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Limited Government
01 February 2004 | Me

Posted on 02/01/2004 4:31:37 PM PST by Voice in your head

There seems to be a disagreement, regarding just what exactly limited government is. The recent expansion under the current administration has not helped. I just want to make sure that we are all on the same sheet of music. Below is my understanding of what would need to happen, for our government to be limited. If there is anything wrong with this, please let me know.

Disassociate our federal government from all boards, commissions and committees.

Eliminate the following departments of the federal government:
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of Labor
- Department of Transportation
- Department of the Interior

Some of the departments above have some necessary agencies. For these exceptions, do the following:
- Keep the Bureau of Census and place it in the executive branch. If the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics are deemed necessary for addressing the state of the union, then place them under the executive branch.
- For agencies that deal with the collection of weather, terrain and oceanic data, such as the National Weather Service, et cetera, place these agencies under the control of the CIA or DIA and allow the CIA or DIA to determine what functions to keep and what to eliminate.
- Place agencies that deal with nuclear emergencies and waste under the command of the department of Homeland Security. This includes test sites.
- Retain the Center for Disease Control and place it in the Department of Homeland Security. Limit its scope to infectious diseases, HIV, and other diseases or viruses of a national security nature.

Within the departments that remain, eliminate the following:
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Drug Enforcement Agency
- National Drug Intelligence Center
- Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
- Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
- Internal Revenue Service

For remaining infrastructure and real estate, do the following:
- Sell all laboratories, equipment and research facilities to the highest bidder. Restrict bidders to American citizens, American educational institutions, and American-based businesses. If equipment is of a sensitive nature, give it to the Department of Defense or CIA, as appropriate.
- Sell all national parks and federally owned land not used by the military or remaining agencies to the highest bidder.
- Sell all other infrastructure to the highest bidder.

Within the Executive Branch, eliminate the following:
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Office of the First Lady

Sell the US Botanic Garden, Library of Congress, all museums, all galleries, and the National Zoo.

Place the US Copyright Office under control of the Department of Justice.

Eliminate the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration.

Combine NASA and the Space Command. Place them under the command of the Air Force or create a new department within the Department of Defense. Place the CIA under the command of the Department of Homeland Defense.


TOPICS: General Discussion; Issues
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 02/01/2004 4:31:37 PM PST by Voice in your head
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To: Voice in your head
You forgot the FAA, which is currently in the Dept. of Transportation.

I'd also caution that outside of political junkies (like most of us here), most people seem to prefer to avoid change, especially large change. I'd like to see most of the changes you detailed, but I don't think a candidate for federal office is likely to win a majority of the thousands of votes needed by advocating something so radical. After 70+ years of increasing federalism and government growth, I think baby steps are the only workable way to achieve limited-government goals.
2 posted on 02/01/2004 6:25:50 PM PST by FreedomFlynnie (Your tagline here, for just pennies a day!)
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To: FreedomFlynnie
I was just curious if my view of limited government is in any way similar to how other people view limited government. I am often amazed at hearing suggested reforms (rather than eliminations) of various agencies uttered in the same breath as "limited government." I think that we've sunk so far into socialism that "limited government" is now simply viewed as the creation of a 10% income tax bracket.

"You forgot the FAA, which is currently in the Dept. of Transportation."

I wrote to eliminate the whole department. That would include the FAA.

3 posted on 02/02/2004 7:41:54 AM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
The problem is just that: most people (not most FR posters, or most Internet pundits, but Americans as a whole) do not understand limited government, especially if it meant them giving up a perceived benefit (like Social Security). IMO the way to go about it is educating the average person by electing politicians willing to take small steps towards shrinking gov't, as opposed to hammering people about the candidate who'll cut 70% of gov't in day 1 but only get 2% of the vote from people who don't understand why a 70% cut is good if it means they give up some benefit.

I wrote to eliminate the whole department. That would include the FAA.

Sorry, I was unclear. Let me rephrase: as written above, your proposal would eliminate the FAA without reinstating it (or an agency with the same functions) under another branch or department.

