Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day Lesson for 2011

I've been saying for years that The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs should be mandatory indoctrination for electeds and government workers, so I was gratified to see a commentator on this opinion piece adopt the same position.

The problem is that even if elected and government workers understood the reasoning and wisdom behind that timeless and perennially applicable fable, the fact is that:
  1. They can just wave a magic wand and conjure up money out of nowhere;
  2. They know this, and;
  3. That's easier.
And as we all know, people who have no motivation take the path of least resistance whenever possible. Consequently, we have the farcical joke that is our government and civil service, because there is no motivation—no standards, no consequences, no incentives—for government workers to do anything other than the bare minimum that their job descriptions mandate… and depending on seniority, most of the time even that benchmark is unenforceable.

The rampant inefficiency, waste and incompetence that characterize government all begins with civil servants’ unions and ends with their aiders and abettors in the elected branches of government. The taxpayer who subsidizes these vast hoards of parasitical do-nothing bureaucrats is hermetically sealed out of this loop and is helpless to do a thing to effect reform of any kind.

Look no further than our perennially favorite example of Lynnwood. During the worst and most persistent economic collapse since the Great Depression, civil servants' unions repeatedly and relentlessly balked at even taking token measures like furlough days in an effort to show good faith with the taxpayers who were forcibly funding their lavish government-employee lifestyles. The unions would have none of it, and owing to the criminal fact that the city has contracts with those unions, there was little the city government could do....

.... Except that there was plenty the city government could do. "It's out of our hands" and boo-hoo-isn't-that-horrible was the bullshit story we were given, but the reality is that budget time presented a perfect opportunity to deal decisively with these parasitical, ungrateful, do-nothing bureaucrats in one fell swoop — by enacting the significant, long-overdue lay-offs that the Mayor proposed. It was a Golden Opportunity to make cuts to rampant frivolous spending in this city that were eons overdue and, more urgently, were persisting through an economic depression -- a time where there was no possible means of justifying their continuance.

And what happened?

"Do-Nothing Bureaucrats Local #666" and it's myriad counterparts came unglued and pulled out all the stops and then some in order to attack, smear, stymie, hobble and cripple the Mayor by *ANY* means possible. The City Council squealed with glee at the state of affairs, sold the citizens down the river by hopping straight into bed with those unions, rolled right over did their part as the unions' submissive tool — whatever it took to undo the Executive Branch and the check-and-balance it represented to their irresponsible use of their legislative power.

The process was complete when the Mayor — popularly elected by the voters not once but twice — was stripped of his executive ability to institute desperately needed lay-offs. Council proceeded instantly to arrogate that responsibility to itself and then laid off virtually nobody and imposed a frenzied orgy of taxes in order to continue to fund the mostly intact civil service. Naturally, the taxpaying residents, employers, and workers were presented with the bill.

And if those taxpayers were at the end of their financial ropes due to unemployment forcing the premature exhaustion of their savings and retirement accounts, and losing their homes, etc.? The message was clear: “Tough friggin’ luck, suckers. This is Lynnwood. Know your place. Shut up, pay up, and maybe we’ll consider reducing things when the economy rebounds.”

It's a sobering lesson and one worth remembering this Independence Day. We enjoin one and all to remember it well come November.


Anonymous said...

Did an angry 7th grader write this?
Because you are a lot better than this essay. You allow your critics to dismiss you out-of-hand when you rant. Be calm and specific like you do with your traffic camera fight and people will listen.

This essay is just another angry man yelling at the sky. Only other angry sky yellers will listen.

People's Republic of Lynnwood said...

Your point is well taken, and for what it's worth I admit forthrightly that I sound like the Howard Beale character from Network. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this any more!"

I can only tell you that, if you spent any time in the belly of the beast and seen the dynamic in action first hand, you would likely sound like me as well.

Full disclaimer: I am a product of a union home and I support unions 100% -- in their proper place. It is government-work unions specifically that I believe are the problem. Paper-pushers and white-collar workers in the public's employ have no need of unions. Perhaps I should have elaborated on this more clearly.

Thanks for the comment.