As we have already seen in Greece, poor management and the continued growth of government without reigns to control spending are a dangerous combination. The question this poses then is, where do we stand? At the city level, at the state level, and at the federal level, is the public sector being a responsible spender of cash? Should they be? The fact that my wife and I both work in the public sector makes this a personal issue and though neither of us would want to lose our jobs, I think the real answer is that there is a lot of waste at all levels of government.
It is my belief that the public sector should be good stewards of our tax dollars, just like we should be good stewards of our own money. Though, that may not be the best gauge with the number of Americans in debt slowly rising. What brought me to this notion of responsibility in the public sector? Observations. It seems as though efficiencies have been lost simply because they are not needed when one is spending someone else’s money. I believe it’s endemic to the idea that funds are unlimited, therefore one can spend whatever one likes. But shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t efficiency be the norm, not the exception? Sure, we should not skimp when it comes to things that are absolutely necessary, but to spend for the sake of spending (to seal in one’s budget) is beyond wasteful, it’s idiotic.
Instead of school districts buying iPads, focus on calculators, paper, or other necessities. Technology will come eventually, but the goal is to provide education, not the newest gear, to students. The same applies to city and state services. The budgets need to be adjusted to run lean and mean. These things do not generate revenue so why should they be treated like they do? If a private company was to come in and take over a city service, I guarantee that they could find places where there is significant, unnecessary spending taking place. Not only could that company make the spending go away but they could keep service levels the same, if not improve them.
There is no reason that our public officials cannot be good spenders of our money, it’s simply a choice. Of course there might be some downgrade in service, but the end result of keeping the service around rather than possibly losing it when the budget becomes unsustainable seems worth it. With the current way we are doing things, something has to give, the question is when. We can keep that “when” at bay and still employ people and provide services that are necessary for the general public to go about their daily lives.
So, what do you think? Should the public sector be fiscally responsible or should they be free to spend as they see fit?