Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why Government Doesn't Work

From the days of the ancient Greeks, people have complained about the lack of responsiveness of a centralized government. So long as they are not immune from the foibles of the human condition, the complaints are likely to continue.

Last week this writer commented on people's expectations of the Federal government. Having worked for it for nearly half my life now, I've gained a few insights as to how people set themselves up for disappointment. We elect leaders and expect them to "clean up the bureaucracy." The thing is, once they are in town, they ARE the bureaucracy. It starts when they have to rely upon those career officials already here just to know where to find anything, or what form to fill out. Of course, those career officials may or may not have the same objectives as their political counterparts. They might have once been political appointees themselves before they made the switch to "career status." They'll be here when the current crop of politicals leave.

But often they don't leave. I found it rather funny, for example, to listen to the early appointees of the Reagan administration talk about how "government is the problem," then proceed to stay in town long after Ronnie and Nancy went back to the ranch, whereupon they would go to work for any number of think-tanks or "consulting firms" that feed off the Federal trough. Now, I voted for Reagan twice, and I'm not sorry about it, but it doesn't mean I was under any illusions that his underlings shared whatever altruism there was to his vision.

And once you become beholden to people, it is in your interest to promote them. In one agency with which I am familiar, I have known of people who rise to responsible positions, who couldn't organize a sock drawer. But they're quite capable of getting others to do it for them. Maybe that's where the real money is.

(By the way, I've gone the third-party route for president since 2000, and plan on doing the same in 2008. According to columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, this may be a good time for the rest of you to do the same.)

There's greed on both sides of the aisle, when it comes right down to it. And it extends beyond the Beltway. There are very few people living in West Virginia (to give another example) who would say they trust Washington, but they don't mind receiving a grossly disproportionate slice of the Federal pie. The senator known as "the prince of pork" is who they have to thank, and who they keep sending back. More recently, New Orleans will become the beneficiary of large amounts of Federal aid. It is only in our best interests, as they are the largest sea port aside from either the East or West Coasts. According to columnist Joseph Sobran, that emergency relief has already gone to pay for "Caribbean vacations, a divorce lawyer’s services, pornography and sexual debauches, season’s tickets for football games, champagne, and, according to one radio report, a sex-change operation."

Hurricane Katrina made an entire city of people incapable of caring for themselves. The Federal Emergency Management Agency made an entire city of people incapable of using what care they received. Now, everybody knows we could have fixed the levees beforehand, as experts had been warning us to do, and that would have kept the damage to a minimum. But we didn't have the money for that big slab of pork, did we?

It is said that we get the leadership we deserve. If this is where we wish to be led, what difference does it make who leads us?



Dad29 said...

If EVER there was a case for the Catholic Church's teaching on subsidiarity, the Fed Behemoth is it. In living color.

David L Alexander said...

While you're at it, Dad, check this out:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."