Passionately Fighting to Resist More Government Programs
Millions of fiscally conservative Americans, who still understand the meaning of a “buck,” have become massively depressed watching the American economy shift into a “service” economy, with outsourcing and minimum wage jobs as an essential ingredient. Who are these people who work in the service economy? Every month we read that 200,000 jobs have been added to the economy but the underlying statistics are alarming. Most of those jobs are low-paid unskilled positions or new government hires.
With the continuous avalanche of more and more regulations and taxes, the American economy has virtually eliminated its manufacturing base and transitioned to this “service” economy, revealing a dangerous trend. The majority of the new jobs are either flipping burgers or people who support the infrastructure for the new regulations and taxes – people like environmental lawyers, administrators, CPAs and tax accountants – people who contribute nothing to the economy – they just drain more dollars from the taxpayer’s wallets. The 30 million plus government employees (one out of every 7 adults in the country) also add nothing to the economy. Their sole purpose is to strategically apply the rubber hose where it will hurt the most, forcing reluctant taxpayers to cough up more of their hard earned cash, if for no other reason to pay for the salaries and benefits of these civil servants. The country will soon be awash in “middle men,” whose only function is to assure that ecological, health or economic laws (as in Sarbanes-Oxley which was written to benefit the big CPA firms) are complied with, or to move money from one pot to another, as exemplified by the growing expenditures and bureaucracy required to run Medicare.
The country has become sharply divided and polarized into two distinct camps: one pushing for a return to our roots, and other trying to follow the “miracle” of the worker’s states of the European Union, with it’s hugely unsolvable self-made problems. The often confusing and contradictory political philosophies of liberals, progressives and extreme leftists operating under the Democratic Party umbrella continually push for more and more government intervention, huge social programs and regulation in our lives, while conservatives holler from the rooftops that they want to return government to the local grass roots level as exemplified in the Constitution, in which new laws and taxes can be tightly controlled by direct involvement of the people. You won’t find many former members of the armed forces or former government employees or contractors clamoring for more government programs, because they know better.
So who’s right?
The left claims they are trying to correct the social inequities of the capitalism system that has done pretty well by us to-date. There will ALWAYS BE INEQUITIES, but the two camps are diametrically opposed as to how to solve real and imagined problems. Leftists want government to solve problems. Conservatives want people themselves to solve any perceived problems through our own devices. It must be assumed that the leftists believe that every time another law is passed spending billion of dollars on some ill-conceived social program, the army of bureaucrats that is necessary to run the program will triumphantly announce the problem has been solved, but that’s pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. Leftists must honestly believe that these same bureaucrats will work as hard as you do and carefully scrutinize taxpayer money as when you write a check from your personal checking account. Unfortunately, this is another pipe dream and is about as far from reality as Fantasia.
Government writes poorly conceived laws that cater to special interests and then hire thousands of new bureaucrats as “middle men” to regulate these new laws and move money from one taxpayer’s pocket to another (often undeserving) citizen’s pocket.
What possible good can be achieved with all the laws and regulations that govern environmental, economic and social behavior under the guise of protecting the worker or consumer, when the middle class won’t have a nickel left to spend to buy the products that are out of their reach? Only the rich and lower classes, giddy with generous federal and state giveaways, will be able to buy the goodies.
The Private Sector – Competition With Other Companies
As opposed to government, free enterprise business is governed by competition. Companies grow and companies fall as a necessary function of free market economics. Innovation is the mechanism by which new ideas are brought to market and efficiencies in processes created. It is the way by which poorly performing companies shrink or disappear from the American landscape. Those companies that cannot recognize ever-changing consumer demands are doomed to failure.
Most successful companies organize their divisions and departments as “profit centers,” whereby a manager is responsible for the profit or loss of that division/department. Each manager identifies his or her projected budget for the upcoming fiscal year; and when the new fiscal year rolls around the manager must accomplish all of the goals set forth in that budget. If the manager is extremely efficient and frugal, they may be able to turn a profit and also return some unused monies to the delight of all concerned.
The Public Sector – Competing With Itself
In the public sector, manager’s in the public sector are handed X amount of dollars and told to implement whatever solution has been promised. At the end of the year, if all of the monies have not been spent, the public manager goes on a wild spending spree to make sure not one red cent remains of that budget. Now why is that, you may ask? Because the manager is very concerned that his budget may be slashed the following year and his objective is not to save money but instead grow his department or fiefdom, as apposed to in the private sector wherein if the manager can come in under budget at the end of the year, the manager gets a gold star.
The Major Difference Between Private and Public Employment
What then is the significant single major difference between public agencies and private (commercial) enterprise? The key point in this comparison is that assuming the private manager has adequately documented the failings of an individual, incompetent employees in corporate America are routinely exorcised from the workplace in opposition to government where they are simply shifted to the side.
American companies exist for one purpose – profit – as despicable as that word may sound to many left-wing zealots. Their profit is determined by the free market and consumer demands and then plowed back into the business. Use of its funds is discretionary. The company applies the money where it will best serve the company. If they make lousy decisions they either file bankruptcy or go out of business.
Government on the other hand need not worry about profit or bankruptcy. In reality, government need serve no one but itself. Its purpose and services are so oblique to the average taxpayer that we have no idea what 98% of government agencies do for a living. The vast majority of government funds and agency’s purpose is totally at the discretion of the political class, which rarely has any business expertise, especially lifelong professional politicians. Even if they do a miserable job, rarely does anyone notice until a disaster hits and the agency is exposed for its incompetence (NASA, FEMA, etc., etc.). But they keep rolling right along often funded with billions of additional dollars to “solve” the problem. In private enterprise, they would all be joining the unemployment line.
