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Trump’s Cabinet Meeting Shows How Bloated the US Government Has Gotten

By: Guest Contributor - Jun 22, 2017, 9:16 am
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I’ve lost count but believe that there are now 15 cabinet positions, versus the four or so in the early decades of the nation. (FEE)

By Craig Cantoni

You may have seen the video of President Trump’s cabinet meeting. Democrats are atwitterover what they saw as obsequious comments of cabinet members directed at an egotistical president. Republicans are atwitter over what they saw as sincere comments of cabinet members directed at a great leader.

An Overflowing Cabinet

Both sides missed the larger point: that no matter who sits around the table at cabinet meetings, and no matter who is president, the federal government has become so large, so complex, so centralized, so bureaucratic, so costly, so caught up in minutia, and so involved in the affairs of citizens, cities, states, and other countries, that it is unmanageable.

I’ve lost count but believe that there are now 15 cabinet positions, versus the four or so in the early decades of the nation.

Whatever the exact number of positions, the staged photos of cabinet meetings make it obvious that there are too many government departments. Crammed around a conference table and stuffed into lookalike suits, there are too many cabinet heads in charge of too many functions and too many employees for cabinet meetings to ever be effective, which means that the government as a whole cannot be effective. There is no way for the participants to thoroughly discuss issues, to reach consensus on policy initiatives so that everyone is on board, to resolve conflicts and disagreements between each other and their departments, and to make sure that all the departments are cooperating with each other and working as a team toward common goals.

Silos and Fiefdoms

In corporate lingo, the problem is made worse by the fact that the government is organized into very tall silos, or departments, each with its own hierarchy, budget, police force, fleet of limousines, marble headquarters, constituencies, conflicting legislative mandates, and highly politicized congressional oversight committees and subcommittees. The silos keep the departments from working well horizontally; that is, across departments, as was seen in the lack of communication between departments that resulted in the 9/11 terrorists not being stopped beforehand.

The problem is worsened still yet by the nature of government bureaucracies (aka fiefdoms), where poor performance is tolerated, where the incentives are to increase budgets and staffing instead of decrease them, and where department heads come and go with each passing administration.

The silos and lack of coordination make it virtually impossible to even know the extent and cost of various programs. Take social-welfare programs.  By one estimate, there are nearly one hundred welfare programs spread across several departments. A president and members of Congress can spout pabulum about welfare reform, but without bringing together all of the affected department heads and their minions to discuss, debate, and plan how all of the pieces should come together, reform will be disjointed, ineffectual, and temporary.

The Department of Agriculture is one of the departments involved with welfare; specifically, the food stamp program. The department’s headquarters building is massive.  Sitting right off the Capitol Mall and across from the Holocaust Museum, it is three-stories high, three blocks long, and a block wide.  Guard posts encircle the building and are manned by armed guards, as if there is something of value inside. The department also has scores of satellite offices in metro D.C. and across the nation.  Yet little of the department’s “work” has to do with the growing of food.  Instead, most of it has to do with subsidies, freebies, and tariffs.

Someday a smart entrepreneur will start a tour business in D.C. that takes tourists around to see how their money is wasted. The Agriculture building would be a prime attraction. The tour guide could point out the black Suburban limos with antennas sticking out of the roof that are parked in front of the building for the department’s bigwigs and their police escorts. Of course it is doubtful that such a tour business would ever be granted a tour license.

Unwieldy and Dysfunctional

If you are as cursed as I am in terms of knowing how organizations really function, you couldn’t sleep at night, given that the U.S. government has armies and nuclear weapons. In view of the dysfunction in the imperial city, it’s amazing that we haven’t started a world war or accidentally blown up the world.

My curse stems from spending a career helping organizations of all sizes and types deal with their dysfunction, ranging from public and private organizations of a few hundred employees to tens of thousands of employees. I can only imagine the degree of dysfunction in an organization of nearly three million employees.

In almost all cases, dysfunction at the bottom of any organization—whether manifested in poor customer service, or shoddy workmanship, or wasted money, or poor teamwork between departments—can be traced back to dysfunction on the executive team, and specifically, to terrible team meetings in which issues aren’t addressed, priorities established, and detailed plans developed.

I used a metaphor of gears to get the point across to executive teams. Imagine, I would say, ten connected gears stacked on top of each other, with the largest gear at the top, and with each succeeding gear being smaller than the one above, so that the last gear on the bottom is the tiniest of all.  In this metaphor, the senior team is the biggest gear at the top, the employees who deal directly with customers are the smallest gear at the bottom, and the gears in between are the levels of management that come between the employees and the executive team. Because a small turn of the top gear results in the gear at the bottom spinning wildly, it is imperative that the executive team be very careful in operating smoothly, thoughtfully, and carefully.

It is obvious from photos of cabinet meetings that the top gear of government has become too big to operate smoothly, thoughtfully, and carefully. As a result, citizens are being spun around wildly, which explains why they are so nauseous over what goes on in Washington.

Craig Cantoni writes for the Libertarian Institute. This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Venezuelan Opposition Lays Out Plan to Rebel against Maduro Regime, Establish Parallel Government

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Jun 21, 2017, 2:55 pm
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EspañolVenezuela's opposition has announced it will be installing a parallel government outside the influence of current President and dictator Nicolás Maduro. President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Julio Borges announced at a press conference that they will be writing up a new governmental agreement, which was published on social media soon after. "We assume a commitment to appoint new public powers and create a new government empowered by article 333 of the constitution," the document, published by Congressman Freddy Guevara, said. https://twitter.com/FreddyGuevaraC/status/877312167128772608 The opposition has declared itself "in disobedience" of the current administration in order to establish this new parallel government, based on article 333 and 350 of the country's constitution. Article 333: This Constitution shall not cease to be in effect if it ceases to be observed due to acts of force or because or repeal in any manner other than as provided for herein. In such eventuality, every citizen, whether or not vested with official authority, has a duty to assist in bringing it back into actual effect. Read More: Venezuelan Supreme Court Moves to Replace Attorney General Read More: Reporters in Venezuela’s Protests Face Brutal Repression from Dictatorship Article 350: The people of Venezuela, true to their republican tradition and their struggle for independence, peace and freedom, shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights. In addition to installing new public powers in Venezuela and ignoring the Constituent Assembly being organized by Maduro, the opposition said it will call for a general strike and continued peaceful protests, including sit-ins and marches. How to install a new government? Some experts said the move will serve less as the creation of a "parallel government" and more as the restitution of previously existing government institutions. Constitutional lawyer Jose Vicente Haro said the first thing the National Assembly should do is name new directors to run the National Electoral Council, Ombudsman as well as new judges for the Supreme Court. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); });   Vicente said the National Assembly must also resume operations, with a priority on completing charges against Maduro's adminsitration that were cut off in January, as well as organizing elections. He said the situation "is not very encouraging" because Maduro's regime may continue to ignore policies implemented by the National Assembly or, as in any dictatorship, imprison opposition members. "They could go to prison for defending the constitution," he said. "Threats exist, that's nothing new.

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