Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't Touch My Junk: A Practical Critique of Bureaucracy

Well Thanksgiving was last week (hope you all had a great one), and a lot of controversy has been stirred up over the new screening policies (or as some might call them, public displays of affection) of the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA).

Security, as we all can agree, is very important at airports since we don't want another 9/11 on our hands. But is Uncle Sam best suited to keep us safe? The following question was on my exit exam for SDSU, and I elaborated using the TSA as an example:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Bureaucrats are lazy, inefficient workers who are part of an entrenched, powerful institution?"
To which I responded:

I agree with this statement, for the most part. I'll start with where I disagree. I disagree that ALL bureaucrats are lazy. There are some very civic-minded people working for our bureaucracy that have the best of intentions and have the good of our country at heart and try to do the very best they can.

That being said, bureaucracy, but its very nature is not conducive to efficiency and hard work. In the private sector, workers have to work hard and prove themselves efficient to maintain their job, and the business itself craves efficiency and hard work to maintain profits and remain competitive against other competitors. A private organization's goals are profits.

A bureaucracy's goal, but contrast, is to legitimize its existence. Government workers unionize and strike to protest paycuts, etc. Should a private business become inefficient, the business could become insolvent and fail while the good businesses thrive. If a bureaucracy becomes inefficient and shows few results, a bill will probably be passed to throw more funding at the agency!

Bureaucracies are also very powerful and entrenched institutions. I can't think of a single instance where one was successfully abolished. Abolish the Department of Education? Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency? It seems that once these responsibilities have been ceded to inefficient government, it somehow becomes blasphemy to say that someone other than the government may be better at tackling these issues, and the agencies hence become immortal, and the government has a virtual monopoly over the activity in question.

A perfect current example is the TSA situation, where a lot of people are becoming very unhappy with the extensive scanning the government monopoly (TSA) is requiring at all airports. After 9/11, in rash action to a massive tragedy, the Senate voted 100-0 to approve the TSA, essentially taking over airport security in the United States.

What does the TSA have to lose if they prove inefficient and a shoe bomber or something gets on a plane? They won't be fired, they won't lose customers, and they'll simply have more money dumped into their budget.

Private airlines would best be suited to handle their own airplane security. They have skin in the game and will lose customers if they show to be unsafe airlines or treat customers in a way that will turn them away.

Better yet, the private sector has an advantage, where airlines could exploit niches. One airline may boast themselves as being the safest in the air, and customers know going with that airline will subject them to higher, more invasive levels of screening, and the customer accepts that.

Another airline might realize that other customers would rather keep some dignity and sacrifice some safety on their flight by using lesser screening methods. There is a tradeoff; but customers get to decide for themselves. It's impossible to prevent all the 9/11 type incidents, but since private industry has the most to lose, they also have the most incentive to prevent such a tragedy. Bureaucracy, on the other hand, is one-size-fits all and does not let customers decide what level of security is important to them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Idiots on Parade

Lefties love to make fun of misspelled signs at Republican rallies. Well, here's a sample of some geniuses at the Stewart/Colbert rally.

Just FYI, "Keynesian" is not implying Obama's nation of birth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Noem's On Fire

Newly elected SD Representative Kristi Noem is already having some impact on the national level:

From the Washington Post:

GOP leadership creating new post for freshmen GOPers -- may be occupied by Tea Partyer
By Greg Sargent

Now this is interesting: With many wondering how the House Republican leadership will accommodate the newly elected House GOPers who are soon to arrive in Washington, many of whom are Tea Party-backed, I'm told the leadership has hit on a solution. They are creating a new leadership post: Representative of the incoming freshman class.

A GOP aide tells me that the decision has been made to create the post, and newly elected Tea Party favorite Kristi Noem, who unseated Dem Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota and is known to her fans as the "next Sarah Palin," has "indicated a strong interest."

In another nod to the incoming freshmen Republicans, the position will be elected by only those freshmen, not the leadership.

If Rep. Noem or some other Tea Partyer does get the post, which has been in discussions for weeks, it could satisfy the Tea Party's demands for some kind of representation within the leadership.