479 is the number of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. That does not include the state and local government departments and agencies. At first I pause and reflect on the length of the U.S. Constitution and wonder if there are more words in the names of our current Federal agencies and departments than there are in the very document that supposedly authorizes their existence. Let’s say that, on average, there are five words in a government agency name. That gives us a total of 2395 words. There are 4543 words in the original, unamended Constitution. So almost half. But I digress.
So what could 479 agencies and departments be called and what could they all be doing? It must be important – they are government agencies after all. Let us start with the 35 agencies that start with the letter “A”. One that sticks out is the Administration on Aging (AoA). This cozy little group advocates for older persons and their concerns. They work to heighten awareness among other Federal agencies and the public about how valuable older people are and the contributions they can make. How nice. Could anyone be against this? I should think not.
Another one that sticks out is the African Development Foundation. So what does this group do? They provide grants to community groups and small enterprises that benefit under-served and marginalized groups in Africa. So they take money from the tax revenue and give it away to help the poor in another country. Who could be against this?
The Agriculture Marketing Service administers programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber, and specialty crops. They also enforce Federal Laws such as the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and the Federal Seed Act. Well, if they did not do it then there would be inefficient, unfair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, spoiled food, and who knows what could be wrong with our seeds. I sure am glad they have it under control otherwise it would be food anarchy out there.
Here is a nice one: AMTRAK. I wonder what AMTRAK is all about? The National Railroad Passenger Corporation is a government owned corporation that was organized in 1971 to provide intercity train service in the United States. And, just to make sure everything is run well, the President of the United States appoints the members of the board (where does he get that authority? who cares!?). AMTRAK employs 19,000 people. Well, this most assuredly is a good program since they are creating jobs for people and providing a service which people desire.
Have you ever wondered if there is one single item in your house, to include yourself, that does not or has not had the hands of the Federal Government and its 479 agencies and departments on it at some point in its life? Perhaps there is, perhaps not, but maybe we kind find that out with “479: The Letter B.”