Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards #1


(Holding Government to the Appropriate Standards)

No. 1

Thomas Paine – April 2009

Our Federal Government has certain important and defined functions. To support those functions it must raise revenue. All citizens understand and accept this fact. Government can and should tax income and consumption. Government should not tax anything else whatsoever. Every dollar of income should attract some tax, under a modestly graduated tax that is reasonable and that is not changed dramatically or often without exceedingly good reason. All subsidies, without exception, must be eliminated.  Government must stop looking at activity but instead look at results. A limited number of transfer payments are acceptable: social security and veterans benefits being prime examples.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has asked the congress to provide metrics which will support and verify the actual economic results derived from government programs. Congress has refused and not even one of the programs O.M.B. verified as ineffective has been cancelled.  By way of example it was demonstrated that only 15% of the jobs programs designed by the government was providing any benefit whatsoever. The programs do however provide employment for an army of civil servants. Government absolutely must start looking at results instead of at activity. There can be no sacred cows allowed to exist that do not economically pay their own way through the quantifiable benefits derived from their actions.

Government’s job is not to provide employment for civil servants but to provide necessary and useful services to its citizens, and it should be buying those services from the best and most cost effective provider. In short, government should lay off significant numbers of staff and shift the work to the private sector. The cost effectiveness gained would allow even more employment with a dramatic increase in work effort and productive results.

The original Thomas Paine understood the use of common sense when railing against the excesses George III had inflicted on his own citizens. George III was an example of arrogance combined with ignorance and power, a truly lethal and disruptive combination. Paine said government needs to remedy the defect of man’s mortal virtue, not help supply it. Today Thomas Paine would likely change the title of his thought provoking paper to:

Where Has Common Sense Gone?-A.D. 2009”.

(An indictment against big government)

Government must not do the things government should not do. Government must not do things that do not work………

A classis example is the Washington, D.C. Public School System (remember, the Federal Government is solely responsible for and to the citizens of the District of Columbia). Washington public schools are among the very worst performers in the nation by their own admission. A pilot program was started to introduce an education voucher system into the district in order that parents could economically seek a better education for their children. The resulting increase in student achievement exceeded even the most optimistic expectations of the system managers.

What did the government do? Government did away with the voucher program.  When something works the government cuts its funding. If it doesn’t work the government throws more money at it. WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

America’s primary and secondary public education system does not much harm those students with greatest ability but it certainly insures that a large number of students will remain at a level without skills necessary to participate effectively in society. This abomination must be stopped and stopped now! Governments subsidize inefficiency. Subsidies create dependencies and eliminate innovation. Any responsible person recognizes that the strongest component of American prosperity and success has been our national characteristic to innovate, create and take risks. This characteristic is being systematically erased from our psyche by big government.

Thomas Paine surely would have asked the government……

What have you done to private citizen property rights?  Why have you usurped instead of protected them? Why have you not codified them in a systematic and responsible way? Why are property rights being decided on an ad hoc basis by individuals who do not necessarily have any special expertise in the area where they operate, but instead are granted much authority just because they met the qualifications of being on a ballot and got elected by individuals with even less understanding of the area they are expected to operate in.  WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

What works? Do you know? Do you even know what you are doing? Do you have any idea what you should be doing?  Why do you duplicate so many of the activities of the private sector but do them so poorly?  WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE?

Paine would go on to say………

The question on the floor is…..Why is a particular policy not working?  What public benefit has actually arisen from activity in this area?

The list could go on and on but I believe the point has been made….We must start using our common sense regularly and insist that the government does likewise.  How do we achieve these ends? First we recognize both major political parties have been responsible for our present state of affairs. It does no good to debate by which measure one or the other is most responsible. They need to hear the people’s message in such clear and unambiguous terms that even a government out of touch with reality cannot help but understand the message.  I cannot speak for others but I gladly present my position for others to contemplate.

The answer is at the ballot box. It has taken a long time to reduce the effectiveness of government to its present state. It will likely take at least some time to rectify the situation. Even so, this is not sufficient reason to delay starting the process now! Therefore I share my views of the way I intend to contribute to the process.

I urge each of you to do likewise if you truly believe in liberty and freedom from excessive government intrusion into your life.

I will profess allegiance to no political party. I will make every effort to elect individuals who will install and follow without exception the common sense principals previously referenced. I care not what their ethnic background or political stripe is. I care only that they will systematically help dismantle the non-responsive elements of big government at every level and return our country, state or community to a sound financial basis, while minimizing intrusions into the lives of the citizens. I will do this without exception, and I will try to help educate others so that they may clearly understand how to correctly judge the actions and results of their elected officials.

T.P. (2009)

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