For years, Republicans have demanded a smaller government with limited powers. Indeed, Grover Norquist has said, “I want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.’
Okay, I get it. Republicans really hate government. But given the fact that our federal government is already the smallest in 47 years, and given that the size of our federal government ranks just 120th in the world as a percentage of GDP, when will Republicans consider it small enough to drown in the proverbial bathtub?
Exactly how small is small enough?
Roughly a third of all US federal employees are dedicated to national defense. Another 10 percent are in the Department of Homeland Security created by the Bush administration following 9/11. Yet another 10 percent are in law enforcement and prisons. According to Republicans, all of these people are necessary. In fact, Republicans constantly call for increasing the size of our military and border security!
That leaves roughly half of all federal employees to manage all of the remaining functions of government. Of those, nearly half work for the quasi-governmental US Postal Service. Do we no longer need mail service? If not, who is going to deliver your bills, your payments, your magazines, your checks? (Not everyone has access to the Internet, and it has not yet proven to be secure.)
The remaining 600,000-plus federal employees manage all other aspects of government. So what goes? Do we get rid of the IRS which collects the revenue to run our government? If so, how does the government get the money it needs to operate? Do we actually expect it to run on private donations?
Do we eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps? Then what happens to the elderly and the poor? Do we eliminate unemployment insurance? Then what happens to those who can’t find work?
Do we eliminate our federal court system? Do we eliminate our foreign embassies?
Do we eliminate government regulators? Then who becomes responsible for food safety, drug safety and transportation safety? Who keeps banks from taking all of our money and causing a complete collapse of our economy? Who keeps corporations from defrauding our citizens, pillaging our land, dumping industrial waste into our waters and poisoning our air? Who builds our highways? Who keeps hunters, fishermen and commercial interests from “harvesting” species into extinction? Who keeps corporations from clear-cutting our forests? Who subsidizes research and our universities?
It’s one thing to say that government is too big and out of control. It’s quite another to face the reality of living in a plutocracy with corporations and the greedy allowed to completely run amok.