Theory and Practice: Legal Systems: A Theory of Right
By Craig B Hulet
KC & Associates P.O. Box 710, Amanda Park, WA 98526 (360)288-2652
___________FROM RED TAPE TO RESULTS_________
&COSTS LESS Report of
Performance Review Vice President Al Gore
September 7, 1993 Reinventing Government Analysis
by Craig B Hulet Introduction A1 Gore's National Performance Review Report (NPR) was released on September 7, 1993. Touted as reinventing government by President Bill Clinton, the press - having not read the 200 pages of Report and Executive Summary, pooh-poohed it: there is always "another report" that will make-over the grid-locked government ...they hooted. While the echo of their insipid hoots slowly fade, the administration is in fact moving on the recommendations one by one. The unaware press reporting new news sees no connection to HUD's regional offices (layoffs 3,500) closing; they do not know that making prisoners pay for each medical visit ($5) was part of NPR; or that the NPR recommendations to place benefits of Medicare or Social Security all on Electric Funds Transfer has begun; or that people on Social Security will pay higher taxes themselves to pay for Medicaid recipients, an NPR idea; or the expanded use of abandoned military bases to house the homeless, non-violent criminals and illegal aliens were also part of the recommendations. No, while an uninterested press hounds Michael Jackson, rushes to judgment on David Koresh of Waco, and in general entertains its readership and viewers with low-brow nonsense, the machinery of government is grinding along with its new bible: The National Performance Review Report. Bill is reinventing government. Since the press didn't bother to read it or report on it, I thought I'd record its content in another white paper. History may ask come the year 2025...what the hell happened to America? Where did it go? Not far really. But it will never again be the same country. Its history has now begun its journey well behind us. There will be happy campers and mall-fodder still, but serious politics and political dissent will be only unique footnotes in abridged history books that illiterate students will use to write notes in ...to each other, not about history. The country is going to change, “...A vision of change” as our fresh-faced, cheeky President calls it. With an evangelical gleam that makes Pat Robertson seem dowdy, Clinton swaggers about --“pumped”-- about what's to come. Clinton - the other one - poses seductively for Vogue magazine and Larry King calls her "sexy - no really", while a Madonna -- the other one -- she isn't, you have got to give Hill and Knowlton credit. By God it's working! When Bill fielded Al to pinch hit against that 'lil fiesty Texas bard, I was impressed! The people seem ready for the high priests. How did a people so strong in faiths of many kinds but always separate from the dull and unprincipled politics of government ever move to adopt such religious secularisms? I hear more phrases turned on metaphysics (religion) now, more than ever before. Not even Reagan pummeled his subjects with as much evangelism as Bill: We have heard the trumpets. We have changed the guard. And now each in our own way, and with God's help, we must answer the call. (President Bill Clinton January 20, 1993) We have heard the trumpets(?) What? I didn't hear them -- I didn't! We have changed the guard(?) What guard? It was an election ...wasn't it? And now each in our own way, and with God's help, we must answer the call(?)...I didn't get a call...I didn't! But in some strange way, a mesmerized people are beginning to seek rest. Their eyelids droop and the vigor leaves them. Is it that they are finally asleep, sleeping to the soft phrases of a religious gospel that their churches and synagogues no longer serve up? The religion of Bill Clinton and his bombshell companion is not of the same stuff of a Jesus or a Buddha, certainly not Roman or Muslim either. But it is without question a religion and religious. It is a physical religion and not metaphysics. It is a base religion with much in common with pagan faiths. It is a faith of secular achievements and security. It is, to cut it to the chase, a yuppie's faith; a faith in credit and interest rate variables. It is hope in a future affluence. Its awakening is IT,...information technology. It is a secular faith looking for its hero leader who harbors a similar faith. This may not even be new in history but only a smug professor that doesn't wish to see would make that assertion. Yes, there have been others that put forward a secular faith, religious, metaphysical, and utopian; yet this age is different in many ways than ages in the past. Technology alone makes possible a kind of Imperium never possible in history. Media and PR recreates a lightweight Arkansas Governor and his lower middle class spouse overnight into "He and Lady H". It only needs a people prepared for a hero leader, a monarch of sorts, for the transformation to take. But this isn't Camelot. Economic Panaceas Ever since Saint-Simon put forward his theories of the social contract based on an economic system of belief, the world had heard from supportive adherents within and without government. Bill Clinton and A1 Gore are the latest true believers in creating a heaven on earth. As has been pointed out rather recently by Robert H. Nelson, Reaching for Heaven on Earth, the social organization proposed by Saint-Simon offers, a meritocratic elite of intelligence and creativity that enthrones productivity, organization, efficiency, innovation, technological discovery.
