by Karen Norling
Fact: the government will funnel nearly $1-trillion into so-called “federally-funded” benefit and grant programs this year. Yes, you read that right. Nearly 1-trillion.
Question: where did that nearly-one-trillion come from? Did our Founding Fathers print a magical, ever-increasing heap of greenbacks for politicians, then and now, to distribute as they saw fit? Did they (our Founders) plant a perpetually-blooming, “for-government-use-only” currency tree?
Of course, they did neither of these things. The truth is, every one of the nearly-trillion dollars our beloved legislators now misspend, originally came from you and me, the taxpayers.
If you know nothing else about the government, know this: it produces absolutely nothing of value. Instead, it insidiously steals larger and larger portions of what we produce, via taxing larger and larger portions of our hard-earned paychecks. Indeed, it is we taxpayers who pick up the tab for the vast panoply of so-called “government” or “federal” benefits that larger and larger numbers of people take advantage of.
Don’t get me wrong. I am more than happy to contribute to programs that offer worthwhile benefits to people who truly need them. I boldly confess, my mom and dad needed the assistance of food stamps, for a few months–in 1978–when my dad unexpectedly lost the job he’d worked for more than two decades. (Note: both mom and dad were exceedingly grateful toward all the taxpayers who, in essence, made those stamps available.) But I digress.
Here’s the problem: not enough of us realize how much our beloved Congress-members continually swipe from the fruits of our labor. And until we realize just that—i.e., until we start voting true conservatives into office–that nearly-trillion will become more-than-one trillion, then more than two trillion, then more than three trillion, with no end in sight.
So, I suggest we all do the following, from this point forward: each time we see or hear the phrase “federally-funded” or “government-funded,” let’s replace the word “federally” or “government” with the word “taxpayer,” thereby creating the extraordinarily-transparent, 100%-accurate phrase, “taxpayer funded”–as in: taxpayer-funded Social Security Insurance, taxpayer-funded “Family Planning” services (i.e., no-cost contraception and abortion), taxpayer-funded “Obamacare” (remember, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is, indeed, a tax), taxpayer-funded Medicare, taxpayer-funded “Healthy Start” programs, taxpayer-funded “School Breakfast and Lunch” programs (some of which continue during the summer months when school is not even in session). And the list goes on.
There’s one Senator in particular who knows all about taking as much as he can from responsible, hard-working Americans and giving it to the rapidly-escalating number of Americans who prefer to work as little as possible.
(Again, I am not referring to those who need a “helping hand” from time to time, or to those who are truly disabled and cannot care for themselves.)
That senator is up for re-election–yet again–and his name is: Sherrod Brown. Take some time to surf his website, and you’ll discover just how eager he is to spend your money.
Ever heard of a “congressional directed spending item”? Neither had I until I read the following statement from Senator Brown (under the sub-heading, “Federal Spending”) on his site: “Thank you for your interest in requesting a congressional directed spending item from our office. My staff and I want to assist all Ohioans in their pursuit of federal dollars for worthy programs. If you are interested in seeking a congressional spending item, please complete this initial request form . . .” (emphasis mine)
Translation: “I haven’t wasted nearly enough taxpayer money yet, so I’m encouraging ya’ll to request ‘congressional-spending items.’ I long to give you as many goodies as I can, so you will, in turn, vote for me (when I’m up for re-election—as I relentlessly am). Indeed, when you vote for me and enable me to remain in my position of power, I’ll keep spending (what your fellow-constituents earn) until you, yourself, are totally dependent on me (i.e., the government), at which point, I will control every aspect of your life, 24/7, and there will be nothing you can do to stop me.”
Under the heading, “What We Can Do For You,” Senator Brown states: “As your United States Senator, my top priority is ensuring the best constituent services possible . . . [I] can . . . help you navigate federal [taxpayer-funded] programs and interact with federal [taxpayer-funded] agencies . . .” (emphasis mine)
Similarly, under the heading, “Grants and Federal Funding,” he states: “My office is able to assist Ohioans searching for federal funding and grants in several different ways. Please click here to find out more information.” (emphasis mine)
I must say, of all the sources of “federal funding” the Senator so graciously provides links to–on the “Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance” page–I am most intrigued with (as well as most irritated by) the following two: “benefits.gov” and “grants.gov,” the first of which I will henceforth refer to as “B.G.”
