Why We Shouldn’t Listen to Perry’s Suggestion of Eliminating the Department of Commerce

In what was incredibly embarrassing for Rick Perry, in tonight’s debate, he forgot which three federal agencies he planned on eliminating.

What is perhaps more troubling than the flub above is the fact that he wants to eliminate the Department of Commerce in the first place.

Here are 3 quick reasons why eliminating the Department of Commerce would be a disaster:

(1) Americans like knowing the weather

The National Weather Service is a part of the Department of Commerce, and one that provides a pretty vital service to businesses and to individuals.  Want to be able to evacuate when a hurricane is coming?  Yes, that would be nice.  Would you like your television shows to be interrupted if a tornado is coming?  Probably.  Do I want the airlines to know if there’s a trouble ahead?  On balance, yes.

Think long and hard about it: the annual budget for the NWS is about $1 billion per year, which amounts to under $4 per person. Have you gotten $4 of value from the weather service in the past year?

(2) Having some sort of intellectual property law underpins innovation

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is also under the Department of Commerce.  Could our IP process use some reforms? Probably.   A United States without intellectual property law though would almost entirely shut down all private sector research and development, spelling out major disaster for the global economy.

(3) The census….need we say more?

Since the Roman times, governments have been trying to get a rough count of how many people they have, living where.  Our constitution definitely requires that we have one, saying specifically: “The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by Law direct.”

A line by line analysis of the entire Department of Commerce would probably find some particular programs whose cost isn’t justified.  But completely abandoning the Department of Commerce altogether?  That would be unconstitutional and massively disastrous.

Published by Elena Botella

Elena Botella is a Duke Undergraduate in the Class of 2013, majoring in Economics and Math.

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