10.01.2008 0

Big Government Coming Under Scrutiny

  • On: 10/19/2008 23:27:22
  • In: Government Transparency

  • Americans all across the country are starting to wake up and realize that as government inflates itself the logical result is less breathing room. Residents in New York, Chicago, and Boston are especially feeling the claustrophobic effects of Big Government suffocation.

    Perhaps not so coincidentally, newspapers in these three cities all published editorials yesterday addressing specific expansionist trends of their respective city governments. All three editorials have the same overarching implications: perhaps government is better off limited.

    To put it lightly, the hustling and bustling New York City seems to be having “issues” with the subway system…again. As yesterday’s New York Post editorial pointed out, the credit and debit-card readers in MetroCard vending machines spontaneously went offline Monday morning…and Monday night…and Tuesday morning. As the editorial states:

    “To be sure, a transit system as big as New York’s is bound to face the occasional glitch. That’s entirely forgivable – provided it happens in isolation. This was anything but that.”

    Meanwhile, despite all of these irritating problems, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is contemplating yet another fare hike for users of the New York public transit system. So where is the accountability here?

    Unlike private corporations who must compete for their livelihood, Government’s only accountability is to itself—which essentially translates into no accountability whatsoever. Although to argue for the full out privatization of something as complex and extensive as the New York subway system may be a stretch, government should undoubtedly be held to the same high standards as private enterprise. If the New York City government and the MTA wish to charge more, they must provide more, not less.

    This dilemma, although reversed, can also be found way out in the Windy City.

    Whereas New York’s dilemma is centered on a Government business doing poorly, Chicago’s “dilemma” is with private business doing well. Despite the fact that there seems to be no problems, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is looking to abolish the city’s commercial garbage-hauling system and replace it with a socialized one. As yesterday’s Chicago Tribune editorial mentions:

    “Instead of choosing private companies to pick up their waste as they do now, businesses and institutions would be stuck with whatever company the Daley administration picks for them. For seven years…The mayor wants to usurp business owners’ choice, bestow monopolies on 10 to 20 lucky contractors and invite the usual abuses that inevitably occur when lucrative city contracts are in play. What part of this is good for the citizens of Chicago?”

    The answer to that question is “none of the above”. Although a few feeble excuses have been tossed about by the Mayor—one of which the editorial calls a “hyped green initiative”—the only real beneficiaries of the plan would be the few political insiders lucky enough to get the hauling contracts. As the editorial rightly points out:

    “They worry that a garbage hauler might not feel accountable to [commercial customers], now that someone else is writing the checks. With a seven-year contract and a friend or two in City Hall, there’s less incentive to keep costs low and customer satisfaction high.”

    Yet again, government does not know how and when to restrain itself. The fragile line dividing the free market and the government has once again been trampled. Despite the old cliché “if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it,” it seems government relishes the prospect of breaking things in order to subsequently “fix” them for their own fun and profit.

    It doesn’t stop in Chicago and New York, however. Boston is also highly susceptible to the contagion of Government expansionism. A Boston Globe editorial published yesterday describes how the last four years have witnessed a serious bloating of the city government, especially at the hands of Mayor Menino.

    Since 2004 alone, 1,026 new city employees have been added and annual personnel spending is up 24 percent. And the results have been dubious at best. Regarding one facet of the expansion in particular, the editorial states the following:

    “The situation in the schools also raises concerns. Student enrollment has declined by more than 5,000 since 2002, yet the number of employees is nearly unchanged. Where are the assurances that the new positions—and particularly the new nonteaching positions—will translate into higher student performance? A big city payroll is hardly a measure of success.”

    The one reassuring aspect of all these stories is that at least the people, through their press, are noticing. The more that government encroaches up the people, the less freedom the people will have as a result. And if this problem is so clearly rampant on a local level with local issues, how can anyone expect the voracious national government to do any better?

    Accountability and responsibility must be central pillars of any government and the best way to achieve this is through limitation. The hard truth is that when government advances, freedom recedes.

    As citizens of a nation established upon individual freedom, Americans are entitled—indeed, even obligated—to demand more from the government. And, when it comes to government, as editors in New York, Boston, and Chicago have averred, less is more.

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