Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fixing Broken Government

Cal Thomas is out today with "Competence Above Ideology". Here are some highlights:

We pour increasing amounts of time, attention and money into giving children, especially underprivileged children, a chance to succeed. Do the candidates really believe the problem is not enough money, or is it too much money and not enough choice as to which school -- public or private -- best serves the needs of children? Ending the education monopoly would help those languishing in substandard schools. Are the candidates -- especially Democrats -- so beholden to the teachers unions that they care more about winning their approval than they do about educating children? The answer for Democrats is "yes." Why don't the overpaid interrogators/moderators ask the question this way?

H. George Frederickson, a professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Kansas, has written a compelling essay on "Repairing Broken Government." It addresses the need to focus on competence more than ideology. Noting the familiar list most people make on the reasons for broken government -- the pervasive influence of money in politics, the power of interest groups and lobbyists, legislative gridlock and more -- Frederickson touches on something of perhaps even greater importance: "bureaucracy, ineffective management, or poor policy implementation are central elements of a broken national government."

Instead of "sound-byting," character assassination and sloganeering, Frederickson calls for "substantive competence (think Katrina)" in government. He wants more competent people running things and he suggests the way to make that happen is to amend the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

That law, he writes, "added a thick layer of political appointees to the upper ranks of federal agencies" while the ranks of merit-based civil servants were reduced from almost 3 million to about 1.8 million. "From the standpoint of government effectiveness, this has been a deadly combination," he says.

Where are the voices of the presidential candidates promising to clean house of political appointees and replace them, not with political appointees from their party and persuasion, but with people who know what they are doing?

I care about social issues and the eroding morality of the country, but I care more about competent government. We are spending more on government than ever and getting less for our money...

Let's have a little less ideology from the presidential candidates of both parties and a lot more talk of how to repair broken government.

These remarks fits perfectly with my recent post on school failure, see here.

I also think in a way that a focus on competence in managing government fits into points being made repeatedly by Giuliani and Romney as to the importance of managerial experience in the presidential election campaign. I hope that the public and candidates from all sides see this not however as a party issue but that a real need exists for America to fix our schools and to fix the inability of government to carry out basic duties.

By the way, The New Republic has a funny parody out today, listed on the web site as "The Absurd Comedy of the Dems' Labor Suck Up". I hope this writer does one on the next Republican debate as well.

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