Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tax Day


Your taxes are due on Monday, so I thought I would try to make you feel a little better about your tax bill by calling to your attention some of the wonderful government agencies that your hard-earned dollars go to fund. So I went to USA.gov (“Government Made Easy” is their catchy tag line), and looked up the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.

After reading for a while, I decided that there isn’t too much that is going to make you feel better about this, so instead I bet myself that I could click on every letter of the alphabet and come up with a ridiculous agency that should never have been started in the first place.

I was wrong. I could not easily find an insane waste of money under each letter of the alphabet, but that was only because there were no agencies that started with the letters K, Q, X, Y or Z.

Here’s where your tax dollars are headed:

Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee
Bureau of the Public Debt
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
Delaware River Basin Commission
English Language Acquisition Office
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
Helsinki Commission
Indian Arts and Crafts Board
Japan-United States Friendship Commission
Legal Services Corporation
Millennium Challenge Corporation
National Mediation Board
Open World Leadership Center
President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Rural Utilities Service
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Tennessee Valley Authority
U.S. Access Board
Voice of America
Washington Headquarters Services

Keep in mind, folks, I limited myself to only one department per letter of the alphabet. This list could have gone on for days. I will guarantee that in each one of these agencies, their whole years’ worth of “work” consists of compiling reasons why they need funding for next year.

In true federal government style, the “Complete A-Z Listing” of government agencies doesn’t list all of them. If you can stand to be on USA.gov for a little longer, you can find even more agencies listed under the authority of the executive branch. There’s the list of Independent Agencies and Government Corporations, the list of Boards, Commissions, and Committees, the list of Federal Advisory Committees, and my personal favorite, the list of Quasi-Official Agencies. Super.

But, as you marvel over your tax bill this year, and wonder what righteous deeds will be wrought with your offered treasure, I invite you to forget all the agencies, boards, commissions, committees, and departments, quasi-official or not, and ponder this:

According to congress, it takes $5.3 billion per year just for them to turn the lights on and run the show. Not all of Washington, D.C., mind you. Just congress. Not the white house, plus the supreme court, plus the pentagon, plus the army and stuff. Just congress. Five and a third billion dollars. Billion with a “B.” Five thousand millions.

They work about 175 days per year. That means we’re talking $30 million a day.
Even if we generously assume they work 12 hours per day, that’s $2.5 million an hour.
That’s $42,000 per minute.
That’s $700 per second. For congress to keep the doors open.

If you have a million dollars, you can run congress for 24 minutes. If we were super-generous with the math and said that they work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, that same million dollars would buy you a whole hour and a half.

In the time it will take you to read this sentence, the U.S. Congress will spend $7000 of your money on nothing more than working hard to dream up even more quasi-official agencies to help spend the rest of it.

April Fools’ Day is not on April 1st. It’s on April 15th!

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen


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