Where should we look to correct this problem?
Don't look to the federal government. It is too big and too remote to respond easily or quickly. Try your local government where most decisions affecting you are made. And try going to the top first.
As one who has served in local government for almost two decades, I have observed a few things.
One is that those who move up in public administration are typically the ones who follow orders unquestioningly and act to please their superiors. They get promotions and praise but their lack of creativity or innovativeness ensures they will make no real difference to the public.
Another observation is that these same people, who give bureaucrats a bad name, in turn promote others without much insight on how to help the public. Think about this when you get the answer from your local government that something is not their responsibility or that they cannot help you.
The system is not about to change. It certainly won't change for anyone working inside it who questions authority or who has a better way of doing things.
Changing the system is in the hands of residents like you. And the person to watch is the city manager because he or she answers to the city council, whom you elect. The city manager controls the management of the city's operations and policy affecting most issues that matter to you.
What are some important issues your city manager has likely handled in recent years?:
They have enforced the federal "war on terror" at the local level, typically with such actions as the demand for gates constructed to protect city buildings and employees from "terrorists."
They have declared curfews, such as in times of rioting or natural disasters.
They have decided whether to recognize employee union demands and whether certain unions should even be allowed to function.
They have had access to FBI "watch lists" on employees and other individuals who express disagreement over policies such as the ones mentioned above.
They have appointed other managers who won't raise any legitimate questions.
So tell your city council what kind of government your city deserves and keep an eye on the one with the most authority, the city manager. Remember, this is the first step in citizen control of public agencies in a real sense rather than merely on paper.
Other ways of fixing the government, such as an emphasis on customer service, less high-level employees doing meaningless "ribbon-cutting" work and the reduction of bonuses to city employees without explanation, can follow when those in authority know you are watching.
Our government should always promote justice.
Our government should be responsive to us. But with so many people complaining about the size of government, its ineffectiveness and their general discontent with it, there is a disparity between what the public needs from its government and what it gets.
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