Saturday, July 7, 2007

Government Inefficiency - Thank God For It

We should find great relief in the fact that our government is so bogged down in partisanship, bureaucracy, and ineptitude that it doesn't t get much done. This failure in its ability to act is probably the only thing that keeps it from “saving us to death”.

Truer words were never spoken than those above folks, though I am sure that like me, you have at one time or another prayed that the government would crawl out of the cesspool of its own ignorance and quagmire of inefficiency and "just get something done" for us. We have only to watch C-SPAN broadcasts of our Congress in action (at least you do if you have absolutely no life and have decided to torture yourself in ways other than watching reruns of "Leave It To Beaver" and "The Brady Bunch" or the Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller movie marathons this weekend) and we shake our heads at the political posturing, partisan politics, and endless mind-numbing speeches that end up saying and accomplishing absolutely nothing. 

We watch the news on TV, listen to it on the radio, or read about it in the paper in the morning (less of you every day according to the latest figures) and we pray to whatever higher power that we believe in that someone or something will save us from this system that seems bent on accomplishing little or nothing with the trust and money that we have placed in their hands, only to be disappointed. But consider this... What does our government usually manage to accomplish in their effort to improve our lot in life on the rare occasions that it functions?
  • Restrict our personal freedoms whenever the opportunity is provided, while hiding their own abuse and shenanigans behind closed doors.
  • Find new ways to take the money out of our pockets, while lining their own with speaking fees, gifts, campaign contributions, and pay and benefit increases; while waiting to become lobbyists and make the really big bucks. (though having Congressman William Jefferson hiding his cash in the freezer was original and entertaining if nothing else)
  • Make endless regulations in every possible phase of our lives that make no sense either to the people who are affected by them or the people who have to enforce them.
  • Do studies on things that nobody wants to know for reasons that no one understands. (There is a current government study on government studies that is already running vastly over budget. I will keep you updated.)
  • Create reports based on these studies that involve printing on a scale that would kill enough trees to make the Sierra Club throw up their arms in horror and probably pee their pants (though of course, they would simply call the latter 'giving back to the environment' or 'recycling').
  • Sponsor projects to build things that nobody knows anything about, if they did know about them would beg not to have built because they aren't wanted or needed, and even if they did need them would point out that the project was being built too late or in the wrong place (though such projects usually do at least provide a job for somebody's brother-in-law).
  • Create forms for things that no one can possibly fill out properly and that once filled out will not be read anyway. However if such forms are read by mistake, they would only prove that the person applying doesn't deserve the thing that the form was filled out for in the first place.
All of this being done for (to) you by a government who then tells you:

...that what they are doing is in your best interest and only for your own good (a concept that you don't seem capable of understanding or you wouldn't be questioning or complaining).

...that they know better than you do how to spend the money that you expend so much time and effort earning, even if that means funding an arts program for stuff you wouldn't hide in your attic or a campaign of massive wealth redistribution to people who are making no effort to pay their own way in life

...that they know exactly what kind of health care that you need and they should therefore control and regulate that care and the type of treatment that you receive, while placing themselves in a completely separate system which provides much greater care at much lower costs

...that they know exactly how much (or more accurately, how little) you will need to live on in retirement, while again segregating themselves from that plan to provide for themselves a much higher standard of living

...that they know what bad habits (food, drink, or smoking as examples) that you need to modify in order to become a better person (again, their definition), and if you are not willing or able to modify those habits, legislating such behavior modification in your own best interests

...that they know what you should be exposed to on TV and radio, either through censorship or mandated fairness, disregarding the concept of free speech, a free market economy, or the idea that you could somehow figure out how to change stations on your TV or radio (I might be willing to sit still for if they would just promise to get rid of the Adam Sandler and Ben Still movie marathons - nah)

Fortunately for us, the government is their own worst enemy these endeavors. The initiatives that they attempt to push through in order to make our lives better are countered by their needs to demonize their opponents and grandstand whenever possible. When they manage to get out of their own way far enough to actually pass something into law, they usually make it absolutely impossible for the bureaucracy to execute those efforts by bogging them down in paperwork designed to show progress that can never be made and micromanaging regulations that are so contradictory that both the original goal and its opposite fit within the guidelines. 

If somehow they screw up in reverse and actually pass a law that can be enforced, that same bureaucracy that has to perform the enforcement takes over and steps on itself through laziness, union regulations, and just plain stubborn resistance to change (with a mandatory coffee break or two thrown in just to break the monotony). If however, by some freak of nature, all of these fortunate societal protections are circumvented, we can then count on the court system to prevent anything from happening in the end, either through a lawsuit by the ACLU or the Sierra Club; or by some judge, bored with the legal system and seeking his 15 minutes of fame on the news by stepping in to rule that the law is unconstitutional, and sending it back to the lawmakers for another round on this carousel of craziness. 

In the end, the result is a wonderfully entertaining dance where nothing at all happens, and if we are lucky we are allowed to continue to live our lives with a minimum of government interference. So just remember when you are standing in line in the DMV, cursing your fate and the government that has sentenced you to the mind-numbing experience in which you are participating, that the very inefficiency that is at that moment making you life a living hell, may in fact be saving it. Oh by the way, the piece of wisdom quoted at the beginning of my posting came from a rather surprising and unusual source ... me. 

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