Bureaucracy 101

      In my last post I made some comments about the Federal Bureaucracy. Afterwards I decided to educate myself on what I meant. A search was in order to learn just how many bureaucracies we have. We all know about a few that I list here:

Plus a few more like:

  • The internal Revenue Service
  • Justice Department
  • Supreme Court
  • Social Security Administration
  • Bureau of Veteran Affairs
  • Treasury Department.

       All of the above agencies are mentioned frequently in the news, and I thought they were the only ones. Then, I made the mistake of searching the government websites for information on how many there are. I was amazed. The first page of the website

https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/

was a table by alphabet. Clicking on a letter yields a list of agencies with names beginning with the letter selected. I can create a table showing you just how many agencies there are listed under each letter of twenty-two alphabet, but it will be easier to click on the link and go there yourself. The letters Q, X, Y, & Z were not on the list. I counted the agencies and got a sum of 629. No wonder no one wants to tackle the problem of reducing government spending. At first glance the problem seems to be insurmountable.

      How do bureaucracies begin? It is simple. When Congress passes a law to spend money on something like Civil Rights they need a way to implement the law. They hire people to put the law in place and to enforce it. That act becomes a new bureaucracy. I have never seen a Bureaucracy disbanded or a law repealed in my lifetime. The only law I know that was repealed was Prohibition.

      In my job as an engineer, I was introduced to the Pareto-Principle by one Joe Duran a American Quality Control guru who converted the Japanese car industry to the QC system that would reverse their shitty cars into the most sought-after vehicles in the world. The Pareto Principle was invented by an Italian engineer in the 1800’s. Basically it states that 80% of the benefit comes from 20% of the effort. My first step in analyzing this problem of bureaucracy is to use the 80/20 rule on the whole problem.

      The total budget for the federal government is $4.829 trillion. Applying the Pareto Principle to the budget means that we spend .9658 trillion to get 80 percent of the services, and flush 3.8632 trillion dollars down the drain for twenty percent of service. How smart is that? Why our simple-minded politicians can’t wrap their brains around that is astounding. All I can figure with my feeble old brain is that it is too hard for Congress to undo what they have already approved.  

      After a few seconds of research on the web I found some suggestions for how Congress can restrain executive agencies.

 By:

  • revising statutes that established the agency’s mission.
  • exercising control over an agency’s budget.
  • conducting audits or holding hearings.
  • influencing the selection of agency directors (Senate)

      Would it be a wet dream to believe that 469 Congressmen and 100 Senators could take on 503 Government agencies to reduce spending? In my book that is 503/569 = 0.884 agencies per Congressional seat. If a single Congressman can’t reduce costs of an assigned agency by eighty percent by the end of his first term he should pack up his bags and let someone in who knows how to do the job. That objective should be written in the job description.

      I know, I know, a single Congressman cannot cut costs by himself. We are a country of laws and a Congressman’s responsibility is to draft laws to get things done. Well, with that in mind, a Congress-person can write a law to cut the costs and present it to the legislature for approval. Of course, if the law does not pass those that voted against the law will have to come up against you to pass theirs. Since your jobs depend on cutting costs. It won’t take long for Congress to get the idea, and begin to cooperate with each other.

      My whole plan depends on people who run for office wanting to save the country, and stop inflation by reducing government spending. It also depends on us (We, the People) to pick the right individuals at election time. If we don’t like who is running, maybe we should throw our own hat into the ring.

Here are a few more goals to think about using the 80/20 rule:

  • Eighty percent of the benefit comes from 126 Agencies. Eliminate the remaining 503. Which ones would you save?
  • Cut the Federal Budget by twenty-five percent to save 1.2 trillion dollars.
  • Use the savings to pay off the National Debt over thirty years.
  • Cut the federal budget another 25% to save 905 billion dollars, and return it to the tax payers.

Think of all the money that would put in your pocket. A total of $905,000,000,000/350,000,000 = $2585.71 would go to each member of the population.

Instead of setting goals such as I have listed we will get nonsense like printing more dollars to pay bills. Since President Nixon finally ended the Gold standard in 1971 the US dollar has lost 70% of its value meaning one dollar can only buy thirty cents worth of goods today as it could in 1971.

      Our current inflation rate exceeds 11% and is climbing. If it rises higher the USA will go bankrupt, and I don’t want to live to see that happen.

Too Big to Work

For the first time in the history of this blog the blogger took a month off from writing. It feels good. The time has come, however, that I must resume posting. Today I am overloaded with ideas and the result is I’m confused. There is nothing worse than a writer who has a confused mind. I hope today’s result turns into something worth your time to read.

