A (tiny) Victory Over Big Government

Today I’m going to share some good news. A needless government bureaucracy was officially abolished last year.

No, Washington politicians did not get rid of a significant bureaucracy.

But a journey of a million miles begins with the twitch of a first step. So I’m happy to annouce that our Lords and Masters were finally convinced to get rid of…(drum roll, please)…the Federal Tea Board.

Eric Boehm wrote about this (underwhelming) victory in Reason. But if you don’t have a subscription, here’s an excerpt from the official notice from the Federal Register last September.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is announcing the termination of the Board of Tea Experts by the Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act of 1996. This document removes the Board of Tea Experts from the Agency’s list of standing advisory committees. FDA is also updating the statutory citation to the Federal Advisory Committee Act to reflect recodification. This technical change aligns with the desire of Congress to incorporate various provisions that were enacted separately over a period of years.

I’ll add one final detail to this story, something that will illustrate the breakneck speed of bureaucratic action.

Here are some excerpts from a 2017 article published by Smithsonian, and pay close attention to the final sentence.

For 99 years, the United States government employed a group of people to check the quality of incoming tea by tasting it. …The Board of Tea Experts, as they were called, was created as part of the Tea Importation Act of 1897. …thus the Board of Tea Experts, a group of men with finely-tuned tongues on the lookout for bad teas. “Tea tasters, working in FDA offices around the country, examined every lot of imported tea, using standard teas selected by the Board for comparison,” the FDA writes. …At the time the office was closed, it employed a head tea taster, chemist Robert H. Dick, an assistant tea taster, Faith Lim, both based in Brooklyn, and two further tasters at the ports in Boston and San Francisco. Its total annual cost: $253,500, or about $400,000 in today’s money. …It wasn’t until 1996 that the government passed the Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act.

Amazing. A law is enacted in 1996 and we have to wait until 2023 for the Federal Register to put the final nail in the coffin.

Almost makes Amtrak and the Postal Service seem fast by comparison.

P.S. Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s bad monetary policy, $253,500 in 1996 is akin to about $500,000 today.

By Dan Mitchell. Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Daniel J. Mitchell is an expert on fiscal policy issues such as tax reform, the economic impact of government spending, and supply-side tax policy. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition. Prior to joining Cato, Mitchell was a senior fellow with The Heritage Foundation, and an economist for Senator Bob Packwood and the Senate Finance Committee. He also served on the 1988 Bush/Quayle transition team and was Director of Tax and Budget Policy for Citizens for a Sound Economy. His articles can be found in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and Washington Times. He is a frequent guest on radio and television and a popular speaker on the lecture circuit. Mitchell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University.

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Self-Reliance Central publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of SRC. Reproduced with permission.