We should not accept the statist premise that most government spending helps people. Government spending is not just wasteful or inefficient, but all too often serves to crush the private economy and individual freedom.
In the coming days the media will provide a constant stream of purported victims of spending cuts. But for every victim of cuts there are victims of government spending itself. There are people who lost their businesses because of overzealous federal bureaucrats, who were trapped in dependency and despair by welfare programs, who were forced to pay higher bills to enrich the crony friends of politicians, and who lost their jobs because the government favored a competitor.
Consider Mike and Chantell Sackett, who purchased three quarters of an acre in Idaho to build a home, only to be told by federal bureaucrats that they would be fined $75,000 a day if they proceeded and were entitled to no due process. "Bullying - that's what the EPA does," said Mrs. Sackett. "They came into our lives, took our property, put us in limbo, told us we can't do anything with it, and then threatened us with fines." They had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court just for the right to appeal the arbitrary decision by federal bureaucrats.
Or Dan and Rachel Allgyer, the Amish couple who were forced to close their small Pennsylvania dairy, Rainbow Acres Farm. The Allgyers sold unpasteurized milk, which is apparently such a serious crime that federal agents at the Food and Drug Administration conducted a sting operation, then an armed raid, and eventually sued the Allgyers into oblivion after they tried to reorganize as a cooperative.
Or consider all the farmers suffering in California's Central Valley because just a few weeks into the year, federal bureaucrats at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that too many Delta Smelt have been pulled into water pumps. The current water restriction was enough to grow about $1 billion of fresh fruits and vegetables. This year is already shaping up to be a lot like 2009, when Delta Smelt-related water restrictions devastated the fertile region economically and drove up produce prices nationally.
Every day Americans from all walks of life deal with petty tyrannies and worse from federal bureaucrats. And the economic costs of complying with all the rules and regulations are staggering. Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimated than in 2012 federal regulation imposed economic costs on the U.S. economy in excess of $1.8 trillion.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.
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