You often hear about federal asset forfeiture programs that funnel money to local police departments, shifting their loyalty from the citizens they are sworn to protect to the central government. But you might be surprised to know how the federal government does the same thing to other county officials through offers of federal grant money.

Working in my county government for a little over a year, I’ve received frequent offers of grant money, and I’ve come to think of it as the “Grant Siren Song.”

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were beautiful but dangerous creatures whose singing lured sailors to their death via shipwreck on the rocks. Grant monies are similarly dangerous. When a lower level of government accepts this money, it can legitimize the seizure of new power by the federal government. The local official is complicit in the federal power-grab. For instance, the federal government has absolutely no constitutional authority to regulate how local election ballots are processed, but the argument loses force when grant money is accepted to purchase election equipment.

Grant money promotes the expansion of government at the local level. Federal grants come with an absolutely enormous amount of paperwork and record-keeping requirements–often incomprehensible to even a reasonably well-educated person. Sometimes this paperwork is self-contradictory; it is nearly always stupefying. Often there is no consensus regarding what the paperwork is asking for. The paperwork is so bad, local governments sometimes have to hire another employee to keep up with it all–making local government bigger and more expensive. Certainly the paperwork robs people of the time to do other things. All of this is part of the cost of the grant. Higher expenditures, higher costs–shipwreck.

Grants are corrupting. The lure of money tempts local officials, who are eager to provide goods or services without a tax increase. Sometimes, these officials even argue that they are “just getting back some of what has been paid in” by their local citizens.” On occasion, they even say this money is “free,” as if the local government has done something to deserve the grant.

A sensible person must ask, “Where does this money come from?”

Almost certainly this money is borrowed or originates in fiat money creation from thin air. This money will be added to the tens of trillions of dollars in debt everyone’s descendants will be saddled with. Who, in good conscience, could accept such a thing?

The availability of this grant money is also inflating “bubbles” in the prices of things local governments purchase. Ever more elaborate office equipment would be an example. Expensive voting machines quite possibly sprang into being through the “Help America Vote Act” grant monies. Astronomically expensive software packages–with their attendant maintenance agreements – are another example of expensive things local governments obtain only because of the availability of grant money.

Once that large check is written, the argument is made that the annual maintenance fees must be perpetuated. The suppliers of these expensive accoutrements pressure the local governments to continue expenditures on the same scale, as they have hired and expanded under the distorting influence of this federal money. They want to make a profit. They have to make payroll!

I want to work for the people who elected me: the people of my county. I do not intend to work for the federal government – particularly when the federal government is operating outside the Tenth Amendment.

Refusing the largesse is one way to avoid improper federal influence. So, I decided early on that I would not accept any federal grant money in my office. I simply must ignore the siren song.

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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