Mike Colera


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Are the T.E.A. commentators correct?

In a recent article in the local paper, a member of the Taxed Enough Already association asserted that his association was concerned on the expansion of the Federal Government into areas that were not addressed in the US Constitution and consuming excessive tax monies to ineffectively effect the outcomes. He made strong arguments for his case.
He went on to state that bureaucracies tend to grow like a cancer feeding on a healthy government until the time of it's demise.
I thought that it was a little overstated.
And then I remembered and old comedy show where the premise was based on writing of a former British bureaucrat who formulated Parkinson Law.
It says that officials want to expand the number of subordinates and limit their
rivals and they want to make work for their colleagues. It also address that the time to do work is the time allotted.
This seems to be true. I look at Federal Secretariats that have been created in the last 50 years in health, education, and poverty and we now have more poor, uneducated and sick people then ever...
We have a Department of Agriculture that has almost as many employees as farmers in the country.
Maybe these T.E.A people are on to something..

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    Oct 30 2013: In this debate, I have supported positions of the T.E.A. associations in that ... Federal Governing Bureaucracies have grown out of control... that they have become self fulfilling and expensive.
    But, on a personal note I am more concerned about our elected officials who are there to manage and ... control these bureaucracies. I think I am seeing the elected are using the bureaucracies for their own purposes... mostly to continue in office. Worse, I am seeing this use in almost blatant efforts to "buy" votes using bureaucratic tools to accomplish their successful re-election.

    Please show me that I am wrong.
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    Oct 28 2013: Where I have a huge problem with the tea crowd is their blanket condemnation of bureaucracies. If there were no crooks, no arrogance, no self-righteous and no selfish agendas then sure do away with governmental oversight. But with all the examples of fiscal mismanagement, blatant profiteering and outright fraud that have been perpetrated upon taxpayers over and over again when deregulation and downsizing of departments occur there will always be a very real need for adequately and honestly staff our government agencies.

    Of course, one very effective way to do away with some of the bureaucracy is to make it redundant and I believe good, sound whistle blower legislation would be a huge step in that direction. If we could really depend upon the people involved in whatever scheme is being perpetrated upon the taxpayer to come forward and expose the villains in charge, then there would not be as much need for governmental scrutiny. But in any market economy being a whistle blower means you may never have a job, never mind a career afterwards.

    Case In point.
    A decade or so ago a local airline started up offering very competitive fares and schedules. But after some time there were problems occurring with the planes. But the owner would always go before the media and smile and assure the public they were "on top of it" and that safety was their major concern... blah.. blah.. blah and a couple more years of problems. Eventually the planes were crashing and people dying and public concern escalated.
    Eventually some of the airplane maintenance people came forward detailing how warnings were ignored, threats of job lose and intimidation made to keep quiet.

    Give Whistleblowers a guaranteed income if that is the case. Treat them like heroes, not "rats" and "traitors" and all the other jailhouse labels.

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      Oct 29 2013: There have been some significant advancement in the "Whistle Blower" programs, we see that in the magnitude of non disclosure agreements that many are requested to sign at the time of employment.
      I also agree that they should be not given the negative social status usually presented by the organization being addressed.


      "Blanket Condemnation of Bureaucracies?"

      I am not sure that is an appropriate description. The basis for all the so called T.E.A. crowd is the acknowledgment that there is some governmental organization, but it should be lean, focused on the lawful description of tasks, and self-controlled. Personally, I have no problem with that position.
      Right now, I see were Parkinson Laws of self perpetuating bureaucracies growing past the point of sublime to the state of ridiculousness. So many redundant, so many creating regulations to continue their existence with the least effort.
      It's like having a draft horse to plow the field. Every farmer will tell you to keep it out of the hay barn and fenced off from the mares, or you will have a herd to eat you out of house and home.
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    Oct 27 2013: I would place the onus for swollen bureaucracies a lot further up the list, namely upper management. That is to say, those in management are often remunerated in relation to how many people they "manage" and how "important" their areas of concern are.
    therefore, in most societies where income and status determine one's "importance", then the more people one "manages" the more status and income one has. Hence our bloated bureaucracies.

