April Fools! Your taxes are due in two weeks. Sorry, that’s not a joke. Don’t blame me, I voted against them.
Anyway, a few years ago I thought I would try to make us all 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: “Because we can, that’s why”), 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 a ridiculous agency that should never have been started in the first place.
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 K, Q, X, Y or Z.
I have updated the list for you this year. Here’s the fun places your 2014 tax dollars are headed:
Administration on Aging (motto: Nope, we still can’t do anything about it)
Broadcasting Board of Governors (Check out DJ Cuomo on hip-hop Fridays)
Chief Human Capital Officers Council (motto: We WILL defeat the cyborgs!)
Defense Threat Reduction Agency (motto: What’s the Pentagon?)
English Language Acquisition Office (motto: OMG LOL)
Federal Voting Assistance Program (motto: We gave up on Florida, too)
Government Ethics, Office of (Entire office currently on ten-month team-building retreat in Fiji)
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 (motto: We found Kansas!)
Joint Fire Science Program (Chill, this isn’t about weed. We totally swear, man.)
Legal Services Corporation (motto: That might be legal now. There’s been a lot of changes.)
Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (motto: If they would stay in one place, this would be easier)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (motto: We don’t understand the hyphen either)
Office of Compliance (motto: You are out of compliance. We don’t even have to investigate. We already know.)
Presidio Trust (motto: We don’t know what a presidio is either)
Regulatory Information Service Center (motto: Talk to the Office of Compliance first)
Surface Transportation Board (motto: There might be some overlap with the regular Transportation Board – we’re looking into it)
Taxpayer Advocate Service (motto: Just kidding. You’re screwed)
U.S. Access Board (motto: Access denied)
Voice of America (motto: Now broadcasting exclusively in Spanish for your convenience)
Weights and Measures Division (motto: We’re going to the metric system any day now)
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.
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,
Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen
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