Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Where "Fewer Jobs" Is Better

Those of you who may have watched President Trump being interviewed on Tuesday on the "Fox and Friends" show on the Fox News Channel may have missed the biggest takeaway from that interview.

There was probably not a lot "new" in the content, as much as anything because this president does a lot of communicating, is very visible, and has already given his views and his planned approaches for most of the issues of the day.  We know what he wants; we just need to know, on an ongoing basis, how he plans to do it, which he explained in Tuesday night's speech to Congress.

So there was a brief discussion in the interview that touched on some criticism he has gotten.  One such area involved the number of jobs that had not been filled yet, in senior positions in government.  President Trump noted, certainly for the first time that I had heard, that he did not plan to fill some of them at all.

That got both my best girl and I interested, enough to react immediately to it.  The president went on to say that there was as much need to evaluate whether we even needed those targeted positions, as there was to fill them -- why rush to name someone, he said, if we don't need the position filled?  That made perfect sense; any vacancy, particularly in the Senior Executive Service, and therefore an expensive use of taxpayer dollars during a debt crisis, becomes a logical time to decide if three people can do the work of five.

We need to see that as a part of an understated (recently) approach to governing.  We all had in our minds the mantra that a "businessman would run government like a business", but weren't sure how that would play out after the inauguration.  Now we begin to see it.

We see it in the executive order approving the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, when he used the opportunity to mandate the use of USA-made products (steel).  We saw it in the appointment of several Cabinet members with strictly private-sector leadership experience, although they are very new and their impact is to be seen over time, particularly in how they address the new mandate to cut their budgets.

And we see it in this decision, or at least this view, by the president.

I want this.  I voted for this, and so did most of those who cast their ballots to elect not just Donald Trump the man, but Donald Trump the businessman who does not spend for the sake of spending.  We voted for an approach that said that Washington is a swamp, stuffed with unnecessary people whose jobs were there because they had always been there, not because they were necessarily needed.

Now-President Trump clearly has not changed.  As he is absorbing the extent to which the Federal government is a bloated bureaucracy, he is doing what he can to avoid perpetuating it.  And just because the Department of This or That has always had eleven deputy secretaries of XYZ and 24 assistant secretaries of ABC, well, that doesn't mean that if you started that department from scratch, you would organize it that way.

Knowing what we know now, and operating under a substantially-deficit budget, many of those jobs do not need to be filled; the American taxpayer does not need to pay for them; we do not need to borrow from Red China to pay for positions we don't need.

The same approach needs to be taken for every vacancy, which is why President Trump has ordered his hiring freeze in all departments except Defense (and maybe Veterans Affairs).  Hiring freezes are a great time to look at vacancies and decide whether to keep the position or delete it, either by just dropping the position or by reorganizing responsibilities so fewer people do more.

It's just that his knee-jerk response is to follow the dollars and reduce the size of government, targeting the unnecessary.  We like that.  We want more of that.

What we want is that the same approach be taken to the existence of agencies in the first place.  Surely, if the Constitution does not mandate something as a Federal responsibility and thus (Tenth Amendment) is a States responsibility, we would be wise to look at whole entities (I'm looking at you, Department of Education, Consumer Finance Protection Board, etc.) to be excised in their entirety, or vastly removed along with their expensive staff.

After all, DC has a pretty generous unemployment and welfare program, right?

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There's a new post from Bob at at 10am Eastern time, every weekday, giving new meaning to "prolific essayist."  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton.

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