Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another Pogoism ... "Free" Lunches Not "Sold" Here

No such thing as a free lunch has a simple and straightforward Pogo inspired message for all Americans:

"When it comes to assigning blame for Washington’s humongous debt, we need only look in the mirror. . . .

To determine why Washington’s debt grew to today’s proportions, you need to recall the immortal words of that great philosopher, Pogo, who said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

You see, over the years, we have blamed whoever is in office for spending more than the government receives in the form of tax revenues. This has been the case no matter which party controlled the White House and/or the Congress.

In reality, the blame falls on we the people. We constantly demand more from the government than we are willing to pay for in the form of taxes.

If the average voter gives this any thought at all, he or she usually concludes that such overspending is all right, since someone else is paying the bill. The problem is, that person thinks the other person is picking up the tab. In other words, we are all saddled with the bill, which, of course, is the reason why budget deficits are big and ubiquitous.

As for the pols, they are only too anxious to perpetuate this myth. After all, who among them is brave enough to tell the electorate “vote for me, I will raise your taxes and cut government spending on your pet programs.” Why this is a surefire way to defeat.

Elections are not won by nattering nabobs of negativism — they are won by those who accentuate the positive. . . .

Show me the politician who tells it like it is and I’ll show you one who is not likely to get elected or re-elected.

In this “me first” environment, how can we cut the government’s budget deficit and reduce its overall debt? Whose belt do we tighten? After all, one person’s program or tax loophole is another’s necessity or cherished incentive."


Stop the Government Work or Improve How It's Done

Government needs to spend wisely and efficiently, too. And it needs to stop doing what doesn't need doing.

If we can eliminate the work being done, we should. If we can't eliminate it, we must improve the way it's done.

In other words, either stop it forever or improve it continuously.

Funding the Government Work Being Done

Spending wisely requires that We the People in concert with our elected "public servants" decide what programs will be offered by government and that these programs are always funded properly. 

Of course, this funding gets us directly into who will pay for what we receive and who will receive but won't pay, as well as who won't receive.

Things We Should Do

For a few brief examples of what should happen, people with adequate means shouldn't receive social security or medicare benefits. Means testing, in other words, needs to become a reality and soon.

People who are able to work should work, including low wage jobs. We can supplement their income if necessary with government payments, but all who can work should work. There's plenty to do.

And those able to work but not working should not receive unemployment benefits for staying home.

And parents should be free to send their kids to the schools they choose instead of to the schools picked for them by government officials. Vouchers are an example of free choice.  Free choice needs to come to government schools and education.

 How Government Must Do Those Things It Does

 Also of huge importance is the efficiency of the work to be done by government.

Since government is a monopoly, customers aren't able to choose whether they will buy or not buy at a certain price whatever the government is "selling."

Hence, there is no price market mechanism to cause the government to attempt to reduce, let alone eliminate, waste. And waste elimination or work improvement is a totally different thing than austerity.

It's simply doing what we're doing better, aka the habit of improvement. The process of continuous improvement can be a powerful one indeed.  But first it has to be tried, measured and reported upon in the bright sunshine. Productivity is a good thing. It's what makes us prosper.

Public Sector Unions Are an Impediment to Productivity and Waste Minimization

Public sector union officials often actively work against efficient and taxpayer friendly government. They cause taxpayers to waste money on inefficient government practices by bargaining for pay and benefits which are higher than those received for comparable work performed in the competitive private sector.

It's not that government employees are intentionally wasteful but rather that they usually aren't mindful of waste at all. For the union leadership, the more employees on the payroll, the more dues for the unions.

As a result, unions have zero interest in running government efficiently. Yet they stand between the taxpayer representative public official and the public employee charged with actually doing the work.

Summing Up

Pogo says we can easily fix these problems if we have the willingness to face them squarely and put the MOM principle to work. But face them squarely and employ MOM we must.

Change is not bad. It's good. And change is necessary if we want to improve the way we're doing things. Maybe the first day we're doing the best we can, but the second day gives us an opportunity to improve upon what we're doing.

And after years of no change to how things are done---well, that's an enormous opportunity just waiting. Common sense teaches that the longer we've been doing something the same way, the greater the opportunity of accomplishing that same result (output) with dramatically less effort (input). That's called productivity.

Thus, change is good, and change must come to the status quo government way of doing things.

So how does this change thing work anyway? Well, we try to do the work the best way we know how, make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes.

We call that learning by doing process experience. If we allow ourselves to change our minds and work to create a better future, continuous improvement in government operations will become a reality.

And the more people we engage in bringing about a continuous improvement mindset to government at all levels, the more and faster those productivity improvements will occur.

We'll call that "taxpayer friendly government" at work. Sounds good to me.

So in Pogo-land we don't need any additional government "investment" or "stimulus" spending to bring about huge improvements in how government works.

We just need for our government to work effectively and efficiently as well.

Thus, all we need are a few clean sheets of paper, open minds, a willingness to face facts, the determination to recognize and fix those things that need fixing, and the desire to eliminate work that doesn't need doing.

We the People deserve nothing less from our elected representative and public sector employees.

Pogo knows the foregoing is just common sense.

So do We the People.

Thanks. Bob.

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