People Who Believe 'Government Can Solve Everything' Obviously Have Never Worked In It

by FRANK HILL June 20, 2017

We were talking to a decided liberal the other day who has been pretty adamant about his opposition to any budget cuts proposed under President Trump and the Republicans.

He was complaining about the difficulties he had been facing as he was working with various government agencies in Washington and various states to get an alcohol and drug remediation program funded not over the past 6 months but the past 10 years, 8 of which were under President Obama.

'I hate the government!' he exclaimed. 'You can't believe how many hurdles and blockades we have run into getting this program going!' he huffed.

'But you are the one who LIKES more government, aren't you?' we humbly asked.

'Not in this case!' he stormed.

Welcome to the party, pal.  The party of the 'real world' of human nature versus the esoteric theoretical 'world' of postulations and lofty expectations for what government can or should possibly do.

Before you start screaming about any federal or state government budget cuts proposed by President Trump or the mean old Republicans in any legislature, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you think every government program ever passed should be funded in perpetuity forever and ever and ever regardless of the actual results of the program? 
  • In that case, we should still be funding a federal bounty program to kill wolves in the West, a program that started in the 1800's and was only stopped in 1965.

    Which would be totally ridiculous, yes?

  • If a government program has achieved its stated purpose, should it be dissolved or continued?
  • Our very favorite example of this wasteful spending of your tax dollars has been and always will be the Federal Helium Reserve Act of 1925.

    What was helium used for back then, you ask?

    Filling surveillance dirigibles for war purposes, of course. Blimps. Like the one that just crashed at the US Open yesterday by the way.

    Care to guess when this program was finally stopped by Congress?

    1996. Except that it was not 'finally stopped' then either. It is still with us in 2017 as amendments were passed to continue the program for some unknown reason.

    Unless we have figured out a way to use helium to produce a cloaking device on all stealth bombers and fighters, the strategic military use of helium has long gone the way of the dodo bird and passenger pigeon. And still, Congress has some of your tax dollar going to support this program.

    • If a federal or state government program HAS NOT 'solved' the targeted problem it was aimed at, should it be continued or changed, amended or eliminated?

    LBJ's grand idea, The Great Society, was a slew of anti-poverty programs passed in 1964-65 designed, in LBJ's words:

    "(The Great Society) rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning."

    $22 trillion adjusted-for-inflation of your tax dollars have been spent to eradicate poverty and lift everyone up economically since 1964 and the poverty rate remains the same, if not higher.

    A various array of social and societal ills still beset our nation, some of which have been exacerbated by the very Great Society programs that were intended to fix the problems, not complicate them.

    Should all of these programs be continued without question or concern? Or should all of them be subject to serious public oversight by our elected representatives in Washington to see which should be continued, which should be amended and which should be ended forthright?

      If you had ever worked inside of the federal government, or the state or local government for that matter, you would know what we are talking about. Looking to government to 'solve everything' might be an enticing dream from the 'outside looking in' but from the inside, government in many cases 'just ain't what it is cracked up to be'.

      Hence, one of the reasons why we are for less of it. Not more.
      The problem with turning to government to 'solve everything' ignores the fact that government workers are human beings, just like you and me, all with their various human quirks and foibles who respond to incentives and avoid pain and risk just like we all do.

      Sometimes, as in the case of The Manhattan Project or NASA landing a man on the moon before the end of the 1960 decade, government workers and contractors can pull off the most outlandish, impossible-sounding feat imaginable. Many times, however, government becomes the slow drag on progress, a never-ending cycle of delay, obfuscation, over-regulation and diversion of responsibility and nothing of any great consequence ever 'gets done' as our friend above lamented.

      They are not all angels, although a few may be from time to time. They are not all rocket scientists, great financial money managers, detail-oriented task solvers or even nice people all the time.
      Just as in any business, school, academic of higher learning, science lab, gas station or church setting.

      Almost all government workers, as well as all of us outside of government, respond positively to praise and possibilities for personal advancement either through promotion, higher pay or bonuses and negatively to harsh criticism and perceived unfair treatment by superiors.

      It is just human nature.

      We are of the opinion that there is not one federal government program that can not be reduced in spending, except the amount of money we are legally obligated to pay each year for interest on the burgeoning national debt, now at $20 trillion and still climbing.

      If you accept the notion that the federal government budget is not a sacred text handed down from on high and can, and should be, inspected thoroughly as noted above, then you should join the effort to reduce federal spending whether you are an avowed liberal as our friend above or a committed conservative as any Tea Party person might be.
      Uniting to reduce unnecessary federal spending across-the-board should be one thing we should all do this year and every year.

      Just let us know if you are interested in learning how to do it. Here's a place to start for your summer reading at the beach: CBO Options for Reducing the Deficit 2017-2026.

      Read it with a cold Corona Extra or margarita nearby. You are gonna need it.

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    Contributing Editor Frank Hill ran for Congress at the age of 28 and served as chief of staff for former Congressman Alex McMillan (NC-9) and Senator Elizabeth Dole (NC). He was a budget associate on the House Budget Committee for 4 years and worked on the 1994 Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where he does some consulting and lots of worrying about federal spending issues.


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