Meridian Star

Columns

October 1, 2013

Starving Government Does Not Reform It

MERIDIAN — Daily Journal columnist Bobby Harrison made an interesting point last week.

“Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves sent the clear message recently that legislative leaders are looking for ways to cut budgets – much more so than providing additional funds for programs that are working,” Harrison wrote.

In other words, legislative leaders – mostly Republicans – are seeking to starve government, not feed it.

That’s not a bad approach as far as it goes. Government is always gorging at the feeding trough.

But this approach does not go far enough.  First, it may starve but continues to feed out of date, unnecessary, and poorly performing programs. Second, as Harrison suggests, it also starves programs that are performing. With such an approach, there is no incentive to perform better.

Some of us used to think it would be transformative if Republicans ever gained control of the Legislature. Small government minded leadership surely would eliminate unneeded programs, consolidate duplicative programs, and modernize out of date programs.

It’s just not happening folks.

Instead we have all those same old programs, plus some new ones favored by Republicans.  We have duplicative boards of education with the new charter school board plus the old state board education board. Despite studies calling for consolidating back shop operations for schools and agencies, all still have their stand alone shops. Best practices from other states showing show to operate more efficiently, streamline operations, and eliminate cost just seem to pass us by.

So, our tax dollars continue to be stretched to pay for the same old bloated, inefficient government plus added retirement costs, added health care insurance costs, growing Medicare costs, and so on.

One obvious consequence of this approach is the absence of any movement to cut taxes. Oh, there has been some movement to provide tax incentives to select parties, but nothing like the movements in other states to reduce income, sales, or property taxes.

If we maintain all the programs that government has always had, add some more, and deal with escalating personnel costs, we’ll never get to reward performing programs or consider any tax reforms.

So, my dear Republicans friends, is this all there is?

The cynical deduction from reviewing this situation is this: politics is all about power and control, never really about governmental reform.

As I near the end of my days for commentary on such matters, I find myself firmly in the cynic camp.  The absurd behavior of politicians in Washington, D.C., only pushes me more in that direction.

Unfortunately, I find the cynic camp very crowded with people from all walks of life, all ages, and all political persuasions.

Green Eggs and Ham is the not the relevant lesson, Sen. Cruz. Yertle the Turtleis far more appropos.

Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

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