Friday, March 12, 2010

OT: Cutting Funds from the U.S. Coast Guard

This is off topic in the sense that it does not relate to the First Amendment. However, it does relate to the U.S. Constitution and to the 10th Amendment.

According to this article the United States Coast Guard is preparing for a cut in funding of $100 million. If we do the math, that's about 1/3 the amount offered (see "bribe") to one Louisiana politician for one "yes" vote on a health care bill. If the administration were serious about cutting spending overall, one could accept taking away $100 mil from a service that offers in return for its duty many millions of dollars of saved property and countless value in saved lives every year. But it seems like our government has its own "Toyota gas pedal" when it comes to spending on all manner of items not authorized by our Constitution (you politicians remember that document; it's the one you swore to support and defend). Yet they will fight tooth and nail over spending on the few things our Constitution DOES authorize.

The Coast Guard has roots going back to 1790, when the Constitution's writers were involved in such decisions. One has to assume that when the First Congress authorized funds for the service, it believed the service to be Constitutional. What do you suppose the founders would think of the spending choices we make today?

We have all seen waste in spending by various federal agencies, and I am sure there is some in the Coast Guard as well. However, I have been "aware" of the Coast Guard for several decades and have not seen any federal agency that does as good a job of managing its money AND returning value to the tax payers. Consider the following, which is the 2008 compilation from the Coast Guard Commandant's report:

On an average day the U.S. Coast Guard will:

  • Save 15 lives
  • Assist 117 people in distress
  • Conduct 90 search and rescue cases
  • Protect $2.8 million in property
  • Enforce 129 security zones
  • Interdict and rescue 15 illegal migrants at sea
  • Board 4 high interest vessels
  • Board 192 vessels of law enforcement interest
  • Board 122 large vessels for port safety checks
  • Seize 71 pounds of marijuana and 662 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $21.1 million
  • Conduct 317 vessel safety checks and teach 63 boating safety courses
  • Conduct 19 commercial fishing vessel safety exams
  • Respond to 11 oil and hazardous chemical spills
  • Process 280 mariner licenses and documents
  • Service 140 aids to navigation
  • Monitor the transit of 2,557 commercial ships through U.S. ports
  • Investigate 20 vessel casualties involving collisions, allisions and groundings
I'll take that return on my investment!

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