FREEDOM: Is ‘government efficiency’ an oxymoron?


RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., November 14, 2014 – One would hope that operating in an efficient and effective manner would be among the main objectives of our Government. However, those two concepts appear to be foreign to our feckless leaders. Apparently, the rule of “supply and demand” doesn’t apply when a group of individuals has nearly unilateral authority to regulate the supply of programs and services (certainly within the public sectors and, to a degree, within the private sector), control the demand (legislatively), and dictate price (via taxation). To overcome this anomaly, we need to frame an operations policy for the United States.

This is yet one more policy we do not have in place. It is critically important because it establishes a performance expectation to which every other policy must conform.

In addition, it goes well beyond the operating efficiency and effectiveness of our Government. It is the policy under which we must define the standards for the Government’s administrative obligations as they pertain to immigration, human rights, regulatory issues, etc.

As with other policies that have been previously addressed in The FREEDOM Process™ series, our Nation’s operations policy must comply with the mandates of the Constitution and be clearly articulated, viably executed, and consistently applied. It must reflect the values of our Republic and pay deferential respect to the People.

The Operations Policy statement of The FREEDOM PROCESS™

The United States Government shall use its best efforts to administer the duties and authority delegated to it under the Constitution in a fiscally and socially responsible manner that provides for the most efficient and effective execution of its related obligations. It shall refrain from intruding upon the rights reserved to the People and States under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments as such not only wastes our Nation’s assets but also represents ultra vires action.  Each separate but equal branch of the Federal Government shall operate within the parameters of its designated powers with no orchestrated attempt to expand such powers or to emasculate or usurp the powers of any other branch.

As we have with respect to the previous policies we have addressed in this series, we can gain an understanding of how this operations policy statement might be applied in practice if we parse its components. Note that since we are nearing the end of the policies associated with the FREEDOM acronym, we should expect to see a reinforcement of other related provisions that have already been discussed.

“The United States Government shall use its best efforts to administer the duties and authority delegated to it under the Constitution in a fiscally and socially responsible manner that provides for the most efficient and effective execution of its related obligations.”

The first sentence of our operations policy statement establishes a number of significant metrics against which our Government’s performance can be measured. The first metric tests the quality of effort exhibited against the highest standard that can be achieved. Why would we accept anything less?

Those who would prefer not to be held to such a high criterion should not pursue public office or the Federal bench. Those positions bear a fiduciary responsibility to the People and no lesser benchmark is acceptable. As this column has suggested in the past, a Code of Ethics would be appropriate; one that demands the resignation of those who clearly violate the public trust or place themselves or their Party above “We the People.”

As an aside: It is interesting to observe how many of those who belief that Citizens United is a “bad” decision (which it is) also believe that the Government is sovereign in our form of government (which it is not). The opening phrase of the Constitution, along with the guidance of the Declaration of Independence, should be all the evidence we need to remind us that the People, rather than the Government, are sovereign in our Republic.

Continuing the analogy to Citizens United: Like corporations and other associations, governments are little more than fictitious legal entities that exist only for organizational convenience. The Government itself is not a living being. It only exists through its surrogates (i.e., the elected or appointed officials and staff that are collectively referred to as “the Government”) and for the purpose of surviving them. Therefore, the Government’s “duties and authority” are inherently limited to what “We the People” permit it to have.

Similarly, the first sentence of our operations policy statement reminds us that the Federal Government shall only “administer the duties and authority delegated to it under the Constitution;” nothing more… nothing less. A fundamental source of inefficiency (and its related cost) is spawned by the Federal Government’s ongoing expansion of its influence and de facto control. If it is made to conform to the boundaries established by the Constitution, there is little need to argue over its size. The only thing that gives such arguments substance is the ongoing power-grab that the Parties exercise to maintain dominion over the People through the auspices of Government.

Correspondingly, the Government shall administer its duties and authority “in a fiscally and socially responsible manner that provides for the most efficient and effective execution of its related obligations.”

As Part 1 of our economic policy suggested, fiscal responsibility does not preclude debt. However, the purpose for which such debt is required as well as its repayment plan are critical determinants as to whether such debt should be incurred. The Government does not have carte blanche access to taxpayer dollars under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and it must stop behaving as if it does.

