Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 7, 2013

CONFER: Non-essential parts of our federal government

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In the weeks leading up to the so-called government shutdown we were led to believe that the Apocalypse was upon us. Not surprisingly, when it did hit, the Niagara River kept flowing, the winds didn’t stop, and, magically, the Earth kept spinning. As a matter of fact, a great majority of Americans have been mostly unaffected by the shutdown. It shows that a smaller federal government is alright.

So, what exactly would constitute a good “smaller government”? Congress doesn’t seem to know. Neither does the Obama administration. From the start of the shutdown, the powers-that-be seemed to indiscriminately determine who was essential and who wasn’t because folks whose services were truly needed (and whose duties have constitutional basis) were cast aside, while those who are deadweight (and sport unconstitutional roles) were kept.

To make a smarter, cheaper, and more constitutional federal government, one could start by permanently shutting down the following entities:

Department of Education: If you are a fan of the DOE you either, one, work for it or, two, have no understanding of how education works. Education works best at the local level, in a shared effort of caring and competent parents, district administrators, and teachers independent of some far away bureaucracy. Passionate and effective education can only be accomplished by allowing local districts to teach as they want, what they want and how they want; after all, who knows kids better than their parents and teachers? They will never create good students by being forced to teach to standards, be those standards some hare-brained expectation of what kids should know or ideals on how teachers should perform developed by someone totally removed from the art. There’s a reason why since the DOE was instituted in 1979, that America went from producing the brightest students in the world to some of the most dimwitted. The annual cost: $81.6 billion.

Transportation Security Administration: The TSA is a direct infringement on various aspects of the Constitution and natural rights as 65,000 government officers are allowed to search bags and bodies, while groping, fondling, and ogling at their will (and against yours) for an alleged air of safety. It should be up to the airline industry and its travelers (not all Americans) to protect industry’s assets (planes) and customers. The airlines should have the duty to manage threats and charge their clients accordingly in their ticket prices. It would be up to them to develop the means -- some may use scanners while others may opt for pat-downs, the Israeli method or metal detectors only. It’s their choice. Then it would be up to the consumers to choose the company and the safety measures that they have the most desire for and comfort with. Travel and all its inconveniences would be a free choice. If someone wanted invasive procedures for peace of mind, so be it. If another wanted the least hassle possible, more power to him. The annual cost: $8.1 billion.

Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA is the ultimate in both unconstitutionality and redundancy. The federal government has no right to manage or interfere in the environments and development of the states – those powers are left specifically to the states. As a matter of fact, every state already has its own environmental wing and it should be that agency and municipalities working together to set the standards affecting clean air, water, and land within a state’s borders. A boilerplate environmental plan for all states thrown together by some army of bureaucrats is silly and does nothing for states’ and individual rights (or the environment). The annual cost: $9 billion.

If you want to talk shut down, those 3 agencies are a start. Were they to be shut down, their savings alone would come in at just under $100 billion. That’s pretty significant and there are dozens more departments as illegal and wasteful as they are.

So, the next time a shutdown becomes a reality, let’s focus on making real and permanent cuts to these and other non-essentials, which would allow us to keep the organizations that are essential and constitutional in their role, like the Border Patrol and our local air bases. It’s the right way – the legal way – to run a government.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer