Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where the power in governments really lies...

by j. wright

While driving home from downtown recently I caught a snippet of a conservative radio talk show hosted by Roger Hedgecock, a popular San Diego based personality. He was talking to a caller who suggested that we (the federal government) need to reduce spending and suggested a method of starting out with a stated percentage each year across the board. To the untrained political analyst that may have sounded like a great idea… (It would be if one could get past the federal bureaucracy heads and make it work.)

Since Mr. Hedgecock is not an untrained political analyst he explained why it never works. For example, Congress floats a trial balloon stating that they are going make across the board cuts by say 5%… not huge. Then the various federal departments and agencies that are going to “suffer” those cuts go public. Hedgecock suggested that the Department of Defense for example, instead of weeding out redundant departments and unnecessary programs and ridding itself of non-essential employees would instead advertise that they would not proceed with the building of another super carrier… which in Hedgecock’s estimation would have Congressmen and constituents alike including a workforce that might benefit from the construction of that carrier, all lining up to protest. Ergo the Defense budget remains the same or increases.

The Defense Department was just one example Hedgecock recited. He added that every federal agency or department, all run by federally appointed bureaucratic heads and civil service employees, would utilize the same public relations campaign, all in an effort to save their annual budgets and remain “in business.” Change? Forget it.

Again, Roger Hedgecock, a conservative talk radio host suggested how less than ethical elected government heads and bureaucrats use scare tactics to avoid slimming down their various departments budgets, saving scarce taxpayers dollars.

Here’s one flaming example that popped up recently: On Jul 16, 2010, “PHILADELPHIA- Rolling Closures A Possibility For Fire Department” was the headline posted by Walt Hunter of CBS His post went on to say: “New cuts may be coming to the Philadelphia Fire Department and they could include rolling closures of firehouses.”

Bill Gault, President of Local 22 firefighters' union said, "He's (Philadelphia’s Democrat Mayor Michael Nutter) rolling the dice and he's playing Russian roulette with people's lives."

On top of reducing the capability to protect taxpayer’s property from potential fires, Mayor Nutter, is also proposing a cut in police hours on the street. (a $6.3-million reduction in police overtime and two Police Academy classes scheduled for the coming year were canceled.)

None of this would probably affect anyone reading this unless you reside in Cleveland, but it does give pause to wonder, with all of the various departments within a municipal government, why would a Mayor chose to cut funding of police and fire departments? Unless it’s a ruse to later suggest another hike in municipal taxes?

Certainly this ruse has been used before, as talk show host Hedgecock has suggested, so instead of looking carefully through each and every department’s annual budgets in a line by line search for waste and redundant expenses, let’s just threaten to cut the basic but necessary potentially life saving departments instead. This could happen anywhere, and does too often.

Although line item vetoes never get implemented, it’s high time for some government entities to at least pretend to take a good look at where honest cuts can be made.

Several years ago author James Brovard wrote several books describing a “shadow government” consisting of the various federal bureaucracies. Many Americans fail to realize their power; that they cause most of the problems we face in this ever-expanding government.

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