Some Disjointed Thoughts About Fixing The Economy: PART IV
By Steven Abernathy – Contributing Author
This is primarily a series on the economy, so I wasn’t planning on even weighing in on the current Wikileaks tragedy. But then I heard on the evening news that there were over 1 million people in the U.S. with secret clearance high enough to give the access to the kind of information recently leaked. The answer hit me hit me like a bumbling TSA agent reaching out to tickle my…well, you know. Wikileaks is an economic problem. Why are so many people needed to protect America’s secrets? They’re not necessary, of course. It’s just one of hundreds of examples of government waste. That’s just the way our government works.
Secret agents are just the tip of the iceberg. Government, as you probably already know, has far too many and far too much of everything! Senator A has a buggy whip factory in his state. President O needs Senator A’s vote on a bill to authorize fifteen Air Force One aircraft, each with a different color paint to match the President’s mood when he needs to fly. Smithsonian Director Z puts in a request for six buggy whips for the two antique buggies in the museum. President O sees the order, adds several zeroes to it and shows it to Senator A in hopes the huge order will sway the Senator’s vote. Voila! America suddenly owns 60,000 buggy whips, 59,994 of which are unneeded, should never have been purchased, and will doubtless rot slowly in some brightly lighted government warehouse guarded by six hundred civilian watchmen, all on the government payroll. See how it works?
The government mantra when it comes to hiring government workers is: Why hire one person for the job when you can hire six? At any given moment during the work week, 12,472,615 government workers are taking a break! Actually, I just made up that number, but you get the idea. Walk into any government office and you will see…there are waaay too many of them. It’s a waste of our tax dollars. If government would teach one worker to do the job efficiently, they could fire the other five and save taxpayers a bundle. If the GSA ordered one case of paperclips when they needed them, rather than ordering 50 cases and not watching as 49 of them disappeared, taxpayers would save another bundle of dollars. Sooner or later, the Treasury might even have to print less curency, which would save even more dollars! Wow, that’s confusing!
Government people, government programs, government stuff…we’ve lost control of all of the above. “We the people” have allowed it to happen. “We the people” are the only ones who can straighten it up. We just fired a bunch of legislators who refused to listen to their constituents. We need to demand old fashioned responsibility from those who are now there, and be ready to pull the crank to fire them if they don’t learn the lesson quickly.
I can hear some of you grumbling…”That’s not right,” you say. “Government tries to be efficient…sometimes there aren’t enough people in government offices to get the job done.”
“Balderdash!” I answer. “Let me give you a HUGE example of a massive governmental inefficiency that was actually fixed, to a large degree, and by a Democrat, no less. During his tenure as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the military, Bill Clinton absolutely decimated our military and our intelligence community. Numbers vary depending on who you believe, but in 1990 there were somewhere between 18-24 active Army divisions. By 2000, the number was reduced to ten. That’s a lot of people given the old heave-ho! Air Force, Navy, Marines, CIA,. and other elements of our national defense saw the same kind of cuts. I was a vocal opponent of what Clinton did to national defense in the 90s. Defense is, in my humble opinion, the most important function of government, and the Commander in Chief slashed it by half!
There are those who blame 9-11 and all other terrorist activity, both Gulf wars, and Afghanistan on Clinton’s actions. Is it so? I don’t know, and am pretty certain we will never know. Muslim extremists are both tenacious and determined, and probably don’t really care how large the Army is. But here is the thing: America’s greatly reduced military has functioned quite well, has valiantly fought the war on terrorism on multiple fronts, has done its job. I’m certain there have been bureaucratic problems and complications along the way, but maybe President Clinton did a good thing by showing us that government can function without being so bloated and redundant.
Imagine what could happen if we applied those principles to those bureaucratic agencies that think they are important, but that, in all truthfulness, play a minuscule role in our welfare when compared with national defense. In times of national economic crisis, could we get by with a great deal less people at OSHA, HIPPA, FDA, HUD, Congressional staffs, and a thousand other hidden government bureaucracies without dooming ourselves to national tragedy brought about by an unlabeled lawn mower, an uninspected apple, or a real estate contract with twelve fewer pages? When you think about it, Congressmen rarely respond to constituents’ problems in any meaningful way…could they do any less with half of their usual staff? Could all of those capital lettered organizations still make us safe from uninspected, untaxed, and unlabeled tomatoes grown in our own gardens with a few less people wandering the halls of government trying to stay out of each others’ way? I’ll bet they could. I’ll also wager that the government could occasionally order one $200 hammer instead of a thousand and still get the intended job done. The same applies to buggy whips, aircraft, and hotel rooms for Presidential vacations.
Talk about smaller government! Why, our government could stimulate a national economic revival just by cutting itself in half! There could be other benefits as well. Considering Wikileaks once more, if America had, say, half the number of people with Top Secret clearances, that would be 500,000 fewer people with a potential to leak information to those out to hurt us. I don’t say this often, but, “Bravo, President Clinton.” You may not have been perfect, but I think you showed us the way out of this economic crisis…slash government spending by slashing government! Kick out the spenders as we eliminate what they are spending on! American families are tightening their belts and doing with much less, but they are getting by, they are weathering the storm. It’s time for the arrogant Washington elitists to do the same. Demand it!
One last thought: some of you are formulating an argument based on the large number of unemployed who would be created by this proposed massive downsizing of government. Remember this: when Clinton slashed the military, effectively firing tens of thousands, the economic growth that occurred during his presidency absorbed them into civilian society without a hiccup. Economic growth is a wonderful and powerful thing. Embrace it!
Steven Abernathy is author of Nikita’s War, an exciting new novel of political intrigue. Available for $2.99 from Amazon Kindle. http://www.facebook.com/aquestionof character
He is co-author, along with his son, John Abernathy, of A Question of Character, the prequel to Nikita’s War, available at Amazon.com and http://www.facebook.com/aquestionofcharacter