LOPEZ: So how is it the Department of Misallocating Education Dollars?
MURRAY: The state of Montana has reached a point where it is unable to comply with No Child Left Behind (NCLB). We knew this was coming — as far back as 2003 the state of Ohio reckoned it would need to spend over $1 billion a year administering NCLB. There are a bunch of other federal programs administered by the Department of Education that have nothing to do with our kids and which, if they need to be done at all, would be better done at the local level. There’s a list of them in my book.
: What happened to that plan to eliminate it and Commerce and HUD and HHS and . . . ? You see why people might be a little frustrated when they hear what sounds like the same old rhetoric?
MURRAY: I’m frustrated, too! I’ll keep saying we should do it until it happens. For some reason, Americans very rarely see government programs come to an end. That’s why we’re still paying a tax enacted to fund the Spanish-American War.
LOPEZ: What do you have against the Consumer Product Safety Commission? Do you like lead in toys?
MURRAY: No, I don’t like lead in toys, but I don’t like people who make toys that have never been anywhere near lead being forced to pay $30,000 to prove that to the CPSC, which gets to almost double its budget to administer these ludicrous requirements. I don’t like the fact that libraries have had to sequester children’s books that were printed before 1985 and may have to burn them. Above all, I don’t like the fact that the people who did put lead in our children’s toys were able to lobby for and win an exemption to the testing requirements. Again, this is an issue where people who like wooden toys — often, in my experience, on the liberal end of the political spectrum — can come together with conservatives to oppose this insanity.
LOPEZ: Is anybody doing this reform right?
MURRAY: People such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio have twigged that current conditions are unsustainable and have shown political courage in standing up to the government-sector special interests. It’s been a long fight so far and they may yet lose, but they’re showing the way. At the local level, there are municipalities that have done it right, essentially doing away with their government sector entirely. Sandy Springs in Georgia springs to mind. Some places, such as the Southside Fire Department, also in Georgia, have even worked out how to protect public safety without the bureaucracy.
LOPEZ: Does the Tea Party know this?
MURRAY: The Tea Party understands this can’t go on, but isn’t great when it comes to promoting workable solutions. I’m completely with the Tea Party in terms of motivation, so that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, to give them some suggestions for workable solutions that can get us from here (Greece) to there (a functioning liberal democracy).
LOPEZ: How much of this is about the New Deal and the Great Society?
MURRAY: The New Deal showed the way, but much of this is more recent. In 1990, we spent $2 trillion in today’s dollars. By 2000 we’d only added $300 billion to that, but in the past decade that’s gone up by a further $1.4 trillion. Moreover, even at the height of the New Deal, FDR recognized that allowing government workers to unionize was asking for trouble.
LOPEZ: So what are your fixes?
MURRAY: I outline a comprehensive program: Shrink the federal government, recharter executive agencies to make them properly responsive to the taxpayer, reform federal pay and conditions, tackle entitlement spending, make federal contracts public and abolish grants, introduce significant tax reform, enact genuine regulatory reform, end labor-union privileges, privatize appropriate government functions, and re-engineer public education. If you want the details, you’ll have to buy the book.