Monday, February 7, 2011

Blue Ribbon Confusion

One would think when assessing the collective wisdom of our legion of elected officials that it wouldn’t be necessary to dilute the intelligence pool any farther. Our stellar leaders have found a means for diminishing the feeble intellect of government. It is called the “special commission” or the “blue ribbon commission, “ or perhaps “the advisory panel.” I find it somewhat ironic that know-it-all politicians must hire and create panels to identify problems or solutions when things go wrong. Many of those picked to serve on the elite bodies are former politicians or contributors to political campaigns. Does the term “dumb and dumber” ring a bell? If our fearless leaders at all levels of government were to take the time to visit any local coffee shop or neighborhood tavern, they would discover enough collective wisdom to undo their foul-ups.
The special commission has been a significant part of our political landscape for many decades, but the granddaddy of them all for those of us who are alive is the “Warren Commission.” Despite the combined talents of the FBI, CIA, Texas Rangers, Dallas Police and various and sundry defense and police agencies, the “powers that be” believed it necessary to appoint an extra-governmental agency to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. Former Senator Arlen Spector was one of the primary investigators for the inquiry, and even today, citizens question the results and the purposes of the investigation. Theories proliferate around those tragic events in Dallas, and many continue to look to the grassy knoll for the final answer. Nearly a half century later the questions continue to swirl, and the Warren Commission findings continue to be challenged.
The Grace Commission was another high-powered panel of fiscal titans who were assembled to assure the viability of entitlement programs and design a path of fiscal responsibility for the federal government. Worked out well, huh? Do you remember the Base Closing Commission? They were to select unnecessary military installations and designate them for closing. Their real purpose was to shield Congresspersons from the wrath of their constituents who might become rather angry about losing a major source of cash for the local economy. After a rather perfunctory analysis, it appears that about half the job was completed, thus indicating that we remain saddled with a number of superfluous bases.
On a more local level an urban school district projected a $38 million deficit and appointed a panel to suggest strategies for dealing with it. OK, these commissions and panels can be found at every level of government, therefore one must assume that gross incompetence among the political class is nearly ubiquitous. Listen up, Politicians, if you cannot do the job, then do not run for the office. Just because it’s your turn and you have the proper party designation, you do not receive a pass for incompetence.
Maybe the politicians are not incompetent. Perhaps they’re either cowardly or clinically diagnosed spendaholics. So, either they man up or seek professional help, but they should do so on their own time and dime. Even if the panel appointees were working for no pay, there are significant costs involved. Staff must be hired, transportation arranged for panelists, staff and investigators, and all the supplies for operating a huge investigation must be purchased. When a business owner has to hire additional help to perform tasks that must done, he/she has to pay the workers from the company cash flow. Perhaps if we required our elite know-it-all  guardians of the Nanny State to “reach into their jeans and pull out some greens,” maybe they would begin to do their jobs without choosing others to take the heat.
Better yet, I’ll work as the “Commission on Commission.” For every dollar that I save the taxpayers, our clueless cowardly political class can pay me a mere 15 cents. Such a deal, and I won’t require a massive staff or trucks loaded with supplies and letterhead.

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