Your taxes are due Monday. Don’t blame me. I voted against them.
A few years ago, I thought I would try to make everyone feel a little better about our tax bills by calling attention to some of the wonderful government agencies that our hard-earned dollars go to fund.
So, I went to USA.gov (motto: “Shut up and write a check”), and looked up the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. After reading for a while, I realized there was no way I was going to make anyone feel better about paying taxes, so instead I bet myself that I could click on every letter of the alphabet and come up with at least one ridiculous agency that should never have been started in the first place.
I lost the bet. I failed to 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 Q, X, Y or Z.
I have updated the list of current agencies for you again this year. Here’s the fun places your 2018 tax dollars are headed to be mercilessly squandered:
Administrative Conference of the United States (motto: Leave us alone. We’re still conferring. Offsite.)
Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (motto: Buyer beware. And seller, too. We’re coming for all of you.)
Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (motto: It goes in the upper right corner, dammit!)
Delaware River Basin Commission (motto: Getting paid to stare at water since 1961.)
Economic Adjustment Office (motto: Please be patient. We’re redistributing your money as fast as we can.)
Federal Consulting Group (From the website: The Federal Consulting Group offers consulting, executive coaching, and performance and customer satisfaction measuring services to federal agencies.) (motto: For your convenience, now completely staffed with direct family members of congress.)
Government Ethics, Office of (motto: We can’t even fit all the irony into one building.)
House Office of the Clerk (Main functions include running the offices of deceased and retired representatives – I am not making that up.)
Inter-American Foundation (From the website: Provides grant support to Latin American and Caribbean grass-roots groups and non-governmental organizations with creative self-help ideas. Can’t we just send them Tony Robbins?)
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (motto: We will sue you in as many places as possible.)
Kennedy Center (motto: Please stop asking about Marilyn.)
Legal Services Corporation (motto: That might be legal now. There’s been a lot of changes.)
Marine Mammal Commission (We’re investigating the narwhal. He seems like a troublemaker.)
National Agriculture Statistics Service (motto: We’re still excited about that 1957 bean crop!)
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (This is not where we hide all the bribes and kickbacks and stuff. We swear.)
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (Just kidding, we spent it all. Here’s a third of what you were promised. We borrowed it from social security. Shhh!)
Risk Management Agency (motto: We manage our risk with your money. No problemo!)
Surface Transportation Board (We don’t trust those Department of Transportation guys to handle the surface. There’s just too much of it. It covers the whole country, you know?)
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (We changed our name from “Taxpayer Advocate Service” because too many people thought we would actually help. You’re still screwed.)
Utah (motto: The completely unnecessary state.)
Veterans Day National Committee (We’re thinking November 11th again this year.)
Washington Headquarters Services (We’re here to provide services. To headquarters. In Washington. Don’t ask a lot of questions, OK?)
It really bothers me that since I started keeping track of this list, we, as a nation, have failed to come up with any Q, X, Y, or Z agencies yet. We’re only four more ridiculous money-wasting agencies away from having the whole alphabet covered. Just off the top of my head in year’s past, I suggested the Quicksand and other Swamp Dangers Mitigation Exploratory Committee, the Xylophone Standardization Council, the Yo-Yo Injury Prevention Task Force, and the Zeppelin and Lighter-than-Aircraft (Unmanned) Aviation Standards Advisory Board, and not one of them has been added. It’s as if Washington isn’t listening to me at all. Where’s the Federal Consulting Group when you really need them? (answer: golfing.)
As far as the current agencies go, keep in mind, folks, I limited myself to only one department per letter of the alphabet. This list of agencies whose only concern is to justify their funding for next year could go on for days.
If that isn’t scary enough for you, then I invite you to blissfully ignore that and ponder this instead:
According to Congress, it takes around $5.9 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. Just under six billion dollars. Billion with a “B.” Six thousand millions.
They “work” about one hundred seventy-five days per year. That means we’re talking $34 million a day.
Even if we generously assume they work twelve hours per day, that’s $2.8 million an hour.
That’s $47,000 per minute.
That’s $780 per second. For Congress to keep the doors open.
(And, let’s keep in mind that it was Congress themselves who told us how much they are spending. So, in reality, it’s probably a much higher number, since they have a tendency toward not always sharing all the information, on the advice of the Federal Consulting Group.)
In the time it will take you to read this sentence, the U.S. Congress will spend $9,360 of your money (or probably more) on nothing more than working hard to dream up even more government agencies to help spend the rest of it.
The real April Fools’ Day is not April 1st. It’s April 15th.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen
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