Irrespective of good intentions, once started, government agencies and bureaucracies take on a life of their own in never-ending attempts to gain power, influence, and money. A poster child for this is the US Department of Energy formed in 1977 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Its primary mission was in response to the oil crises of the 1970s and America’s need to become less dependent on imported oil.
As indicated in the chart, at best the DOE could claim some early success in its primary mission. However, between 1985 and 2005 net imports of oil surged. That did not stop the DOE’s employment from increasing from its initial 20,000 to today being over 100,000, when contract employees are included.
Progressives, who never find a government program they don’t like, would point to the significant drop in net oil imports since 2005. That decrease, however, was the result of private industry ingenuity, specifically fracking technologies. Since the election of Barack Obama, the federal government has done all it can in efforts to actually increase America’s dependence on imported oil, putting coal out of business, increasing drilling regulations, stopping pipelines, etc.
Steve Forbes published an op-ed in Forbes titled The Latest in the Never-Ending Assaults on Our Freedoms. One of These Is Lethal that appropriately attacks the tyranny of government. Forbes states that: “Even in democracies the natural tendency of government, unless stopped, is to expand its powers and extend its tentacles into every facet of its citizens’ lives–always in the name of helping them”.
Forbes uses the tobacco industry as an example of governmental overreach. This includes:
- The FDA’s (US Food and Drug Administration) has implemented regulations that will ultimately put out of business small manufacturers of premium cigars and makers of e-cigarette.
- E-cigarettes, which are a safer alternative to cigarettes, will now be less safe by the new regulations that subjects all devices designed after February 15, 2007 to FDA approval. Prior to 2007, e-cigarette’s were crude and inferior, both in convenience and safety, to those produced today. As a result, these regulations will limit consumer choices for safer and superior devices.
- The smaller, boutique cigar manufacturers are been basically run out of business with the new regulations. The requirement of 5,000 hours of testing takes several years to complete, an expense the smaller companies cannot afford.
- Pipe smokers are not immune to from the FDA’s lunacy. Tobacconists who mix special blends of pipe tobacco will have to go through an FDA registration process as if they were a tobacco manufacturer. This added expense will put many of the blunders out of business.
It is not coincidental that the FDA’s tobacco regulations hurt small and newer producers of products and benefit the larger suppliers. This is but another example of crony capitalism that inflicts our economy. The incumbent suppliers have the mass in the political clout to push through laws that hinder potential competition. Politicians benefit from this incestuous relationship through political contributions. The bureaucracy and their governmental agencies profit through increased control, larger employee counts, and funding. This is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been repeated throughout history in many countries and governments. Following the money ultimately leads to the actual motivations behind governmental interventions in society and the economy.