Friday, December 18, 2015

Wanted: A Discussion of Government Administration

Quick, a refresher course. Congress passes laws and the Executive Branch, headed by the president, carries them out (stop laughing). It’s not a sexy topic, and polls don’t show it as a major voter concern, but it is past time that we ask our presidential candidates about what their plan is for government administration. And no, abolishing the IRS and shrinking the government will not do.

For I think it is incontrovertible that the actual administration of our government is a shambles. Wait times at VA hospitals are past the point of tragic. We apparently have a policy of NOT checking social media in the vetting process of VISA applications. Daily, thousands of us endure the theatre of the TSA at our airports. I would like to think that even progressives could eventually be persuaded that a neutral IRS would be a good thing before the return of a Nixon administration. Even the Secret Service, the one group that people thought were competent, have been exposed in one embarrassing story after another.

And it isn’t as if the administrative aspect of government is of minor importance. If people were confident of our ability to vet applicants our discussion of letting in Middle East refugees would change dramatically. Surely our constant security breaches aren’t helping our foreign policy. We have a huge debt problem. Does anyone believe that government services are being delivered efficiently?

To my mind a government job should, with special exceptions, always be a person’s last job, no one under the age of 55 need apply. A pre-requisite should be significant time in the private sector on the rationale that a manager should know what’s like to be a player.

Finally, we need to tilt the balance back in the direction of the public. A government job shouldn’t be a safe sinecure. We need to be able to fire those who are ineffective without making it so easy that a new administration means the wholesale change of one team for another.
Even I don’t trust my political judgment but I can’t helping thinking that government administration is a huge issue just waiting for someone to pick it up. Republicans who are always looking for a way to associate themselves with Ronald Reagan should remember that one of the high points of his domestic presidency was the firing of the air traffic controllers. There are many reasons why the public and the elite(s) are at odds. One of the more important is that when it comes to government, the elites have proven they can’t run anything. That needs to change.

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