    One only needs to look at the income differences between those at the top of the bureaucracies and the bottom to see the truth of this.

    Let me share a story. I was working at a university in its computing department in the 1980's when the internet was taking off and we had half a dozen or so employees who were already "working from home" or least who were signed onto the mainframe 24/7. A time long before online gaming and porn was available.
    These employees asked me to help them present the case of "working from home" to the director of the department which I gladly agreed to do. The employees and myself were very excited at this revolutionary idea that we believed would save the department money in terms of office space, parking and similar amenities while also saving the employees travel time and the related expenses as providing them with the comforts of their own homes. A win/win as it were. So we were somewhat surprised to find management less than enthusiastic about the concept.

    After a week or two had passed I went behind the scene to some of the other managers I know well enough to ask "what happened tot he work from home idea"? It was then that I discovered that some managers quickly realized that their own jobs were in jeopardy if they did not have those employees to "manage" and that the more employees they 'managed' the more secure they felt their own jobs were. So nothing changed and it may well still be the same there today.
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      Oct 27 2013: Your experience has been replicated too many times. Many years ago, I read a book called the "Peter Principal" the author described how managers as you noted came to be.

      I studied management for many years finally understanding the beauty of it's simplicity. The time, quality, quantity corollary, took longer to understand and how many managers even in the biggest organizations haven't the slightest clue of either.
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        Oct 28 2013: I too have seen the Peter Principle played out time and time again.

        Let me share another tidbit from a different place. A newly hired manager had a string of degrees and brought much prestige to the department because of that. But within a year he had caused so much conflict with the 5 employees he was supposed to be 'managing' that a department meeting was required. after another 4 or 5 months of this it was finally decided that he would only supervise one person and then the only communication was to be in writing. But he was kept on because his degrees - and I heard family ties as well - brought more funding to the department.

        What is really sad about these scenarios is how it is invariably the front line employees who make sure 'the job gets done' despite these middle management mutts. Yet it is also the front line employees that get the boot while the m.m.m.'s get moved to other offices or even promoted.

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          Oct 28 2013: And the problem is that those m.m.m. of which you speak, are too soon promoted to upper management. It takes a real dog to get stopped at the first line supervision level.
          What I can't seem to realize is that organization management is so simple in concept and I also realize difficult to execute. I just can't understand why so many who can and should... don't.
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    Oct 27 2013: Short answer to your question. The following Czars were appointed by Obama. Each has a staff and office costs supported by YOUR taxes. 45 total. Lacks congressional approval and approved funding. Parkinson's Law in action.

