A flier crossed my desk the other day offering me computer security that would be “government grade.” My first thought was, given the computer data sieve that is such an ongoing federal problem, “Government grade is no guarantee at all! I want better.”
My second thought: “Do I really have such a low an opinion of government security?” My third thought: “You bet. And not just in matters of security.”
Let your mind wander to the near-farce that is airport security. Look at seaport security: Thousands of containers and ships going through ports daily with most unchecked. Look at nearly nonexistent rail security. How about hundreds of federal laptops disappearing shortly after they’re issued? People pouring over our southern border by the thousands. A couple of thousand miles on our northern border with no security at all!
It’s only a short step from that reality to this one: In many ways, the federal government has become an impediment to getting major things done.
Now, you federal employees reading this, don’t get all unhappy and start jumping up and down. I have a lot of respect for what you do as individuals. Good people, doing your jobs. No, my problem isn’t with the people we hire. It’s many of the people we elect.
Impediment: “Something that interferes with progress; delays action; makes progress difficult.” Does it fit? I think so.
Pick some subjects. Gas prices. Is drilling for more oil in more places going to bring down the price of gas? No. Not now. Not in five years. Now is the time, with our backs to the wall, to bring to bear all government and private resource talents to create alternative fuel and power sources. This is the time for the Kennedy-style pledge to “put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the decade is out.” He said it. We did it! If we don’t do that with energy, we’ll be in this same painful place for years and years.
But with oil industry dollars staining the pockets of many of those with a congressional vote, it ain’t gonna happen. Drilling is no answer. Innovation is. More platforms in the sea is no answer. World technology is.
Realistic economic stimulus? The phony “rebate” checks and “cash for clunkers” were just that: Phony. That was our money to begin with. And Congress had to borrow the billions to come up with those. We’ll pay interest on it for many years to come. Our kids, too.
Honest, long-term tax overhaul and spending? Ha! How about zeroing out a third of the federal agency budgets over three budget cycles and re-budgeting, starting from dollar one, on a staggered agency basis? Fill the rat holes. Stop patching and adding pages to an already illogical tax code.
Government meat and other food inspection and certification programs that work? Not now. Think tomatoes. Think jalapeno peppers. Think ground beef.
Outdated and wrong-headed forest policies. Fix ’em using today’s technology, management and harvesting techniques. Talk to timber and environmental people like you do oil companies. Make them part of the team. Use their expertise to craft economical, stable and environmentally sound policies. Do it right!
Do you get my drift here? Are you sensing a pattern? And we haven’t even mentioned the literally billions of dollars lost to waste and outright fraud in the defense department. Can you say Halliburton and Blackwater and “no bid?”
I hold no ill will for government employees who keep their heads down and do their jobs. It’s the elected employees and the masterful profiteers who send my temperature up. Ah, but I repeat myself.
Government-level security? Are you kidding me? Fix the rest of that stuff. Then we’ll talk.