Friday, February 22, 2019

How to Shrink Government

Just like you eat an elephant - piece by piece.

Start with a recently created Department - such as Energy, Education, or EPA - the 3 Big Bad E's. As an Executive Decision, and AFTER you have worked out the main details (don't sweat the small stuff, just have an overall plan), announce that the department will be eliminated as a separate entity, and either folded into another department (such as Interior), or eliminated entirely.

Get the states on board by offering to give 2 or 3-year block grants to the states to TEMPORARILY replace part of the federal money that will be, shortly, no longer available. Have a sunset date built into this Executive Order. Right away, the states can save money by eliminating their staff that is responsible for applying for, and administering, the Dept. grants. That, in most cases, is a LOT of people.

For Energy:

  • Fold essential functions (and, they are not many) into the Interior Dept. Eliminate the duplicate jobs/categories/administrative people no longer needed.
  • Interior will announce that these new jobs will be located in one of the midwestern states with substantial energy production. Right there, you move a LOT of people out of the Washington orbit. The lure is that their salaries will stretch further. Only the Director of the Energy Division will be located in Washington. Everyone else stays in that new location - including ALL upper-level management staff. That removes a lot of people that will no longer be available to be wooed by lobbyists.
  • Announce that all Federal employees may apply for the positions that will remain, on a competitive basis. NO guarantees for ANYONE.
  • Many of these jobs will be contract-only, and the contracting companies will take former skills and experience in the previous job into consideration (also, special consideration for vets). If the employee doesn't perform to expectations, their supervisor puts in a request to his boss that the contract employee be removed. As they have no job protections, this should be easy. Ideally, the rest of the staff will get the message, and step up their work ethic.
  • For those people who have been doing their job, without acting as a Deep State ally, the executive staff should call in markers to their contacts in industry, and help them find new work - NOT in government, unless it's at the state level.
In order of elimination, Energy, Education, EPA. Then, assuming the citizens of this country have the good sense NOT to elect another Democrat or RINO, repeat until the government assumes a size more suitable to our citizens' budgets.

Contracting is the key part of this. It bypasses Civil Service protections, allows the Feds to expand or contract as needed, WITHOUT incurring pension, disability, or unemployment responsibilities for those employees. It allows the Feds to jettison the stranglehold that the government unions have placed on changes to members' conditions, responsibilities or pay. It also allows government to GET RID OF THE NON-PERFORMERS.

I was talking to my Vet son-in-law, and he expressed concern about veteran's education benefits. I pointed out that the actual administration of those could be handled by the Dept. of Defense - as they were before the Dept. of Education existed. Pell grants could be block-granted to the states. If they can reduce the waste and/or fraud, they get to keep the money to be used for educational purposes only.

The EPA would, like Energy, become a SMALL part of Interior. Their budget would be enfolded into the whole. The only function for the EPA would be to handle interstate water and air issues, and serve as a resource for the states - NOT acting in any way unless the pollution crosses state lines. All in-state issues are the states' problem.

The newly created Education Division would be located in Iowa, the home of the famous Iowa Test of Basic Skills. I took it when young, and it was a good test. Locate them near, but not IN, one of the larger cities. Again, like the EPA, they would be a RESOURCE. They MIGHT encourage - not demand - that states work with other states in a particular region, to have similar standards for K12 education (NOT Common Core - the 'standards' are too specific, overly detailed, and not all that good).


JonRobert said...

Excellent structural approach.

Important to neutralize key constituents of bloat with temporary bribes as you suggest. (Reverse jujitsu the way statists bribe their way into "temporary" expansions.

Key challenge: Say Energy. Move 1 to Interior, fire 4. The other 4 will lobby Interior, some parasite at Interior will want to expand his fief. The other 4 will also lobby EPA, FDA and anyone else even remotely similar. How to make those 4 stay dead?! Garlic, holy water, stakes?

John said...

YES! All jobs for FedGov should be relocated to locations in flyover country at least 20 miles from a Starbucks.

Linda Fox said...

Structure the money such that only PART of the money from the dissolved will follow the move - temporarily. Within 3 years, max, freeze all increases. They can only get money by reducing their staff or functions. For ALL of government, move to a no-increase budget.

Eventually, move to an annual reduction budget, with encouragements given to outsource to contract status most of its staff.

Linda Fox said...

Instead of hiring bureaucrats, hire industry specialists - those who have downsized organizations, through outsourcing and RIF. Focus o the 'turn-around' specialists, for a limited time - not to exceed 5 years. Institute rules that no manager may take another government job. They have to spend at least 10 years in non-government work to be hired back.

