Does The U.S. Really Need A Department Of HUD?

small-house

I’m not sure this should be a federal issue

From the NYT: San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro Is Said to Be HUD Pick in Cabinet Reshuffling

It appears Julián Castro, an up-and-coming Democratic politician, may be the next choice to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He’ll manage 9,200 employees and a budget of $45 billion, which comes out to $400 per year for each of the nation’s 115 million households. I’m not sure this department even needs to exist.

First of all, what exactly does HUD do? According to this overview of their 2015 budget, which looks exactly like the sales pitch to congress you’d expect it to, essentially none of their activities needs to be done on the federal level. Isn’t housing by its very nature a local issue? And even if these programs could be devolved down to the local level, does the country really need so many forced financial transfers from taxpayers to housing consumers?

Sure, you could make an argument that housing is special, because everyone needs housing and thus we have a collective obligation to help provide it to those in need. But couldn’t we make the same argument about food, clothing, health care, education, a car, a job, internet access, telephone service, etc.? Will it be long until we add cable TV and a smartphone to this list? From this budget I suspect another thing that every American needs is access to lawyers, lobbyists and the ability to make campaign contributions so they can protect themselves against housing policy parasites.

I think the real reason HUD exists is because congress likes to consolidate power in Washington and because Crony Capitalism (Wikipedia) is more efficient if influence can be directed to a smaller, more targeted group of politicians and bureaucrats.

HUD is just one of several federal departments that I’m not sure can be justified. Others include Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Labor, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs, but don’t get me started.

If Julián Castro wants to be the most successful HUD Secretary in history, he should shut the place down, returning 9,200 employees to the productive parts of the economy and $45 billion to taxpayers every year. People could use that $400 annually to help pay for housing.

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