If I misunderstood, and you actually don't want anyone to do what the FAA does, I might comment that I'm about as big a fan of small gov't as anyone but am against eliminating the FAA (without replacing it). I once wrote a libertarian argument against privatizing air traffic control, which would apply to the FAA as well. It's unique, but there may be other small agencies that have similar arguments for them. Those are the kinds of agencies no one should even talk about eliminating for years, until all the real waste and unconstitutional programs are eliminated.
4 posted on 02/02/2004 9:09:24 AM PST by FreedomFlynnie (Your tagline here, for just pennies a day!)
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To: FreedomFlynnie
IMHO, the key is the New Deal Commerce Clause and the substantial effects doctrine. Throw those out, and go back to the idea that "to regulate commerce among the several states" meant to simply keep interstate commerce in good working order, and the ones that need to go and the ones that need to stay become apparent.
5 posted on 02/03/2004 4:53:06 PM PST by tacticalogic (Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: tacticalogic
Excellent point re: abuse of the interstate commerce clause but you neglected the "general welfare" clause.

These two usurpations are the root of most of the problem with the fedgov abusing the Constitution.

Regards

J.R.
6 posted on 02/07/2004 7:25:03 PM PST by NMC EXP (Choose one: [a] party [b] principle.)
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To: Voice in your head
Good list. I will try to comment more later, but a great start!
7 posted on 02/08/2004 10:51:05 AM PST by dcwusmc ("The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself.)
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To: Voice in your head
eliminate the following:
Internal Revenue Service

Where will the government get its funds to operate from without the IRS?
8 posted on 02/09/2004 7:17:32 AM PST by B4Ranch ( Dear Mr. President, Sir, Are you listening to the voters?)
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To: Voice in your head
This is the dream. But unfortunately, it will never happen. Why? Because although the history of this country was made largely by people who wanted to be left alone. That breed is long gone and pretty much totally replaced by the gammas produced by lackadaisical parents and the government schooling experiment.

Now America has become the land of those who cannot thrive when left to themselves.

It was a good run while it lasted.
9 posted on 02/09/2004 1:32:52 PM PST by RunningJoke
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To: RunningJoke
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1076732/posts
10 posted on 02/12/2004 9:21:36 AM PST by OPS4
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To: B4Ranch
"Where will the government get its funds to operate from without the IRS?"

Excise taxes and auctions. Tax alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, lottery winnings, and pornography, to start off. Sell all federal lands that are not needed for government infrastructure. Sell all infrastructure not within the bounds of limited government. Income taxes account for about half of federal revenue. If the changes outlined in this thread were to happen, then the budget would shrink by at least half.

11 posted on 02/14/2004 5:42:07 AM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
I can easily go along with your ideas but most folks on FR couldn't.
12 posted on 02/14/2004 6:30:58 AM PST by B4Ranch ( Dear Mr. President, Sir, Are you listening to the voters?)
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To: Voice in your head
You advocate sin taxes and I was beginning to think you had a libertarian streak.

Fund a limited, Constitutional govt the way the Founders intended via tariffs.

Stay away from "sin taxes".

The power to tax is the power to destroy.

If the powers that be don't like any particular activity all they need do is label it a sin and that activity will cease.

Regards

J.R.

13 posted on 02/14/2004 12:12:51 PM PST by NMC EXP (Choose one: [a] party [b] principle.)
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To: NMC EXP
If we work on the assumption that government needs some revenue, why should we choose to tax trade, rather than taxing what I proposed?

Taxing imports makes them more expensive for the consumer. What is more important for consumers to be able to afford? Clothing, electronics, and vehicles - or beer, cigarettes, and Hustler?
14 posted on 02/14/2004 5:01:50 PM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
If we work on the assumption that government needs some revenue

I am a Constitutionist or minarchist. We need a limited govt as described by the Constitution. It needs some money to get the job done.

As to sin taxes vs tariffs:

(1) you define sinful substances as alcohol, tobacco and porn. OK....problem is the defintion of sin will change. Are you a religious person? In a few years maybe churches become non gratia. Like your SUV or pickup? Lot of people don't. Can't forget firearms and ammo....can't ban them due to that pesky 2nd but they can sure tax them into oblivion.

