While local folks are dreaming of high speed rail transit and perhaps of a new downtown soccer stadium, and the folks in Washington discuss spending "cuts" which do not reduce but actually only slow the growth thereof - if ever enacted and enforced - we came up with a fantasy of our own.
This is an idea which would directly affect federal spending and regulation, and indirectly benefit local governmental operations. We’ll use the U.S. Department of Education as an example.
In the belief that the field of education is not really adaptable to a one-size-fits-all federal approach, we start by eliminating the department. The immediate benefit would be the cessation of operational expenses. From paper clips to computers to heating and cooling of massive buildings to ??? All physical facilities shut down.
That would leave massive unemployment, you might say. No. All personnel would remain on full pay at the current level. These would eventually disappear by attrition. Meanwhile, since they are experts in the field, all former federal personnel would report to their local school superintendent as "volunteers" in their respective school districts.
Granted, this might require some relocation of the huge numbers now located in Washington, and probably Virginia. But there might also be a significant number who would be glad for a paid transfer to a calmer life.
Surely local schools would welcome all this additional personnel, available without increase in the local budget. Almost certainly local taxpayers would be very happy to have a better look at where their money is going.
If distribution of federal funds to states for education is to continue, once a straight forward formula is established, a small office staffed with bright interns and sophisticated computers could do that job. That carves it down to someone in the Treasury Department writing fifty checks once a year.
Other departments could be involved as well. Former Department of Commerce people could "volunteer" at a variety of business and other not-for-profit organizations. Folks from Homeland Security could "volunteer" to take on the control of gang problems at malls. The possibilities are mind-boggling!
A website we read recently told of nearly 300,000 people assigned to writing and enforcing federal regulations. What would cutting that number in half mean to private economic progress? And freedom from control from above for local government?
Well, we said it was a fantasy! And we assume some of our readers will quickly tell us why it would not work. Maybe so. But we do believe it is no more ridiculous than many of the ideas concerning governmental finances currently being tossed around the Capitol and the Statehouse.
Philosophically, it's a helluva lot better than most of them!