Saturday, December 18, 2010

Inefficient Government

Recent developments within the Obama administration must be applauded. Did I really just say that? Free trade agreements with South Korea, extending Bush era tax cuts, a reduction in payroll taxes all demonstrate a willingness to compromise. His slight move to the center to appease his base (which is taking him to task for his actions too) is refreshing. Although we must recognize that it is one that was forced upon him after the mid term elections. America spoke loud and clear that they did not like the direction the country was heading in. And it certainly did not like the expansion of federal government. Inefficient government that is.

The Department of Education created by Jimmy Carter in 1979 has never seemed to live up to its billing. Ronald Reagan attempted to abolish the department due to its inadequate performance and squandering of money. In his own words, Reagan said, "education is the principal responsibility of local school systems, parents, teachers, citizen boards and state government." He went on to declare education that would "insure the local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, to determine the education of our children." The OECD just this month echoed Reagans dissatisfaction with the program. American students are falling further behind the rest of the world. We rank below average in both math and science compared with other developed countries around the globe. My family is full of teachers, and this is in no way a breakdown on their part. Rather an inferior curriculum that government dictates.

Another department we have Jimmy Carter to thank for is the Department of Energy, conceived after the oil crisis in the late 1970's. As America sends billions of dollars every year to unfriendly nations, we have vast resources right here at home. Reserves that could ensure our energy dependence for decades to come, are off limits because of restrictions imposed by government. Energy Department statistics indicate up to 80% of off shore and 60% of onshore drilling sites are prohibited from access. These constraints are sending valuable jobs overseas. Almost every nation on earth is extracting oil and natural gas from their floors, ironically with our technology. If as the government states that drilling is unsafe, why are we supporting Brazil to drill with US taxpayers money, in waters three times as deep as we do in the Gulf? As Martin Feldman, a New Orleans federal judge ruled against the governments enforcement of off shore drilling in June of this year, said "if some drilling equipment are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? Are all oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines?" Two thumbs up for Judge Feldman.

Do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ring a bell? These two GSE (government sponsored enterprises) are widely thought to be partly responsible for the recent economic meltdown. Requiring hundreds of billions of US taxpayer subsidies to stay alive, they continue to bleed money at an alarming rate. Another shining example of government failure. Amtrak. 40 years of losses and still requiring federal funding. The USPS. An agency that receives government assistance, is excused from paying almost any taxes, and can borrow from the government at below market rates. And it still can not make a profit, hampered by private competition which are not afforded all the luxuries of the US Postal System. The US Census Bureau just reported its fiscal situation is in dire straights. Costs well beyond projections. The Department of Transportation underestimating budgets and finishing projects (such as tunnels, bridges and roads) way behind schedule. I can go on and on but I think you get the message.

When I began my idea for this article, I tried real hard to determine any segment of government that was effective. The military was high on the list. We must comprehend that Washington is filled with plenty of academia, and devoid of practitioners. We need employees that have been through the ups and downs of the business cycle. People that have met budgets, hired workers and adhered to deadlines in the real world. Government is out of touch, power hungry and incompetent. And they want to take over our healthcare system, the best in the world? Thank goodness for Virginia judge Henry E. Hudson who ruled this month that parts of Obamacare are unconstitutional. Let the overpowering grip of government start is slow and steady descent.

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