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Abler-Minded: Money in government

We have listened to members of both political parties decrying the influence of money in politics. While politics and government seem to go together, there are vast areas of government that are just bureaucracy.

Have you ever stopped to consider the influence of money in and on government as a whole? I would offer that we cannot get the money out of politics until we get some of the money out of government first.

The primary reason our federal government is able to exert so much influence over the individual states and you is (drum roll, please) money. Some might contend that it’s really just the laws that are the reasons for the government’s power, but it’s so much more than that.

Besides the letter of the laws, you find the myriad/morass of government rules and regulations that say “do this, or you will be fined” or “don’t do this and you will lose these federal funds.”

If you look at Obamacare, it’s chock full of those types of carrot/big stick rules — with heavy emphasis on the stick!

It’s getting closer to April 15, when federal and state taxes are due on individual income. In rough numbers, the federal government takes in $2.2 to $2.5 trillion in taxes each year.

Because of the lousy economy, the number has been at the low end of that range for the last four years. 2008 was the last time the high end was noted. But what does the federal government do with all that money?

Well, the money is supposed to be used to fund the essential functions of the nation. The defense department takes up a large chunk of the money, but the “entitlements” take up far more and they continue to grow while the defense budget keeps shrinking.

I’m not going to debate that situation today. What I am going to try to point out is that the federal government keeps itself in power by taking money from us with one hand and gives some back to us with the other ... and eats up a lot of the money in the process of switching hands.

Is that the best way to do this?

If you look at, you will see them advertise that “the federal government is the largest source of free federal grants in the world, giving away billions of dollars in grants, no interest and low interest loans. ...”

There are 26 separate grant-making agencies in the federal government alone, and if you add to that however many agencies there are that administer or dole out money to the states, universities, colleges, schools, businesses and individuals, you will begin to get a picture of why the federal government is the largest employer in the country.

The federal government — government, military and postal service — employs close to 4 million people. If you add government contractors and grantees, it’s closer to 14.6 million.

By comparison, Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States at 1.8 million employees.

Of course, when the citizens, institutions, businesses and state governments start looking for money to do things, one of the first places they turn to is the federal government. While the federal bureaucracy (employees and business operations) eat up a lot of money, the government also turns around and sends it back to the citizens, institutions, businesses and state governments to fund nearly everything you can imagine ... and some things that are beyond the imagination.

I have lived in cities, counties and states around the country and one thing I’ve noticed is everyone wants to know how much they are getting back from the government versus what they put in. Getting accurate information on that question is very difficult and the results you can find might not be very accurate.

I did find one source for the year 2005 that revealed that New Mexico and Mississippi received just over $2 in federal dollars for every dollar that originated in those states. Fifteen states received less than they contributed. Minnesota received 72 cents for each dollar and the two lowest states, Nevada and New Jersey, received 65 and 61 cents, respectively.

The bottom line in my mind is that it just appears to be quite illogical and very inefficient to give a great deal of money to the federal government, only to have the expectation that you’re going to get much of it back at some point in time, minus what is eaten up in administrative costs and bureaucracy.

But back to my main point, this is how the federal government maintains its power over the states and you. And the same things happen at the state level, but obviously not to the degree as the federal government.

Have you ever thought about how you would operate if you were financially independent? Assuming your lifestyle matched your income and was sufficient to pay all your bills and to save a modest amount, you would probably have a lot less stress and anxiety.

Because if you were in that situation, you wouldn’t need the government for much of anything and its power could be vastly reduced.

Sounds good to me!

Well, that’s what’s been on my mind.