Magazine article Management Review

Six Years or Bust

Magazine article Management Review

Six Years or Bust

Article excerpt

Vice President Al Gore's initiative to reinvent government has a long and undistinguished tradition behind it. Almost every administration in recent memory has promulgated a failed plan to "take the waste out of government." In spite of good intentions and lots of rhetoric, the federal government continues to be a growth industry. While the rest of the world "rightsizes:' the federal government shows net gains in employment.

The problem is not limited to the federal level. Gubernatorial candidates and mayoral candidates talk about reducing taxes by reducing the size of government. Unfortunately, a cursory examination of the facts reveals the same dismal outcome.

These well-meaning initiatives have failed for two reasons. First, our elected officials lack the guts to make it happen because, from the first day on the job, they are gunning toward re-election. Even though they were elected at least partially on the promise of waste reduction, politicking ties their hands. The reality of the backlash they will create by inevitably putting people out of work and eliminating entitlements--the two main ways to reduce cost--looms large against the backdrop of the next campaign. Consequently, they nibble at the edges of the problem and try to do a few things with high visibility but low impact, in terms of number of people affected.

The solution to this situation seems easy and dear. Limit tenure to one six-year term. Eliminate the possibility of re-election and you eliminate the motive for not following through; at the same time, you also eliminate the practice of creating plans where the benefits occur during the incumbent's term but the difficulties are off-loaded to the next administration. We've seen this recently at the federal level where the revenue from tax hikes comes early but the cuts are delayed and could become someone elses problem. …

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