Category Archives: Size of Government

$20 Billion Hidden In The Swamp: Feds Redact 255,000 Salaries

The only thing the bureaucratic resistance hates more than President Trump is the disclosure of their own salaries. It’s a classic case of the bureaucracy protecting the bureaucracy, underscoring the resistance faced by the new administration.

Recently, Open the Books filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (pictured) for all federal employee names, titles, agencies, salaries, and bonus information.

We’ve captured and posted online this data for the past 11 years. For the first time, we found missing information throughout the federal payroll disclosures. Here’s a sample of what we discovered from the FY2017 records:

254,839 federal salaries were redacted in the federal civil service payroll (just 3,416 salaries were redacted in FY2016).
68 federal departments redacted salaries. Even small agencies like the National Transportation Services Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation redacted millions of dollars in salaries.
$20 billion in estimated payroll now lacks transparency.
A 7,360 percent increase in opacity hides one out of every five federal salaries.

Why the left needs Big Government? (because parasitism is their strategy)

I’ve been puzzled by how the left, even faced with a perceived anti-christ as president, never considers that states’ rights, and limited government are virtues. Why don’t they get this?

I think I’ve figured it out. Their survival strategy is parasitism. They can’t allow their potential hosts to flee place themselves out of reach or flee to other jurisdictions.

They correctly sense that a gigantic centralized apparatus is the enabler of their parasitism. So there’s no “live and let live” for the left.

They need BOTH a powerful centralized government AND control. They are deaf and blind to the fairly obvious risk of the powerful apparatus they build falling into the hands of someone they despise.

Restore the Rule of Law! (Rand Paul on the 2,000 page, $1.1 Trillion Dollar omni bus bill)

Priority should be taming the bureaucracy. Getting the bureaucracy to follow the law, both in word and in intent. The reason the West remains the envy the world (despite the objections of many libertarians/communists/nationalists/environmentalists/social justice warriors) is that we still have a rule of law.

Chinese talent and wealth flees to the West. Russian talent flees to the West. Indian talent and wealth flees to the West.

It’s because of our courts. But our rule of law is deteriorating, first and foremost when the political class is involved.

America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837

“Earlier than many other states, Pennsylvania tried to raise taxes to cover its mounting interest costs. By 1842, total tax revenue was almost twice what it had been in 1835, but this was still far too little to restore the state’s finances. The state also resorted to other tactics to avoid collapse. In April 1840, legislators compelled banks with state charters to lend three million dollars to cover the state’s deficit, but the banks themselves were near collapse. A year later, the state treasury began paying many of its creditors with small denomination relief notes, which were often returned to the state for payment of taxes and did little to improve its ability to pay overseas lenders.

“By the end of 1841 the state was desperate. Philadelphia merchant Sidney Fisher wrote in his diary in early December that ‘the doctrine of repudiating state debts is spreading rapidly, is spoken of openly and boldly defended by many presses and leading politicians.’ A public meeting at the Philadelphia courthouse later that month passed resolutions denying that Pennsylvanians were under any ‘moral, legal or political obligation’ to repay the ‘so-called state debt.’ In early 1842, the state met interest payments by scavenging from the assets of the Bank of the United States, which had collapsed in January. By August 1842, the treasury had nothing but its own relief notes, and Pennsylvania finally defaulted. ‘The substance of our State is swallowed up,’ wrote a correspondent to the local newspaper in Smethport, Pennsylvania, ‘and repudiation stares us in the face.’ …

“Tax Expenditures”: Not Taxing Is Allegedly Spending

open quote Runaway government spending is among the most important economic problems of our time. It is absolutely urgent that it be brought under control and progressively reduced until it is sufficient to provide for no more than the essential government functions of defense and justice. Only then will the citizens have the greatest possible individual freedom to decide how their earnings are spent and the greatest possible motivation to increase their earnings and improve their standard of living.

As recognition of the importance of bringing government spending under control has grown, the enemies of individual freedom have seized upon a tactic which they hope will avoid the necessity of reducing government spending, and, will allow them to go on increasing it, under a fraudulently created appearance of reduction. The tactic is described as “tax expenditure.”

More precisely, a tax expenditure is a fictional, non-existent tax accompanied by an equivalent fictional, non-existent expenditure. Although the government does not actually collect the tax, the fact that it has the power to do so is used as the basis for pretending that it does collect the tax and that it uses the proceeds to make an expenditure that goes to those from whom it has chosen not to collect the tax. In this way, the taxes that are not collected are treated as though they were collected and then used as a subsidy paid to those from whom they were not collected. In effect, the government’s not taking is alleged to be giving. Its not taxing is alleged to be spending.

Examples of tax expenditures recently provided by The New York Times are the taxation of capital gains and dividends at lower rates than ordinary income; allowance for deductions from taxable income of the payment of interest on home mortgages, the payment of property taxes, state and local income taxes, charitable contributions; and the absence of taxation on employees for health insurance and pension benefits paid for by employers on their behalf. All in all, according to The Times, “Tax expenditures cost the federal government more than $1 trillion a year in lost revenue.”

When one recalls that in World War II, there was a 90-percent bracket in the federal income tax, and that the government has it in its power to impose such a tax rate on everyone but presently chooses not to do so, then it becomes clear that by the logic of the concept, the cost of tax expenditures to the federal government is not just $1 trillion, but many, many trillions. It is, in fact, everyone’s entire income and wealth.

The philosophical principle underlying the concept of tax expenditure is that we are all serfs or slaves in the power of our Lord and Master the Almighty Government. It owns us and all of our income and wealth. All that we earn and possess, we do so by virtue of its largess, by virtue of its giving to us what we may have believed was ours to begin with. close quote (Read more)