Saturday, April 28, 2012

Can a Bigger Government Be Better?

“Life Is Tough, But It Is Tougher If You’re Stupid”
 Allegedly said by John Wayne in the movie “Sands of Iwo Jima,” in the circles I travel this quote is routinely used by many of us as we shake our heads in disbelief of some foolishness.  I’ve just spent the last two days in a meeting with a group of acquisition experts listening to them explain why they can’t seem to get a handle on how to link the receipt of money from Congress to the purchase of equipment so they don’t spend too much or get the money taken away for not spending it fast enough.
Granted, with our Congress it is next to impossible to know exactly when they may actually pass a budget so we have the dollars to spend, but if they and the defense company write a contract with so much rigidity they can’t adapt to the known inability for Congress to pass a budget on 30 September then who is to blame?
As I listened to how they manage this program all the things I think of as important seem to be things they’ve not really thought about.  Simple things like making sure the training systems are updated and the maintenance personnel are trained, equipment is bought on time, spares are stocked, or repair processes are in place.  I wonder how this can be, but then again the reason we are having this gathering is because they are not meeting our expectations so why am I surprised?
In a lot of ways the problems we have with this team of “experts” are reflections of the problems we have with a strong central government where decisions are made far removed from the people they affect.  Over the past one hundred years or so we have added layer and layer of bureaucracy in the form of regulations, regulators, inspectors, policy-makers, agents, supervisors, and internal regulators to the point the Federal Government becomes a vast industry that produces nothing but more regulations.
Each time there is an abuse of power, in any form, there has been an outcry led by those who seek more power themselves, to have the federal government step in and make everything right.  To be clear -- power in my context comes in the form of controls of wealth, domination of others, or the ability to have their opinions certified as the only right ones.
As a fiscal conservative, but someone who grew up and was educated with socially liberal views I find myself caught between the two competing camps that define the political extremes we, as a nation, are being pulled towards, but at the end of the day it always comes down to two simple questions.  Do I want a far removed from local reality central government making all my decisions, and how much of that can we as a nation afford?

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