Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers
Citizens buried in paperwork
In yet another example of government waste, bureaucratic bloat and excessive regulation, Americans complete more than 23,000 forms for 68 federal agencies each year, according to a new analysis by the American Action Forum. Just filling out all these forms consumes 11.4 billion hours, which works out to about 35 hours per person — almost a full work week.
The biggest offender, by a large margin, was the Health and Human Services Department, with 5,005 forms, including 943 forms related to the Affordable Care Act. That was 34 percent more than the next agency, the Agriculture Department, with more than 3,700 forms. This includes 334 forms for vegetables and specialty crops, which is more than the total number of crops actually sold in the country (222), AAF noted. The Commerce Department came in third with more than 2,000 forms.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Treasury Department, home to the Internal Revenue Service, came in only fourth with 1,599 forms — 1,053 related to the tax code. These forms imposed far and away the greatest time burden, however, accounting for 77 percent of the total, “thanks in large part to the incomprehensible individual and corporate tax system in the U.S.,” AAF added.
As if the sheer number of forms were not inconvenient enough, more than 1,400 Agriculture forms, more than 1,000 Treasury forms and nearly 450 HHS forms — 28 percent of those agencies’ forms — cannot be submitted online, AAF found.
While some forms are necessary to apply for certain programs, verify eligibility and make sure people are who they say they are, the amount of paperwork imposed on the public has clearly gotten out of hand — as has the amount of government regulation in general.
“The number of federal forms, 23,000, should give pause to regulators seeking to add more to the pile or to members of Congress wanting to cede additional power to the executive branch,” AAF concluded.
It should also crystallize the need to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. The thought of filling out endless forms to provide personal information, file income taxes and apply for countless government programs would have been inconceivable to our nation’s founders. It should shock the conscience still today.
The Orange County Register, May 4
Nepal, stuck in neutral after the earthquake
The actions of Nepal, assessed one year after its 2015 earthquake, is an excellent, unfortunate example of the maxim that the neediest countries are the hardest to help.
On April 25, 2015, the mountainous, landlocked state, population 28 million, sandwiched between China and India, was hit by a major earthquake. It killed an estimated 9,000 persons and destroyed many buildings in many towns and villages, including the capital, Kathmandu. Nepal is a poor country, its people depending primarily on agriculture.
The humanitarian world responded well. Donors, including China, India, Japan, Britain and the United Nations, pledged some $4.1 billion. America has provided some $130 million for relief and recovery.
The problem is that, a year later, virtually all of the $4.1 billion remains in the hands of the donors and has not yet been devoted to reconstruction, including in the vital domain of housing. It took Nepal’s government until December to set up a National Reconstruction Authority.
The reason is distressingly simple. The Nepalese government wants the donors’ aid to be channeled through it, enhancing its authority, but, much worse, giving its officials the maximum opportunity to steal.
Nepal, at present, has what can be considered to be an appallingly bad government. Its monarchy came to an end in 2008, to be succeeded by a maelstrom of political parties and factions. Its politicians first fought over a new constitution. More recently, Nepal has been scrapping with neighboring India, especially pointless given that India is one of the major post-earthquake potential aid donors.
In spite of the human misery engendered by the tangle standing in the way of meaningful recovery and reconstruction, the world should wait until Nepalese government officials stop standing in the way of the world’s desire to help the people of the country. As it stands now, the situation in Nepal has the eerie ring of efforts to help Haiti.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 4