Monday, October 18, 2010

TRANSFER - October 14, 2010

There is a concept I will call transfer that applies to school boards, legislatures, and other bodies, and does not seem to be commented on. A legislature appropriates a given amount to a school, and the school board must make it work. If not, it is ranked as the failure of the board. The easy way out for the board is to enact a budget that meets the appropriation, or they have failed. In running for election, a candidate may promise that he will make it fit. But the choice does not lie with the board. In theory, they can simply fail to enact the budget, assigning the loss to the legislature. But that rarely happens, if at all. The same applies to all institutions, whether schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, or others. The choice of making an unpopular assignment might be likened by giving an agent an amount of money that is insufficient to meet the price of a social need, and then blaming the agent for being unable to buy it. But in a democracy, the agent has the choice of claiming that he can do it, when he is seeking election, and then substituting an inferior object after being elected. The fact that the electorate continues to return the agent to office shows that they do not take democracy seriously, or that the voters do not really care. It is not really a lie, on the part of the agent. The present decline in almost all public services must be attributed to the acceptance of the inferior performance by the agents and the voters. Public careers are not advanced by agents resigning when the appropriations are insufficient. Instead, the people’s representatives fight over the blame for the inferior performance, never putting the onus on those who can be easily persuaded to accept it and making do. It is said that a strike accomplishes nothing, but when the result, as in a garbage collectors’ stoppage, can be made to hurt those with the power to change things, if they will pay the cost, it often yields results where the alternative is just a lot of blaming for an unacceptable outcome.

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