Monday, August 22, 2011

Not a new idea I'm sure (vaguely political)


Once upon a time I worked for a company that was great to work for raises were plentiful and there were often big parties at least once a year, sometimes twice. A corporate jet with two full time pilots plied the skies schlepping mucky-mucks around and stores were often remodeled, repainted, and updated. Advertising budgets didn't exist. We just got whatever we asked for. When that company was later sold it was weeks from bankruptcy and the measures taken to pull it from the brink of foreclosure can only be described as triage. They weren't easy or fun. A lot of cuts were painful but necessary for the well-being of the company as a whole. I believe it. That company is still around today. It's still out there and I've talked to some of the employees and they say things are turned around, even in this economy. The belt-tightening triage they did before it all hit the fan in the US economy has them able to do well, even increase in sales and size now when others are closing down, like Borders.

When I turn on the news, something I'm almost never doing any more, all I see are talks about governments in the same boat. I see wild spending and irresponsible outlays of money with no accountability. "Use it or lose it" has long been something government agencies have lived with with no ability to save for the future. I was raised on an Army base in Germany during the 80s. I saw it.

The Greeks are upset about government austerity measures. I don't know what austerity measures are in their case, but in our case, the case of the US federal, state, and local governments those days are coming. They have to be. We simply can't continue to spend the way we have been. Raising the debt ceiling is stupid. Not because we don't need to but because it doesn't make sense. A) If a family's income is going down and B) Their credit cards are full and they're only making minimum payments what bank in the WORLD would increase their credit limit if they had zero chance to pay the money back? It doesn't make any sense. That's what we've done.

I went camping recently and the state park we were at had grass so long they were literally baling it as hay. If we'd gotten there two days earlier the camp sites wouldn't have been usable in a tent. The grass was too high. The reason for the decreased maintenance of the grounds and of the trails was they didn't have the budget. We saw two rangers and they both had brand new trucks. Last year's trucks... I camped at the same campground last year, were fine. They were in good condition and not that old. So who is responsible for this waste of money? The cost of those two new trucks would have taken care mowing the grass and trails of every state park in the county for the year. There's no accountability for it though.

There needs to be a way to hold the people spending the money accountable for their actions and their decisions. I don't know how. In business they'd be fired. But even in business bad management can bankrupt a company as I've seen done... But the company is closed or sold and things start over or they're gone. Maybe that's what needs to happen to local governments. Maybe if they mismanage the things they're stewards of too badly they should all be fired, the department dissolved and another agency started over again with all new people... I really don't know the answer.  But the answers we come up with  now... the things we can do now will be easier than the things we have to do when we are like Greece and our austerity measures aren't going to be popular either. But they're going to wind up being of the triage type and triage, by its nature, is neither kind nor pretty.
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