Quick, name ten things the federal government does well. Let me be clear: not the state or local governments, only our federal government. And I’m not concerned if it is right or wrong, but how proficiently they are able to perform a given task. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait.
It’s not too easy, is it? I was recently asked this by an old friend from up north, and I have to admit it stopped me in my tracks. I had to do some real soul-searching to dream up a list, and frankly, it took me some time to do. Nonetheless, here is what I came up with (in no particular order):
1. Pay entitlements – we do not seem to have a problem paying out unemployment, food stamps, or whatever. I suspect we’re probably too efficient in this regard.
2. Collect taxes – beyond income taxes, it’s amazing how the federal government picks our pocket, be it at the gas pump, tobacco, etc. Even business taxes are ultimately passed on to consumers through increased prices.
3. Enforce taxes – The IRS is certainly a force to be reckoned with. I’m told even the smallest IRS agent can rip a telephone book in two with his bare hands.
4. Operate our park system – I don’t think I have been in a federal park that wasn’t well maintained with courteous rangers.
5. Strong military – the smartest, best trained, and best equipped in the world.
6. Strong intelligence services – the NSA, FBI, CIA, et al. may not get it right all of the time, but thank God we’ve got them.
7. Print money – they may not know how to earn it or budget it, but they do a superlative job of printing it.
8. Pay foreign aid – I tend to believe we’re charitable to a fault, including those countries who undermine us.
9. Assemble statistics – just about every department knows how to crunch numbers to justify their existence.
10. Take care of themselves – the salaries and benefits for government workers is probably the best in the world.
The fact that we cannot enumerate this list off the top of our heads is indicative of the problem we have with our government; we perceive it as a bloated inefficient albatross hanging around our necks. In contrast, I’m sure we could quickly name ten things the government does poorly, such as policing themselves over spending, preparing and adhering to budgets, protecting our borders, delivering the mail, utilizing our natural resources, combating drugs, maintaining our infrastructure, performing medical research, etc. There are probably dozens of inefficiencies we could name with ease.
If we honestly believe that the federal government is the poster child for inefficiency, no wonder taxpayers think they are being fleeced. It’s one thing to give money to support your government, quite another if it is a system desperately in need of repair. One last question for you; as a taxpayer, do you truly believe you’re getting your money’s worth out of the federal government? I thought so.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: Jessie Owen (Creative Commons)