The FIRST department in any organization to be completely outsourced is HR. The company that contracts for this has to make its employees "at-will" - as are a MAJORITY of the people that pay the taxes for those jobs. Lifetime employment is gone, gone, GONE. Government employees should not be exempt.

Now the way to SELL this to the public is to focus on those government jobs that have successfully been outsourced:
- In many states, including OH, DMV is a non-government entity. Employees are bonded against loss due to theft or malfeasance.
- The move is towards ABCs - the places you buy alcohol from - being private. Better selection of booze, better service.
- Charter schools and homeschools, along with virtual schools, are the future.
- The Department of Defense has always outsourced some of the functions. Expand on this, until virtually ALL of the non-combat jobs are private contractors. That will go a long way toward cutting down on bloat.

Other ways to fight the bloat:
- RIF in the military for NON-combat, non-frontline positions. The REMFs take 1-2 drops in rank, immediately. Eliminate those positions. All brass - including the military - have to reduce their staff 10-25 percent - particularly in the Pentagon. Those eliminated cannot bump a serviceperson out of their job automatically. They have to compete for new openings, or replace a service member with long-time substandard performance (who will then face a separation from service).

Outsource the work of the GPO - Government Printing Office - to regional non-government printers. Hand those workers a severance check, and - IF competent - a nice recommendation that they can use to get a job with some of those regional presses.

Slip into one of those bloated bills some nifty ideas:
- No bill may be passed by Congress that exceeds the average size of the bills passed in the time up to the Civil War - that includes amendments and riders.
- Limit the time Congress is in session. If they have to meet outside of that time, it has to be virtual with the members located in their home states.
- Limit all travel of Congress to a set dollar amount. They have to make the cuts by majority vote. No travel for fact-finding that can be accomplished by virtual meetings. "For the good of the planet, of course."

Incorporate pension changes that limit, or eliminate their government pension and health care if a later job is taken in private industry. This already affects public employees through WEP (Windfall Elimination Profit). Extend this to ALL employees, including the president, if their post-government income, whether through a regular job, speeches, or writing books/making appearances is equal to, or greater than, their government pension. Also, this would affect the cost of Secret Service protection. We'll pay if they go home to where they came from, and actually retire. If they hang around in Washington, or use that protection to pursue another job, they can continue the use of the SS - at the cost the US taxpayer pays - including all bennies and pensions.

Linda Fox said...

Immediately move ALL government pensions to the "defined contribution" model. Essentially, this takes away the guaranteed pension income model. Allow employees to contribute to a private pension plan, like the 401(k) types. Bring government pensions into line with reality.

JonRobert said...

IF Linda Fox collected her ideas into chapters, she could write a best-seller non-fiction book.
A few more elements are needed.
FIRST: s transparent and highly visible fix to the "DeToqueville" threat.
The few who grasp for a concentrated gain are always more committed and desperate than the many who bear the diffuse loss.
One hack will fight far harder to gain $100, than 100 taxpayers will fight to save just $1 each.
SECOND: term limits for both politicos AND bureaucrats. Government must be a service, not a career.
THIRD: Revolving door fix. Leave government service? Permanent surcharge on earnings above the last government salary. Make $80k in government, go to a lobbyist for $200k? That extra $120 belongs to taxpayers, not the hack or politico. That extra $120 comes from connections and experience you gained at the taxpayers expense. Tax back half that gain. Then pay regular tax on the 80+60=140k you really deserve. Government is NOT like a regular job where you earn all your experience. A government job is making you a better parasite once you learn to game the system. To paraphrase lizzie warren "you really DIDN'T earn that!"
FOURTH: It will be REALLY hard to fix the "two-thirds" problem. That's how much of the federal budget is just pure redistribution. People are addicted to their "gummint check." That means we can fix the 1/3 part and still go bankrupt.
FIFTH: No borrowing for current consumption, only for capital projects. Today we borrow for current consumption, that is to bribe current voters. That lets politicos abuse their position and NOT pay the price today! That's what drives excess government pensions - a deferred payoff to hacks, without cost to the politicos.
Even worse, it makes childlessness the new "tragedy of the commons." The childless enjoy all the benefits today, and leave the bill to the next generation and those who bore the cost of raising those children,

cmblake6 said...

What I'm seeing ALL makes sense. Fire them? No, that would lead to a lot more unemployment.

JonRobert said...

Hey cmblake6 - Better an unemployed termite, than a termite actively chewing on the support beams of our Republic.