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April 04, 2011

Comments

Bud Byrd


The structure of government is a major problem. I, among others, in my local environment have long stressed the need to consolidate local government.

Currently, I live in a gated community with its own pseudo government and revenue generating mechanisms (equivalent of taxes). The community is located within a city. The city within a county. The county within a state. The state within the United States. Each of these entities raises revenue and provides some level of services.

The major problem with this construct is that many overlaps exist. Overlaps cause redundant people to be employed, redundant expenses to be incurred, and redundant taxes to be collected.

From a governing efficiency perspective, Singapore has the advantage of being a single government entity. In its first thirty years or so, it was ruled by a single (the same) individual. Its governing culture, though modified in the 1980's and changed somewhat, retains much of the earlier embedded principles. The government is intolerant of opposition. It takes little input from citizens. It compels all to vote, but limits the ability of opposition parties to participate in elections. Though very successful in its economy, its education system, etc., it is hardly a model that the people of America would tolerate.

In our drive to accommodate diversity of opinion, of ideas, of personal ambition, the Singapore mode could not survive. But aspects of the Singapore model should be explored and analyzed for potential application here in America.

The single entity government would be difficult to implement here, but we could make great strides by introducing synergistic technology, by regionalizing government, e.g., the Miami-Dade County government of South Florida, the combination of the municipal police and sheriff office into the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in North Florida.

Elimination of layers of government, the removal of redundancies, the elimination of overlapping taxing authorities is our best hope of incorporating Singapore-like practices.

With the politics of local constituencies, the need to keep the many politicians employed (current office holders are unlikely to downsize themselves out of a job), and the apathy of voters (15% of our registered voters turned out this month to elect the city commission) that allow government to function at the status quo, I see little chance that anyone in our pluralistic government infrastructure will take action. Even the budgetary crisis of today seems to have little effect on getting the bureaucracy to change. Instead of reforming burgeoning government, the political power structure would rather eliminate the directs by firing teachers, police and fire fighters, eliminate food stamps for the needy or medical care for poor children.

Pardon the cynicism, but I don't believe our fellow countrymen see our current situation as a threat to our national existence.

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With the politics of local constituencies, the need to keep the many politicians employed (current office holders are unlikely to downsize themselves out of a job), and the apathy of voters (15% of our registered voters turned out this month to elect the city commission) that allow government to function at the status quo, I see little chance that anyone in our pluralistic government infrastructure will take action. Even the budgetary crisis of today seems to have little effect on getting the bureaucracy to change. Instead of reforming burgeoning government, the political power structure would rather eliminate the directs by firing teachers, police and fire fighters, eliminate food stamps for the needy or medical care for poor children.

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