Thursday, March 3, 2011

Send in the Clones



Years ago, the brilliant comedy troupe Firesign Theater postulated the existence of a government office called "The Department of Redundancy Department." Which would be a really funny joke if it wasn't costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

So says a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which has discovered (surprise!) that our bloated bureaucracy has so many duplicate and overlapping programs and supervisory agencies that taxpayers are paying many times over to do a single job...and that the multiple agencies not only make things more expensive, but more confusing and less effective.

There are so many duplicate agencies, and so little oversight, that no one even knows which
agencies are accomplishing anything. For instance, there are 47 different job training programs, but only five have been evaluated for effectiveness since 2004. There are 18 food assistance programs, but 11 of them have virtually no documentation of effectiveness. Need help getting transportation for the handicapped? No problem...as long as you can figure out which of 79 agencies to call.

Teacher effectiveness programs? There are 80 of them...and as nearly as we can tell, none of them are working. And there are 100 different funding programs for highways and rail, which is why you now need a GPS just to find your way through the maze of offices.

Although most Republicans and Democrats agree that the GAO report gives a good map of potential budget cuts, the Whitehouse is a bit less enthusiastic.

In reaction to the news that hundreds of billions in savings are available, Presidential Spokesman Jay Carney cautioned "The question is where do you cut in a way that doesn’t harm the economy, doesn’t throw it in reverse, doesn’t reduce job growth, job creation, and it protects the investments that are so key to longer-term economic growth in this country."

Which seems to indicate that Mr. Obama believes such overspending and redundancy are actually good for the economy, and should be repeated as necessary. And repeated and repeated and...

-

23 comments:

Jazz said...

Sadly, it isn't the redundancy which is so sad, as it is that one may run afoul of Department A simply by complying with the rules of Agency B....

DavidD said...

Maybe we could create a redundant Office of the President and put someone into it who actually knows how to do the job...

erncas said...

When one is driven by OPM (Other People's Money) common sense goes out the window...From the most simple condo association to the complex government entity OPM's there...So spend it!

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

Most, if not all of these agencies were created as a payoff to someone and they are now run by someone else who considers them to be their personal fiefdom, not to be touched, meddled with, reduced or eliminated...ever. They probably each have full-time lobbyists to howl at congress should any vile interloper set one foot inside their perimeter. Any investigation of their real worth will be met with images in the media of starving women and children standing in the cold with tattered rags for clothes as the inevitable result of any adjustment, no matter how small, to the pursuit of their indispensable agency mission. They are redundant, they are mostly unnecessary and they will never go away.

Pete(Detroit) said...

AHD - "They are redundant, they are mostly unnecessary and they will never go away. "

Just like politicians. Why bother asking anyone about this? DEFUND the crap! Today! Slight blip on the unemployment scene, but 'bout time these jackasses found a real job anyway.
Ok, that's not entirely fair - many, perhaps even most of the people working for these groups at the lowest levels are probably competent, dedicated employees. It's just that WE don't NEED them, and they've got to go.

robert said...

Firesign Theater!!! Wow! There's a memory floggerbob. A real blast from the past. Stilt, how old are you? I just always figured you were probably a realtively young man.

Another great cartoon though. I don't know how you knock it out of the park everyday. I used to go to American Thinker first thing everyday, then Michael Ramirez' cartoon in IBD editorials. But that has Hope n Changed. The only thing better is Johnnie Optimism. Keep up the great work.

Rick said...

Solution is simple. Pass a law that states that congress only get so much money (lets say 1 trillion) and what they don't spend they divide up as their pay. I bet everything gets striped so they can keep more money. After 4 years of every thing being cut to the bear bone cut their amount to 1/2 trillion. In another 4 years cut it to 1/4 trillion. After 10 years, we won't have to pay taxes at all just like the Founding Fathers planned.

robert said...

Hey Detroit Pete, lets face it, when it comes to the unemployment thing, I'd bet most of those people are the wives and girlfriends of already entrenched beaureaucrats. (No offense to women. I love women. I married one.)

Those agencies are created as favors to people who otherwise could not find honest work in the real world. It's called politics.

John the Econ said...

There's a reason why the unemployment rates of the suburbs surrounding Washington DC are the lowest in the country.

And as the situation in Wisconsin drags on, more and more people are becoming familiar with the reality of the situation: These jobs exist only to build constituencies and campaign support for the politicians that create and oversee them.

