The Advisor on Big Goverment
“Good evening, Mr. President. Are you ready to hear my advice on the size and scope of government? Really, the same principles apply in some fashion to any very large organization. It’s not primarily dependent on which political party is in power. President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence, against the advice of my predecessor, two of the worst examples of growing the size of government to fix some problems.
“Conservatives grow the government’s bureaucratic forces to provide security. Liberals grow the bureaucracy to make things equal or to provide welfare services. Both are misguided. All bureaucracies are created to regulate and control the actions of people who actually produce goods and services. These people are the ones who built this nation and who have created the most productive and free society the world has ever seen. They are the substantive force in our civilization. They care little for regulation that makes production more costly or inefficient. They rely on the forces of a free market to guide the economy. The regulators are the process people who do not have creative skills or the individual skills to build or manage but are driven to control the process which means to control the means of productions and distribution. It would be foolish to believe regulation is not needed at times but only in the smallest amount.
“Left to themselves, the regulators will centralize and grow the size of government to the point no business can function efficiently. Today we are close to that point where the founders and leaders of industry have to pay more attention to the impact of government regulations and taxes than to the worldwide forces of the market place.
“The introduction was a bit long and you must want your cup filled and a cigarette. May I pour you some coffee? You’ll find your brand of cigarettes on the table. Any questions so far?”
” Yes, I’m ready, please pour. Although I’m beginning to doubt my sanity. I already think you must be a timeless relic from some faraway ancient civilization and wonder what beyond curiosity brings me back to your cave? Do you ever leave here?”
“Mr. President, the first eight decades of my life were spent above ground. It is much easier underground. We all eventually get here. But we can’t spend too much time talking about me. My past years are of no significance. Advising the President of the United States is a full-time job, especially when we don’t agree on a common set of facts.”
“Second question. Yes. I’ve been here several times now and I still don’t know what I should call you.”
“You may call me anything. I am and have been many things. I’m old enough to have learned names and titles are of little importance compared to the impact a man or woman makes in improving and protecting our world.”
“Maybe I should call you a professor. You know I was one once.”
“Mr. President, I was once a professor but do not prefer that title and you shouldn’t, either.”
“Well, to start with your academic grades are not good and you were an instructor, not an assistant professor, an associate professor nor a professor. Your current title far surpasses your academic credentials. But let’s get started before you get up and leave. Remember, down here we must have honesty. All pretensions and embellishments must be left at the door. You can pick them up when you leave.
“My worry about big government is the embedded drive in humans to continue the process of centralization. Defined as combining segments of government, business, or religion into fewer and larger segments where fewer and fewer people make decisions. This process expands the scope of control beyond the ability of anyone to be an effective manager and steward of public funds. It is all part of the desire to make things better. Watch, when things go ‘wrong’ the cry is, ‘put someone in charge. Make someone responsible.’ 9/11 gave us that opportunity. Something was wrong. How else could such blow strike our homeland? A conservative government, under President Bush, moved to fix the problem by, of course, putting pieces of government together under a central control. To start with the pieces of government in their separateness, were not well managed. Many of them were already too large. Today Homeland Security is an example of centralizing management until you reach numbing inefficiency. Another example is the DNI organization. The Director of National Intelligence is about the worst fix anyone could have made to improve the collection, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence. I defy anyone to prove money is being saved or that the product produced has been improved. Top managers of such over-centralized organizations don’t have a clue to what is happening in the trenches. Their main concern is often getting enough reporting from the far reaches of their commands to make them look credible, especially when briefing the President or appearing before an aggressive group of journalists or legislators.
“Unfortunately, both our main political parties are vulnerable to the drive to fix things by centralization. National Health Care or Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, over reaches of OPA and the Department of Energy are other examples of good intentions leading to disastrous unforeseen consequences. While some centralization is necessary, decentralization is the sure path to renewed growth and vitality in both business and government. Good people in charge of manageable organizations can fix problems. Over centralization cannot. Creating a larger population of civil unionized workers is not a good thing even in the short run. To start with, U.S. Government employees should not be members of any union. Who or what does unionization protect them against? They are hired by the people, work for the people and are the people.
“You don’t need anymore union powers lobbying your presidency. Nearly every political pundit comes to realize that the growth in government beyond that which is absolutely necessary, threatens individual freedom and the overall freedom to create and produce new goods and products. Look at all the cases in history where freedom has been lost or eroded by governments grown beyond the need. The growth of government is always pushed by people who have good intentions and a poor understanding of history and management principles. Don’t let your presidency be the one that pushes growth of government beyond need and endangers freedom and economic growth.”
“I’m not sure I believe any of that but I will think on it.”
“Mr. President, thank you. You must make the final decisions. Not all advice is good. Maybe I am not 100% right all the time. But I have no personal or organizational agenda. What do want to cover at our next meeting?”
“You decide. I must go now. It’s a good thing you serve the best coffee and I have the freedom to smoke without anyone giving me disapproving looks. That alone makes me come back.”
The author of the Jack Brandon novels is a Korean War veteran and served in the Vietnam War as a CIA agent who has 27
years of government service, including two years serving President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to pass on this blog or parts of it to your contacts and friends. Comments and dialogue are welcome and helpful. www.factsandfictions.com.
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