    •U.S. Border Czar: Alan Bersin
    •Medicare/Healthcare Czar: Dr. Donald Berwick
    •Manufacturing Czar: Ron Bloom
    •Electronic Health Records Czar: Dr. David Blumenthal
    •Terrorism Czar: John Brennan
    •Energy and Climate Change Czar: Carol Browner
    •Weapons Czar: Ashton Carter
    •Technology Czar: Aneesh Chopra
    •Intelligence Czar: James Clapper
    •AIDS Czar: Jeffrey Crowley
    •Great Lakes Czar: Cameron Davis
    •Tobacco Czar: Lawrence Deyton
    •Stimulus Czar: Earl Devaney
    •Mideast Policy/Central Region/Iran Czar: Philo Dibble
    •Faith-based Czar: Joshua Dubois
    •IP Enforcement Czar: Victoria Espinel
    •Workplace Czar: Chai Feldblum
    •Guantanamo Closure Czar: Danny Fried
    •Asian Carp Czar: John Goss
    •Sudan Czar: J. Scott Gration
    •Afghanistan Czar: Marc Grossman
    •California Water Czar: David J. Hayes
    •Science Czar: John Holdren
    •Jobs Czar: Jeffrey Immelt
    •Special Advisor Czar: Valerie Jarrett
    •Safe Schools Czar: Kevin Jennings
    •Healthy Foods Czar: Sam Kass
    •Drug Czar: Richard Gil Kerlikowske
    •Information Technology Czar: Vivek Kundra
    •Diversity Czar: Mark Lloyd
    •War Czar: Lt. General Douglas Lute
    •Oil Czar: Ray Mabus
    •TARP Czar: Timothy Massad
    •Middle-East Peace Czar: George J. Mitchell, Jr.
    •Domestic Violence Czar: Lynn Rosenthal
    •WMD Czar: Gary Samore
    •Cybersecurity Czar: Howard Schmidt
    •Economic Policy Czar: Gene Sperling .
    •Climate Czar: Todd Stern
    •Regulatory Czar: Cass Sunstein
    •Food Safety Czar: Michael Taylor
    •Native American Affairs Czar: Kimberley Teehee
    •Latin American Czar: Arturo Valenzuela
    •Consumer Czar: Elizabeth Warren
    •Performance Czar: Jeffrey Zients

    A circumvention of constitutional oversight. Answer: Return to a Constitutional Government.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Oct 27 2013: Bob,
      you forgot to list the cabinet level secretariats, and a great number of independent agencies. In my 600 series management courses, I was taught that a person can only properly manage 7 subordinates
      Maybe that is the biggest problem with the current Administration.

      I am afraid that congress may have exchanged it's oversight authority for campaign contributions.
      The real failure is the national indifference about who or what runs the country....
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        Oct 28 2013: Yeah, I could have hogged the site and made list after list of valid examples. Congress has lost control ... perhaps not only by Executive Orders but through being the corporate whore they have become ... those who are not corporate whores I consider under the thumb of the shadow government of Soros and Ekes.

        Big news item today is the people who are shocked to learn that Obamacare is not free .... The article went on to state almost all of the people asking for insurance are being directed to medicade .. not eligible for Obamacare.

        Any law that is not read but also opted out of by those in power ... should be immediately suspect.

        Once again .... THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH ...

        However, the koolade is free flowing ....... LOL.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
  • Oct 27 2013: The facts is that government is an institution like any other in that its inherent goal to survive is to replicate and spread it genes, but what make government scarier is that it monopolizes force to do so.. When a nonprofit spreads its influence and grows it do to private funding and possibly government handouts, and a business does so by providing the consumer with needed goods and gaining capital. Governments use force and every government
    program and legal statute has such an inertia behind it that once it gets started it is nearly impossible to stop. Corporate welfare is a huge problem in America along with many other intrusive government programs many of which hold little to no support by the American people on both sides of the aisle. The reason these policies don't end is because they become fused into the machine we call society,, Business, charity, and other social endeavors can maintain themselves fine without government but because government has been there so long the entire dynamics of the system evolved to accomadate the presence of large beuracracy. Walmart, Big Pharma, labor unions, and nonprofits all have grown accustomed to big government because government is the Wh*re that makes itself available for everyone to use
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    Oct 26 2013: The troubling part of this... the expanding Federal bureaucracy. Maybe Parkinson made his theory in jest, but when we look at the almost explosive rate of growth of the Federal Government compounded by the number of associated lobbyist and other hangers on, the amount of waste if it could be enumerated has to be in a dozen zeros.
    So, is there a way to cut the Federal fat and leave a lean Federal Government that can effectively address national interests and be cost effective?
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      Oct 26 2013: The only way to do that is to run govt. like a for profit organization.
      There must be a clear vision and mission.
      Then goals have to be defined and a business plan has to be developed as to how to reach those goals.
      Mangers must be in place with accountability, subject to constant review.
      Any promotion or benefits must be based solely on merit.

