Most governmental problems arise from two sources, ego and apathy.
While this might seem overly simplistic to some and obvious to others, as someone who has worked in the business for over a dozen years, I've found it shocking.
You see, I've always assumed the best in people and I've always has a fair amount of faith that the cream always rises to the top. Sadly, experience is teaching me thats not necessarily the case, especially in government. Lets break it down like this.
For the elected.
- In order to get into office, you have to run for office. To run for office you have to go out and get petitions signed. This entails walking around asking people for their approval and signature. For that you either need no ego or a super-duper ego.
-Then you need to put yourself on a ballot and have people examine, prod, interrogate, and eventually choose or reject you. Again, you either have to have a huge thirst for that sort of attention ( which would make you a narcissist) or you'd have to be immune to that sort of abuse ( which would make you a sociopath).
- Finally, once you get elected, every decision that you make is going to be subject to criticism, ridicule, and protest. The exception to this would be if you're handing people money without asking them for anything in return...which is the only time you actually see your elected officials if they can help it.
So you can see that the very process itself eliminates most capable, reasonable folks who have neither the time nor inclination to subject themselves to that sort of abuse and scrutiny.
Largely, what you're left with are people adamantly seeking the approval of some, adamantly rejecting the protests of others, and using the powers of their office as tools to do both.
For the non-elected government employees.
- If they're state or federal unionized employees...forget about it. Its going to take even the most enthusiastic well intentioned new employee about two weeks to stop giving a shit. Its a lousy culture where seniority trumps ability and hard work is not only not rewarded, its discouraged.
- For non-union employees you do have some hope. Your hope there is that their enthusiasm lasts a total of four weeks. You see, most governmental jobs entail telling people who should be able to do stuff that they can't....and telling people who shouldn't be able to do stuff, that they can. If you're wondering why that is, please re-read the last part of the elected officials section about using the tools of their office.
So where does that leave you, the public ? Well the bad news is that it doesn't leave you in very good shape. The good news is that once you realize this, then you actually have a chance to beat the system. Like a Judo champion, you have to learn to use the weight and momentum of your opponent against him. You have to make all that ego and apathy work for you instead of against you.
How can you do that ? Well that's a post for another time. For now, my advice is that anytime you have to do anything with the government....build an addition, seek remedy for a neighborhood problem, deal with a new tax, etc etc that you drop me an email first. My personal experience is that 20%-30% of the time, you're being ripped off or being given bad information. So drop me an email. I'm happy to be your man on the inside.