posted by itguysrule
Representative governments like that of the US were designed to have different levels to take care of different issues. For example, the mayor of my
city should spend ALL of his or her time working on the local problems in my city. Likewise, the President of the United States should be spending
his time on National issues that affect everyone. He should not have to become directly involved in local issues such as maintaining bridges and
other infrastructure. He should be providing leadership and vision and direction but not detailed directions. The President's job is actually very
similar to that of the CEO of a large corporation.
You are onto something big, Mr IT. This becomes more apparent when watching CSpan and Congress in action. The Executive branch is not nearly so open
as is the Congress, but the same process goes on inside it too. My local cable tv provider just put CSpan2 (Senate) and CSpan3 into a HD upgrade I
cannot afford. I don’t miss watching the Senate but I sorely miss the 60 hours of authors each weekend presented on CSpan2. You can get their
schedule at Booktv.org. (Why can't I pick and pay for only the cable channels I want?)
Returning to your theme Mr IT, it’s micro managing. It’s control. It’s power. It’s called EARMARKS when it’s done by Congress. See
Simply put, this unhealthy phenomenon of governance is primarily the result of employing an 18th century framework to run a centruy21
society. Look at the gap between the November election and the January taking of office. That delay was ok when we traveled by stage coach but not
today. Too much mischief can be done by a lame duck Congress, too much time lost, in that 2 months-long hiatus.
Look at the irrational bicameral legislature we have. That means every law we enact must be enacted TWO times and then reconciled in a joint House
Senate Conference Committee. Too much opportunity for more mischief! The Articles of Confederation were unicameral, but the bicameral legislature was
a concession to the SLAVE holding states. Equal representation in the Senate. Arguably ok in 1787, but not needed in 2007. Similarly the Electoral
College was invented in 1787 as a concession to SLAVERY. OK then, not needed today.
Although every industrialized society faces this same problem of overwhelming size and mind-boggling complexity, it is most acute in the US for 2
reasons, I think. We are the most populous, and we lack a protected - insulated from political retribution - professional bureaucracy. That's why
life goes on in most countries despite great changes at the top. Look at Pakistan. it still functions despite being torn asunder by internal
Historically, early Americans resented tax collectors in the 1760s and we tarred and feathered British officials in the 1770s. Aside: Tarring a
person is very painful and according to a writer I read 10 yeas ago, it was about 50% fatal. Death coming slowly by infections of the untreated (or
untreatable) burns. End.
The underlying problem is that government is TOO big for ordinary mortals to comprehend. Suppose you are a part-time city legislator,
say in my hometown, Jacksonville, when you are elected for a 4 years term and are paid $24,000 a year plus perks. The law says “part-time” so it
is not my idea. Each has a full time and a part time assistant. The Mayor - a strong mayoral system - presents the city with a proposed budget of $900
Jax has 800,000 people occupying 850 square miles under it merged city-county system. I went down to City Hall and picked up a copy of the proposed
budget. It comes in 2 quality printed volumes, just over 400 pages in each, with type on both sides of the page. Each of 10 city departments generate
their own line by line budge. The City Council holds weekly public meetings on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 7 PM until 11 PM. Like the US
House of Representatives, when the number of speakers is large, a person may be limited to 2 or 3 minutes. Working sessions of the Council are
excluded from public scrutiny but a record must be kept and it is public.
As I read through the proposed budget - now adopted with minor changes - it became more and more apparent to me that I, a fairly well educated person
who has had a lifelong interest in public affairs, would have great to impossible difficulty knowing whether a line item offered at say $70,000 was
appropriate at that amount, or should have been $30,000 or even $140,000. I could not tell from reading how effective that line would be or even if it
was needed. Or if the money could be spent better elsewhere.
I counted a half dozen randomly selected pages and found 30 to 50 line entries per page. Almost all of the 900 pages were similarly filled. Using the
lower number of lines, the budget contained at least 27,000 budget expenditures by line and perhaps as many as 45,000 such entries.
A councilman or councilwoman has an impossible task. Approving a $900 million budget. This is just one of the many issues that come
before a city council annually.
Elected officials should decide policies, bureaucrats should implement policies and be subject to oversight by the elected
Earmarks are a legislature’s attempt to impose its will on the executive. Prior to the era of earmarks - 1960s and 1970s - the
executive prepared a budget request and submitted it to Congress. The Dems might enlarge the request or it might add items of its own to the Budget.
Nixon took the position he had authority to IMPOUND or not spend appropriated money. Congress took the position the executive MUST spend the money it
appropriated. Gradually, Congress began to add specific items and appropriate the money for that item because the executive would not otherwise do the
Will of Congress. And etc.
[edit on 8/5/2007 by donwhite]