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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/16/10

Bloated, Incompetent, Corrupted and Becoming Dysfunctional

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Author 23439
Message Michael Payne

The whining and complaining about "Big Government" that is reaching a crescendo within the circles of the Tea Party and other disenchanted elements of America has a definite populist appeal, but one which entirely misses the big picture. Big government, in itself, is not the problem. The real problem that we should be complaining about involves those incompetent, corrupted government institutions that are failing to fulfill their mandated responsibilities to the American people.

I really like the idea of a third party to end the vice grip that the Democrats and Republicans have on American politics. The Tea Party might have been the beginnings of a new movement that could have established a more effective political system by bringing in more diverse views. The problem with this new party is that it is very angry and disillusioned about big government but can't seem to quantify its displeasure with concrete, constructive criticism.

The government in D.C., aka the Washington Establishment, is massive, it's true; but the overriding problem, besides size, is that we are stuck with a government that no longer has the true interests of the American people at heart and can't seem to address their real concerns. A further problem in this setting is that we simply do not have leaders with the motivation and conviction to make necessary changes to this faulted system.

Where has our government gone wrong, how has it failed us? To answer that would require writing a book, so let me highlight just a few examples. Let's start with the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina vented its fury. Was this a preventable event? Without a doubt it was. Sure the hurricane would have severely damaged the city but the root cause of the problem that brought about the devastating flooding was, according to court statements: "the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had displayed gross negligence in failing to maintain a navigation channel -- resulting in levee breaches that flooded large swaths of greater New Orleans." That nightmare for the people of New Orleans was a man-made disaster that could have been prevented except for the failures and negligence of the government institution that had the responsibility for the maintenance of the levees.

Next, let's examine the tragic case in which 29 miners needlessly died from explosions at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia; a mine operated by the Massey Energy Company, the biggest coal mining business in central Appalachia. While the mining company is fully responsible for the explosion and deaths of the miners, the root cause of the problem is again the U.S. government. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is the federal agency charged with the responsibility to see that mining companies strictly adhere to existing laws and regulations.

However, in this case, they completely dropped the ball, causing those needless deaths. In 2009 the number of citations assessed against this mine, over 500, was double that of 2008. The monetary penalties assessed against the mine more than tripled to nearly $900,000. Many of these fines were tied up in challenges by the mining company and were unpaid. But, the inexcusable part of this tragedy is that, a mine with so many serious, on-going violations should have been shut down but it wasn't and miners paid the ultimate cost. This is a striking example of the sad state of many of our government agencies.

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