Thinking Smarter Instead of Bigger
We’ve all heard the joke about the guy who buys a truck load of watermelons off a farmer for a $1 each, drives into town where he then sells them for $1 each and wonders why he isn’t making any profit. The punch line comes when he decides his problem is that he simply needs a bigger truck. Governments work in much the same manner as our melon vendor. Instead of thinking smarter, governments tend to only think bigger.
Last night I sat through a school board meeting for the district I live in. The district has failed 6 of their last 7 levies and is now in the process of cutting over $10 Million worth of programs out of their budget. The overall consensus of the crowd was that those who had been voting down the levies were the evil to be blamed. However, as is usually the case, none of them ever seem to consider that perhaps other options besides the typical “tax or slash” model are available and should be considered.
It’s easy to demonize leadership as being ineffective when it comes to the use of our tax dollars, but it’s also just as easy to demonize those who seek better over bigger. Budget efficiency shouldn’t just be about wondering if you are paying too much for a new car. It should also be about looking at completely different alternatives to even purchasing a car at all. Perhaps the use mass transit or simply renting a car would suffice. In the case of the school district, the question doesn’t necessarily need to be about what programs are to be cut, but how we could rethink what it is we are really trying to accomplish and what alternatives are available to do so in a more cost effective manner.
Governments tend to take the easiest approach to attacking issues. Rarely is that approach the most effective or efficient. We are now at a crossroads at all levels of government where simply throwing more cash at an issue no longer works, because quite frankly, there’s no more cash to throw. We can make all the passionate arguments in the world about what great teachers we have in this district, but passion doesn’t pay the bills. If we are to have an effective government for our future, we must demand a change in the thought process behind how governments work. To survive we must turn to the model that originally created this great nation. A model defined not so much by cash flow, but by innovation.