Likewise, unnecessary and inappropriate expenditures should be avoided along with redundant departments, agencies and regulatory edicts (see GAO recommendations, etc. in Part 2 of our economic policy). Limiting regulatory intervention to those areas that actually comply with the Constitution and reducing regulatory complexity will significantly decrease superfluous compliance costs and return capital to the private sector for considerably more productive use. Applying constraints to the Government’s time to respond to mandatory filings will also yield meaningful savings. Presently, many investment and social decisions lay dormant pending Government response.

The controversial issue of immigration provides one glaring example. There would be far less debate over the issue if our Nation’s immigration system were to enter the 21st century. Rather than optimizing the process to reduce the time and expense associated with many of its gating factors, we have chosen to continue to use archaic processes and administer them in a haphazard manner.

What if we were to utilize readily-available technology to screen applicants on a timely basis?

There would still be probationary steps associated with immigration, but the system would not be exploited to raise revenue for the Government and create otherwise unwarranted public sector jobs. If the process were operated in an effective and efficient manner, no rational argument could be made for circumventing the legal method of entry. Appropriate protection and enforcement could be put in place to preclude any other form of entry, and the only remaining issue would be reaching a consensus on how to deal with the results of our failure to intelligently administer our immigration policy in the past.

Speaking of introducing the Government to the 21st century, the horrific waste of time and money spent traveling about the country and abroad to ostensibly participate in meetings that could otherwise be conducted via state-of-the-art web and telecommunication technologies must be eradicated. A good starting point for the related social issue of Climate Change is to cut the Government’s carbon footprint. This isn’t to suggest that necessary travel be curtailed; it merely suggests that traditional political fundraising, campaigning, and other inappropriate junkets be prohibited from becoming a cost borne by taxpayers.

Similarly, the Government must identify and implement opportunities to automate its antiquated processes and to share databases that can optimize the processing of applications, improve security, etc. There is no excuse to continue to tolerate witheringly slow practices that are currently in place.

Our Government has elevated “intruding upon the rights reserved to the People and States under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments” to an art form. As stated, this “not only wastes our Nation’s assets but also represents ultra vires action.”

It is important to note that there isn’t an Amendment between the Ninth and the Tenth that presumes to grant individual or States’ rights to corporations, unions, or other legal entities. Therefore, to maintain the integrity of the Republic, a new Amendment may be in order to clarify that issue for those who seem to be “supremely” confused.

Correspondingly, “Each separate but equal branch of the Federal Government shall operate within the parameters of its designated powers with no orchestrated attempt to expand such powers or to emasculate or usurp the powers of any other branch.”

Operationally, these last two elements remind the Federal Government (as a whole) and the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of Government (individually) that their powers are limited and relatively well-defined. Their efficiency and effectiveness is enhanced by maintaining focus. Accordingly, cost and complexity become far more manageable.

There is even a possibility that our Government can find the time to accomplish work that is uniquely within the Federal domain. For example:

  • Meaningful election reform that eliminates the economic hurdles the Parties have erected to inhibit ballot access;
  • Campaign finance reform that reflects the fact that our voices, like our votes, should be of relatively equal consequence and that we do not need organizations to pretend to speak for us, represent us, or make campaign contributions on our behalf;
  • Voting access enhancements that facilitate capturing the votes of all eligible citizens while simultaneously protecting the sanctity of that right;
  • Voter education programs to encourage civic involvement and the casting of informed votes rather than blindly partisan votes;
  • Aggressive prosecution of program fraud ,voter fraud, misappropriation of funds, abuse of power, and other illegal or unethical behaviors that negatively impact the integrity of the Federal system and drain resources that could otherwise be allocated toward the delivery of appropriate Government services; and
  • Revise the rules of the House and Senate and clarify the limitations on Executive action to foster a more productive environment that focused on the best interests of the People rather than the best interests of the Parties or a particular individual’s legacy.

It is not impossible or even difficult to build a more effective and efficient Government. We just need to have the will to do it.

