Your taxes are due in two days. Don’t blame me, I voted against them.
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 of current agencies for you again this year. Here’s the fun places your 2015 tax dollars are headed:
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee (motto: The slowest moving agency in the business.)
Bureau of the Public Debt (motto: Yep, still going up.)
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 Accounting Standards Advisory Board (motto: Just kidding, we have no standards.)
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)
Innovation and Improvement Office (motto: We’ll be with you shortly after we work to innovate and improve our internal processes.)
Joint Fire Science Program (Seriously, bro, it’s not about weed. It’s totally about science, man, we totally swear. And no, you can’t come in. Unless you have brownies. Or chips, Or pizza.)
Legal Services Corporation (motto: That might be legal now. There’s been a lot of changes.)
Minor Outlying Islands (Yes, we consider Hawaii to be minor. That’s why we’re headquartered here.)
National Ocean Service (motto: Now offering two oceans for your convenience, one on each side of the country.)
Office of Compliance (motto: You are out of compliance. We don’t even have to investigate. We already know.)
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. Don’t tell them!)
Research and Innovative Technology Administration (There might be some overlap with the Innovation and Improvement Office folks. We’re currently working to innovate and improve our process of checking on that.)
Susquehanna River Basin Commission (motto: We just steal all the Delaware River guys’ notes and do whatever they do.)
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (We changed our name from “Taxpayer Advocate Service” because too many people thought we would actually help. You’re still screwed.)
U.S. Arctic Research Commission (Who we are: “The U.S. Arctic Research Commission develops and recommends a national Arctic research policy.” I am not making that up.)
Voice of America (motto: Now broadcasting exclusively in Spanish for your convenience)
Weights and Measures Division (motto: There are six firkins in a hogshead.)
(It bothers me that we don’t have K, Q, X, Y, or Z agencies. I really don’t think our government is applying itself here. We’re only five more ridiculous money-wasting agencies away from having the whole alphabet covered. Just off the top of my head, I can suggest the Kentucky Derby Oversight and Fairness Commission, 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. Get on that, will you Washington?)
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.
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 around $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 one hundred seventy-five days per year. That means we’re talking $30 million a day.
Even if we generously assume they work twelve 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 twenty-four minutes. If we were super-generous with the math and said they work twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five 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 $8500 of your money on nothing more than working hard to dream up even more quasi-official agencies to help spend the rest of it.
The real April Fools’ Day is not on April 1st. It’s on April 15th!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen
Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!