National Pork Councils

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You know the Quasi Government is growing out of control when the Congressional Research Service quietly issues a lengthy (PDF) report on … The Quasi Government!

This chunky study, covering semi-public, semi-private institutions—Fannie Mae, RAND, various "Enterprise Funds" in the developing world, guvmint-mandated agricultural boards, etc.—makes clear that this octopus has more arms than anyone has ever bothered to count.

There are today, associated with the federal government alone, literally hundreds of hybrid entities that have collectively been called the "quasi government." The relationship of this burgeoning quasi government to elected and appointed officials is a subject of growing concern, as it touches the very heart of democratic governance: to whom are these hybrids accountable, and how is the public interest being protected over and against the interest of private parties? The scope and consequences of these hybrid organizations have not been extensively studied.

The Research Service tries gamely to break out the Quasi Government into several digestible categories, such as "Government-Sponsored Enterprises" (GSEs) like Fannie Mae….

There is nothing modest about the size and scope of GSE. Due to the implicit federal backing for their notes, GSEs have become some of the largest financial institutions in the United States. The combined debt outstanding of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is approximately $1.4 trillion. The Federal Home Loan Bank System has $710 billion in consolidated debt outstanding. Implicit or market-inferred federal backing helps GSEs to grow rapidly. On the average, the combined size of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has more than doubled every five years between 1968 and 2002.

… and "Adjunct Organizations Under the Control of a Department or Agency."

There are, at this point, an indeterminate number of organizations under the control of a department or agency; this review must therefore be illustrative, rather than comprehensive. […]

The Department of Agriculture makes extensive use of adjunct organizations. Presently, there are some 17 statutorily chartered agricultural commodity organizations (e.g., National Pork Board, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board). Their purpose it is to engage in generic promotion of, research on, and information activities for agricultural commodities, thereby increasing the total market for a commodity separate from the promotion of any specific brand name of that commodity. The Secretary of Agriculture is assigned varying degrees of authority over these boards individually.

Your government at work, using your money to convince you to buy pork. (I guess they enjoy the taste so much they just gotta share, etc.) Whole study here; and a special non-governmental shout-out to Secrecy News for making these reports public. See also Jacob Sullum's column last week denouncing forcibly funded meat ads, and Julian Sanchez's January 2005 warning about Fannie Mae's finances.

NEXT: Penalty Zone

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  1. The British neologism “quango” may come in handy here–it helps to have a name for something (and a silly-sounding one at that) if you’re going to set about attacking it.

  2. Yeah, but look at all the things that those small government Republicans have done to trim the size and scope of the quasi government. Right?

    Right?

    Oh, shit…

  3. What the hell does RAND do anyway? For young libertarians, that whole thing can be confusing.

  4. Colby,

    The report Matt linked to defines “quango” early on, but then never uses the word again.

  5. Yeah but if we have a quasi-quango I’m not going to know what the hell to do.

  6. Is it merely quixotic to quest to quell the quangos?

  7. What the hell does RAND do anyway? For young libertarians, that whole thing can be confusing.

    R and D.

  8. RAND is the government-funded study of rape fantasies.

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