Federal regulation and taxation
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
We are constantly hearing complaints that we are being over-regulated and overtaxed. Let’s look at some of the federal institutions that it is claimed are being forced on us.
High on the list is Social Security. The common complaint is, “I’d be better off if I had invested what I paid in, myself.” First, this argument overlooks the portion of the payroll deduction that provided survivor’s and disability insurance and future Medicare coverage. And second, it overlooks the fact that Social Security was designed to provide a retirement benefit that would be financially secure – not susceptible to stock market or real estate fluctuations, like what has happened to people’s IRA and 401(k) accounts and home values.
The Department of Labor, formed to promote the welfare of working people and improve working conditions, enforces mine safety and health, occupational safety and health, and employment standards, to protect the public from corporate disregard of working conditions. Our public health is protected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Health, and the Center for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention.
The National Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management were established to protect federal lands for the present and future enjoyment of the people, and from corporate exploitation. Air and automobile safety are overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. Who else could construct our free interstate highways, set performance and safety standards for motor vehicles, and provide air traffic control?
The Federal Trade Commission was set up to control monopolies and regulate business to ensure competitiveness. The Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve System and Securities and Exchange Commission are charged with maintaining the health of our economic system by monitoring and regulating the activities of financial institutions. From the current state of the economy, it is evident that there is a crying need for more, not less, government regulation of activities that impact the soundness of our economy. The federal government provides protection of the public from economic hardship through unemployment benefits, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which guarantees the safety of our bank accounts.
The American public benefits from a long list of other federal agencies: The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which protects all of us, especially children, from dangerous products; the Environmental Protection Agency, which guards our health by ensuring that air is safe to breathe, water is safe to drink, and that the water quality of our rivers and lakes is protected by requiring proper treatment of municipal and industrial wastes; the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was created to protect us from excessive transportation fees; the Federal Communications Commission, which assures our freedom of the airwaves; the National Transportation Safety Board; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and many others. The last one is an unusual case of having four diverse things (all of which happen to be harmful to your health) under a single agency.
Nearly all of these regulatory agencies came into being because there was a need for them to protect people from the consequences of corporate greed and exploitation, and are funded through taxes. We could reduce our taxes by eliminating any or all of them. Which would you like to live without?
We are currently confronting two issues that are not serving the public interest – the health care system and unconscionable bank credit practices. Both need to be more strictly regulated to benefit people instead of corporations. There is also the subject of campaign finance reform, but that is for another day.
Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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