Don't Give up, Arnold
Mar 02, 2005
Governor Schwarzenegger recently announced that he was backing off his plan to abolish 88 state boards and commissions that oversee everything from licensing doctors to running recycling programs. The key reason was that just about everyone in Sacramento—both Democrats and Republicans—had problems with cutting one department or another; no one was willing to support the proposed cuts. This is extremely disappointing and another sign that our elected officials do not want to make the necessary moves to create real efficiency in the state or to fix our budget.
Bureaucracy is the outcome of just about every program at every level of government. Unfortunately, even when a department no longer provides positive results, we keep the program alive. Over time, the program becomes entrenched with power brokers, staff, and special interests who want to maintain these programs for their own self-interest rather than for the public good. Each governmental program becomes a gravy train for the officials that work in it and everyone who earns money from it. Politicians learned a long time ago that once a fight to save a program begins, it is easier to fight for its survival than it is to get rid of it.
Recent national leaders have attempted to focus on cutting programs that were no longer needed; for the most part, they failed. President Carter attempted to introduce the concept of zero-based budgeting to the federal government. In his vision, every department would start off with a zero budget each year and prove its funding needs against its rewards to the public. Although the system was supported by both parties and drew national public favor, Congress never supported it and the plan was never instituted.
President Reagan attempted to close down one program simply to show the American public how impossible it was to eliminate such a government program. In the early 1930s, the federal government had created a system to implement nationwide telephone access. This goal was reached some 20 years before President Reagan earmarked the program to be closed. Yet, it had become a subsidy program for the telecommunications industry; strong lobbyists went on the offensive to ensure that the department remained open. Congress failed to close this program down.
In France, President Chirac announced a plan to extend work hours as a means of increasing productivity. France was facing rising unemployment due to lower productivity and less ability to compete in the world market. In France, more than 30% of the workforce is employed by the government. With fewer workers producing products, the cost of social programs increasing, and the rising cost of maintaining governmental hiring, France faced a dire situation. Yet between governmental and union officials, Chirac’s plan immediately drew such fire that it was quickly discarded.
In the United States and every industrial nation, we are facing governmental desire to expand to provide even more services and controls to its citizens. Government services have become a right, not a luxury. In the case of California, a once-great productive state is now marred in endless debt with no easy solutions for getting out of that debt.
Americans need to change our thinking about what government can and cannot do for us. No money should be spent on anything but the very basic services until we are able to pay for it. No program should be allowed to continue without at least an annual review of its budget against its reward to the public. If the reward to the public is not clear, that program must end.
Governor Schwarzenegger, please carry through on your promise. If the legislature wants to make the necessary cuts, send the issue to the voters. Let us make that decision. Clearly, most people we have elected don’t have the guts to do it themselves.
Written by: Hans Hansson
Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, http://www.commercialspacefinder.com/.