THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 170, April 22, 2002
REMEMBER 9/11? REMEMBER 4/19!
Why Government Reform Can Never Work
by James G. Maynard
Special to TLE
Whether it is the restructuring of HUD, or the "campaign finance reform" which has recently been passed, it is impossible for Government to reform from the inside.
Every time Government passes another "reform", it only makes the situation worse. One of the reasons is that as Government makes more things illegal (like the current "offense" of criticizing incumbents within 60 days of the election), it requires enforcement. This means that Government has to become larger to accommodate the new enforcement teams needed to enforce the law.
The problem with this is that every time the Government grows in size, it becomes less efficient, and more corrupt. The same thing happens in business. You never hear of multi-million dollar pilfering at a mom- and-pop business, because that size operation is too small for that sort of pilfering to not be noticed. A $7 an hour clerk may lift five or ten dollars here and there, but you cannot have Enron-sized debacle in a small business. Great theft can ONLY occur in large organizations.
Similarly, multi-billion dollar pork-barrel projects can only occur when the Government has become so bloated, that a few billion dollars can slip by unnoticed.
Also, the problem of efficiency vs. survival comes into play. Letís assume that the country had a plague of locusts. Now, naturally, those in power in Government will "run to the rescue" with a new program, the Federal Bureau of Locust Management. Naturally, everyone in that department will attempt to add to the survival and growth of their organization. So, they identify more problems (locust eggs, aid to farmers, etc.). This makes the organization grow more, and they find yet MORE problems to "tackle". Only about 1 out of every 7300 Federal workers are ever fired, yet they still live in fear of having their jobs eliminated.
Suppose they WERE to wipe out every locust in the U.S. Then what? Apart from the short-sighted environmental impact that would have, the FBLM may seem to be in danger of being eliminated (when was the last time a Federal agency was eliminated?). So the workers only have two choices: Either do their jobs so poorly that the locust problem is never eliminated, or come up with new "problems" for the bureau to undertake.
Either choice is a poor one for the American people, yet both are rampant throughout the Federal Government.
The only way to insure that Washington is as accountable and efficient as possible is to make Government smaller. No stifling of political thought, acts or contributions can possibly work to make Government cleaner, for such actions only serve to make Government larger, more corrupt, and less accountable to the American people.
But what happens, on those few occasions when talk is heard in Washington of a department shrinkage? Do those in charge of the department(s) in question talk of laying off those in middle management who make up around 30% of most Federal Bureaucracies? No, because that is unlikely to cause an uproar among the American people. Instead of talking of laying off 600 middle management people, they will instead say that "2,000 enforcement personnel will have to be laid off", striking fears into the hearts of people that they will not be able to live without the Federal Bureau of Locust Management.
So what can be done to clean up Government? We need to shrink it in size back to its Constitutional limits. But who should you direct your concerns to? After all, the White House is unlikely to answer, and those at the department in question are unlikely to agree that their department is superfluous.
The key is Congress. The members of Congress are far more likely to listen to the concerns of the average citizen. The number of voters which elect members of Congress are much smaller than the number who elect the President, and just a few votes (for them or their opponents) mean much more to them than they do to the President.
Do some research on your Senators and Congress person. What committees is s/he on, or which committees does s/he chair? Are they overseeing cabinet department(s)? Which ones? How over-staffed is that department with middle management?
If you want truly smaller, more representative, more accountable Government, it is important to call your Senators and Congress people and let them know that you want a cleaner Government the only way it can be brought about. By boldly shrinking the size of Government. By accepting personal responsibility and demanding accountability from our elected officials.
We will never have cleaner, more accountable Government as long as we wait for our leaders to clean up their own acts. They have too many reasons not to do so. All we will get from Washington is the appearance of action, and more protection for incumbents like the recent campaign finance "reform".
It will only be through the power of block voting for Congress (and the threat of it) that Government may shrink in size and scope. And it is only through a reduction in the size, cost and intrusiveness of Government that Washington may become more accountable and elections cleaner.
Perhaps if we lead, the leaders will follow.
Please visit our website at www.jmaynard.org, and help bring Small Government solutions to the working families of Keene.
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