A Peek at a Big Problem

I’d like you to go to The Silicon Graybeard’s blog first.  He cites experience with NASA, The Federal Aviation Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies, and suggests that they be eliminated because they do more harm than good.

We’ve seen the Food and Drug Administration’s moribund regulations cut and their approval process slashed during the Chinese Plague. Do they need a staff of 15,000 with a budget of $3.2 billion? I really don’t know. Maybe they have an insane work schedule???

Mission creep in these massive bureaucratic structures are not really creep – more of a marathon.

Early in the Trump Administration the then Secretary of State sent headhunters to various components of the State Department with the mandate that they determine what various people do. It required on-site interviews. My small company was contracted to do some of this because we had experience dealing with Foreign Service Officers, frequently referred to as, “Faggots Serving Overseas” (pardon if you are offended, but that’s the language used).

We put a paper in front of the person and asked them to list what it is they did and to outline their personal schedule for the ensuing week. At least half broke down in tears.  Many resigned before the interview. There was a LOT of backlash at Foggy Bottom. “HOW DARE YOU ASK WHAT I DO?” When the most important decision of the day is where to go for lunch, the question of why you are employed needs to be asked.

My comment on SiGraybeard’s blog post was this: “The big alphabet agencies have become welfare systems and minority hiring schemes that at best are harmless to the public while being consumers of vast tax resources. The lingering question remains what would you do with all the drones if their positions were eliminated?”

Now Ponder This

(Shameless Plug) I do know something about Chapter 9 Bankruptcy, having run the criminal investigation into the circumstances that led to Orange County, CA filing under Chapter 9. You can read it in the book – or not. It had a lot to do with liquidity, moronic government officials, Wall St. sharks, etc.

But that’s not what the Democrats are talking about now with the problems that state and local governments are having during the Chinese Plague.  (read more about it at Legal Insurrection) The lack of tax revenue will force states to tighten their fiscal belts or cut jobs and a lot of programs that are dear to the Democrat machine. It’s how they buy votes in many cases.

And there’s more.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that the federal government NOT bail out state government (and the subset counties and cities).

“It’s not, as Democrats claim, that he wants states to go bankrupt, but the threat of bankruptcy would give states the leverage to renegotiate abusive pensions systems. And if push came to shove, the pension systems could be reformed through the bankruptcy process.

“McConnell’s suggestion would allow states to reform their own houses, but it also would rip apart the Democrat incestuous relationship between public sector unions and state government. So McConnell’s suggestion is both fiscally reasonable, and politically savvy.”

I have made this recommendation on this blog for as long as it has been around. The solution to the situation is to make it illegal for politicians to take ANY contribution in cash or kind from employees or their associations/unions whose salaries they vote. The way it works today, the unions take large contributions from their members and contribute large amounts to politicians who vote the salary and benefit packages of those employees. In almost all cases in America, those unions favor the Democrat.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot that can be done by cutting government agencies and/or wasteful and corrupt practices. Reducing stupid  or antiquated regulations reduces the need for regulators to enforce them. Rethinking the proper role of government also helps.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I know I’ve been saying for years that most unions are unnecessary, I could get behind everything here, really.
    Especially the IRS.

    • Unions form because workers are treated badly. That’s the genesis of organized labor. And things have gone too far when public employee unions bribe their elected officials (legally) to vote their salaries and benefits.

      Believe it or not, I’m not anti union in the slightest. If employers bargain in bad faith and treat employees badly, unions are their only response. The stronger the union, the worse the management (rule of thumb). Then unions become institutional and multi generational and begin to kill the host. I obviously don’t like that.

      • Do any unions teach job skill flexibility to its members, and provide info on new job locations?
        Making it easier for members to find a better place, and the skills to get the job, would be a real value add.
        At a previous place of employment, the shift steward told me he would sell out the union in a heartbeat during negotiations if management threw a certain secretary his way. I was not impressed.

        • I think that unions do precious little for their members with the exception of providing a due process system for employees who feel that they’ve been wronged. And while that’s no small thing, they are paid very well for it.

  2. In some respects it is a case of self reinforcing stupidity- a business can shunt an incompetent hire off to some place where they just drain away a salary.
    But the gov. puts them where they can make bad decisions. Or not make good ones. For example, getting the OPM files stolen. ETC. That is a big lever – I would be willing to PAY them, if the worst they did, was not a damn thing- it is the things they DO do that worry me.
    What was the metric on officers- the worst kind was stupid and energetic? And with all the self esteem BS promoted over the last 40 years, the idiots don’t even know they are dumb as a fencepost.
    One of the great gifts of age is the old line, “A man’s got to know his limitations”. It’s why I worry more about potential consequences now than when I was young- experience has taught there are a world of things that can go wrong, and consequences to be paid, and I may not know much about it, so think it through, and once again before jumping into the lions den.
    We have a cadre in gov who don’t even know what unintended consequences are, or the law of diminishing returns-

  3. a business can shunt an incompetent hire off to some place where they just drain away a salary. That is called the “Peter Principle”. Put the incompetent where they can do the least damage.

    The government has empowered grievance groups to destroy aspects of itself, government. Kipling discusses this with great force in his seminal political piece, “The City of Brass”.

    …They chose themselves prophets and priests of minute understanding,
    Men swift to see done, and outrun, their extremest commanding –
    Of the tribe which describe with a jibe the perversions of Justice –
    Panders avowed to the crowd whatsoever its lust is.

    Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them –
    The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
    As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure, with limitless entries,
    And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;
    And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and marchers,
    They disbanded in face of their foemen their yeomen and archers.
    They replied to their well-wishers’ fears – to their enemies laughter,
    Saying: “Peace! We have fashioned a God Which shall save us hereafter.
    We ascribe all dominion to man in his factions conferring,
    And have given to numbers the Name of the Wisdom unerring.”

