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Government Printing Office Makes a Profit in '11 - Not Good

Adrian Moore
January 5, 2012, 9:18am

Bankrupting American notes:

Usually for Wednesday Waste we find an example of hard-to-believe government waste, highlighting the often inefficient ways taxpayer resources are being used. But today, we’re going to change the script a bit and focus on the federal government actually tackling wasteful spending.

This comes from the Government Printing Office (GPO). As The Hill reported late last month, the GPO actually ended 2011 in the black, earning $5.6 million in net income for last fiscal year.

I am not so sanguine about that outcome.  The fact that GPO could make a profit printing just frosts the cake of proof that there is no need for the government to be in the printing business in the first place.  There is clearly lots of demand and supply, no sign of a market failure here requiring government to step in a provide something the private sector cannot.

If you think the government making a profit is good in its own right, the surely you must think the government should pursue other profit making opportunities. Fortune reports that communications, oil production, and pharmaceuticals are the most profitable industries, so perhaps government should nationalize those industries and start making some real profits? What could possibly go wrong?

Government provision of services can only be justified in limited circumstances, the failure of the market to provide being a key one.  Profitability is decidedly NOT one.  The federal government has no business being in the printing business, and ought to privatize the GPO on this high note.

[note: I am harshing on this post by Bankrupting America, but by no means harshing on them, they do great work that I use constantly.]


Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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