U.S. Government: Too Small?

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By many measures, our federal government is too small. While it is an article of faith among the politically conservative that “small government” is a cherished ideal; practically speaking, a government that is too small is injurious to the aspirations of all citizens. The guiding principle should not be “the best government is the least government”; it should be that the best government is the government that provides the greatest benefit for the greatest number. As the economy expands over time, as the population increases, the administrative function of the government should grow organically along with the economy; just as that function would grow along with a growing company or corporation. It makes sense that the optimum size of government is a function like the Laffer Curve; too much government stifles productivity and freedom, too little government starves out productivity and protection. It is clearer every day that the government is currently too small.


The House of Representatives is understaffed. According to Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, “the number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand…” But in 2019, there are 435 representatives for a population of 325 million. So each representative has 750,000 constituents on average. If each representative splits her time equally between legislative business and constituent outreach, the average time each constituent would get to interface with his representative over the two year term of office would be roughly 30 seconds. Not representative enough..


The IRS is understaffed. This is one of the more critical deficiencies since the IRS is a “profit center”; this understaffing hurts the nation’s financial health.


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is understaffed. The backlog is currently over half a million applications. This understaffing hurts the nation’s commercial vitality.


The Border Patrol is understaffed. This hurts the nation’s security.


The Federal Court system is understaffed. This hurts the administration of justice.


Other agencies that are understaffed (and, under Trump, particularly in the ranks of management) include the Departments of Interior, Veterans Affairs, and State; the Bureau of Prisons; the EPA; OSHA; and more.


If the effectiveness of our nation’s government continues to erode, a downward spiral could take hold that could turn into a crisis of civil society. That is a preventable outcome if we “invest in the infrastructure” of government.