Saint Simon's gospel of efficiency has clearly been seen as the means to an end that is pure utopian. John Kenneth Gallbraith followed as recently as the 1950's and 1960's with the same evangelical message with an approval of a technocratic elite ruling society; under this elite's guiding hand. Nelson sees a religious system of economic revivalism that rivals anything a pope or preacher ever tried to put forward. Auguste Comte, using the Saint-Simon theological pronouncements, ended with himself being seen as the founder of sociology. Comte, according to Frank and Fritzie Manuel, became "high priest of humanity" in a new "positivist religion". (Nelson, Ibid page 120) As Nelson at some length and with much credibility explains, economics has without question become America's new religious movement, complete with high priests. The new high priests are today represented by Robert Reich, Walter Heller, and hosts of media priests such as Lester Thurow; Harvard MBA's are its initiates. The message is stated with enthusiasm and little humility. If we as a people -- of the world, not just the United States -- would allow these elite to "organize" our very lives, achieve an "efficient" and "technologically" advanced "system" of economic "productivity" they can achieve for us nothing less than heaven on earth: a world free of hunger and want; a system of sharing all resources; a world free from war and strife; a better redistribution of wealth. To believe such utopian nonsense requires of course, as with all religious fanatics, the people giving up certain rights and fundamental freedoms. That's a given the priests accept. Years ago, Eric Hoffer warned of these very things: on the ideas we hold and what these ideas define, he stated: If we are to awaken and cultivate the talents dormant in a whole population, we must change our conceptions of what is efficient, useful, wasteful and so on. (Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time, 1967) It seems Hoffer's warning was heeded but in exactly the opposite formulation. The efficient and reinvented government of today's high priests differs little from those of the past, with one very serious improvement, that of technology. There will be technological efficiency in government that it seems only Bertrand Russell was aware of, as far as its potential for tyranny. With the advent of fiber-optics electronic funds transfer and miniature interactive circuitry, Hoffer's warning is more than current. But what kind of society was being created was Hoffer's real question. Up to now in this country we are warned not to waste our time but brought up to waste our lives. (Hoffer, Ibid) This is too obvious today to be anything but an axiom. While Bill Clinton suggests that NAFTA and GATT will create millions of export jobs, Gore's National Performance Review (NPR), would fully automate our government and the private sector, which will eliminate more jobs including in the export sector of the economy. Automation had already stripped tens of thousands of Americans of work by 1960. Technology has today eliminated millions of jobs since, with more to come. The U.S. Postal Systems alone, will eliminate thousands of jobs by the year 2000/2010. To fully convince Americans of Saint-Simon's view of efficiency bringing about the new heaven on earth, Reagan, Bush, Clinton (both of them), Gore, Reich, and the corporate elite have been yearly inundating the public's perception with utter nonsense about the costs to productivity: Drugs, $200 billion a year: tobacco $400-500 billion; heart disease $100 billion; and one of the silliest ones, $23.8 billion annually lost in productivity due to clinical depression. Productivity you see, is the means to the utopia -- becoming more efficient is but one of the vehicles of means. If we total all the so-called causes of lost productivity, it is supposedly in the one trillion dollars (annually) range; this being so, only if we are gullible enough to concede a loss that can be accounted at all; this, assuming these so-called causes are unnatural, out of the norm, or can be humanly ameliorated by a more efficient government (human also) intervention in each area concerned. One is left feeling we haven't been told the truth, but an opinion. It isn't at all clear to this writer that a more efficient government can or ever has brought about, A Government That Works Better & Costs Less. Less viable is the assertion that we as a people "ought to" eat less, exercise, not smoke, don't drink or take drugs, so as to increase our productivity. Humans haven't done so in thousands of years for the better concerns of life's longevity; to increase the taxes government takes due to increased profitability of corporate America's