These jobs are a double-whammy to the vitality of our economy; they suck resources that could be better deployed elsewhere, while at the same time piling on to the regulatory burden that the productive sector must work against to be productive. Instead of the oft-repeated "multiplier effect", they are, in fact, the "divider effect".

(Don't expect to see Paul Krugman using this term in this context)

Just Another Dave said...

We wouldn't want to clog up the unemployment lines with a hoard of ex-government workers ... or would we? Is it cheaper for the country to pay salaries and benefits for a non-job or close a bureaucracy and pay unemployment benefits to a laid-off non-worker? Hmmm ...

Jim Hlavac said...

Kafka couldn't write the morass of our government. Many of us have been saying this for decades. I said it in the 1970s. Reagan said it, and he only spent 900 Billion. The examples have come out over and over again. And there's always some politician to "cut the red tape" for this or that special person, and another to do a reorganization of the organization chart. Now these guys figure it out?

Well, I'm just glad at least this is one problem that the WBC doesn't blame us gay folks on! Whew! But does that then mean God loves bureaucracy? Say it ain't so.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

Readers- Wow; I always come straight to the comments here with my morning cup of coffee, and there's already robust discussions going on and what appear to be some new names. Great!

Pete(Detroit)- I'm hoping they will "defund this crap," and for the first time in recent memory, it seems like there's actually a significant number of people in Washington who want to do it.

Robert- By all means continue to imagine that I am a relatively young man. I am relatively young...compared to Methuselah. Not so much when compared to Justin Bieber. Not only did I buy (and love) the Firesign Theater albums when they first came out, I bought them on Edison cylinders.

Rick- Brilliant! Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade - your plan uses the seemingly unchangeable greed of politicians to get them to actually cut budgets! I'm nominating you for a Nobel Prize in economics.

John the Econ- No sooner do I start suggesting awards for economics than you present your treatise for "the divider effect." Excellent.

Just Another Dave- Interesting; the federal government is only funded for another two weeks, but if the employees are fired they'll get unemployment benefits for two years. What's wrong with this picture?

Jim Hlavac- Kafka wouldn't want to write about our times. I can tell you from personal experience that things are increasingly tough for satirists, because the actual "news" is so laughably unbelievable these days. Although it's frequently that really creepy and sad kind of laughter.

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

Stilton: I think they get unemployment benefits for three years now.

Pete(Detroit) said...

AHD - Still, far cheaper to (and effective) to pay them $300 / wk to sit at home on thier butts, as opposed to paying them $1k / week to sit in the office and do nothing.
Or worse, to do SOMETHING - like jack w/ our lives...

TheOldMan said...

If I ever ran for President my slogan would be: Boom times for the 50 states, Depression for D.C.! But I'd rather be dictator for a year...

Necron99 said...

Wow... The next thing you know they'll be forming a "Union" for "Public Union" Members, which will obviously beget a "Union" for "Unions for Public Union Members"... This wasteful stupidity must be stopped, and I mean STOPPED NOW!

JustaJeepGuy said...

I think we're all Bozos on this bus...for allowing the idiocy to go on in D.C.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Jeep - wasn't that the routine that, as ultimate sillyness, had some goof named Ronald Reagan as the President?
And the issue was no jobs?

pryorguy said...

I know when I heard about this report, something I've heard for years came to mind, how some politicians would create an agency and put in a relative to be in charge of the worthless sinkhole.
After decades of this, no surprise we have a many-tentacled monster on our hands, wasting money like there's no tomorrow (literally)!

JustaJeepGuy said...

Pete,
The thing I remember most about "Bozos" was the trip to the future. And the bus full of Bozos, all with squeaky noses...

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

JustaJeepGuy- Now I'm sorry I didn't use "We're All Bozos On This Bus" as a title when I first wrote about the Democrats fleeing Wisconsin!

I may need to pull that album (hey, anyone here remember "albums"?) out of the mothballs tonight.

jselvy said...

Perhaps we should just start over.
Throw out the whole of the US Code, raze the government down to bedrock, and start over with just the constitution.

Jazz said...

If we start over with just the Constitution ... can we limit it to just the amendments which were properly passed and ratified?
On another topic -- I, for one, remember "licorice pizzas." (For those who aren't "hip" to the slang, that's what albums were called.)