AMERICA IS THE POT YOU ARE THE FROG

THE FROG POT

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A very old tale has it that if a frog is placed in a pot of hot water it will immediately jump out but if placed in a pot of cool water that is slowly heated the frog doesn't realize the danger until too late and - to mix metaphors - its goose is cooked.

America is the pot; you are the frog.       

America's federal government, conceived in liberty, chartered as protector of our liberties, with constitutional restraints on its power has, like a cancer, metastasized into an administrative bureaucracy of incomprehensible size.

When talking about the size of the federal beadledom we typically discuss it in terms of $: welfare$, spending$, deficit$, debt$, future liabilitie$ et cetera, ad nau$eum. But while million$, billion$ and trillion$ are perhaps comprehensible for purposes of comparison (a trillion is a thousand billion is a thousand million) they are simply mind-numbing in any practical sense.

THE FROG POT depicts Leviathan's structure with organizational charts of federal agencies.

Seeing the size and functions of these various bureaucracies can't help but make us ponder the necessity of a lot of it.

Although the federal government is commonly described simply as three branches - the Executive, Judicial and Legislative - this gives no hint of its mind-numbing size.

THE FROG POT shows that the Executive branch of the federal government consists of 84 departments, agencies, administrations, offices, conferences, commissions, boards, authorities and systems (black ops excluded). Additionally there are over one thousand Executive advisory committees as well as America's "quasi-official" government-sponsored enterprises - the GSEs.

If it is possible to limit government, a prerequisite is that we see the beast for what it is. Here are a few examples:

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture. It's much larger than one might guess.

One department of the USDA, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) maintains over 200 laboratories and research units. Another USDA department, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), has over 2,000 state and county field offices.

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the USDA has about 75 overseas offices in almost as many different countries, the Forest Service's Office of Research & Development maintains over 80 experimental forests in virtually every state of the Union, and the Office of the Executive Secretariat (OES) has established 60 advisory committees ranging from the "Advisory Committee on Agricultural Statistics" to the "Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council".

And the USDA is just one of many similar federal agencies.

During his Senate confirmation hearings for Secretary of the Department of Energy, Rick Perry apologized for once saying that he would like to shut DOE down. He assured that committee that he no longer harbored such malevolent intent. DOE runs 57 facilities, laboratories, institutes, testing centers and operations offices including 4 huge power administrations that distribute power across the nation.

Just looking at one of those 57 - Oak Ridge National Laboratory - one has to wonder … if shutting DOE down isn't an option, might we not at least be able to whittle it down just a tiny bit? (A person weighing 150 pounds might want to lose 5 pounds - 1/30th their weight. Perhaps DOE could shed just 1/30 of its $30 billion annual budget?)

The question we frogs must ask ourselves is … How's the water?      

Look at the budget for 1970 on page 1 of any agency - USDA for example - $8 billion. The CPI Inflation calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates $6.11 in 2015 has the purchasing power of $1 in 1970. If we multiply an agency's 1970 budget by 6.11 the result is the 2015 zero-growth budget - just keeping up with inflation. Zero growth for the USDA circa 2015 is 6.11 x $8 billion = $48 billion.

USDA's actual budget for 2015 was $139 billion; a growth multiplier of 17. HHS and DOJ each had growth multipliers in that same period greater than 50.

Look at regulations.gov. Over the next 90 days there are comments due on over 900 new regulations and in the last 90 days over 6,000 new regulations have been posted.

FROGS ... THE WATER IS PRETTY HOT!     

Recommended educational resource for all us frogs:
Hidden Secrets of Money.