Lovely and I are beginning to settle down to a more normal life. In the past month she and I had to prepare for an Immigration interview. For those of you like me who have never had to face off with Uncle to answer a seemingly unlimited number of questions dealing with your personal life, I can only say that it is intimidating. At the same time Lovely had to renew her passport, which in itself is not a big deal, except she decided to keep my name, and to change it on her passport. The passport is easy, changing the name is a little bit more complicated. All of it involved searching for birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and a new marriage certificate. Still pretty simple except that foreign governments don’t want documents in a language different than theirs. This has forced me to get proficient at finding interpreters, and the meaning of the word “Apostille.”

Add to this pressure a decision by Lovely’s grandson to accept our invitation to come and live with us. After spending three years clearing my home of unnecessary stuff I find myself absorbing the grandson’s stuff which includes the stuff of his recently deceased father who lived in a three bedroom house with a two car garage loaded with stuff. There were days in the past month when I didn’t have the energy to drag myself into bed at night.

Since the tension of passing the point of knowing that Lovely will not be deported is over life has become a little easier. I can deal with moving stuff, but dealing with the Department of Homeland Security-US Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services leaves me a bit frazzled. When I hear the words “our immigration system is broken” I now kind of understand what they are talking about. One question just keeps coming into mind over, and over, why did we allow it to get this way?

I see a new profession being formed in the USA. Actually, it is already in business, i.e. Immigration Lawyers. What I really see is that the need for people who can negotiate the too many forms and loop holes contrived over years of Congressional band-aids correcting the system will require a complete annihilation of the USCIS and every law regarding immigration. A new sheet of paper is necessary and the law should be limited to one page.

As an example, one of the last requests an immigrant in this process has to complete is Form I-693. I downloaded form I-693 and it is thirteen pages long. After reading it, I concluded that it is not even good toilet paper. Those pages merely explain that an immigrant must have inoculations for various diseases. That information can be stated on a half a page. Most of the boiler plate deals with the ramifications of falsifying information, and how long one will spend in federal prison if he does so. The USCIS can save a lot of money, and make things simpler by removing paragraphs stating what kind of trouble you will have if you falsify any bit of information on a form. Every form, and there are thousands of them, contains threats to lock you up. Getting back to I-693, the final result is a medical form completed by a registered Civil Surgeon declaring you are disease free and inoculated. The CS must sign it, date it, and seal it in a number ten envelope, and the immigrant must present this sealed report to the immigration officer conducting the interview (more like an interrogation). The initial application is a many page questionnaire which is completed at home, and sent in. The interrogator has the form with your answers in front of him during the interview. He asks the same questions that the immigrant has already answered, and is merely waiting to trip up the victim with an answer that is different. The idea, I suppose, is to determine if the victim can be prosecuted for falsifying his answers.

Here is my prediction on the matter of fixing immigration law in the USA, it’ll never happen. The bureaucracy is too large and the backlog of thousands of immigrants now being shuttled across the border illegally will take a thousand years to fix. I am in favor of a complete amnesty only if it comes with a totally new and streamlined immigration process, but Congress doesn’t have the balls to do the work.

If we as citizens of the USA want to have a great government we must decide to eliminate every unnecessary bureaucracy, and there are many of them. It boils down to asking ourselves what good does a specific bureau do for us? If you are honest with yourself you will realize that each and every department invented by government to make our lives better are doing the opposite. The cost of paying millions of employees to sit and invent forms is too great to support.

Better Than Puns-Churchillisms

A favorite story about Churchill is when at a dinner party a member of the Labor Party’s (the opposition) wife said, “Mr. Churchill, you are despicable.  If I were your wife I’d put poison in your whiskey. ”His reply, “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”  He always had an appropriate come-back.

I Might Change My Mind

A few days ago, I mentioned that I’m reading a book titled “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. At that time I was only a hundred pages into the story, and made the comment that I don’t understand why Blacks continue to ask for reparations. The various movements like Black Lives Matter, and Defund the Police are also a mystery to me. After reading another two hundred pages of this story I am beginning to understand where these people come from with these radical ideas, and why they claim that America is systemically racist. Another term I have begun to understand is Jim Crow. I have personally witnessed Jim Crow treatment of blacks during my lifetime in Chicago, except the Jim Crow policy wasn’t legislated into a law to prevent blacks from advancing.

My earliest recollection of Jim Crow treatment dates back to 1951 when a black family moved into a home in my neighborhood of Burnside. I saw a blue and white police car parked at the front of a house immediately across the street from Tuley Park my favorite childhood hangout. At the time, it never registered that the cops were there tp protect the family who had just moved in. Nor, did I know that it was a black family. Later, I learned the specifics, and it kind of shocked me. I was thirteen years old then, and did not know what racism, or segregation was. It was only into my adulthood did I learn about these things.

