is fighting a real whale.
Robert (Bob) H. Fryer,