      Even looking at large companies that run certainly below 100 efficiency, no company would bloat it's structure for no good reason, wasting money for nothing.
      If companies find a particular strategy doesn't work, or certain products/services don't sell, changes are usually made relatively fast.

      Obviously there is much more to it, but I think it fives the general idea.
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        Oct 27 2013: You have a good point, but isn't our constitution a mission statement? Shouldn't the Administrative section of the government function effectively, within an established budget?
        It would seem that bureaucracies, unfettered by rules of business organizations, with the capacity to gather unrestrictive funding through taxation, could grow and grow without limit, seemingly forever until the entire system collapse upon itself.
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          Oct 28 2013: You could see the constitution as a mission and/or vision statement, although, it is odd to maintain the same vision/mission for 200 years. You'll be hard pressed to find a company that never changed it's mission over such long a time....and for good reasons.
          One of the big problems in government is accountability. In a company you constantly have reviews (in govt only every few years when elections come up) but at least once per year when you discuss salaries and bonus.
          In most companies, every person has a clearly defined job description and goals and objectives against which the person's accomplishments are measured.
          In politics there is no such accountability.
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        Oct 29 2013: The Constitution is how the Federal Government is supposed to do it's job. Mission Statement? Yes, that is how I describe it. So, If is two hundred years old. Are there different Americans today then 200 years ago. We haven't evolve that much, I don't think. I will say... we are the same. We want equal justice under the law, our individual rights, freedom to to swing our fists with the realization that the fist must stop at the tip of your nose. You know.... Americans....
        Now there are some "Americans" who were (according to them) blessed with greater humanity, insight and a superior intellect who want the opportunity to take charge and make everything better for us all, according to them.

        I don't think so.

        As far as comparing the government to a company... no match. Companies provide goods and services for a profit. Governments provide assurance that the citizenry is allowed to exercise their freedoms and opportunities.
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          Oct 29 2013: I think in 200 years some things change, maybe not the fundamental needs, but the circumstances.
          One example that comes immediately to mind is this endless issue of right to owning and carrying a weapon. This made lot of sense 200 years ago, but today this right should be obsolete.
          Governments should work based on economical principals, although as we see with the US budget crisis, they don't always do. A government is maybe not selling good or services in the traditional sense, but it collects money (taxes) and is supposed to deliver something for this money (education, infrastructure, health system, etc).
          So, in principle, I can't see a reason why principles found in companies cannot apply to governments.
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        Oct 30 2013: Yes, somethings do change, but not the basic rights of law as applied to American citizens.

        You example is flawed. There are can be no law preventing the ownership of firearms by citizens, however, there are laws effecting criminals, open carry, etc. The 2nd amendment right can only be made obsolete by amending the constitution. Again, guns in the isolation of West Texas are tools of working ranch hands. ... a gun maybe the only means of defense in the mean streets of Chicago... wait a minute... possession of firearms is greatly limited in Chicago, except as illegally used by criminal elements.

        Your point of government economics is well made, our government should be aware of market forces and the capitalism economy of the country. But, the government really makes no product, it is in the licensing business, the refereeing business, the defense business... the public services/safety business.... the government should be aware of the cost of those tasks.
        Where I get .... agitated.. . is watching the government getting into the wealth distribution business. The Americans who have "done well" contribute vast sums to the arts and sciences, to welfare programs as their legacy to American life and culture. But, it seems not to be enough. Government officials have decided that more is needed to be done and have "legally" extracted funds to support these needs. The needs appear worthy, but the motivation seems more to collect votes then unselfishness of charity...
        I am not questioning motives, I can not read minds... but I am acutely aware of actions and I do hear statements and I have a rather fine tuned sense of being "sold"!
        I have bought more "BS" in my life time then should be allowed.
        So, I am a little sensitive.
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          Oct 30 2013: "There are can be no law preventing the ownership of firearms by citizens"
          Why is that ? It's always possible to amend the constitution. Wouldn't be the first time.
          I don't want to make this a topic of gun control, but using a weapon for work is different than walking through the streets with an AK-47, don't you think so ?
          I'm not a friend of wealth distribution either. If somebody works hard and honest he should be able to reap the fruits from his efforts.
          However, I'm not sure what exactly you mean when referring to wealth distribution ? Are you talking about the Affordable Act ? Because, if so, I don't think that can be considered wealth distribution.
          In general, the government is a mess and that's not something that happened just recently but is a work in progress for already a very long time.
          The problem is, there hardly are any true reforms (recent health care reform is an exception and as we all know met a lot of opposition) but governments are just happy to patch holes. Over time, that patchwork doesn't work anymore and I think we are increasingly seeing that.
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        Oct 30 2013: Sorry, currently, that can be a yes, the constitution can be amended. But to amend one of the bill or rights.... It would be easier to simply to suspend the constitution and that I understand is currently law.

