Monday, November 30, 2009

“Efficiency in Government…an Oxymoron."
by John Alexander Madison
November 30, 2009

It has become quite clear that the federal government cannot manage its vast bureaucracy. As a result there is widespread opposition to the proposed national health care program. That opposition is based, in large part, on three factors… (1) knowledge that the government has failed to effectively manage other major initiatives such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and primary education, to name a few; (2) fear of inevitable and huge costs; (3) general mistrust of government and our elected officials.

Social Security Administration...
When excessive payments were paid to millions of social security beneficiaries the SSA’s Chief of Staff Larry W. Dye said “Correcting a record more than four years in the past could cause an undue hardship to beneficiaries, as well as create extensive public relations issues for the agency.” Au contraire Monsieur Dye, mon fraire, continuing to make wrongful and unearned payments to social security recipients creates larger public relations issues for the agency and a larger federal deficit. How can we trust you? This is no way to run a business.

Primary Education...
An editorial on recently wrote about government efforts in primary education: In the last 25 years, the United States has doubled per-pupil spending (adjusted for inflation). The US spends far more money on primary education than most other industrialized countries. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2008 Education at a Glance, the United States ranks number one internationally in annual expenditure on educational institutions per student. However, national SAT scores are flat or have fallen since we started the huge influx of spending decades ago, and our international scholastic standing earns a failing grade. I believe the public school system is a harbinger of what would occur should the health care system be nationalized. We will spend too much, and we will end up with one of the worst systems in the industrialized world, with unions, lobbyists the ACLU and government bureaucrats working together to ensure that the system is as bad as it could possibly be, and that there's no way out of the debacle for generations.

Creating and Saving Jobs...
In 2009, we learned of a new and cleaver, but immeasurable, government jobs initiative…not only creating but ‘saving’ jobs. The problem is when the government creates government jobs there is no sustainable funding for them as government jobs do not create income, they just create a need for more taxes…and therefore increased government inefficiency and indebtedness. What government must do is eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. They can start by staying out of business, supporting the free market economy and eliminating all government czars. Government initiatives this year have not saved any jobs (that was just a talking point we were to believe) but they have lost millions of jobs in the private sector. With over 10% national unemployment job creation and saving is, quite clearly, yet another government myth, yet another government failure.

By the way, how do we measure “saved’ jobs? This is yet another example of more rhetoric and few results from our leadership in Washington. I am reminded of a scene in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” where the politician Polonius, who has declared that ‘brevity is the soul of wit,’ continues to expand upon Hamlet's supposed madness. The impatient Queen dryly demands ‘More matter with less art,’ that is, more substance and less rhetoric. It appears that whatever schooling our current President may have achieved it was short on English literature…or he doesn’t take advice from anyone, even the Queen!

Does anybody out there still believe the federal government is the answer?

What about Amtrak and the United States Postal Service (USPS)? They are both run by the government and they are both inefficient and bankrupt. I believe an infrastructure for a national railroad system must be built and maintained as a partial solution to our long-term private and commercial transportation needs. I also believe that the only role of the government should be helping to provide the right-of-way for such a system. That’s it, provide the right-of-way, and then get out of the way!

Regarding our beloved USPS, I received 30 pieces of mail in the two days following the Thanksgiving holiday. Of those 25 pieces were what I would characterize as “unsolicited, junk mail.” Mail I just did not want: catalogues, insurance offers, solicitations for contributions, and more; all labeled and shipped to me as “bulk mail” and all of which I threw away within minutes. While this junk mail represented 83% of my two-day mail and probably 98% of the weight of all the mail received I suspect that the postage required to mail those pieces was 10-20% of the entire mailings.

Write your Members of Congress today and demand that all postage be based on weight then, just maybe, the USPS might begin digging itself out of a huge government created financial hole.

Think about it. While you and I must pay $.44 for a one ounce piece of first-class mail, bulk mailings are clogging our system, our mail boxes, and our wastebaskets, and they are accounting for a great majority of the mail to be moved by USPS (both in pieces and weight), yet bulk mailers are paying pennies on the dollar while you and I must now pay 28 cents for a “penny post card.”

Let’s face it, beyond remarkable outcomes by our military establishment with ever decreasing resources, our federal government has proven to be incapable of anything more than building an unsustainable bureaucracy and a national deficit beyond our ability to re-pay it.

As in business, government must get smart; it must live within its means at all levels and not continue to believe more money (taxes and fees) is the answer. Less government is the answer.

I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again: “Efficiency in government doesn’t have to be an oxymoron…and that efficiency can be achieved through technology” and, I’ll add here, “and application of the most basic principles of business.”
I believe, as did our Founding Fathers, that the role of our federal government is a limited one.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing..." Edmund Burke

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