By J.F. McKenna
Reducing the bloated federal budget, to date, has resulted in empty gestures and vacuous talk. But consider this: a “setting apart”—that’s what sequestration means, after all—aligned with life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and other intended blessings of the Founding Fathers.
Sequestration 2.0, as proposed herewith, is historically sound, elegantly simple, and profoundly interactive. Best of all, the cuts generated from it will come not via the Beltway but straight from you, me, and the rest of the beleaguered citizenry.
If there’s any serious downside to Sequestration 2.0—especially among those of us chronically impatient as well as generally disheartened with contemporary government—it’s this: It won’t crystalize until November 2014. (That’s phase one, of course.)
“Hey,” you say, “you’re just talking about voting.” Indeed I am. And if you’d be so kind, lose the adverb “just.”
As my scrappy classmates at St. Ignatius Grammar School used to tell would-be bullies on the ball field, “It’s a free country. We took a vote. So beat it!” And much of the time they did. Those young lions may have lacked Jefferson’s eloquence, but they intuitively grasped the basics of republican democracy. Their vote gave each of them a voice, and together they used it.
Fast forward to today and you can see the exercise remains the same. What worked for the sandlot works just as well for the Senate and the House and City Hall. We can gripe all we want about rapacious tax rates, stifling regulations, and the sluggish economic growth that follows in their wake; fact is, each of us holds a share of the democratic corporation, and how we exercise our voting right on this unique board underpins how well USA Inc. will continue to operate.
Once upon a time, I figured that a stiff dose of so-called business reform could do for government what it had done for companies such as Xerox and Motorola. I became an evangelist for what I labeled Total Quality Government, writing that “Americans should not be seeing government the way it is and asking why. Instead, like George Bernard Shaw, they should be seeing government the way it could be and asking why not. And the way it could be is efficient, cost-effective and customer-driven.”
I wrote regularly about TQG and even mounted the soap box on occasion, telling readers and listeners that proven business practices could be effectively integrated into government and address waste and inefficiency. What I hadn’t factored into my tub-thumping was Mark Twain’s long-ago observation that “in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” (See A Quality Idea for Government — Now in Recyclable Packaging , CBR 4-12-11.)
Such prudence brings us to the current state of affairs, complete with a rotted Detroit, a prodigal District of Columbia, and other political abominations waiting their turn for analysis on CNN and Fox. Piecemeal reform is no longer an option. It’s time for all board members, like my pals on that ball field, to tell the bullies to beat it.
Bring on Sequestration 2.0.
CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, communications consultant, and former editor at Industry Week, Tooling & Production, and Northern Ohio Live magazines. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his LinkedIn profile: Jos. F. McKenna.