Your taxes were due yesterday. If you didn’t get them filed
in time, fear not. Agents will be knocking on your door momentarily to take you
to your new home, where you get three meals a day and don’t have to pay for
A few years ago, I thought I would try to make those of us
not in prison 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: “Please don’t ask a lot of
questions”), 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 Q, X, Y or Z.
I have updated the list of current agencies for you again this
year. Here’s the fun places your 2017 tax dollars are headed:
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 Geographic Data Committee (From the website: An interagency group that promotes and
coordinates the production, use, and publication of geospatial data.
thank God someone is doing that!)
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
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: 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
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
U.S. Election Assistance Commission (motto: Helping you get
crappy officials for generations to come.)
Veterans Day National Committee (We’re thinking November 11th
again this year.)
Washington Headquarters Services (We are here to serve
headquarters. In Washington. Don’t ask a lot of questions, OK?)
It really bothers me that we don’t have 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 last year, 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 this year. It’s as
if Washington isn’t listening to me at all.
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.
Even more disturbing than the fact that the lists grow each
year, is the fact that not all the agencies are listed under the “Complete
A-Z Listing” of government
agencies. In years past, if you dug a little deeper on USA.gov you could find
the rest of the disheartening lists – a list of Independent Agencies and
Government Corporations, a list of Boards, Commissions, and Committees, a list
of Federal Advisory Committees, and my personal favorite, a list of Quasi-Official
Agencies. I can’t seem to find any of those lists this year. Hmm… I’m sure that
means they all got shut down because they were unnecessary or borderline
If that isn’t scary enough for you, then I invite you to forget
all the agencies, boards, commissions, committees, and departments,
quasi-official or not, that we may or may not be allowed to know about and simply
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.
(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 keeping some of their agencies and
stuff off the main list.)
In the time it will take you to read this sentence, the U.S.
Congress will spend $8,500 of your money (or probably more) on nothing more
than working hard to dream up even more hidden quasi-official agencies to help
spend the rest of it.
The real April Fools’ Day is not April 1st
. It’s April
Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen
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