In this story author Wilkerson depicts very graphically the treatment of slaves. White slave owners were wrong. To them, slaves were property like a plow, a wagon, etc. At best they believed blacks to be a life form beneath that of a white human. They treated slaves like they treated mules or horses. By the time Lincoln got around to the Emancipation Proclamation, over one hundred and fifty years of abusive treatment of slaves by whites transpired. Since 1662 whites, world-wide, had ingrained the cruelly harsh treatment of blacks and the notion that they were less than human. England did not abolish slavery completely within the kingdom until 1807. a few years after the North American colonies seceded. The difference between England and the USA was that there were not many slaves living in England only the English colonies. To the English, slaves were a figment of their imagination, in the USA slaves were all around and hated. The blacks were suppressed from voting, language, education, white friends, travel, food, and entertainment. A slave owner required his slave to ask for permission to do anything, and if the owner chose not to grant the request the slave went without. Slaves were beaten for any infraction or rule in place, or a rule invented on the spot. Black men who looked at a white woman, and the look was considered lascivious by the woman or her husband the black man was whipped, beaten, and often hanged. I cannot convey the horror that a slave endured as well as Ms Wilkerson can express in her writing, and I recommend that all white people read this book.

A strange thing happened on September 22, 1862, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves. Bingo! Overnight approximately 5 million blacks were instantly liberated. Except there was no radio, no internet, no phones, only newspapers and telegraph to tell the story. Blacks could not read so newsprint was useless. Most heard about their freedom from someone else. But what did that mean, freedom? Most ex-slaves stayed with their owners, and were paid something for their labor, and most owners cheated the heck out of a share cropper’s part of the earnings. The end result was that the freed man was no better off than before. But, he was now free to travel, and to speak to whites, that is, if he spoke respectfully. If a black man were walking on a sidewalk and a white was coming toward him the black was expected to step off the sidewalk and allow the white to pass. If a black man looked at a white man’s wife and the white man thought it was a leer the black was punished, usually by the white man and his friends. Very often, the black was hanged after he was tortured. Where was the freedom? If a black wanted to move off the plantation he had to reconcile his debt with the owner who always found some hidden debt, and thus was cause to keep him on the farm until it was paid off. He could now send his kids to school with whites. Except, the kids had to be kept apart from each other. Or, the black teacher was summoned to work somewhere else and the school closed. In short, the black man was not free.

Over six million blacks finally woke up to their plight and decided that the only way out was North. They snuck out of their towns on trains and busses all headed for cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and even Los Angeles. All of them saw this as the lessor of two evils. Although they didn’t expect to find what they did. The North was basically just as racist as the south. They did conclude that the north was more friendly than the south. They learned that they did not really have access to hotels, restaurants, rest rooms, and jobs like they were hoping for. Suddenly these cities were inundated by new people squeezing into already crowded ghettos, and putting pressure on every resource the north had. The cro-magnum man did not appear on the doorsteps of New York by the millions expecting to be fed, housed, clothed and educated. The black didn’t want a handout but they did need and want work that could support them. The black man from the south took a huge leap forward in getting out of his dilemma in the south, but it took many years for them to assimilate into the populations they moved into. We often complain that immigrants coming into our country illegally must be given time to assimilate, and we as the people whom must accept them should be given time to help them to assimilate. We complain about people who come here from foreign countries who don’t speak our language, are not citizens, but want everything we can give them. We fail to recognize that the black people coming north from the south were also foreign to us. Yes, they were citizens because most of them were born here, yes, they could speak some form of our language, but we had to learn to listen, yes they were un-educated, but most were smart and could learn easily. Still, we refused to accept them immediately. I am from a generation that did not learn to be a bigot from my parents, I learned it from the population around me. Until I read this book, I had no clue as to the conditions of the people of slavery. I do not hate black people, I do not believe they are lower form of animal. I do not believe these people came here for the benefits. I do believe that most of them are hard working people who want a better life for themselves and their families. The problem was that when they flooded our cities we were not ready for them, and they were not ready for what they found.

It took man millions of years to evolve into the form we exist in today, yet we believed back in 1862 that all we had to do was sign an executive order and the evolutionary step would mysteriously be by-passed. In 1863 the proclamation was finally passed into law. That is when the individual states began getting creative in how they would keep whites and blacks separated. Each state wrote laws on how to vote, how to educate, how to sit on public transportation, how to drink water, how to go to the toilet. “White Only” signs appeared everywhere they wanted to keep blacks away. These laws and rules became known as Jim Crow laws. Now that I understand what Jim Crow means I can still see evidence of segregation going on. All of it is very quiet and never touted with signs, but people remain committed to keeping blacks out of white areas. One such example is how a white town will keep blacks out, and remain completely within the law. Most small towns are very old with small homes on big lots that were built 50-90-years ago. They are small by today’s standards, and not very architecturally beautiful inside as they are today. A builder will execute his own form of Jim Crow by buying up an old home in a desirable school district. He will pay top dollar for the home thus giving the seller a great profit. The builder then demolishes the outdated home and build a new mega-mansion on the lot which is typically two to three times the cost of what he bought the old one for. The remaining affordable homes in the immediate neighborhood just increased in value. If the builder does this often enough, the homes in the affordable neighborhood suddenly becomes less affordable to the average income family. I see this happening in neighborhoods in and around Chicago.