        I was saying that the many federal programs for welfare are taking tax dollars which were intended for the operation of the federal government is instead provided to citizens the Federal Government has determined to be in need of additional funds. And yes, the ACA is redistribution of wealth.. if you can not afford the new health insurance IAW a means test, the difference is made up by federal subsidies.
        Wealth Redistribution means the government takes tax revenues from individuals and through refunds, grants, subsidies or other means of transfer.... returns these funds to other individuals.
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          Oct 30 2013: Yes, but in the case of ACA we have to look further ahead. A healthy society is something each govt. should strive for because not only is a healthy society more efficient, but also, in the long run, much cheaper on the system.
          So, looking at it this way I don't see ACA as a tool to distribute wealth.
          Btw, we could make the same argument for education. Making sure everybody has access to high quality education only can benefit society in the long run. Everybody will be a winner.
          Unfortunately, those are things where opinions are split along party lines.
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        Nov 1 2013: Good Points,
        but I don't see the ACA creating a healthier society. It, at best, provides taxpayer supplemented health insurance for poorer people.
        OK, but it does not address the increasing shortage of primary care physicians and adjunct healthcare providers.
        It doesn't provide healthcare facilities, potentially adding a greater number of healthcare users to to currently overtaxed facilities in big cities.
        It adds no healthcare facilities appropriately staffed in small rural areas, where the closest facility could be an hour or more away.
        It provides no apparent financial incentives for current medical providers to accept the additional healthcare users.
        Do I need to continue this list?
        Having said all this, I have used a few of the government evolved healthcare programs in Europe... Personally, I was not all that impressed, not that I didn't get great medical service.
        The doctors I saw were all stellar.
        But, I had private insurance, so I walked into the office ahead of the all those waiting in line with the government insurance.... I got a private hospital room in the penthouse of the hospital with it's own staff and even a food service kitchen with a chef. I was not in the 2nd floor dormitory with 19 other hospitalized patients... and I don't want to know what they were served.
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          Nov 1 2013: Give ACA a chance. First one has to try something new before saying it doesn't work.
          I'm sure after some time people will see that some things work fine and others not so much and then hopefully, proper adjustments will be made.
          Actually I am from Europe, from Austria to be specific and also lived in Germany, enjoying the public health system in both countries and must say it works pretty well. Sure, if you want extras such as private rooms or cosmetic dentistry you'll have to pay the difference but I think that's fair.
          By the way, similar is true for the educational system. Everybody has access to quality education without accruing a debt that leaves you in the red for the next 10 years or more.
          I also lived in the US and understand that the philosophies of the US and most European countries are very different, so I don't suggest to implement the European system in the US, but just present it as an example.
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        Nov 1 2013: I am not disposed to give ACA a chance. I was given to believe that America could be the recipient of health care for the poor and disadvantaged. That was not the case. It is a method to either destroy the commercial health care system as bad as it may have been or to give a significant boast to commercial insurance companies. In either case it can only consume in a wasteful manner billions of dollars of taxpayer funds. The Federal Government had become indebted to $5.6 Trillion in 2000, to $10.2 in 2008 and is now approaching $16.9 in 2013.
    • Oct 27 2013: Mike , I agree with your idea, and also with Herald's that ideally the government should be run like a for-profit business corporation. Unfortunately, our current federal government runs completely opposite to the lean and mean principle of the private corporations. For example,
