Lately, I have been reading a lot of articles about problems with accountability in the government. For instance, a rampant problem in many state and city governments nationwide is that they have spent massive amounts of money they didn’t have in recent years. New Jersey has spent massive amounts of money out of it’s workers’ pension funds and used sly accounting tricks to hide it’s misdeeds. Texas is also facing the same issue and when the voters passed a measure that demanded clearer accounting, the legislature refused because the data that will come out shows that they are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and have violated the terms of their bonds. These accountability problems are not just fiscal, but also about basic resource management: the West is in the midst of a long, slow drought that has been depleting water reserves and soon there will be a major water crunch in Nevada, California, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. Governments are fighting each other for scarce resources. Huge problems are coming down the pike since they won’t work together to ensure both the cities and farms get enough water in each area. Global warming will only exacerbate the problem.
Issues like these are rampant in most state governments because of a lack of responsibility. State employees are very difficult to fire and have powerful unions that protect them from the pressures that free enterprise puts on people to be productive and successful. For a long time, the large state bureaucracies have stuffed themselves while doing little to help their citizens. Their lobby groups have put massive pressure on politicians for higher pay and better benefits with no corresponding increase in productivity. The politicians can’t/ won’t clean house because if they tried to they would be crushed by the unions and lobbyists.
Another problem, is a basic issue with democracy itself: each politician only serves a limited time in office and thus does not have to answer for poor decisions he or she makes that affect the future. That is why our national government is buried in massive debt and many cities and states are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. If China didn’t continue to fund our treasuries by buying our bonds, the dollar would quickly collapse. We need to find a way to make politicians responsible in the future for decisions they make during their limited terms or our government does not have a future.