On Monday May 18 the New York Times had an article on government self-promotion that has gotten at least some attention. The article is "Critics Hear E.P.A.'s Voice in 'Public Comments,'" by Eric Lipton and Coral Davenport.
Seems that EPA administrator Gina McCarthy recently testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the subject of some new regulations relating to drinking water. To demonstrate to the Committee how popular the regulations are, McCarthy cited some one million or so public comments, nearly 90% of which, she claimed, supported the rule:
“We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments we have counted so far — we are only missing 4,000 — are supportive of this rule,” Ms. McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March. “Let me repeat: 87.1 percent of those one-plus million are supportive of this rule.”
But it turns out that the supposedly supportive comments were in response to a social media lobbying campaign orchestrated by EPA itself:
Late last year, the E.P.A. sponsored a drive on Facebook and Twitter to promote its proposed clean water rule in conjunction with the Sierra Club. At the same time, Organizing for Action, a grass-roots group with deep ties to Mr. Obama, was also pushing the rule. They urged the public to flood the agency with positive comments to counter opposition from farming and industry groups.
Anything wrong with that? It's just the latest example of a federal government with trillions of dollars of annual taxpayer money to play with, using the money for goal number one, which is promoting the ongoing growth in size and power of the federal government itself. How can ordinary citizens possibly amass resources to push back in any meaningful way? Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward cites this latest government abuse as one more example in what he calls "The Crisis Of The Administrative State."
[T]oday’s administrative state—the increasingly independent fourth branch of government—has transformed government into its own special interest faction, lobbying itself on behalf of itself—increasingly in partisan ways.
Good job New York Times and Steven Hayward. But the problem I have is that this latest EPA gambit is just the tip of the iceberg, and there is very little systematic attention paid to the vast scope of government self-promotion in all areas. As soon as you start looking at this, you start realizing how pervasive and revolting the whole enterprise is. I have previously covered this, for example, here, here, here and here. Examples are literally everywhere:
- The aggressive campaign during the Obama administration to grow the number of food stamp recipients, including sending government representatives out as door-to-door salespeople to sign up new dependents, resulting in a doubling of food stamp expenditures and near-doubling of the number of recipients to approximately 46 million during a time of supposed economic recovery.
- The campaign to sign up recipients for Obamacare, reported by the Associated Press to have cost $684 million annually.
- The Department of Agriculture's fake "food insecurity" surveys, designed so that no amount of food aid will ever be found to reduce food insecurity, and thus to support endless promotion of the growth of the Department of Agriculture.
- The Census Bureau's fake "poverty" statistics, again carefully designed so that no amount of government spending can ever make the number of people in "poverty" go down, and thus to support advocacy for more and yet more spending.
- The outrageous convention that government spending on goods and services, no matter how wasteful, is counted at 100 cents on the dollar in the GDP, thus making it falsely appear that any cuts to even the most wasteful government spending reduce GDP.
- The vast distribution of money by the Federal Reserve to housing and other community activists who in turn lobby the government for more spending on their pet projects. A 2014 article by Charles Calomiris, cited at the link, estimated this spending at $850 billion in the period 1992 - 2006.
It would be easy to go on all day with this. But I would like to remind readers that we once had a President who thought that shrinking the government was a good idea, and who actually forbade members of his administration from advocating for growing their budgets. That President was Calvin Coolidge.