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Wide White: May 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

What does the "government" mean to you?

I've had a few conversations lately related to government that have been pretty frustrating. In my job I work exclusively with government clients. I've been very impressed with the quality of the people I've worked with. They're extremely hard workers who are increasingly being forced to do more with less as government agencies across the board work with massive budget deficits.

However, when I've spoken with others about the work ethic I've seen and the work I do, I've received dismissive comments from some. One referred to them all as a "pit of debt." Another claimed that government workers are more prone to laziness than the private sector and that they cop an attitude.

I have a few thoughts on people's perception of the government.

First, the government is the benefactor of our taxes. We don't like paying taxes. Therefore, we have some natural angst against the government.

Second, we typically interact with the lowest level of government. Everyone seems to have a horror story with the DMV. Never mind the differences between our city, county, state, and federal government experiences. It's all "government" and the negative experience at the DMV is applied broadly to "government."

Third, we often interact with the enforcers of laws our politicians have established. Nobody likes being pulled over by a state trooper. Building inspectors aren't on our short list of people we want to see. And any small business owner who tells you they love the guy from OSHA is probably lying.

Consider all of these groups. Now, consider the other government agencies with whom we interact on a daily basis. Every time you drive on a highway, you're benefiting from the Department of Transportation. Your daily weather forecast - and tornado warning - is brought to you by the National Weather Service. Disputes are mediated by the U.S. Courts.

The list goes on and you can debate the necessity of each group all you want - and there are certainly functions of our current government systems in which I don't think they should be operating. But the fact is, our society values order and has determined that the government can best provide order in a number of areas.

Opposition to specific laws and regulations in place needs to be directed towards our politicians. After all, they direct the government. But take it easy on the guys just doing their jobs.

Ronald Reagan once said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

That may have been true of that DMV agent you worked with after waiting in line for 45 minutes last summer, but I've seen plenty of evidence that suggests this line of thinking is significantly overblown.

No, the government is often not the best solution to a problem. But let's be serious: sometimes, it is.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Facebook in real life

This is only funny because it's true.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Is sarcasm effective?

Watch these two videos and you tell me.

The original (and very serious) Tim James for Governor ad:

The spoof:

H/T: Abraham Piper.