    They said: “Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?
    Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.”
    They said: “Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?
    He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.”
    They said: “Who hath toiled, who hath striven, and gathered possession?
    Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.”
    They said: “Who is irked by the Law? Though we may not remove it.
    If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!
    So the robber did judgment again upon such as displeased him,
    The slayer, too, boasted his slain, and the judges released him…

    Kipling wrote this in 1909. It’s worth reading the whole thing twice.

    You’re 100% correct Raven, as usual.

  4. Maybe some good will come of this pandemic, if states that are hard pressed for revenues threaten bankruptcy to force these rotten unions to the table to renegotiate their opulent, exorbitant, luxurious pensions that are killing the communities that fund them.

    There was a suburban county superintendant of schools outside Chicago who recently retired, having earned $400,000.00 in her final year. According to the deal that the municipality signed with the Teacher’s Union, she now gets $300,000.00 annually in retirement payments for the rest of her life. She is currently 52 years old.

    Tell me how sustainable all of this is. Go ahead, I’m listening….

    • There needs to be a lid on pensions. I am not suggesting where it should be in terms of dollars, but what you suggest is emblematic of the problem. The present situation is not sustainable.

  5. States who are demanding federal taxpayers bail them out is the wake up call that shows they have no shame, at all levels. One example: The golden parachute PERA here in Colorado is massively overextended, yet they had the unmitigated gall to demand taxpayers approve another ballot measure for more cash (so they can keep their ranks voting Democrat and hold the state hostage to the Left’s whims.)

    Coming out of COVID – assuming the Dem’s allow such a thing, which is not looking promising – one would think that segment of the public that is paying attention would demand downsizing and elimination of useless bureaucracies that have produced nothing in their lifetime of existence. Trump’s plan – best anyone can tell, and assuming a second term – is to do just that; putting those do-nothings on the street to find real jobs that require actually working for a living.

    • If you’re looking for shame, government isn’t the place to look.

      The donkey’s have been working on federal bail out schemes for decades now but they don’t have the stroke to pull it off. Maybe with senile Pres. Biden and supermajorities in both houses, we’d end up with state bail-outs and a Green New Deal?

  6. There needs to be a 50 year sunset on all government agencies upon their establishment. No carryover of administrative or managerial staff may be allowed to the replacement agency (if one is created), and there should be a limit of working for one government agency per person per life.

    It’ll never happen, though.

    It’s just like all the dead laws plugging up our books.
    -Kle.

    • No legislature would pass that law. Bureaucracy is mother’s milk to them. Precious and delicious.

  7. It’s a deep subject and volumes could be written on it. I know I’ve been talking about downsizing government for my entire 10 years blogging.

    As far as, “what would you do with all the drones if their positions were eliminated?” I’d just give them walking papers. This is the “kinder and gentler” approach compared to the guys who want to push them out of helicopters from a few thousand feet, assuming they’ll never be able to function at a real job with real schedule and productivity pressures. Maybe I’m foolish to not push them out of a helicopter.

    I’m not terribly anti-union myself; I was even a member of one at one time, and I see that the one constant in business is that companies negotiate contracts for everything they buy and that can include labor. The other side of that is the relentless pressure of the market says the overhead to pay workers is only worth so much, and if a union negotiates wages/conditions that are too costly, they incentivize getting themselves replaced by robots or outsourced to another country. As a result, union jobs are now largely government workers and highly regulated industries (utilities). Even FDR thought government jobs shouldn’t be unionized. There’s a continuous flow of funds between government unions and the elected class.

    I’m a “pensioner” – the last 20 years of my career I worked for a company with an actual pension plan. Private companies treat that as a real obligation and do their best to meet their obligations, states haven’t treated it as seriously. As far as I care, the states that have abused that can go bankrupt and restructure, as long as that doesn’t mean the rest of the taxpayers in the country bail them out.

    • I’m a pensioner too, and this year I’ll be required to apply for MediCare. I don’t make the system.

      However, many people go into certain lines of work, say, the Military as an example, with the understanding that at 20 or 30, they will receive a pension. If the government is going to cancel those contracts, they can’t do it mid-stream. You were going to get one but now you’re not. Or you’re retired and too old to work, or too disabled – but sorry.

      The same is true of Social Security. You’re 75 years old, but sorry, and good luck.

      It has to be thought through and government has no spleen for discussing reform.

  8. Government workers should not be allowed to be unionized, period! They misuse it as described above in the post and comments. The most egregious use of the government workers union was the Air Traffic Controllers strike in 1981. While their stated goal was increased wages and some improvements in working conditions, I and my father, both pilots, found another reason that was little talked about but of great import. As part of the improved work conditions they wanted near total insulation from any blame for an aircraft accident even if they had done something that set the conditions up for the accident. In the time frame prior, there had been some accidents or near accidents that the AT Controllers had a hand in causing in high traffic controlled airspace.

    As to SiGs thoughts, I agree with just sending them away to do real work. Some of them really want to work and will prosper; they have been held back by their management and some peers. The others will just have to find out what Skid Row is really like. Pushing them out of helicopters will just create a big mess to clean up unless we do it over an active volcano; I do not propose to fly them to Hawaii to accomplish this.

    • The ship has sailed in terms of government unions or associations, teacher’s unions, etc. Right-to-work states busted government unions locally, but they can’t do much about federal employee unions.

      However, that doesn’t mean that the pension systems are solvent even in states where there are no public employee unions. I sit as an elected board member in Arizona and have had some recent exposure to their public employee retirement system and it’s not encouraging. I won’t say more on that account, but unions or no unions, things can still be messed up.

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