The men who work within my little group have a new challenge, and a new focus to steal their time. Each one is debating and deciding what days they want for their unpaid furloughs. This exercise is at once sad and amusing. The fact that our Executive is more interested in assigning blame than finding solutions makes an equally sad comment on the state of affairs. Regardless of the sound bites the blame for this impasse must be shared equally between the House and Senate leadership and the Executive. All three approved the bargain and all three have refused to cooperate. While it will mean little to the party faithful -- the cults of personality we seem to be growing are not harbingers of better times, it is not solely the fault of one party or one person.
It would be nice if someone would step into the void of leadership and show these men and woman how important it is for the nation that they put aside the hardened political positions of taxing the nation more, or cutting only welfare. It would be nice if the President were able to use the bully pulpit for something other than pointing fingers at the Republicans and offer concrete options to reduce spending. It would be useful for the Senate to do more then grandstand with condemning bankers who follow the guidance of government regulators, or condemn the sale of semi-automatic rifles. It would be beneficial for the House to actually discuss more than what is wrong with the President, and come up with ways to compromise with the Senate to pass a budget resolution and move away from the continuing resolutions that keep the lights on, but do not move the nation forward.
Anyone who has worked for the government knows there are millions, and perhaps billions that could be saved if only we forced the issue of efficiency versus political agenda to be the final guide. Let me walk through one example and you decide.
There is a plane, not a new plane, but certainly an evolution of type. This aircraft has been in continuous production since 1955. True, the models that roll off the production line today have little in common with the production models of 1955. The cost of that plane in 1955 was about $1 million, today it is over $65 million. A part of that cost increase is inflation, but the majority of it is on new regulations, government requirements, and production costs to keep open a line that produces around 24 aircraft a year.
Now lets look at a slightly different story, one that involves a core US industry, so vital to our nation that the Government felt it necessary to buy a couple of companies rather than let them declare bankruptcy. For the example I will use the company that did not require a government take over. In 1955, the average cost of a Ford Fairlane was about $1,900. Today the base price of a Fusion (the rough model equivalent) is $21, 700. Of course like the airplane, there is very little comparison with regard to safety, or construction between the Fairlane and today’s Fusion, but in the evolution; the car’s cost increased 1,042% while the airplane cost escalated 6,400%
I will acknowledge right up front this is an unfair comparison and does not address and account for all variables, but I make it to show one industry, faced with increasing government regulations, but balanced by consumer pressure and competition has managed over these past 68 years to improve their products while facing the need to constrain cost. While the other, faced with government regulation and competing for government contracts, does not face the same constraints. The result is we, as taxpayers, pay a premium for almost every product the government buys. Those costs are absorbed and become part of the national debt. We have trained the people who contract and who manage programs for the government that this is perfectly acceptable, and anyway, it’s other peoples money. We are using the tax dollars to keep people employed, to defend the nation, to support the unions, to reward the politicians with work in their districts and a hundred other good reasons, but at the end of the day it is our taxes or government borrowing that funds all these things. We as a nation seem to have lost sight of that, and have allowed it to reach a tipping point, where our continuance comes into question.
Now I wonder what day of the week I should be furloughed on? I think I will vote for Wednesdays.
P.S. Ashton Carter, you have my respect for your decision.