Maybe you’ve seen the e-mail—something about a guy who owes $800 in taxes on April 15, but instead of sending a check like the rest of us, he puts a toilet seat and a hammer in a box and sends it off to the IRS. The enclosed packing list notes: 1 toilet seat—$600, 1 hammer—$200.
Funny…and at the same time, sad.
And it hits a sour note with taxpayers as they look at the stories about the Federal Emergency Management Agency that followed the hurricane relief efforts in the Gulf Coast and Florida:
• The agency issued overpayments of at least $174 million to Katrina victims.
• In just three parishes in Louisiana, it wrote checks to more households than there were households.
• In 36 parishes and counties, it awarded $102 million to at least 51,000 more applicants than local officials said were displaced by the storm.
• In Florida, the agency paid funeral expenses for more than 200 people who died from causes that had nothing to do with the storms.
The list goes on, and when you throw in that thing in Iraq, we’re talking about the proverbial “real money.”
Commonplace anymore are newspaper stories that detail the excesses in governmental employee travel expenses at all levels.
Little wonder that we’re having a harder and harder time making out that annual check.
It’s easy to blame the elected officials. They’re the only ones we can impact. But the reality chain—if it exists in the first place—breaks with the bureaucrats, the department heads, and the appointed/hired officials who see no correlation between job performance and job retention.
How often do you look at those stories and say to yourself, “If I ran my business that way…” I do all the time. I’m beginning to think my first requirement of candidates shouldn’t be party or even policy. I’d really be attracted to a candidate who says, nay, even boasts: “I’ve met a payroll.”
In a nutshell, why can’t government officials—both elected and appointed—operate with the mindset of a business owner? It’s not that difficult. You look at each decision according to its impact on the business. In government, the business simply is providing the most service for the least cost. Over the years, it seems as if the word “most” has dropped from the bureaucratic lexicon. Cost, let alone “least cost,” went the way of the buggy whip long ago.
And the “business” of government is booming. Go figure. IBI