increased productivity, are the more obvious reasons for the hype, but that isn't only what one should see. What each of us should see is this idea of economic efficiency being the human panacea for our existential existence. Efficient government is not the ideal any thinking individual ought to wish for. An efficient government can only become better at what it does. Government is by definition the monopoly of coercive police power. A more centralized government has always evolved into a more authoritarian one. To the degree that any regime centralizes itself, the people lose their liberty to that same degree. Government is a Zero Sum game even if all economic transactions are not. Clinton (both of them) and Gore want to not only make government more efficient, they put forward the difficult to swallow proposition that to do so requires government's further centralization. Being a Rhodes Scholar as Reich, Clinton, and ten other appointments of Clinton's are, one must assume that they are not stupid people. Some classical education, philosophy, must have sunk in. Only to be forgotten? I do not think so. But why would we suppose that given their educational achievements they came away with an interest in “the people” and “their”, liberty? I grant you that Waco (the extermination of 85 men, women and children with tanks and U.S. military personnel) may be an ambiguous incident, but dismiss it at your own peril. It may be the future and it was on Clinton’s watch. The differing views of elitists are also not so different from those of regular folks. They are, after all, just regular folks too: their elite positions are those of perception and their own at that. Some highly educated men and women have held that the peoples’ liberty was best assured by less government, not more; less efficiency in government, not a well oiled machine: and the philosophy of Jefferson or Ludwig Von Mises held to be wiser than that of Hitler or Gallbraith. The ethics of redistribution has been a subtle test in history to determine of which ilk a leader is. Redistribution is very much a part of the Clinton (both of them) and Gore agenda. Reinventing government’s NPR is to make more efficient the government’s ability to achieve that. Nobody really believes the tax the rich paradigm, do they? Bertrand de Jouvenel in his work by the title The Ethics of Redistribution states, The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State. (de Jouvenal, 1952-Liberty Classics Ed., 1990) Gore's NPR recommendations does that, and much more as we shall see. The western democracies have all had sufficient history to fully demonstrate that the above is true. In arguing against the new religion (which is today revivalist to the core) of economic efficiency and a more centralized state, one is not so much arguing ancient issues from seventeenth century philosophy, as against ancient philosophies proven wrong-headed historically. But refute them we must. To assume NPR is benevolent in nature is to assume too much. Clinton (both of them) and Gore could not be any clearer on what philosophical ground their feet rest. In a short stroke it is as follows: Redistribution (7/9/93 Budget package) by means of a more centralized government (NPR recommendations) bringing about a more efficient (NPR) and high technology (FTS 2000) based public and private sector, organized, (National Economic Security Council, NAFTA & GATT), combined and fully automated with all the very latest “innovations.” The title of Gore's National Performance Review Report is: Creating a Government That Works Better & Costs Less If this isn't revivalist from a high priest of humanity's future look, we are left with a used car salesman's hype as the closest cousin. It sounds too much like the recent book titled How to eat more and weigh less. Report of The National Performance Review In a short poll (by this office, KC & Associates) of just regular people, one discovers that most believe the Gore take on the NPR recommendations. In sum, and it is a very short sum due to Gore's incessant simple exhortations, the vast majority think, or rather feel, that the NPR recommendations are well considered, are about reducing government costs, and creating a more efficient, better organized machine. The language used is the efficient profitable lean corporate machine of a successful business enterprise: Entrepreneurial, investing, less costly, better managed, well oiled, and even,...more profitable, are just a sampling of the over-used euphemisms Gore & Co. have peddled. Everyone will remember his ashtray prop. For obvious reasons they have used the language a self-indulgent affluence oriented people would buy. I do not use the term buy lightly. Americans have a kind