I spoke to Tad DeHaven of the Cato Institute to find out whether there exists similar analysis for municipal governments. It is clear that counties and cities receive their own funding from D.C. directly and substantial additional funds that flow through the fingers of bureaucrats in their state capitals. Unfortunately, no analysis exists that definitively shows what we know: Washington through the power of funding has control over every level of government in America.
There are two ramifications of this. First, our state and municipal leaders are constantly prowling the halls of Congress begging for money. Instead of being home to take care of the needs of their constituents they are pleading for more money from Washington, which comes with multiple strings attached. Our local officials then tell us their hands are tied because of being beholden to those people far away in D.C. We all suffer because we have a less responsive government.
The second factor focuses on the biggest reason this governmental funding shell game continues. That is the fact that the federal government can deficit finance (print money) unlike other levels of government. City, county and state government must balance their budgets, but if they do it, it is with federal funds that are borrowed. The end game is we lose more and more control over our governments and how they are run.
The federal government’s pervasiveness does not stop there. In a recent column that ran in the Wall Street Journal by James Pierson of the Manhattan Institute, he defined how the government has taken over control of charities as they now receive one-third of their funds from government. It also defines what we all know. The not-for-profit organizations in turn have huge lobbying operations in Washington. The charities which were set up to counterbalance the power of government are now going hat in hand to the government wonks and in turn are beholden to them. The say of the lay leaders of these organizations becomes insignificant compared to the control asserted by Washington funding sources.
The growth of D.C. and its suburbs since the days of World War II has been gargantuan. The control they assert over our lives has been commensurate with that growth. The richest counties in America are those surrounding our nation’s capital. You speak to people in Washington and they give you a passing nod because you are not here in the center of the universe – you don’t really understand.
If you are feeling that your say over your daily life is slipping away, you are justified in that feeling. That $3.7 trillion federal budget dictates what we do at all levels. Control over our lives as we know it is slipping away. It gets worse every day and we need to begin the process of reversing this erosion of our freedoms.