God

Will Congress Reduce Government?

  I look forward to the new Congress. And I hope they will follow through on the promises they made to us when they campaigned.

The tune they sang most often was, “government is too big and we need to cut it.”

I couldn’t agree with them more. Our government, both at the state and national level has grown to behemoth proportions. As of March, 2010 (are you ready for this?) Our federal government recorded 2,748,978 civil service employees. To put it another way, it would take every man, woman and child living in Chicago, working eight hours a day and five days a week, to run the federal government. That does not include military employees in stateside admin type jobs. It also does not include civil servants employees working in security operations, such as the FBI and CIA.

And the cost of government is, well, worse. Just one agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, employees more than 17,000 full-time civil servants and operates on a budget for fiscal year 2010 of more than $10.5 billion (that’s billion with a “b”).

I wonder how many of those 17,000 civil servants earn their keep. I’ve had but one experience working with a federal agency. During college I worked for the Veterans Administration on a work-study program. They paid me to go to the VA several times a week and put in four hours each time. My job was to file papers in certain record folders in filing cabinets. Was it boring? Sure. Was I grateful for the job and the extra money? Of course.

What bothered me was the attitude of our tax-paid “civil servants”. On my third day one of the civil servants came to me and said something to this effect: “You need to slow down. You’re working to fast. You’re making the rest of us look like we’re not working very hard.”

True story.

I wonder how pervasive that attitude is in the thousands and thousands of government offices around the country and in Washington. It makes me think of the 80-20 rule: 80 percent of the work gets done by 20 percent of the people. That rule usually applies to the free market. I wonder if for the civil servants the rule might fall somewhere closer to 90-10.

I think a 10 percent across-the-board cut of civil servants would be a fantastic start for our new Congress to consider. To keep it fair and balanced, Congress might consider a policy similar to what many companies practice when they down-size in the private sector: last-one-in, first-one-out. In other words the most recent hires would be the first ones cut.

Will that hurt some very good people and some deserving families?

Certainly.

Cuts always hurt.

But all of us must be willing to sacrifice if we’re going to return to fiscal responsibility and save this country from its spiraling deficits.

A political aside

I voted almost an entirely straight Republican ticket in the midterm elections. However, I fully intend to hold the Republican, and all office holders, responsible for the campaign promises they made me. I take their promises personally. And I will be watching, listening to and reading about what they do. I will also be communicating with my elected officials at the state and federal level to remind them of the highly challenging tasks set before them. I will also be praying that they seek God’s hand and guidance in all their decision-making.

I ask you all to join me.

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