As I write, Washington is roiling from the controversies involving Obamacare and federal government funding.
It deals with big government and big money with criticism aimed at the feds. But not enough people are aware that the propensity for bureaucracy to grow and never disappear begins at the lowest levels of government.
That means your little town, but then it goes on to larger cities, counties and then to the states and the feds.
The national debate comes down to Obamacare being too big, too complicated, too expensive and too intrusive.
Some argue it needs to be stopped or at the very last delayed; others are convinced that without it, the people of this country will be no better medically than those in the worst Third-World hell-hole.
The beat goes on.
The other part of the equation is funding the federal government: Essentially, no funding equals shutdown.
Given the criticisms of the efficiency and viability of federal agencies – for example Amtrak and the Postal Service – and the magnitude of the federal debt, it would appear that American citizens would be better served if we could improve government efficiency and simultaneously cut its size.
Consider the executive branch: Aside from the varied staffs for the elected officials, there are 15 Cabinet departments employing hundreds and expanding according to need.
And if there ever were a sure thing, a need always arises and government always grows. Downsizing is never part of the picture.
Such thoughts were absolutely confirmed for me recently when I read in the weekly newspaper of a small town in Contra Costa County in Northern California about a classic example of government stupidity and the self-perpetuation of a useless bureaucracy.
The Moraga Parks and Recreation Commission met in July to discuss the future of a local park. The director had requested a survey of residents to gauge opinion of the Moraga Commons Park and how it might better serve their “needs and desires.”
Students from the Department of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism at Cal State East Bay created the survey, which was to provide insight into the town’s recreational needs and future desires.
According to the Lamorinda Weekly, there was an e-mailing to 3,000 residents with 564 responses and more than 50 percent of those reported children living at home.
Eighty-seven percent rated the Park Department activities excellent for residents’ needs.
Even though there were several areas the survey suggested as needing “improvement” or “change,” the results showed that residents are generally happy with the status quo and aren’t itching for change.
Was there cheering? One might think such a positive response from residents would please the commission – apparently they’re doing something right.
Ah, but you don’t understand. Every government entity must keep changing things to justify its very existence.
The good survey results puzzled the commissioners and some residents in the audience.
Vice-Chair Robert Lucacher: “So have we gotten anything out of this (the survey)?”
Commissioner John Haffner: “My biggest disappointment is that we have an entire group of Moraga citizens, people with kids who use the park, who don’t seem to have expressed strong needs.”
Resident David Shapiro: “The survey wasn’t good enough. It didn’t go out to the entire community. You weren’t getting what they (the residents) would like to see.”
Someone should remind David, that no survey goes to every single person in the area in question and that it’s not a good idea to kill the messenger! You don’t toss the survey because you didn’t get the result you want.
Another resident, unnamed, said the town needs to do something first. “If you come up with a plan, then you’ll get opinions. Otherwise everybody is happy with the park.”
How about that! The survey showed satisfied people, but the commission isn’t happy.
It plans to come up with lots of new projects from bocce ball courts to do-it-yourself-gardens where, as Robert Lucacher suggested, “people can rent a little piece of land, plant some vegetables and practice the essentials of sustainability.”
Rent land in a semi-rural community?! But, this is, after all, California.
Then finally, after much discussion, Commissioner Haffner finally came up with a realistic notion: “The question is, who is going to pay for it?”
The commission, to justify its existence, will come up with lots of new ideas for the park and new ways to get the public to pay for it all, whether they want to or not.
This, in a town that just campaigned heavily to get a local sales tax passed to fix roads that were allowed by local government to deteriorate over decades.
This, in a town that already has three school taxes imposed on property owners and a school district proposing another for the next election.
This, in a town with an appalling retail vacancy rate due to high rents, bureaucratic permitting, sign restrictions and activists trying to impose their social views on the public.
There were organized protest against OSH Hardware, Starbucks and most recently, a Dollar Store because “it would lower property values.”
Remember, it is California.
The awful reality is that the mentality of this commission and this town is government bureaucracy run amok.
The only differences between this and cities, counties, states and the feds are size, budgets and taxing power.
The only way to stop it and downsize all government is to vote out the bad guys and vote in common sense.
But get to it. It’s almost too late.