No. 934



Can you remember your first real job and how much you were paid for doing it? Well, I can, almost as though it was yesterday. It was chopping cotton for 10 hours a day in a little community called Olyphant, Jackson County, Arkansas, which is just north of Possum Grape, where my folks lived at the time. The going rate was $4 per day. I lasted four days. When I got paid and had those 16 brand new one dollar bills I thought I was rich, which sounds better than died and gone to Heaven. At the time, 1947, I was 9 years of age and I can still remember how long those days were and how hot I got before quitting time.
I share this simply to make a point. When you work hard for your money and get paid for doing a job, you know the value of that money. In between the time when I write these columns, I do a great deal of reading and research, and when you see large numbers on paper that represents money, you don’t have the same perspective as when you earn it by the sweat of your brow. When you think about our national debt being over $17 trillion, it is almost impossible to comprehend or calculate that figure, yet it is easy to read and easy to say. I just wonder how many 10-hour days at $4 a day it would take to reach that number?
If you will allow me to use this personal example to place things in context, I want to talk with you about something that affects our lives each and every day, this being the power of the unseen government. There is another word or term we use frequently to describe the unseen government, and that word is bureaucracy. It’s been said that office holders come and go, but the bureaucracy goes on forever. When you consider that there are almost three million federal employees who earn an average of $76,000 a year, you begin to get the picture.
These people and their programs have to be paid from taxes, borrowed money from other governments or from fiat money (fiat money is generated by the printing press). I want to give you some numbers from a fantastic book I am reading for the third time titled, “A Time for Truth” by William E. Simon, secretary of the United States Treasury from 1974 to 1977. If you think the numbers were staggering back then in terms of the costs of running the government, just think about what they are today. Now, believe it or not, it is not the cost of running the government that is doing the most harm but rather the massive costs of government regulations that is doing us in. Of course, these costs are always passed on to the consumer, which makes us uncompetitive in the world marketplace.
In 1975, the interest on the federal debt was $38 billion. Interest on the debt had nearly tripled in just one decade and had become the third largest item in the federal budget after transfer payments -- redistribution of wealth programs -- and defense. A good example of the cost of government regulations can be seen in the construction of a nuclear power plant. Because of excessive regulations, construction in the United States has been slowed to 11 years as compared to four and a half years in Europe and Japan.
Now, fast forward to 2011 when regulatory rules cover 169,000 pages and more than 10 new ones are added every day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. This year, Congress passed 81 new laws while government agencies issued 3,807 new regulations.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank made this statement: If there ever was an example of government without the consent of ANYONE -- this is it. We all need to get better informed, don’t you think?
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)