February 05, 2014 - Editor's Note: As this nightmare of a winter continues to drag on, I find myself with nothing else to do but watch reruns on TV. So, I figured why not rerun a column. Enjoy this one from December 5, 2012.
Other than providing some basic services – police, fire, roads, water, sewer, etc. – government pretty much exists to offer employment to lots of folks who could not otherwise attain or hold jobs with the same level of pay and benefits in the private sector.
In order to ensure the taxpayers don't get wise to this scam, many – not all – government folks are constantly trying to justify their existence by coming up with new ways to spend our money and advance themselves. That's why they're always looking to build grandiose facilities, implement new programs or bring to light alleged problems that only they can solve using our money.
It's all about looking busy, acting concerned and creating the illusion that they're actually necessary.
New projects, programs and problems also give the public something to focus on so they don't see what's really going on in most governments – things like mismanagement, missing and/or wasted tax dollars, goldbricking employees, etc.
Just as misdirection lies at the heart of magic, it also lies at the heart of government. Give citizens something to be excited or angry about and chances are they won't pay any attention to what you're trying to hide, which is often your own laziness and/or incompetence.
If that new something doesn't pan out, don't talk about it, just come up with something else and move on to it. Keep throwing things against the wall until something sticks.
Although I haven't completely given up on the Sisyphean task of reducing the size and scope of government, as I get older, I have become more realistic about what can actually be accomplished in this area.
At the end of the day, I just want to keep as much of my money as I possibly can. If it's selfish to want to keep what you've earned, then I guess I'm selfish.
I've come to the conclusion that it would be much cheaper to encourage most government folks to simply sit at their desks all day long and do the bare minimum – or in some cases, nothing at all. Don't come up with anything new or expensive or intrusive. Just be quiet and we'll let you continue to collect a check and receive benefits.
No questions asked. No penalties. Just like welfare.
Let's immediately stop all this pointless talk about consolidating government services to make them more efficient; reducing the number of public employees and making those left pay more for their health insurance like the rest of us peasants; and dissolving antiquated layers of government that have outlived their usefulness.
Maybe if we stop pushing for all that, they'll stop feeling so much pressure to do new things and come up with new ideas that cost us more and more and more money.
Maybe we're the reason government keeps spending so much money and dipping its fingers into so many pots. Maybe we've set the bar too high by expecting government folks to do the same amount of work as the rest of us. Maybe we've set the bar too high by expecting results for the few simple tasks we give them and a fair return on the investment of our tax dollars.
They know they can't do it. We know they can't do it.
Let's end the charade. We'll all sleep better at night.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.