When I was on Fox News with two Republicans last week, they tried to taunt me with “what has the government ever done well?” That’s not hard to answer. NASA put a man on the moon. FEMA does a pretty good job when it’s not being run by George Bush. The government built the interstate highway system. We have public universities (that means, run by the government!) at the top of the rankings, like UC Berkeley where I studied, or Michigan, or SUNY. As for the Post Office, where’s the complaint? Put a 44 cent stamp on a piece of paper and a few days later it will be delivered across the country. And as Bush-lovers have bragged, the government prevented another terror attack on US soil after 9/11.
Closer to health-care relevance, the government inspects the food supply and keeps us from being poisoned. And the National Institutes of Health is at the forefront of medical research, the Food and Drug Administration safeguards the approval of new medication, and the Centers For Disease Control are masters at coping with pandemics. And there are great government-run hospitals. Even the DMV — and I’ve been caught up in their system once or twice — generally hands me a number and takes care of me as quickly as any other line I have to wait on. I could go on.
Good points indeed. My only question is this…if the government were streamlined with minimal bureaucracy and a systemic architecture built from the ground up with today’s technology powering it, I would think you could cut the overhead and staff in damn near half. Where is the incentive for government workers to work hard and truly innovate if they are working for the pension that starts after 20 years? It’s hard to get fired from a government position for working your 35 hour week and doing a so-so job.
The question then becomes…how do we turn the government worker mentality into a driven, innovative group of thinkers and doers interested in doing things better and smaller each and every day of their jobs?
I’ve worked in government for about 6 months. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and felt the bureacratic, just-get-by mentality. It was painful. That experience showed me what I don’t want to do.