March 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm #93878
This recent CNN story talked about 86% of respondents said government was broken… that can’t be surprising – the words government and bureaucracy have become synonymous with slow in our culture – BUT, what I found promising is that 81% thought it could be fixed. I thought that number would be much lower.Take this all with the gigantic grain of salt you have to take all CNN and USAToday polls – but I thought I would link to the story here and ask the following questions for discussion:If 81% of the people think it can be fixed – of the 3 P’s – who will have the biggest impact on fixing it? – Politicians, Policy Makers, or Public Servants (the life long people who run the offices in the executive branch) They all play a role, but who has the most potential to make a difference?If you are a 5% who thinks we are beyond repair… What next? Hobble along as far as we can muster, or wait for a catastrophic collapse to begin again?March 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm #93924
Interesting. I wonder how this compares with other yearsMarch 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm #93922
The American people tend to trust their government and it is remarkable that they do. The biggest impact on fixing government will be the fourth P – the public who vote with their ballots, dollars and their feet.
It is beyond question that government has gotten big and at what point will people say enough is enough. The tea party movement is apparently a step in that direction. It remains to be seen whether they will have an impact.
Rather sadly the state of government depends on election cycles and we have to wait until the next election cycle to see if there will be major changes.March 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm #93920
Subroto… Nice fourth P!
I’m not as convinced as you that the election cycles have an impact on major change – they all promise it – they rarely deliver it.
And while the public get to vote – they have to give their investment through taxes and their feet can carry them only so far – Walmart can’t give you your driver’s license or foodstamps… yetMarch 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm #93918
All four Ps must be involved. Also, if people on all sides of the political spectrum will open their minds, they may find there is more common ground for cooperation than we currently realize. Many liberals and conservatives often cite Reagan’s quote from his first inaugral:
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem.” but fail to recognize what he said in the same speech:
“Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work—work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.”
Ronald Reagan would have been part of both the 86 percent who believe government is broken and the 81 percent who believe in his words that it “can and must provide opportunity”. What all of us need to do now is follow through and “make it work – work with us, not over us, stand by our side, not ride on our back.”March 4, 2010 at 12:23 am #93916
Thanks Peter – and I always like when people add context to popular quotes… And I agree all 4 have a role – but who do you think has the biggest impact to make a difference?March 4, 2010 at 2:35 am #93914
Politicians campaign on their legislative agendas and high profile initiatives. I think they underestimate how difficult it is to execute their initiatives once they become responsible for governing. They don’t realize that they are working with large and powerful bureaucracies. The departments swallow up the political appointees with urgent day-to-day work, which slows things down even further. It’s easier for politicians in office to bypass the bureaucracy than to change it, but that’s not sustainable given the issues of today.
Politicians and public servants need to break down the power of institutional interests built up over the last half century, in order to unleash innovations (that I think people in government are itching to initiate) that can improve government performance and restore public trust in government.March 4, 2010 at 4:30 am #93912
For voting a completely agree… I just don’t think we can right the ship from the ballot box, because I don’t think we can right it from that top position we are voting someone into…March 4, 2010 at 4:33 am #93910
Rei – I think you hit on a great point… I’ve worked for 4 administrations at a level I could watch the politco machine in action… Within 6 months of starting – the gung-ho “gonna make a difference” elected or appointed leader is beat down… usually right after their first budget hearing.
They all come in with a grand vision of change – and leave with a quiet sigh of “I wish we had more time” – AND they all say the same thing, “The people are great – I didn’t expect that.”
Comes down to a fundamental flaw in thinking… that government is screwed up because of the people in it, or the last leaders of it, or the some magic switch that was turned off and we just need to find it… I think it’s deeper, buried… and to fix it, it’s gonna take the people who can get dirty and know what’s mucking up the lines.March 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm #93908
We all need unicorns and dragons… at least on occasion. Your ship analogy reminded me of cabinet leader who was able to make some significant changes in his area. He used to talk about getting a large department to turn was just like a ship – the very inertia of 20 years of “that’s the way we’ve done it” puts enormous pressure on the rudder and by itself makes it difficult to turn – He went on to say TRIM TABS, the tiny rudders within the main rudder are used to disrupt the water and break up the pressure.. making a turn possible. In his organization he equated key improvement efforts to TRIM TABS and the turn as culture change…March 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm #93906
Excellent points…the statement itself (“the government is broken”) is a result of limited thinking. There are things ABOUT the government that are definitely broken and need fixing. Let’s get in the muck, find out what they are, and start making the repairs. Incremental changes are what make big changes happen.March 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm #93904
Yes at all levels, Federal, State, Local.
Federally, there’s this Virginia/Maryland/DC, Mid-Atlantic “Old-Guard” regional poltical culture of laziness, poor work ethics, and elitism permeating to other US areas and public sector levels away from the eastern seaboard. This may be a reason why states tied to Capitol Hill’s east-coast, “Rip Van Winkle-style”, “Washington is the Center of the Universe” budgetary allocations and inactions–places far from DC, wishing to be national, progressive, “get it done now leaders” (i.e. California, Texas, etc.)—those who want to break free from the scandalous “left behind,” geographically- shortsighted eastern US purse strings handlers–they just can’t get things done for their citizenry.
The western states want certain processes and justices done NOW, not in 50-100 years, as many with the puppet strings east of the Mississpppi would rather see happen to most Americans. That’s why both hard-working Repubs and Demos away from Washington often hate and resent Capitol Hill’s puppetry moves that seems year-after-year, to unethically favor lazier, “get nothing done, more culturally backwards” eastern states closest to DC/Maryland/Virginia.March 5, 2010 at 3:41 am #93902
Now we’re getting somewhere… I was just having dinner tonight with a good friend and we were discussing General Powell’s recent rant on someone having to be willing to compromise before the whole system comes to a grinding halt (paraphrasing). I think his was a more heart felt and frustrated voice than the lip service usually given these sentiments. BUT, underlying it all is the idea that government work is a party issue – Once you get past a cabinet, or a council, or a board – political affiliations mean so little to the people answering child abuse hotlines or working to fill potholes. Ironically – the closer to the voter, the less the politics play… Yet at high levels we seem to think it will get food stamps delivered quicker if we make a deal to extend benefits if you’ll also throw in building a road and paying for a study on the mating patterns of the Three-Spined Stickleback fish in my district.
I totally agree that the beltway is more old guard than many other areas, and also the most highly covered by the publications that monitor our work… Another reason I think if it is going to be – it’s up to the life-long public servants to make it happen!March 5, 2010 at 3:54 pm #93900
It is clear that the first “P” cannot do anything. Here is a quote from Byron Dorgan about eliminating the (National Endowment for Democracy) NED:
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, lamented after the National Endowment for Democracy was founded: “If we cannot cut this, Lord, we cannot cut anything.”
The National Endowment for Democracy was founded by Reagan to promote democracy in the Soviet Union. This year they were given $168 million which amounts to 0.00000001% of the budget. Clearly democracy has won and there is no need for the NED. Yet the NED exists and flourishes.
Congress can’t eliminate this little agency then what chance does the other 2 “P’s” have of succeeding to get rid of this agency?March 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm #93898
Alas, a small percent of that 19 percent seem to think the answer is attacking the IRS with planes and anthrax.
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