COMMENTARY: Raise taxes, raid the permanent fund, or …
… end waste, fraud and abuse, at once and for all?
Offered those three choices for generating a few hundred million dollars, why would anyone consider either of the first two?
When N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas was the state auditor, he complained that the auditor’s office hadn’t the resources to do the job the way it needed to be done.
Like all agencies of government charged with providing oversight over the wielding of power and the spending of billions of dollars, his was underfunded.
One could quibble about the actual numbers I suppose, but the bottom line is that an enormous amount of money is being lost every year through waste, fraud and abuse. And further, that that loss is absolutely preventable.
It could be made impossibly difficult to hide public corruption and incompetence. It could be, but it isn’t. It never has been, and looks like it never will be.
In the weeks since the Legislature ended without ending the culture of corruption and incompetence in state government, a number of people have lamented the lack of transparency in state government. They seem all to realize that the lack of transparency is the root of all evil.
None, unless I missed it, proposed a workable solution. Not one of them has proposed anything different from the way it has been done always — hope that legislators will finally do what they have not only never done, but have never shown any real inclination to do ever.
For the most part, it has been all talk no action. The handful of victories, webcasting and a few others, could not have been conceded more begrudgingly. It’s easy to understand why politicians and public servants don’t want to change the rules of the game; they like the rules the way they are; they’re winning.
Much harder to understand is why we put up with it. Why we won’t try something different for a change?
I invite anyone to take issue with any of the following few fundamental suppositions:
- The terms of public service are the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.
- It is possible to write the statutory and constitutional reform necessary to end the culture of corruption and incompetence at once and for all.
- It is possible to write standards of conduct and competence high enough to protect the people’s power and resources from the relentless waste, fraud and abuse.
- It is possible to create honest-to-God accountability, to hold politicians and public servants accountable to those standards, even the most powerful, even against their will.
A new set of rules could be written between now and the election of the entire Legislature. Candidates could be held accountable for their willingness to play by the people’s rules.
FOG, Common Cause, and a few others have been called out. They haven’t shown the least interest in creating real reform through rules change. Apparently, things will stay the same. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be squandered every year and taxes will be raised and the permanent funded will be raided to cover the losses.
Ched MacQuigg is a retired shop teacher and blogger. He has been a longtime advocate of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct for politicians and public servants — in particular for the leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools.