The Case for Privatizing Some Government Agencies

Anyone who has spent any time in the heady environs of upper-level management or, God forbid, government, is bound to notice a disturbing trend. The denizens of those institutions concentrate not so much on the stated mission or charter of their respective bailiwicks but rather concentrate on the propagation, growth and perpetuation of their fiefdom. Bureaucracy exists to grow. Federal bureaucracies are among the most egregious examples of this principle.

Fat Cat

I want more...

In my experience, bureaucrats are compensated based, not on their performance but on how big their department is. The bigger the budget, the more compensation and power accrues to the bureaucrat. Thus, any bureaucracy will try to grow. They do this by creating a need for whatever it is they seem to do.

If you are in charge of, say, a parking enforcement bureau in a major city your growth and survival depends on giving out more and more parking tickets. You push for more laws and regulations regarding parking. You introduce more stringent standards. You issue rulers so your agents can measure how close the car is parked to the curb or to the fire hydrant or crosswalk. You request the City purchase golf carts so your parking enforcement drones can be more effective… you give the purchase order to your brother-in-law. He, also gets the maintenance contract. You hire your cousin to oversee the counting room where the parking meter receipts are tallied. You push for laws and regulations setting standards for parking facilities. All this will necessitate more people and more administrative staff… and more budget dollars. Yes, this activity will cause money to flow into the City coffers but it still comes out of the collective pocket of the public. It will grow and grow like a tumor on the ass of the City. And that is just an example using the innocuous squad of meter maids as a starting point. The sergeant in charge of meter maids has grown to become a Commissioner (Commisar???) of All Things Parking.

Red Tape

I can't breathe.

Now scale up that concept a little. Look at OSHA or the EPA. Every beauty parlor in America has to file paperwork and suffer inspections at the hands of these guys. The cost burden, not of compliance, but of SHOWING compliance is ridiculous… and again, comes out of the pocket of the public. My lawyer and accountant made more than I did when I owned such an establishment. I went broke and lost a bunch of money. I had to sell my home and move to another state and I had to lay off eight workers because my cost of reporting every freaking detail of beauty product use, storage and acquisition necessitated prices out of the range of most of my target demographic.

“Ah”, you say, “those agencies are there to protect us, Sal.” No… those agencies are there to grow. Any protection afforded the general public is quite incidental to the primary mission of growing in budget and power. There is virtually no check on the issuing of “fatwah” by these agencies and little or no recourse if you attract the attention of one of their minions. Every report that is mandated by a bureau has a cost and there are many, many reports required by many, many bureaus. Then there is the “hassle factor”. Example: a petty bureaucrat comes into your establishment and tells you that your garbage can is not sufficiently secured. He gives you a summons. You can go and spend a day in some government office waiting to present you case knowing that it is a crap shoot whether you will prevail or suffer a larger fine, or just pony up the fine. Remember, a low level inspector that DOES NOT write infractions will not advance. (Some years ago the IRS stated that their agents are not evaluated based on their collection history. Riiigghhtttt…) Like most snow jobs, the idea sounds good but the practice is subject to substantial abuse. Argue with one of the faceless bureaucrats and your business will be shuttered pending a “hearing” or a “ruling” from above. You, the small business owners, are at the mercy (where none exists) of people with more power than a good man wants or a bad man should have. This is why Big Government will always hurt more than it can help. Look beyond the stated intentions and you will see tax dollars coming out of your pocket and power accruing to an entity with virtually no oversight.

“Golly, Sal” you ask, “what can we do?” Short of the judicious use of high explosives, the next best solution would be an active participation in the process of government by every citizen… LOL No, seriously, I humbly suggest the privatization of many of the Federal and State bureaucracies. Lemme ‘splain.

Whether people know it or not, our votes translate to real dollars. Every time we LET a government agency be established or accept, without question, an arbitrary rule or regulation, we are surrendering a little more of our hard earned money. Look at what happened in South Carolina with Boeing. South Carolina is a “Right to Work” state which means that a worker can not be forced to join a union. The National Labor Relations Board refused to let Boeing build a plant there. Where, and when, in Hell, do they get the authority to dictate THAT??? That’s right out of the Joseph Stalin Playbook. This is punishing the people of South Carolina for not wanting to be dictated to by a union by depriving them of good, skilled labor, high paying jobs.

Okay, let’s take the EPA as an example. Abolish it. If someone feels strongly that a caribou’s mating ritual is more important than getting to the energy resources that would ease the unnecessary and ridiculous dependance of our “friends” in the middle east and elsewhere, start a petition to get the question on a ballot and let the people decide. This is participatory democracy. I am sure that groups will spring up to push the environmentalist agenda and that is a good thing… as long as it is funded by voluntary contributions and validated at the ballot box. This will provide a flexible response mechanism as opposed to the rigid, self serving bureaucratic, knee-jerk reaction of a bloated Federal agency. Let the people on the ground be heard. If you agree or disagree, vote with your dollars in the form of contributions to which ever side you favor. This is democracy. Think about this; the first hominid that started a fire would have been issued a cease and desist order by the EPA pending an environmental impact study.

Same goes for OSHA. The idea is laudable but the agency has grown beyond our ability to control it. We accept its pronouncements without question and have little or no recourse, in any event. I feel that a worker is responsible for their working conditions. This was the basis for unions, early on and as an old Steelworker and Teamster, I applaud the good things that collective bargaining has brought to the American worker… BUT as the unions grew in power, that power, sadly, corrupted and became the end in itself. This is one for which the rank and file has to bear the guilt. Any democratic organization gets the leadership it deserves. But I digress. If a group of workers feels that conditions are unsafe, unnecessarily arduous or insufficiently compensated they should take any and all LEGAL means to effect change. OSHA would become a private consultancy supported by voluntary contributions of the work force and their purpose would be to supply the science and facts to both management and labor so they can strike a reasonable accommodation that both sides can live with.

I believe that WE THE PEOPLE are better equipped to manage our environment, workplaces and living places than any bloated bureaucracy for the simple reason that we are focused on the issues and not concerned with grabbing power on the pretense of addressing those issues. If there was no EPA or OSHA, and the money spent on the EPA and OSHA was returned to the taxpayer in the form of reduced tax burden, would you support the efforts of private agencies to advocate for your position on environmental issues? On labor issues? Would you give time and money to get your point across? Would you work to use the ballot box instead of bureaucratic fiat to address such issues?

Yea, I admit that it is more work and takes time but if not you… who?

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