Public Comment

The Value of Government Service

By Bruce Joffe
Monday October 18, 2010 - 09:36:00 PM

Many Republicans, and even a few Democrats, are running against government, even as they campaign for election to the government. They want to shrink government and cut taxes, while most of us voters want to maintain the government services important to our lives. We deplore the budget cuts that have reduced our children's education, our water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure, our natural environment, and our public safety. Fear mongers who scream about wasteful bureaucracy and totalitarian rule actually give rise to what really threatens to our liberty, uncontrolled corporate greed. This "great recession" demonstrates how unsupervised banks devour the very market system that produces our wealth when our government's ability to regulate such excesses is bound by anti-government bias. 

Big government is our protection against big corporations. Sure, big government brings the problem of big dumb bureaucracy, but so do big corporations. How long do you have to wait when calling the phone company, the airlines, or your health insurance company? Their bureaucracies are set up to make money off of us consumers. Government bureaucracies, at least, are set up to provide equal and fair service to all of us citizens. Sure, they could be improved, and should be improved, but let's not run our government like a business where only the wealthy get the services they need. 

We pay for goods and services that we buy with our money. We pay for goods and services that government provides with our taxes. Most people are willing to pay taxes for good schools, smooth roads, clear air, clean water, and safe streets. What we hate is unfair taxation. Why should the middle class have to pay such high taxes while the very rich grab special tax breaks and laugh down at us? Those who have profited most in our country ought to pay the most for its maintenance. Our politicians must be unafraid to ask for the revenue to pay for the services that we need. But they are running scared of the T-word because we like to vote for candidates that promise us what we want at no cost. We act stupid that way. 

For 30 years, my professional career has been consulting government employees who want to provide better services, more efficiently, through adoption of technology. I've worked with many people dedicated to public service, and I've seen only a few who just wanted to sit on their fat chairs and collect their pay and pension. If we want better government service, and less stupid bureaucracy, we need to make government service a high calling, not simply a job. We can attract better and brighter employees with valuable and merit-based pay packages. If we elect politicians who scream about cutting taxes and reducing government, then the slower, less dedicated people will remain in government and the people who care about serving us, the public, will go work for the corporations that are part of the problem. The government is not our enemy. Government is our tool to provide us the services and protections unavailable from market-based corporations. Our elected representatives must value government and work to improve it, not try to strangle it with tax cuts for the most wealthy. 


Founding Principal of GIS Consultants, Bruce Joffe has been providing GIS planning and implementation management services, organizational therapy, and public policy formulation, to cities, counties, and utility companies for over 30 years.