Perhaps as a sign of encouragement, the House recently passed a bill, backed by the White House, to eliminate or modify 53 unnecessary agency reports by a vote of 382-0. While many more useless reports exist along with hundreds if not thousands of worthless regulations, at least this is a start. As a result, the Government will recapture taxpayer money that would otherwise be wasted. Let’s hope that it uses the money to pay down the debt or to address legitimately underfunded programs rather than just find new ways to waste it.


A Civil Assessment has been designed to serve as an Op-Ed forum for you. You are invited to offer your opinion and to discuss your position in the Comment Section. Please be sure that your “assessments” remain “civil” so that they may earn the respect of others.


TJ O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every other Monday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows on AT&T U-verse and VerizonFiOS channels at 8:00 PM and Midnight PM Eastern / 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific.

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  • Eric N Keya Erickson

    Mr. O’Hara,

    Regarding your comments on corporations and their influence on elections above, I’d like to share a quote from Robert Reich on Facebook this morning. He said, “According to a report out today from the Sunlight Foundation, America’s most politically active 200 corporations spent $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions between 2007 and 2012. Over this same period they received $4.4 trillion in federal business and support (or $760 for every dollar they spent). That $4.4 trillion represented two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury in taxes. It included bailouts, price supports, a third of the value of all government contracts, and special tax breaks (these companies’ average effective tax rate was 17.7 percent although federal law sets the corporate tax rate at 35 percent). Wall Street was the largest source of campaign funds and the biggest beneficiary.”

    This kind of thing has to end. Republicans love to berate poor people for living it up on the taxpayer dime, but the truth is that these large corporations are the ones benefiting from taxes. And they’re largely not sharing it with their workers, the vast majority goes to the top guys.

    I couldn’t agree more with your summary toward the end of the article about the important things the Federal government should be focusing on, such as ballot access, campaign finance, voting access, voter education, and voter registration. I’ve been reading a book lately, that I highly recommend to you, titled, “Europe’s Promise,” by Steven Hill. In the chapter I just finished, he addressed how the advanced democracies of Europe handle these issues. They have automatic, universal voter registration. Campaigns are financed through public funds, so that all candidates and ideas are equally represented. Public television, radio, and newspapers are funded at high levels and expected to remain independent so that citizens have reliable sources of non-partisan information. These systems are not perfect, but are much better than the corrupt system we permit in the US.

    • Eric, I appreciate you comments as well. Now, the question is how do we go from where we are to creating a responsible revolution to reform our political system?

      Given the fact that neither party is going away anytime soon. And, to make the type of political reforms necessary to allow our political system to be evolved as it was designed to do, we need to work through the existing parties at least for the immediate future.

      Having said this, let us consider adding the term ‘transpartisan’ as an adjective when using a label to describe our political alignment or affiliation and take a new approach. IE: I am a transpartisan Republican/Democrat. I recognize my bias/partisanship but want to work with others to see and understand the whole picture and the different perspectives. Then with a full understanding of the various perspectives we can work together and craft solutions that will serve the greater good for our nation.

      With a transpartisan approach we could begin to pass meaningful legislation to deal the the significant challenges of our times.

      • Eric N Keya Erickson

        Michael, I appreciate your optimism that it’s possible to work from within the current system. Unfortunately, I don’t share that optimism. I believe there is too much corruption, too much money involved. Until we cut off the hand that feeds the corruption, nothing can change. The people benefiting from it (i.e. Republicans and Democrats) are not going to do this. The change has to come from outside, either independents joining together, or perhaps a 3rd party can rise up to overthrow the system.

        I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. Maybe if enough people at the grassroots level of the major parties get together, things will change, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. People are either too complacent or too ignorant to realize what’s going on. They elect someone who seems like a reformer, someone who’s going to go to Washington and change things, but then they end up being like everyone else there. I heard a quote many years ago about how politicians go to Washington to clean up the cesspool, but then when they get there, they mistake it for a hot tub and jump in.

        I think transpartisanship could be a good idea, but how do you get Republicans and Democrats to overcome their ingrained ideologies?

  • Seneca Crane

    I’ve always wondered – What is the source of liberals’ vitriolic hatred for our Constitution and Bill of Rights?