I’m thinking of making this a recurring feature here on SOL2k10: The Spotlight on Irrelevance. Focusing on Federal, State, and Local government spending programs that have outlived their usefulness (provided they ever had any, to begin with, which is a high bar lawmakers generally avoid living up to when their pet projects are running through the legislative paces).
Today’s culprit: USAID. Early last week, the National Journal (a leftist rag) reported, with typical effervescence, on a new program being funded through USAID. According to the article, Citi will be receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $23 million from USAID to close the loop on “the last mile.” (Click the link above for what this phrase denotes. It would be priceless, if it weren’t so damned infuriating.)
The obvious question (to anyone not blindly enamored of government programs for their own sake, regardless of results, intended or otherwise) is this: what the hell business does the federal government of the United States of America have in funding infrastructure for banking transactions in “emerging” economies? Can we find this power in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution? Nope. Not there.
But wait! The article doesn’t say a word about Congress authorizing this $23 million expenditure, does it? Hmm. So, perhaps this is merely a bureaucratic function of the federal government, through USAID? After all, the agency was instituted by the (unconstitutional) executive fiat of one John Fitzgerald Kennedy (I know it’s wikipedia, but it’s well-sourced), so perhaps we should be looking for the justification in Article 2? Well, I’ll be damned! It’s not there, either. Curious, that.
Well, let’s explore the stated objectives of USAID. Perhaps we can find some language there that vaguely echoes the US Constitution? Well, holy entangling alliances, Batman! Some familiar stuff there, huh? But not from the Constitution, it would seem.
Can you say “League of Nations”? I knew you could.
Despite the “good intentions” of USAID overall (and the fluffing from the National Journal, regarding this most recent $23 million project), it is simply impossible to find any justification for this organization in our Constitution, nor in the writings or practices of our founders. In fact, one need look no further than George Washington’s farewell address to find a stark rebuttal of a myriad of federal practices which are now viewed as commonplace.
And this latest announcement completely ignores that USAID was used to fund “fledgling political parties” in Egypt, following their “glorious peoples’ revolution” last year. Or that funds have been routinely tapped into for decades to pay for dubiously-beneficial projects throughout “emerging nations” around the globe.
In a nation facing a $16 trillion national debt, and unfunded liabilities topping $110 trillion, perhaps it’s time to realize that all manner of profligate federal spending must be curtailed. In the grand scheme, is it “radical” to suggest that USAID has run its course?
USAID was created by an executive order during the Kennedy administration. It can be abolished with a stroke of the pen, as well.
Romney? Romney? Romney?