Vote With Your Feet And Tax Dollars: What you can do without a Dept. of Education and the EPA

I have been thinking about the possible elimination of the Department of Education and The Environmental Protection Agency. We will see the Republicans add more agencies to their elimination list. But right now there are two House bills to eliminate the Department of Education and the EPA, H.R.899 and H.R.861 respectively. The bills have been referred to their respective committees.

I know people are all up in arms about the possibility that these departments will be eliminated. One thing we must keep in mind is that it is very difficult to eliminate government agencies. There are about 4,400 employees in the Department of Education and about 15,300 in the EPA. This is about 20,000 people the government will have to either absorb or layoff. What a public relations nightmare. President Trump has tried to make PR gold with saving 1000 jobs. What can this look like if he lays off 20,000 people? In addition, it is difficult to layoff career civil servant employees in the US. These people have strong unions and power of their own. But it has happened before. Government agencies have been eliminated.

All presidents since Regan have talked of eliminating or restricting government to be more efficient. Depending on what side of the aisle you sit on, your reasons for elimination or restructuring will be giving power back to the states, efficiency, and/or cost savings. When Obama tried to eliminate the Commerce Department in the Consolidating and Reforming Act of 2012, there was opposition from all sides. The move would have eliminated 2,000 jobs over time and divided some of the agencies work over 5 smaller agencies. As objection to the bill grew from special interest groups, the bill was buried in committee. There are many special interest groups and unions who will fight the elimination of the Department of Education and the EPA.

Let us imagine a U.S. in which the Department of Education and the EPA are dissolved, does it mean it is the end of regulation as we know it? No. The job of regulating will go to the states. All states have some form of the Department of Education and EPA. The problem is that state agencies will create and enforce regulations in varying degrees of consistency. The U.S. is a large country with vastly different cultural norms from region to region and state to state. Even with Federal and local agencies oversight, situations such as the Flint, MI water crisis, coal ash from Duke Energy in water in North Carolina, and Coal mining company Alpha Natural Resources polluting the water in West Virginia continue to happen. I would expect more of these environmental disasters.

In regards to education, it might be a good thing that education regulation goes back to the states. Most of us in education hated No Child Left Behind (or as I like to call it, No Child Left Untested). It put unrealistic expectations on overwhelmed teachers and cash strapped schools. It forced teachers to teach to a test rather than encourage thoughtful engagement and creativity. But once again, state to state differences may become incredibly obvious. There are many poor states in this country and public education is expensive. Access for disabled and special education students is even more expensive. The quality of your student’s education may become more than just what school district you live in, but what state you live in.

There are states which are doing great things. The nation has followed California on environmental policy time and again. The number of states looking to institute free community college is growing after Tennessee was the first to institute it in 2014 and Oregon followed shortly after. So with this in mind I have some advice. Move. If over the next few years we see more federal power going back to the states, find a state which aligns more with what is important to you and your family.  I know it might be scary or hard. I have moved across the country twice, once to each coast, and lived in Europe for a short time. I think it might be time to vote with your feet and tax dollars.

References

Congress.GOV. n.d. H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed February 9, 2017. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/861?q=%7B”search”%3A%5B”Environmental+Protection+Agency”%5D%7D&r=2.
—. n.d. H.R.899 – To terminate the Department of Education. Accessed February 9, 2017. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/899/actions.
Pianin, Eric. 2013. “Why Obama’s Pitch for Government Reform Hit a Wall.” The Fiscal Times. February 20. Accessed February 9, 2017. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/02/20/Why-Obamas-Pitch-for-Government-Reform-Hit-a-Wall.
Wikipedia. 2017. United States Department of Education. February 9. Accessed February 9, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Education.
—. 2017. United States Environmental Protection Agency. February 7. Accessed February 9, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency.

 

 

 

Amateur Moves? Trump’s first week in

I have been thinking about all the gag orders for the executive agencies which the new Trump administration has attempted to put in place. At first, I thought the moves were a sign of not understanding how government works as well as a bit of paranoia. I thought that these moves were those of an amateur. Now, I am not so sure.

In my opinion, there are two types of take overs of a company, department, or office. The first is the wait and see approach. Someone comes in at the top and watches how things work for awhile. This person takes time with each employee and learns about their jobs, frustration, successes, and so forth to get an understanding of the organization. This executive is looking for buy in, trust, incremental changes, and eventually loyalty. I usually like this type of leader.

The second take over I have witness is one of control and power. The individual who comes in does not care about what you do in your job, how you feel about the company. They want to make change sometimes for change sake. This type of executive feels that they already know the solution and just starts instituting their vision. Usually, people below them feel unheard, not valued, and soon disgruntled. I find this type of leadership is selfish. Sure, it can help create  change quickly, but you ostracize large swaths of people. Eventually, it will bite you in the ass. Unless you have absolute control and no problem with firing.

I think Trump is that latter leader. He and his administration have a vision. They really do not care what people think. It is about ego and control. Therefore, for those of us who watch government, we might see amateur moves such as creating executive orders with out the guidance of entities who will be necessary for implementation as being a huge mess and not understanding how government works. We might see gag orders as paranoia and wanting to frame the  message. But I see the top executive of the US come in and take over. Purposely creating  fear. Purposely creating confusion and chaos. Purposely creating misinformation. His administration does not want your buy in.  Your marches and rallies will not work on any of them. They do not feel that their boss is the American people. He is Emperor and you are an ant.

I am not saying do not protest or march or create alternative twitter accounts. Actually, I think we need more of them. I want to suggest we rethink our strategy. We will not change Trump’s mind. He has too many yes men around him. We need to let those in power who can stand up to Trump know that we have their back. It is time for our congress people, career government employees, journalist, whistle blowers, academia, artists, activists, and everyday people send a message. WE WILL NOT BE BULLIED. WE WILL NOT FEAR. WE ARE YOUR BOSS. If all goes well, this might not be the age of declining democracy, but an age of the activist citizen.

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