Further, taxing only a portion of the population for govt services all will benefit from is immoral. That is cost shifting and is no different from the welfare costs the productive currently bear to support the non producers.

(2) yes tariffs are a tax. It is a cost which will be added to the price of that particular item and is therefore a user tax. That makes it fair (fair based on the assumption that some minimal level of govt is required).

Regards

J.R.

15 posted on 02/14/2004 7:23:23 PM PST by NMC EXP (Choose one: [a] party [b] principle.)
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To: NMC EXP
"(1) you define sinful substances as alcohol, tobacco and porn. OK....problem is the defintion of sin will change. Are you a religious person? In a few years maybe churches become non gratia. Like your SUV or pickup? Lot of people don't. Can't forget firearms and ammo....can't ban them due to that pesky 2nd but they can sure tax them into oblivion."

I'll hit on something that I should have hit on in the previous post - I do not advocate "sin taxes". It just happens that advocates of sin taxes favor taxing certain items and I think that those choices of items make sense. But, I do not base my opinion of what items should be taxed upon some religious or other busy-body/do-gooder type of viewpoint. I favor a tax system in which you can choose to not pay, or to pay much less, without significantly altering your lifestyle. Alcohol, tobacco, etc are abundantly produced and consumed and make for a reliable source of revenue, but if people choose to stop purchasing them, to avoid taxation, then those people's lives will not significantly change. It makes more sense than taxing baby formula or sugar and it makes more sense than charging tariffs on steel and oil. I think that to tax the most unnecessary of items is most in line with promoting the general welfare.

Also, I think that tariffs are the worst type of taxation, because of their unintended consequences: retaliatory tariffs and increased lobbying by American businesses who want tariffs on their foreign competitors, to compensate for their substandard performance.

Tariffs cannot be ruled out, because they may be necessary, but I do not think that they should be the first or only option. If we do need to impose tariffs for additional revenue, then the careful selection of which products to impose tariffs on should be based upon the following criteria:
1) the importance of the product to the average American's lifestyle (the lower, the better)
2) the cost of collecting the tax versus the revenue collected (most efficient)
3) the effects upon the overall economy (least negatively)
4) the degree to which the tariff impacts upon the prices of similar products in the US (less impact, the better)

Those criteria seem to be most in line with promoting the general welfare, in my opinion.

The most ideal items to impose tariffs on would be on those items that are distinctive by virtue of only being made in foreign countries, such as Persian rugs, French Champagne, collectible items from Saddam's Palaces, etc.

"Further, taxing only a portion of the population for govt services all will benefit from is immoral. That is cost shifting and is no different from the welfare costs the productive currently bear to support the non producers."

How do we avoid this? There will always be the "buy American" crowd and there will always be a lower class. Tariffs will not result in those groups paying taxes.

"(2) yes tariffs are a tax. It is a cost which will be added to the price of that particular item and is therefore a user tax. That makes it fair (fair based on the assumption that some minimal level of govt is required)."

Fair does not equal best, because there are many methods of fair taxation. I think that my proposal is fair, because it is voluntary even within the context of a normal life, and it is better than imposing tariffs.

In regards to user taxes, I think that the best form of charging users is to have a user fee. For example, if you copyright an invention, then you pay the associated administrative fees; if you are in immigrant applying for a Visa or citizenship, then you pay the associated administrative fees; etc.

16 posted on 02/15/2004 7:47:13 AM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
I favor a tax system in which you can choose to not pay, or to pay much less, without significantly altering your lifestyle

A moral judgement on your part.

Alcohol, tobacco, etc are abundantly produced and consumed and make for a reliable source of revenue, but if people choose to stop purchasing them, to avoid taxation, then those people's lives will not significantly change

Another moral judgement. You also seem to be aware that when the tax on these "unnecessary"items becomes too high the tax revenue will go down. People will either quit using the items or the black market will step in. Your plan will not provide enough revenue for a limited fedgov.

As to tariffs, the US enjoyed its greatest prosperity from the end of WW2 to the mid 70's. That with tariffs averaging 24% and total foreign trade below 14% of GNP.

