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Monday, February 25, 2013

Federal Budgets: Case in Point

found this about the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, located in Golden, CO. They are the secretive national lab behind defunct Abound Solar and the push for ethanol, among other things. They get paid and pay too well:
It’s also the place where highly paid staff decide how to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.
And the public pays those decision-makers well:  NREL’s top executive, Dr. Dan Arvizu, makes close to a million dollars per year. His two top lieutenants rake in more than half a million each and nine others make more than $350,000 a year.
As if that isn't bad enough, take their operating budget as a function of time:
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, NREL started in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute, a Jimmy Carter-era response to the 1973 Mideast oil crisis. Its budget, then about $100 million, was slashed during the Reagan era.
By the time Perlmutter was elected [in 2006], NREL’s budget was $209.6 million. It increased steadily before ballooning to $536.5, a beneficiary of President Obama’s stimulus plan and a $135 million contract spread out over five years to construct a new science center. Its current $352 million budget is down slightly from last year’s $388.6 million. 
This is exactly what I mean when I say that all federal budgets increase annually by as much as 10%, regardless of necessity or federal revenue. This is exactly what I mean when I say additional funding is rolled into the next year's baseline for calculating the new budget. Federal budgets compound. They increase exponentially. The drop in budget in 2013 is a slight surprise, but that may be because of how the stimulus money was spread out over time. $352 million is still a far cry from the $209.6 million just seven years ago! Likewise the $209.6 million is nowhere near the $100 million it began with some 30-odd years earlier - even with cuts during Reagan.

Again I say: the federal government is growing and it has officially outpaced the growth in the private sector to the point that the private sector will never grow and can never grow (and fund government sustainably) unless we get spending cuts. Period. Government growth is a big reason for the economic hardships we face, but when that debt bubble collapses it will be far worse. (Read the link for more.)

You may say that it's too late to do anything, that no one will ever go for spending cuts and there is no way we can force our legislators to do what we want them to do anyway. This is only true to a point. To the point that we are willing to open our mouths and talk about what the government is doing to our economy and the consequences of continued federal government growth in the long term (not only the short term as the media and various administrations are bent on doing) we will see changes and hope. Already fiscal conservatives are improving their ground games to meet just this objective.

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