Government realizes its income from the taxpayer. Use of the funds is not discretionary. The bureaucrat or sub-bureaucrat must demonstrate that 100% of the funds were used in precisely the manner dictated by the top executive or the legislature, even if one-tenth of the money could have solved the problem. There is rarely any room for innovative thinking as in the free market. The actual service rendered to the public becomes inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Private companies must constantly gather public opinion about their products. Government couldn’t care less if their organization actually serves the public interest, as long as they spend their allocated monies and the bureaucracy continues to burgeon. It’s virtually impossible to determine if a government organization is fulfilling its intended purpose. There are no litmus tests to gauge public satisfaction. With private companies, the litmus test is simple - profit or bankruptcy – a self-cleaning apparatus.
In government, the manager is handed his or her budget on a silver platter. The bureaucrat’s sole purpose in life is to grow his or her organization as large as possible, so that individual can add sub-bureaucrats (or friends or relatives) to his kingdom and move up the scale to the next pay grade. There is no reality check to gauge monies spent or citizen’s satisfaction. Citizens must accept the government implementation regardless of the pain one must endure to comply with government programs, as in the case of enrolling citizens in the mind-boggling array of Medicare plans.
So How Does Government Employment Work?
Horror stories abound throughout the country as to the workings of the civil service. In New York City, the Board of Education has a huge building in Brooklyn which houses hundreds of useless teachers and administrators who show up every day and cut out paper dolls because of incompetence or attitude problems. They can’t fire them – it’s too much work to jettison someone in the heavily protected public workplace. Over the years, because of the “Spoils System” whereby one administration would dump all the employees and replace them with political appointees who often had no skills necessary for the jobs they inherited, Civil Service regulations gradually added more and more protections to prevent this practice, which now is detrimental to best work practices and use of taxpayer dollars.
In New Jersey, as another forlorn example, government workers are “protected” by arcane civil service regulations and union contracts that would choke a horse. In New Jersey, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) represent the state workers with a 129-page contract (http://www.cwa1037.org/ProfContract030630-070701.pdf) that has provisions for addressing grievances, which obviously results in the non-firing policies.
The “Bottom Line”
· You go to work for a private company.
· You do a lousy job, are habitually absent or late, refuse to follow directions, or you are incompetent.
· You are fired.
· Unless you can provide valid evidence of discrimination or unlawful dismissal by hiring Perry Mason, you had best change your habits if you plan on eating next week.
· You go to work for a local, county, state or federal agency.
· You do a lousy job, are habitually absent or late, refuse to follow directions, or you are incompetent.
· You are fired if you are the “worst of the worse,” and your boss spent an inordinate amount of time painstakingly documenting your abuses.
· You appeal the decision (according to the CWA contract).
o Representatives of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and the union will meet bi-monthly to resolve grievances.
o A grievance is filed with thirty days represented by a shop steward. One-person will act as spokesperson for management and one-person spokesperson for the grievant.
o A grievance meeting is held within 10 days with a written decision handed down by management.
o The grievance may be appealed to the Department Head within ten days. The union will decide whether it will be a meeting or a hearing. If a hearing, a hearing officer is appointed by management. Both parties will be permitted to introduce testimony and evidence. A written decision will be handed down within twenty days.
o The union may demand arbitration within thirty days. If mutually agreed, a pre-arbitration hearing may be scheduled.
o Within thirty days, the parties shall agree to a panel of not less than five arbitrators.
o The selected arbitrator will conduct a hearing and render a decision. The arbitrator has the power to add, subtract or modify the agreement or the laws of the State. The decision of arbitrator is final and binding, and the arbitrator may prescribe an appropriate back pay remedy.
The reality is that managers must take time away from their duties to fill out the necessary paperwork to discipline or fire an employee, and then attend grievance meetings and hearings. Then his or her boss must be yanked away from his or her duties to hear these grievances, which will likely infuriate your boss. Then other senior personnel (arbitrators) might get pretty miffed too if you don’t have your I’s dotted and your t’s crossed. So instead of firing the non-performer, the employee is “put out to pasture,” and given “busy work” to keep him or her out of sight and out of mind. Since it’s only taxpayer money (retaining the undesirable doesn’t affect the bottom line), I guess we should not be too upset with this bureaucratic chafing, for after all, the worker bee has been protected while the taxpayer gets knifed in the back again.
What do these civil service regulations and union contracts really mean? They mean that the “carrot and stick” philosophy that has governed employment since Unggh, the Cro-Magnon man, first realized he had to hunt if he wanted to eat, have fallen by the wayside. When there is no stick, many employees will push the limits of abuse. So we taxpayers are paying for people to sleep on the job. The only question is, “what percentage of employees take advantage of the situation?” Based upon my personal experiences with local and county employees, I can testify that I suspect the proportion is quite high, so we’re wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to support “do nothing” employees.
In many states, a few brazen politicians have proposed reforms to improve government and have disgracefully suggested that state workers share the burden of the taxpayers. In California, Governor Schwarzenegger attempted to introduce minimal reforms, and was pummeled by the all-powerful unions. These unions represent a voting block that as government employment continues to grow will quickly cause the United States to become the next Soviet Union diving straight into the toilet.
So for all of the liberals out there who honestly believe government solves problems, wake up and smell the roses. As Ronald Reagan said in his 1980 Inaugural Address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”