Regards

J.R.

17 posted on 02/15/2004 8:15:43 AM PST by NMC EXP (Choose one: [a] party [b] principle.)
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To: NMC EXP
"A moral judgement on your part."

No. It is my interpretation of the preamble to the constitution. As I said, assuming that some taxes are necessary, "I think that to tax the most unnecessary of items is most in line with promoting the general welfare."

"You also seem to be aware that when the tax on these 'unnecessary' items becomes too high the tax revenue will go down. People will either quit using the items or the black market will step in."

Right. That is why care should be taken to not levy taxes that are so high that they encourage such behavior.

"Your plan will not provide enough revenue for a limited fedgov."

So far, this is what I've put forth as a potential plan in this fantasy limited government:
"Tax alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, lottery winnings, and pornography, to start off. Sell all federal lands that are not needed for government infrastructure. Sell all infrastructure not within the bounds of limited government."
"...I think that the best form of charging users is to have a user fee. For example, if you copyright an invention, then you pay the associated administrative fees; if you are in immigrant applying for a Visa or citizenship, then you pay the associated administrative fees..."
"Tariffs cannot be ruled out, because they may be necessary, but I do not think that they should be the first or only option. If we do need to impose tariffs for additional revenue, then the careful selection of which products to impose tariffs on should be based upon the following criteria:
1) the importance of the product to the average American's lifestyle (the lower, the better)
2) the cost of collecting the tax versus the revenue collected (most efficient)
3) the effects upon the overall economy (least negatively)
4) the degree to which the tariff impacts upon the prices of similar products in the US (less impact, the better)"

"As to tariffs, the US enjoyed its greatest prosperity from the end of WW2 to the mid 70's. That with tariffs averaging 24% and total foreign trade below 14% of GNP."

What's the point? Tariffs lead to prosperity? Prosperity can co-exist with tariffs? Something else?

18 posted on 02/15/2004 10:52:08 AM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
How do you connect the "general welfare clause" to what I call sin taxes?

What is you opinion on the meaning of general welfare? Do you go with original intent or subsequent SCOTUS rulings?

Regards

J.R.
19 posted on 02/15/2004 7:29:51 PM PST by NMC EXP (Choose one: [a] party [b] principle.)
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To: NMC EXP
"How do you connect the 'general welfare clause' to what I call sin taxes?"

I'm not sure what you're asking. I think that some taxes are necessary, so the government must determine what to tax. Since our government was established, in part, to promote the general welfare, and since taxes are only destructive, then the choice of what to tax should be based, in large part, on what least detracts from the general welfare.

"What is you opinion on the meaning of general welfare? Do you go with original intent or subsequent SCOTUS rulings?"

General welfare of the people is their state of health, security, happiness, prosperity. The general welfare of the people can only be improved by the people. The government can only promote the general welfare of the people by striking a balance between maximizing the freedom of the people and providing maximum protection of their rights - rights being all acts except those which impose force, fraud, or corruption against another person or his property.

I'll be out of the net until next week - headed to the field.

20 posted on 02/16/2004 6:31:21 AM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
I'm with you on a lot of that -- agriculture, education, all sorts of things can be eliminated from federal jurisfiction. But I'd keep things like the Department of Transportation, since that genuinely involves interstate commerce.
21 posted on 02/16/2004 10:57:21 PM PST by BackInBlack
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To: Voice in your head
One more thing: how about just eliminating NASA? What good does it do human beings? And who gave the federal government the authority to explore space?
22 posted on 02/16/2004 10:59:17 PM PST by BackInBlack
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To: Voice in your head
Sell the US Botanic Garden, Library of Congress, all museums, all galleries, and the National Zoo.

Should Congress be the only legislative body in the world without a library?

23 posted on 02/19/2004 6:06:00 PM PST by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
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To: BackInBlack
"...I'd keep things like the Department of Transportation, since that genuinely involves interstate commerce."

The internet genuinely involves interstate commerce, too. Should we establish a Department of the Internet? What is it about genuine involvement that justifies a continuing role for the government?