      1. The design of the ACA Obama Care program should optimally follow the principle of minimizing the cost of health care per patient. But, the rules of the ACA, actually refuse to reduce the cost of many service rates of our health care system , but just squeeze tax payers and some young and healthy individuals and impose taxes on the medical device manufacturers and the insurers too. Another source of bloated health expenses in physicians' fees are due to the astronomical amount of penalties in the malpractice law suits. Many of the European countries which have national health insurance, the physicians don't have high malpractice premiums to pay that increase their indirect cost for their practices. But our government not only neglects to limit the amount of the penalty part of the court awards, (like the State of Texas did), but actually it also participated in the lawsuits against large corporations to squeeze out some ransom money for their own benefit.
      2. The U.S. drug companies usually sell the same drugs cheaper for the foreign government health care system than they charge the cost for U. S. patients. But the ACA law doesn't try to at least equalize such cost for our patients, but only to raid the Medicare Fund and the premiums of the young and healthy patients and the medicare patients who are most likely the users of the additionally taxed medical devices. Of course, additional tax or penalties are also imposed on employers mandates (delayed only for one year) and the individual mandate.
      In other words, even in such extremely expensive health law, the government still only put squeeze on the powerless taxpayers, instead of tackling the organizations with powerful lobbyists.
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        Oct 27 2013: I have not read the ACA law... and it would seem that I am not alone.
        However, it sounds to good to be true. It would seem to give those who were financially behind and unable to buy health care the funds to do so. And you are correct, those funds will come from some of the sources you have noted and probably from sources we have yet to know.
        I am not convinced that federal government bureaucracies should provide resources for health care, or food, or housing or all the many intrusions into private life, the Federal government makes.
        I know that these issues need to be addressed, I just think the Federal Government is the wrong entity to address them.
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    Oct 26 2013: Do ya think?
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    Oct 25 2013: I had seen an old BBC comedy that was based on Parkinson's Law. It was funny. But when it can turn real, it seems to lose it's musings. I am beginning to think it maybe becoming real.
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    Oct 25 2013: I think over time govt, just grow and become increasingly inefficient. It's like a PC hard disk. Over time files accumulate that have no use anymore and the system becomes sluggish or even fails to work.
    What we usually do in such case is just wipe the HD and start over from scratch, setting up the OS, installing the most important programs, etc and voila, the system is working fine again.

    Maybe govt. need such treatments as well
    • Oct 26 2013: I agree with your first point. I would say that when an agency was given a task to develop some new scheme or reconstruct an inefficient system under its control, but after they succeeded, they will keep the workers on the job and thought of some new tasks to work on. Sooner or later, their mission would expand and expand, and most of the new tasks were just waste of taxpayers' money And the condition of their responsible government functions started to deteriorate instead of improve further. That's usually the case, unfortunately.
      However, your second metaphor is probably a little too optimistic. We are dealing with real people or bureaucrats instead of data on disks. they are not too easy to be "erased" from the "disk", so we could start everything anew. For example,the City of Detroit is just trying to wipe out all the past "data" , but it has to struggle through the litigation first and foremost.
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        Oct 26 2013: Bart I know, erasing everything and starting all over from scratch is perhaps a little bit too radical, however, there should be some sort of process in place that keeps uncontrolled bureaucracy growth in check. This should be a constant revision. I'd like to see a govt function like a company.
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    Oct 25 2013: In the U.K we have The Taxpayers' Alliance, which looks at government waste generally, including excessive bureaucracy which mushroomed under Tony Blair's New Labour government. I think it's a world-wide disease.