B.G blithely offers a seemingly-endless smorgasbord of taxpayer-funded “assistance” programs that fall into one or more of the following categories: public-housing assistance, home-energy assistance, childcare assistance, education assistance, healthcare assistance, career-development assistance, and federal-employee assistance.
You’ll discover, as you “navigate” the B.G website, that B.G not only helps people locate taxpayer-funded programs they might be eligible for– “benefits.gov was launched in an effort to provide citizens with easy, online access to government [taxpayer-funded] benefit and assistance programs”—but also encourages those people to return to the site on a regular basis to search for additional programs, as they become available: “. . . benefits.gov is free [i.e., taxpayer-funded], so feel free to visit us as often as you like . . . new benefit programs are created over time that you might also be eligible for.” (emphasis mine)
Doubtless, you’ll be as tickled as I was to learn (via the B.G “Overview” page) that we now contribute to “more than 1,000,” shall we say, philanthropic programs–as compared to the “55” programs we contributed to when B.G was “launched” in 2002.
Here are just a few of the absolutely-imperative, don’t-know-how-anyone-could-live-without programs our tax dollars make possible: the “Architectural Barriers Act Enforcement” program,” the “Good Neighbor Next Door Sales” program,” the “Tribal Recruitment and Retention” program, the “Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation” program, the “Tax Relief for Divorced or Separated Individuals” program, the “Special Improvement Project” program, the “National Vaccine Injury Compensation” program,” the “Healthy Forests Reserve” program, the “Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Independent Study Program,” the “Clinical Research Loan Repayment for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds” program, and the “Migrant Education – High School Equivalency” program.
Let’s move on to grants.gov (G.G), the huge-hearted entity that provides “access to approximately $500 billion in annual [taxpayer-funded] awards” from a mind-boggling menu of “over 1,000 [taxpayer-funded] . . . programs”
If you’re not sure how “grants” differ from “benefits” (I was a little fuzzy on that one, myself), here’s the description I received from “Grants.gov Customer Support”: “Grants are a form of federal assistance used to carry out a public purpose in support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States. Although there are many grants on Grants.gov, few of them are available to individuals and none of them are available for personal financial assistance, student loans or starting a small business.”
My first question, after reading this, was: “In ‘support’ or ‘stimulation’ of what?” I still don’t really know the answer to that question, but I was able to locate, via G.G, a few of the “supportive”/“stimulating” grants our tax dollars are subsidizing:
The “Great Apes Conservation Fund FY13” grant, the “NEH/DFG Bilateral Digital Humanities” grant, the “Development & Expansion of Economic Assistance Programs That Fully Utilize Cooperatives and Credit Unions,” grant, the “Innovations in Gender Equality (IGE) to Promote Household Food Security” grant, the “Inspiring Ocean Stewardship Through Art, Photography and Film” grant, the “FOA: Technology Research Development and Tools for Clean Biomass Cookstoves” grant, the “Enduring Questions” grant, the “Genetic Screens to Enhance Zebrafish Research,” grant, and the “Sentinel Ecology and Pyric Herbivory” grant.
But wait! There’s more! We not only subsidize such grants here in the U.S., we subsidize them in foreign countries, as well. Grants that include, but are not limited to: the “USAID/India’s Economic Development for Tibetan Settlements” grant, the “Yemen Responsive Governance Project” grant, the “Project to Reduce Child Labor in Burkina Faso” grant, the “Access to Just and Human Rights in Kyrgyzstan” grant, and the “Enabling Quality, Access and Transparency in Education for Senegal” grant.
Something to ponder: should we be donating money to a country whose terrorists—just two days ago—murdered one of our U.S. Ambassadors? A country whose terrorists, likewise, murdered nearly twenty of our sailors in an attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000?
To sum it all up: if you’re the type of person who desires to work/produce as little as possible–while receiving as many taxpayer-funded benefits as possible–Sherrod Brown is definitely your man. By all means, vote for him–“early and often,” as the expression goes.
If, on the other hand, you’re the type of person who feels the need to work, who desires to produce and create and innovate with “the sky’s-the-limit” abandon–the type of person who yearns for government to get out of your way so you can achieve whatever quality of life you desire—run from Sherrod as fast as you can.
Josh Mandel is running for U.S. Senate against Senator Sherrod Brown.