Can You Say Feckless?

Ineffective, Incompetent, Futile(photo credit)

Article contributed by “The Ed”

Feckless:  Ineffective, incompetent, futile.  It is a frightfully descriptive word.  It is a word that should be understood and feared by all lawmakers.  Sadly, this is not the case.  Even sadder is how much taxpayer money is being wasted on what can only be called feckless efforts. 

Let’s put it in the perspective of the individual.  If you went to a tutor and hired him to help teach your children, you would have to pay him over and above what you pay in taxes to fund the public schools, and for that extra money you would expect your children would do better in schools.  If after a year of tutoring you find that your children’s performance was worse or had not improved, you would confront the tutor.  Excuses like “My teaching helped – they just did not get enough of it,” would sound inept.  To keep from being swindled further, you would fire the tutor.  This does not happen in government.  In government, funding is perpetually increased, until Congress passes a law abolishing what was enacted.

In 1979, the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88) was signed into law by Jimmy Carter, establishing the DOE as a cabinet agency under the president.  How much better has the U.S. Education System gotten since that enactment?  I cite an article by Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, called “20 Troubling Facts about American Education.”  The conclusion I drew from it is the cost per pupil has risen dramatically even in inflation adjusted dollars, but the U.S. school performance has little to show for it.  Now, the Department of Education has a budget of $71.9 billion.  After all the money spent since 1979, the U.S. ranks 17th in the world for its education system.  Whatever the DOE is spending the taxpayers’ money on, it’s not working; i.e., it is ineffective.

The Department of Labor manages the unemployment insurance, which has climbed to 99 weeks.  I could not find any U.S. statistics on when in the unemployment cycle people find jobs, but such statistics do exist for Denmark.  Denmark has unemployment insurance that lasts up to 4 years, and it used to last up to 5 years.  So when did the surge happen for reentry into the work force?  When the unemployment insurance was ending.  There is also a surge that happens during the first three months.  Otherwise, from the graph, when Denmark paid for 5 years of unemployment they got 5 years of unemployment.  When Denmark paid for 4 years of unemployment, they got 4 years of unemployment.  The purpose of unemployment insurance is to provide income for the duration of unemployment, not to keep the unemployed idle.  Of course our 99 weeks does not come close to 4 years.  But that does not mean the U.S. should continue with its 99 week policy.  The 99 weeks does not get people reemployed.  From the Denmark statistics the 99 weeks should be cut to 12 weeks.   U.S. unemployment insurance does not work.  It is ineffective.

Denmark unemployment patterns

(Figure credit)

Regulations also fall into the ineffective realm.  Take a look at low volume flush toilets.  In the U.S., agriculture accounts for 70% of fresh water usage.  Industry accounts for 22%.  That leaves 8% for the rest of us.  In that 8%, toilets account for about ¼ of the usage.  In the summer about ½ of the water Flushing Money Down The Toiletusage goes to our lawns.  Not that it’s a bad thing to conserve water.  It is just that the low volume toilet does not attack where most of the water is used:  agriculture.  It was a lot of work and expense to attack a minor piece of the water usage pie.  It would make more sense to apply that work and creativity to how crops are watered.

(photo credit)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a proposed1099-page set of regulations to streamline the mortgage process.  Only in the Federal Government could such a thing be called streamlining.  It does increase employment – in Washington D.C.  The CFPB has grown from zero to 900 employees in two years.  How else could we get 1099 pages of proposed regulations designed to simplify the mortgage process?  Is it sacrilege to suggest that Washington D.C. should suffer an employment crisis so the rest of us can enjoy prosperity again?

Across the vast Federal Government, it does not take much effort to find entities that don’t do what they are chartered to do.  They are feckless and should be eliminated.  All government bureaus and regulations should be required to justify their existence.  Each should have a sunset period which requires the bureau or regulation to show that its purpose has been met, it does not create negative unintended consequences, and the costs justify their expense.   

Government should be ruled by the same common sense that applies to our own financial lives.  We cannot afford what is now our government.  It just seems natural that the first flotsam to eject should be that which does not work – the feckless.


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control.
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One Response to Can You Say Feckless?

  1. In response to the decline of education spoken of in paragraph 3:

    Milton Friedman referenced Dr. Max Gammon in “Free to Choose,” citing his Theory of Bureaucratic Displacement:

    “. . . in a bureaucratic system . . . increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production . . . . Such systems will act rather like ‘black holes’ in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of ’emitted’ production.”

    Friedman goes on: “His theory applies in full force to the effect of the increasing bureaucratization and centralization of the public school system in the United States. In the five years from school year 1971-72 to school year 1976-77, total professional staff in all U.S. public schools went up 8 percent, cost per pupil went up 58 percent in dollars (11 percent after correction for inflation). Input clearly up.

    “The number of students went down 4 percent, the number of schools went down 4 percent. And we suspect that few readers will demur from the proposition that the quality of schooling went down even more drastically than the quantity. That is certainly the story told by the declining grades recorded on standardized examinations. Output clearly down.”

    Above we see a bold and incisive critique of the educational mantra: “We just need more funding…” More funding, according to Drs. Gammon and Friedman, is not the solution to the problem; indeed, the surfeit of funds is part of the problem.

    Great post! Thoroughly enjoy reading these articles from “The Ed.”


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