Government is looked to by many as the solution to some of society’s problems. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the most wasteful and inefficient tools ever devised by mankind. Even worse, increasing government funding is often presented as a first, rather than a last, recourse.
It always baffles me when the first proposed solution to a problem is an expansion in government, and even moreso when no further options are discussed. Case in point: a budget fight in the town of Derry, New Hampshire. Derry, a town of barely over 30,000, sports some of the highest property taxes in the entire state, as well as some of the most expansive police and fire departments. Property tax cuts of $1.21 for every thousand, and the accompanying budget reduction, resulted in a blowback from public workers unions and an attempt to overturn the tax and budget cuts via ballot initiative. The narrative being, government services should always be provided with all the funding and trust possible, even in an overtaxed community with a sprawling public sector.
This is an entirely wrongheaded approach. More government spending should always be the last thing to enter our minds. Why? Because, by its very nature, government is hopelessly inefficient and corrupt. There is no profit incentive to increase performance. There is no hard and fast limit on inefficiency and failure at which point an agency must be disbanded. There is every manner of paperwork and regulation to get in the way of a public entity dynamically revising its operations upon discovering a new way of increasing performance. Because of this, more spending does not equal better performance. Intentionally or otherwise, government is set up to eat funding increases with little to show for it.
When considering increasing, or maintaining, levels of government funding, a Napoleonic Code should apply: guilty of waste until proven innocent. Unfortunately, the reverse is in practice today, and the result is nothing to cheer for.
Note: this article was previously incorrectly attributed to author Jack O’Brien.
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