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Our Founders' Warning: “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” (Thomas Jefferson)

What Might the Initiatives Amendment Save on Government Waste?

Estimate by Citizens Against Government Waste

In response to a request by President Reagan, industrialist Peter Grace and columnist Jack Anderson formed the Grace Commission in 1982. After two years, the Commission published its findings in the 21,000-page Grace Commission Report. Since then the Grace Commission evolved into a nonprofit organization called Citizens Against Government Waste with over a million members. They have worked to make that vision a reality and, in a little over a decade, have helped save taxpayers $687 billion through the implementation of Grace Commission’s findings and cost effective recommendations.
One of their publications called Prime Cuts 2001 is a current blueprint for more efficient government, and estimates that $159 billion per year can be cut from government spending.

Federal Election Costs

Presidential federal election costs are spread amongst federal, state, county and local authorities. The most credible estimate of their total comes from a Voting Technology Project by Caltech and MIT dated July 2001. They estimate that the total cost of a federal election, excluding special one-time costs, is about $1 billion, or about $10 per voter. For this reason, it is not cost effective to have annual votes on Initiatives, but to make them coincide with the federal elections.

Cost of Publishing a Proposed Initiative in a Newspaper

National newspapers’ list prices range from about $4 to $8 per character. The Assembly will negotiate a bulk price for newspaper publication, which will probably average in the mid-range at about $6 per character. A Proposed Initiative of 300 words would cost about $10,000. However, this price is affordable to organizations, many individual citizens, and a group of citizens that could easily be assembled for a worthwhile Initiative. It is also sufficient to discourage frivolous Initiatives and to encourage brevity in worthwhile Initiatives. It appears to be the most cost effective method of publication. The Assembly has the authority to add a smaller (probably not national) newspaper with lower costs if this becomes desirable later; initially the Assembly should protect itself from a possible deluge of proposed Initiatives.

 Initiatives Amendment ROI

The IQA’s baseline annual budget is about $60 million. For each $1 spent for the Citizens’ Assembly, Prime Cuts estimates the potential savings from reduced government waste alone to be $2,000. Obviously, many of Prime Cuts’ savings will not be easily realized, but it is also clear that the Initiatives Amendment should be very cost effective and produce in a huge ROI for the People.