You really can’t tell about local government.
You can’t tell, for instance, whether the people who serve at the local level are more responsible because they are so much closer to their constituents than are the national officials, or if they are just that much more professional.
It may be that when you get elected to a national office, or even a state one, and you find yourself responding to the hired regulators or to other elected officials, rather than to your electorate, that you can easily lose perspective about why you ended up in a position of authority to begin with.
If everyone you talk to falls in line to butter you up because they are actually protecting the status quo, it’s no wonder that your perspective could get warped.
When you are constantly faced with the very people who elected you to office, and you are reminded that you (A) owe them money; (B) coach their kids in recreation softball; (C) were taught in junior high by their parents; or (D) all the above, you have a tendency to keep your perspective as a community servant.
So it isn’t a fair observation to take the stand by the Arkansas City Commission members this week as an example of what the state or federal legislators should do.
Still, it is refreshing.
The Ark City officials, looking at a tough city budget coming up, agreed that they would serve this year without pay — not that they get a lot of pay anyway, but it is the thought that counts. They are giving up about $75 per month as a show of their support for city staffers who are sacrificing to keep the city running.
On the other hand, imagine what so many levels of government could sacrifice that WOULD make a difference in the bottom line.
Suppose if, beginning at the national legislative level, all of our elected officials and their hired staffers were to agree that unless they could conduct a real-time video conference, then the junket meetings, that have been featured parts of serving in everything from city government to Washington, D.C., would come to an end. What would that save from our federal, state and local levels?
Significantly more than the Ark City commissioners are giving up, for sure.
There really are places where our elected officials could make humble sacrifices that would cut the cost of doing government, making changes in the public sector that the private sector was forced to make over the past three decades. We didn’t like it when the cuts in travel and other “perks” were necessary. But we did it, because it was what business required.
There are some pretty sharp pencils out there in all levels of government. Presumably, if they were interested, they could find quite a bit of cutting that has escaped in previous years.
The Ark City Commission move is just a drop in the bucket.
— Chuck Smith