Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Down-size the government

Dick says I sound depressed (I think resigned is a better word) on decentralization. Then with regards to my comment on down sizing government he asks, "when was the last time you ever heard anyone say we don't need a Department of Justice"? Well, never. However, I did question why we need a Department of Education.

I never intended to advocate zero government. There are certain functions which must be done by government and some of those functions are best done by the central government (like Defense and Foreign Policy). However, I honestly do not believe we need a Department of Education, a Department of Health, a Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism, a Department of Social and Family Affairs, a Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, or a Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

I'm sure there are other unnecessary Departments.

Dick also says that moving public jobs to India would not find favor with the Irish electorate. He may be right. However, if the government announced that all unskilled, repetitive tasks were being sent to India and this would provide sufficient savings to cut income tax or provide more hospital beds or build a national stadium or whatever, maybe some of the electorate wouldn't object?

I do think that there are certain aspects of national life that should not be exported and the personal details that the government keeps on its citizens is one of them. That does not rule out massive automation, however.

Frank provides good concrete examples as to why real decentralization is needed.