One more thing: how about just eliminating NASA? What good does it do human beings? And who gave the federal government the authority to explore space?

NASA is a fine tool for research and development of space, which is now part of our national defense strategy. It will benefit human beings, because humans benefit by the advancement of American interests, but that is not why we should or should not keep NASA.

24 posted on 02/25/2004 2:33:21 PM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: A.J.Armitage
"Should Congress be the only legislative body in the world without a library?"

Only if the other legislative bodies in the world choose to have libraries.

25 posted on 02/25/2004 2:34:04 PM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
"The internet genuinely involves interstate commerce, too. Should we establish a Department of the Internet?"

No, but we could have an office that deals with internet issues in the Department of Commerce.

"What is it about genuine involvement that justifies a continuing role for the government?"

It's not just "genuine involvement" -- it's genuine involvement in things that the Constitution has mandated that the federal government regulate. If the Constitution says the feds have to deal with interstate commerce -- as it does -- then failing to do so would be to reject the rule of law in favor of a flexible, activist view of the Constitution.

"NASA is a fine tool for research and development of space, which is now part of our national defense strategy. It will benefit human beings, because humans benefit by the advancement of American interests, but that is not why we should or should not keep NASA."

Then what is the reason? As I said, the federal government was never authorized to explore space. If we want to conduct research on defense, we don't have to do it under the auspices of an organization with an extra-Constitutional mission.
26 posted on 02/25/2004 11:10:25 PM PST by BackInBlack
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To: BackInBlack
"No, but we could have an office that deals with internet issues in the Department of Commerce."

Yes, but should we? Likewise, should we have a Department of Commerce? I do not think so.

"It's not just "genuine involvement" -- it's genuine involvement in things that the Constitution has mandated that the federal government regulate. If the Constitution says the feds have to deal with interstate commerce -- as it does -- then failing to do so would be to reject the rule of law in favor of a flexible, activist view of the Constitution."

The government has the power to regulate interstate commerce, but not the duty.

"The Congress shall have power... To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes..."

I think that government should minimize its regulation of interstate commerce, because the marketplace can perform better without social engineering and government bureaucracy clogging the gears of progress. I think that government should focus its efforts on protecting our rights, especially from threats against our right to life from current and potential foreign enemies.

"Then what is the reason? As I said, the federal government was never authorized to explore space."

I could have worded what I wrote a little better. The reason is not the second sentence: "It will benefit human beings, because humans benefit by the advancement of American interests, but that is not why we should or should not keep NASA." The reason is the first sentence: "NASA is a fine tool for research and development of space, which is now part of our national defense strategy." That is not a justification for the creation of NASA. But, it is a justification for retaining a trimmed-down version of it, if it is put under control of the military.

"If we want to conduct research on defense, we don't have to do it under the auspices of an organization with an extra-Constitutional mission."

And that is kind of what I am addressing in the sentence above. Just as an interstate highway system is kosher, due to the power to regulate interstate commerce, military-related research and development is kosher due to the power to provide for the common defense.

27 posted on 02/26/2004 3:24:41 PM PST by Voice in your head ("The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage." - Thucydides)
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To: Voice in your head
Years ago, I had a book titled "The Liberty Amendment', which has a pretty complete plan for paring the federal government down to a size where the income tax would not be needed. Obviously it never went anywhere, but it still seems like a good idea.
28 posted on 03/02/2004 1:49:31 PM PST by Celtman (It's never right to do wrong to do right.)
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To: Celtman

Have you read Molon Labe?


29 posted on 06/23/2004 4:51:53 AM PDT by B4Ranch ( GET READY!!..-> http://www.ready.gov/get_a_kit.html)
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To: B4Ranch
Have you read Molon Labe?

      No, I haven't.  But after checking into it, it sounds like it would be interesting.
30 posted on 06/23/2004 9:04:29 PM PDT by Celtman (It's never right to do wrong to do right.)
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To: Celtman

It is interesting because it shows what's possible.


31 posted on 06/23/2004 9:28:20 PM PDT by B4Ranch (which i did not author)
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