Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our broken government

Our government is broken. There is no other way to say it, at the State and Federal level; our representative form of government is broken. Come to think of it, the government is both broke, and broken.

You and I could sit down over twenty or so pots of coffee and list the voluminous ways in which politicians have screwed up our government, but most of us have a top three list we keep in the back of our minds.

In past articles, I have focused on what I consider poor policies decisions or legislation, but today I want us all to look at those who make up our government, the limitations of that government, and how it affects our daily lives.

Elected office as a career path; while I am aware of the arguments against real term limits, I am willing to trade career politicians for representatives who know they will return to the private sector in a few short years and have to live with, and abide by, the laws and rules they have passed. The life cycle of a politician today is to run for office, win, pay back their contributors with favors or appointments, and start campaigning for the next election. This is cycle is self centered, not service centered. Sure, you can look back on legislation you have authored, or a park, library or school you have had built in your district, but how much of your time was spent at home in your district listening to your constituents? After a decade or two in office, how connected are you to the people you represent? I will bet you know the names of more lobbyist than you do PTA chairpersons from your district.

Government as the problem solver; call me a cynic if you will, but as a private contractor and later as an employee, I have been around government for the past twenty years at the state and local levels. In that time, I have seen a few things that work well. I have also seen incompetence rewarded, waste overlooked and layer upon layer of management who have no accountability. Don't get me wrong, I know there are good people in the public sector who are trying to do a good job, and to serve their customers, however, there many more for whom the idea it is not "their money" permeates every decision they make. Every time you have a bad experience with a bumbling bureaucrat or incompetent civil service worker, just remember, these are the same people some politicians want running our health care system. Does that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? Where is this new “super government” that will fix everything? It simply does not exist, and never will.

Nickels, dimes, billions and trillions; the government wants to grow, that has become its purpose, to grow itself. Just as soon as you create the new "department of helping this, that or the other", the department will come out with a report telling the politicians they need more funding. These programs never go away; they never have to go through a return on investment audit, and for every new program our government starts or expands, the money comes from the pockets of taxpayer. No one ever asks the tough question; are we really spending this money wisely or are we just rewarding poor decision-making and bad behavior? Is this something that the government should even be doing?

Here in California, we will soon reap the harvest of our broken system. Career politicians who work the system to stay in office, an ever-expanding and intrusive government, along with an addiction to spending “other people’s money” at a rate that simple cannot be sustained.

It is time to stop and ask our government three questions; what are you doing, why are you doing it, and where are you getting the money to pay for it? If they give you the same political double speak for an answer, it is time to send them back to the real world.

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