Posts Tagged ‘waste’

Suddenly, a blizzard of truth from Republicans. Sam Goldwyn Awards* for all three.

February 17, 2011

 

Everybody in politics knows that federal spending is unsustainable: ending earmarks, eliminating waste, cutting non-defense discretionary spending won’t make more difference than baling out a sinking ship with a teacup. Drastic action is called for. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security have to be cut back or they’ll bankrupt the nation.

But our political leaders run from the problem. In the debate last year over health care reform, Republicans accused proponents of wanting to ration health care, and the Democrats, instead of saying, “Yes, it’s rationed now and we’ll have to ration it a lot more,” denied and denied. “Not us!”

Now come three prominent Republicans to speak truth to power—to the voting public.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) grabbed the third rail of American politics when he told an American Enterprise Institute audience, “You’re going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Oh, I just said it. And I’m still standing here. I did not vaporize into the carpeting, and I said it.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) was even bolder—and more comprehensive—in a thoughtful speech to CPAC ( the Conservative Political Action Conference) in Washington. He told the right wing audience that his own party hasn’t tackled the problem, dealing instead with trifles: “Talking much more about [earmarks], or ‘waste, fraud, and abuse,’ trivializes what needs to be done and misleads our fellow citizens to believe that easy answers are available.” Instead Daniels proposed cutting defense, and radically changing Social Security and Medicare (more…)

A wallet-sized code of ethics

May 11, 2010

There’s something about bureaucracy that violates my sense of ethics. Bureaucracy represses one’s humanity. Humans want to make a difference in their lives, but bureaucracy forces conformity and sameness. One definition in the American Heritage Dictionary is “an administrative system in which the need or inclination to follow rigid or complex procedures impedes effective action.”

The bureaucratic system is founded on rules, supervision and enforcement by specialists and inspectors to make sure workers follow the rules, even when the rules deviate from common sense.

We need to move beyond it, but moving beyond it means shifting to a different form of control, one based on a strong sense of mission and a culture of trust, with authority and responsibility shifted from the few at the top to the many front-line workers.

This shift also requires that the organization have a strong ethical grounding. Ethics must replace the missing rules, but in many organizations what passes for ethics is merely another set of rules to comply with, and ethics training usually consists of badgering workers about bribery, conflict of interest and favoritism.

Enron had a nice 65-page code of ethics. The International City/County Management Association has a pretty good code of ethics except that it’s 2000 words long, has a 3200-word supplementary “Rules of Procedure for Enforcement,” and is written by lawyers or at least by people who have mastered esoteric, lawyerly writing. Most people can’t live by the ICMA code because they simply can’t remember any of it. (more…)


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