Friday, April 18, 2008

The kudzu variations

A certified Obama-free posting™ !
No artificial ingredients


The last posting drew thoughtful comments from yih and mansizedtarget (see the entry for April 15), which prompts another look at how many aspects of life are now government business.

Kudzu is a vine that was imported to the United States from Japan for erosion control and other purposes, but went hog wild in the perfect climatic conditions for its growth and absence of natural predators in the southeast. Politically, we live today under a system of Kudzu americanus.

Bloated government has been a sore point for conservatives at least since the New Deal, and it may not seem urgent compared with militant Islam and the Mexican Invasion. But our getting used to it is one reason it flourishes. We pay our taxes and just assume that a great deal of our money will go to fund useless, if not intrusive, bureaucracies. We've almost given up even bothering to ask, "Why?"

Let's look at a list of government agencies and offices. Forget the federal government — that's a measureless galaxy. Just try to comprehend the functions of a single state, California, shown here. Start at ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) and scroll through to Workforce Investment Board. (Amazingly, California has not yet managed to come up with agencies whose names begin with X, Y, or Z.)

Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Join me on a trip to Wonderland as we sample some of the offices that the citizens of the Golden State pay for to improve their lives.

California Office of Binational Border Health.
Mission: "Proteger y mejorar la salud en las comunidades de California afectadas por las condiciones y actividades fronterizas o binacionales, mediante la cooperación entre los funcionarios y los profesionales de la salud en California y México."

Center for Distributed Learning.
"At the CSU Center for Distributed Learning (CDL), we build tools and facilitate educational communities that support teaching and learning. Working with faculty and students to understand instructional challenges and brainstorm possible solutions that can be shared among campuses, we are guided in all of our projects by the way teachers teach and students learn. Then we apply our knowledge of web technologies and design to create powerful applications and tools that support faculty and students in their teaching and learning processes."

Fair Employment and Housing Commission. "The
Fair Employment and Housing Commission is a quasi-judicial administrative agency which enforces California civil rights laws regarding discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; pregnancy disability leave; family and medical leave; and hate violence. The Commission engages in five primary activities: administrative adjudication; mediations, regulations; legislation; and public information and training." Among its many functions, the FEHC promulgates harassment training regulations.

If you are a Californian and you have property to rent, remember the FEHC is looking over your shoulder. Don't even dream of taking into consideration
a possible tenant's "ancestry, color, disability (mental and physical) including HIV and AIDS, familial status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and source of income."

Governor's Mentoring Partnership. "Mentor Programs Making a Difference."

Infopeople. "Infopeople was started in order to provide points of public access to the Internet in public libraries throughout California. That aspect of the project was substantially completed by 1999. The project now provides a wide variety of training to those who work in California libraries." In other words, the agency fulfilled its purpose nine years ago. Abolish it? Are you out of your mind? No government agency ever ends. It just finds new tasks to keep it busy.

Outreach and Technical Assistance Network for Adult Educators. "Big Huge Labs
offers free tools to create a variety of classroom projects appropriate for ABE and ESL classes as well as older adults and parent education. One project is a calendar, easily created with photos from class activities or other photos selected by students or teachers. The captioner tool lets users add thought bubbles or text boxes to a photo, telling a story or making a joke. Slideshow can be used to create a slideshow... ."

And so on.

You can say I'm being selective, just cherry picking a few of the more useless or objectionable state offices out of a much larger number that perform valuable services. Certainly a state government has legitimate functions. I submit for your consideration that most of those functions could be performed by about half as many people by eliminating the political patronage jobs, the positions consisting of completing forms and writing reports for other government drones, and affirmative action hires among the staff.

But waste isn't the most significant issue. It's the hypertrophy in the concept of the role of government. We haven't gone as far down the road to the Total State as Britain or the EU, but we seem to be trying to catch up. The greater the role played by the government beyond the functions that individuals and private groups can't perform for themselves, the greater are the opportunities for the abuse of power. The more the government becomes a partner in aspects of daily life, the less motivation people have for self-reliance, cooperation on behalf of the common good, and the self-respect that comes with autonomy.



yih said...

''Takes your breath away, doesn't it?''.
(scroll,scroll,scroll) Whew! Sure does! Poor site design, courtesy of the land of fruits, nuts and flakes. What a mess!!!
Another hot topic in FL is budget cutbacks. EVERY part of FL's government is howling ''NO! not me, not me!''
Because of the doule whammy from the collape of the real estate market and the FL version of CA's ''prop 13'' (a voted-in property tax cut) government at all levels in FL are forced to do some SERIOUS belt-tightening.
That's a difference in the two states, CA can 'borrow and spend' (just like the Federal Government).
By law, the FL state budget HAS to balance, less income means less outgo. Or find some way to increase income.
I can relate to that, I'VE had a reduction in income (due to the shuddering economy) and have had to tighten my own belt.
I don't like it, but it's either deciding to spend less or ''hit the plastic''.
I learned my lesson the hard way on ''hitting the plastic''.
That's what HELL is. I didn't file Bankruptcy, I worked my @$$ off and paid off that debt. Go to work, go to work, sleep. Pay bills.
Rinse and repeat as nessessary.
Not going through THAT again!!!

yih said...

Oh, something I forgot to mention:
VA is back!!!
Can't keep a good man (or woman) down. No matter what.
I guess she wasn't ''vanishing'' after all.

Rick Darby said...


I am sorry the recession has affected you.

Florida is to be commended for forcing itself to balance its budget. And if some state employees should find themselves redundant -- well, I don't wish unemployment on anyone, but the rest of us aren't guaranteed jobs for life.

Good on VA for going public again. She is an important voice for traditionalist conservatism.

Noctua said...

The Fair Housing Commission here in CA is particularly useless. See, the way it works is that you can't say (ie. post/advertise) discriminatory characteristics of potential renters/tenants/housemates (like sex or income), but you can still actually discriminate based on sex, income, etc.

For instance, if you're a woman looking for a female roommate, it's apparently against the law to say you're looking for a female roommate. But, when it comes time to actually pick one, you can go ahead and only select from the female applicants.

If you've got an place that costs $3,000/month, you can't say 'Only those making $75,000 or more apply'. But, when it comes down to selecting candidates, as a property owner, you're damn well sure going to pick someone who can pay the rent, and not some schmuck who's a cashier at the McDonald's down the street!