If you want to help somebody lose weight, what do you do? Give them a big box of chocolates and order them to reduce their calorie intake?
No? Well, it doesn’t make sense to me either, but it makes sense to the government. You see, first the Congress keeps giving everybody more candy. Then somebody like Mitchell E. Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget says, “Hey, I want you to come up with a diet plan.” Daniels is asking federal agencies to develop a so-called “work analysis” as part of, quote, “the initial phase of implementing the president’s initiative to have agencies restructure their workforces to streamline organizations.”
Whatever. I mean, it’s a good idea. But the hard part is not finding places to cut fat. The people who work in these agencies know where the fat is. But they like that fat. They enjoy that fat. It’s candy. In fact, if the fiscal year is coming to a close and an agency hasn’t yet spent all the candy in the budget, the bureaucrats will work overtime to spend it all before it’s “too late.”
For private companies, there is a benefit to cutting costs. They earn more profit that way. For government agencies, by contrast, there is a benefit to spending more and ever more, because they don’t have to foot the bill.
It is wrong. But what’s the answer? Sure, go ahead and ask agencies to come up with a 5-year diet plan. Then, in addition, put them on a diet. Give them less candy. No matter how they scream.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.