HHS Spends $123.2 Million Per Year On Email

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Department of Health and Human Services spends $146.64 a month per user for email. At almost 70,000 employees this places the department’s expenditure at close to $123.2 million per year. In light of these high costs, the failures of agency’s the healthcare exchange website make more sense.

“Buried in a footnote of a recently released GAO report on the agency’s coordination with the nonprofit group Enroll America, the congressional watchdog detailed the high operating costs associated with running the department’s email. “HHS told us that HHS pays $146.64 per month per user for email; that this charge covers connectivity, storage, and other e-mail services; and that this charge is independent of the number of emails that are sent or received,” the GAO said.”

Licensed Professions Rise As Unions Decline

As documented by the Institute for Justice, there are 66 jobs with greater licensure burdens than EMTs including barbers and interior designers. The harmful effects of occupational licensing are well documented but there is also another side to the issue. As union membership in America has declined, a greater number of workers are now in professions that require a license from the state. As union membership has fallen from above 30%, licensed professionals have risen to that same amount. It is almost as if when one restrictive force declines, another takes its place.

“These requirements to spend months in education or training, take exams, and pay fees make it “harder for people to find jobs and build new businesses that create jobs, particularly minorities, those of lesser means and those with less education.”

Last Week In Regulation

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Battered Business Bureau, last week’s Federal Register added 84 new final regulations on 1,254 new pages. Currently this year’s Federal Register is at 21,981 pages.

The total estimated compliance costs of 2014’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from $1.64 billion to $2.01 billion. They also affect several billion dollars of government spending.

Freedom From Taxation

According to the Tax Foundation, yesterday was national Tax Freedom Day.

Tax Freedom Day is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for [the] year.

Individual states experience tax freedom day differently, depending on their tax burden. Check out the Tax Foundation’s map and description here.

Arizona Requires Veterinary License For Animal Masseuses

More than a decade of experience, 360 hours of training at two schools, 40 hours of training in specialized treatment, and facing up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines. This is the reality for Celeste Kelly, an animal masseuse in Arizona who is being pursued by the state’s Veterinary Medical Examining Board for practicing without a license. Despite the State’s insistence, there is significant question as to whether animal massage even qualifies as a veterinary practice. Regardless of its classification, it is hard to see how the “public good” would be harmed by an unlicensed animal masseuse. The Institute for Justice has taken up the case.

“One of the most important rights our Constitution protects is the right to earn an honest living,” [Lead attorney Diana Simpson] said at a news conference in March near the courthouse. “Unfortunately for Arizona entrepreneurs, this right is being violated by a government protecting veterinary industry insiders.”

Which State Has the Most Federally Owned Land?

Which state has the most land owned by the federal government? With a shocking 81.1% of land being owned by the federal government, Nevada takes first place followed by Utah at 66.5% and Alaska at 61.8%. In fact, in 11 of the westernmost states, the federal government owns approximately 50% of the land.

“It seems odd that the federal government owns so much land in the west and so little elsewhere. But between the settlement of most other states and the settlement of the West, American attitudes toward land policy changed. “From its founding, the US assumed that the best thing to do with land was basically to privatize it, and probably turn it into farms, and that would lead to a productive economy.” 

State Liquor Monopoly

The Commonwealth Foundation highlights concerning activity at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board:

The violations include: accepting gifts from vendors who had ongoing contracts with the PLCB, using a position in government for personal benefit, and failing to disclose gifts on annual financial interest statements.

…Many of these violations occurred on the taxpayer’s dime with officials attending functions and accepting gifts during work hours.  Not only that, but taxpayers were actually billed for some of the expenses related to these social functions.  How many of you get to bill your employer for non-work related golf outings?

A corporate welfare failure

Even subsidized companies don’t stay in business forever. Fisker Automotive, a company that borrowed $192 million through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program, lost $35,000 on each vehicle sold. The company went bankrupt, and so far only $50 million has been recovered. From Cato’s blog:

The car was a flop from the beginning. It was recalled, and it received poor performance ratings. Fisker lost an estimated $35,000 on each vehicle sold. A year after issuing the loan, DOE halted Fisker’s borrowing authority after the company had already borrowed $192 million. Fisker filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter. Only $50 million of the $192 million has been recovered for taxpayers.

How much does the government spend on corporate welfare?

Michigan’s Capital Confidential reprinted commentary by Anita Folsom that includes an interesting claim:

From 2000-2012, the U.S. spent $3,000 a second every second of that 12-year period on government subsidies — most of which, like Solyndra, were a huge waste.

That comes out to $94.6 billion/year, and fits nicely with analysis by Chris Edwards and Tad DeHaven. They estimated that the 2002 federal budget included $92.6 billion for corporate welfare. Tad DeHave did a similar analysis again in 2012 and estimated that corporate welfare spending was $97.6 billion.

Subsidies are expensive.

Police In Kansas Profit Off Of Drug War

According to a report from Watchdog, a statute in Kansas allows police departments to profit from the war on drugs. The law allows for those arrested for possession of narcotics to be assessed the cost of a tax stamp which could be upwards of $1000. 75 percent of that fine goes to the investigating agency. For some Police Departments this has meant hundreds of thousands of dollars- all for pursuing often victimless crimes.

“Drug tax stamp cash can’t be spent directly on salaries or other general department operations, but it has helped the OPPD purchase everything from building security upgrades and currency-counting machines to portable radios and surveillance equipment, among other items.”