If I were a black person whose ancestors were treated as the 6 million migrants from the South to North were treated I’d be hollering retribution too. I am not black so I won’t say I can fill those shoes well enough to complain. I can sympathize with the plight of the blacks if they identify Jim Crow rules being applied against them. These rules are stupid, and not fair and should be abolished. I don’t believe that every complaint a black has against a white is the result of Jim Crow, and each incident must be proven to be true, and not used as a political tool to get what they want.

This book has certainly caused me to examine my conscience on the matter of racism, and racial bias. I don’t believe any human is lesser than another. I don’t believe blacks should be treated unfairly, on the other hand I don’t believe blacks should be given an upper hand (affirmative action) when gauged against others in any endeavor. I don’t believe schools should lower standards for entrance below a common norm. I do believe that poor students should be held back a year to catch up. If school districts don’t like this then too bad for them. I graduated from grammar school with a couple of kids that were twice my hight, twice my strength, and shaved. I lived through it, they lived through it, and our teachers lived through it. We all survived and thrived. Upon seeing these guys as adults they all made a living, had families, and enjoyed life.

In conclusion all I can say is that I didn’t write as exquisite an essay as I had intended, but I’m lazy, and good work takes effort. I gave it my best. The worst that will happen is that the good Lord will flunk me, and make me spend another year in this school we call Earth.

Testing My Conscience

February is Black History month in America, and a good occasion to learn more about the plight of slavery in our past. I have not undertaken a study of black history because I have a burning desire to do so, but because when I went to the library to find reading material, black history was featured rather heavily on the shelves. Usually, I pick up four books at a time, but this time I opted to take three. Two of them are definitely black history, the third is about the coming new civil war in America.

The first title I read was “The Next Civil War,” which I rated three stars. The author, Stephen Marche did a skillful job of detaining the difficulty we would have conducting a shooting war with our neighbors. The difficulty comes from all the laws that are of the books to give the government power to put down any future insurrection. Marche spends the entire first chapter on a civil war. His next chapter deals with assassinating the president and how the many attempts too do so have been thwarted by the Secret Service. The last third of the book deals with the evils of global warming.

In the second book, “To Rescue the Republic” * * * * * by Bret Baier he tells the story of President Ulysses S. Grant and his two terms trying to unify the country which was split by secession of southern states from the Union, and insuring the six million newly freed slaves the lawful rights provided by the constitution. He called this program “Reconstruction.” To that end Grant placed Federal troops in the Southern States to enforce those rights. He was not very successful at either of his goals. Immediately after Grant left office the new President Hayes removed the troops from the south, and let the States cope with the problems themselves. Hayes believed the Constitution gives the States the right and the responsibility to govern their citizens without interference from the Federal government.

What impressed me was the similarity between the election of Hayes and our own election in 2020 when Trump and Biden went after each other and claiming a stolen election. There was a slew of accusations by both parties of gerrymandering, and vote count fraud in 1876-77 election. What I learned was that the South did not treat the freed people any better than they treated them as slaves.

The third book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson is a real eye opener for me. Ms WIlkerson does a skillful job of narrating “The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” It seems that after many years of freedom, the former slaves decided that their treatment was so unbearable that they fled from the South to the North. The conditions they endured on jobs at plantations was the same or even worse than is was as a slave.

So many times while traveling from one end of this country to the next, I have passed through towns in the remotest, most obscure places, and found sizable black populations living there. My question was always, “how in the heck did they get here, and why.” This story chronicles the living conditions former slaves were being forced to live under. I also hear the term “Jim Crow” bandied about during political debate between blacks and whites. The black debater will always accuse the white of using Jim Crow tactics. The story told is that Jim Crow was most likely a fictitious character used when referring to laws and treatment invented by lawmakers to deny blacks their rights while appearing to fulfill the Constitutional obligations.

Even though I have only read a hundred pages of Wilkerson’s book I have learned a lot about the plight of blacks in their fight for equality. What baffles me is why blacks insist on demanding reparations to correct these past sins. I agree they were not treated very well during the period 1865 – 1970, but that is the past, and now we have a new era of laws, and fifty-two years of education and indoctrination to overcome past grievances. I agree that whites mis-treated blacks horribly back then, but compare the treatment they get today to what is was and realize that treatment is exponentially better than is was back in the good old days.

The bottom line is that I am happy that I opened my mind and chose to read some Black History.

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