of ...well...mall-fodder mentality, so it is perfectly understandable why Clinton (both of them) and Gore, would partake of such selling semantics. Many people, maybe most, do seem to feel that government can, nay -- ought to be -- run like a business: a good business and profitable; efficiency is of course how private business increases profitability. In fact, an ignorant public equates private profitability with a government balance sheet notion: i.e. profitability = balanced budgets: no deficit = in the black: good business = good government. As a former corporate consultant and president of my own company for nearly two decades, I assure you the above is a gross misuse of language. Government does not produce anything; it creates no wealth -- it confiscates it; it creates no product -- it decides who will or will not produce at all; it creates no environment worthy of being considered; it notoriously creates winners that ought to be losers and losers that ought to be producers. That isn't to say government has no purpose, it does. It needs to be there to prevent fraud (not commit it). It must enforce contracts and a degree of honest dealing in society. Our recent history demonstrates the elected representatives have not, do not themselves, play by those rules presently: check-kiting, postal abuse, S & L scandal, and a lust for buying votes on credit ($4.5 trillion debt) -- and frankly, the franking privileges are incumbent aid. Government already seems accountable to no one. We must, if rational, assume the above. Once in a great while a mistake happens and a Jim Wright gets caught. But make no mistake that he got caught is the mistake. The above is enough for most citizens to tolerate. But not those that believe their dream of power, centralized in their hands, can come true for them. No government will ever, cannot be, operated on a private, for profit system. No matter how the language is abused the reality will arrive with the presence of a glaring revelation (to borrow the high priests’ language). But again, not to dwell on what ought to be obvious, the concept of creating a government that works better and costs less is pure hyperbole. What is it then that Clinton (both of them) and Gore, are really doing behind the misleading language? That is what we shall now attempt to resolve. To do so I shall roam about inside the text of Gore's NPR Report. From the introduction, which claims (p. iii) a savings of $108 billion over the years 1995-1999, to Appendix A and Appendix B, where presumably we were to find fiscal evidence of a detailed breakdown based upon recommendations for each government agency. Appendix C outlines recommendations affecting governmental systems (a juicy find - I might add), and the overall text, whose chapter headings presaged the Gore language abuse: Chapter One, Cutting Red Tape; Chapter Two, Putting Customers First, (here we find over-taxed citizens of a centralizing regime defined as customers. Sort of like seeing a tax payment as the purchase of a Big Mac); Chapter Three, Empowering Employees to Get Results (this is of course the attempt to usurp the language of private business whereby an employee receives a cash or cash equivalent by performing well on the job. Of course an outright bonus (This is recommended in Appendix C HRM04 p. 163) for a government employee(s) would be deficit spending since it could not be anticipated in any current budget appropriation). Chapter Four, Cutting Back to Basics. The sub-text of each chapter heading was entirely language abuse of a rank only Noam Chomsky could appreciate. Each chapter was sub-texted with Gore-speak. To wit: Giving customers a voice, ...Creating market dynamics, ...tools they need to do their jobs, ...enhancing quality of work-life, ...labor-management partnership, ...collecting more (the one honest non-euphemistic Gore speak), ...investing, greater productivity, reengineering,...to cut costs. I hope I will not disappoint the reader by seeming to assess the NPR from a bias against its recommendations. I did. If you really read the text and Appendix A, B & C and remain scientifically objective you're a better man or woman than I. (I tried to be PC on this last sentence here. I failed miserably. What I said was, you, if a woman, were a better woman than I. That of course is a misnomer, language abuse, no matter how I try.) First we shall look at the so-called $108 billion Gore stated the government would save by implementing the NPR recommendations. Is it true at all, even as a wild guess? Every area we are shown was looked at, broken down by agency with the attendant savings stated. But as a former (now current once again) business consultant I learned early on to: "Read the fine print."