Friday, March 8, 2013

The Standing Joke...

For anyone who even halfway follows politics in America, the bureaucracy's response to a threatened budget cut is entirely predictable: they will say that the public's most cherished service provided by that bureaucracy will be cut.  Hence when a politician dares to suggest that the San Diego City budget be cut, the first thing we hear from the bureaucracy is: fired cops, fired firemen, closed parks and libraries, etc.  You absolutely never hear that the public art budget will be slashed, bureaucratic staff will be reduced, or pensions will be cut.  Never.  It's achieved the status of a standing joke amongst political insiders.

The really sad part is that it works, at least most of the time.  It scares the politically unaware, or the parents with kids in school (when they threaten to fire teachers), or other similarly affected.  Most of the time, the bureaucracy's budget is restored (or even increased!).

I think of this as a slightly subtle form of corruption, with the bureaucrats playing the voting public for the fools they unfortunately are...

Friend and reader Doug W. points out this editorial by one of my favorite writers, Thomas Sowell.  It makes the same point more effectively.  Here's the lead (with Doug's emphasis):
Back in my teaching days, many years ago, one of the things I liked to ask the class to consider was this: Imagine a government agency with only two tasks: (1) building statues of Benedict Arnold and (2) providing life-saving medications to children. If this agency's budget were cut, what would it do?

The answer, of course, is that it would cut back on the medications for children. Why? Because that would be what was most likely to get the budget cuts restored. If they cut back on building statues of Benedict Arnold, people might ask why they were building statues of Benedict Arnold in the first place.
Do read the whole thing...

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