Yesterday it was announced that FEMA got its new phone system hacked, to the tune of $12,000 dollars in long-distance calls worldwide, including Asia and the Middle East. FEMA put out the warning about America’s vulnerability to this very threat in 2003. It’s the same FEMA that handled the preparations for and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the same FEMA that then housed thousands of displaced hurricane victims in formaldehyde-laced trailers. The same FEMA that is not accountable to the American voter.
Today it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security has halted an immigration program aimed at reuniting African refugees with their families because of widespread fraud: Only 20% of the refugees claiming to be families were related by blood. Now, DHS doesn’t appear to take into account that most of these refugees come from areas that have been decimated by civil war, disease and starvation, and that perhaps, just perhaps, many of these so-called families comprise men and women who have taken homeless and orphaned children in as their own. DHS can do this at will – just as they can dictate the terms of the Canadian/U.S. border crossings – because DHS is not accountable to the American voter.
The New York State Thruway Authority has been denounced by many – for years – as a lackluster, bloated haven for patronage jobs and overpaid managers. Yet they can and do raise the Thruway tolls at will; in fact, all 640 of New York’s authorities can and do use taxpayer money as they please because they are not accountable to the New York State voter.
Okay, now to Kevin Gaughan. He has been trying, and failing, to convince Western New York town and village governments to reduce their overall size. The local boards vigorously responded that they are the last places that people like Gaughan should be looking to decrease the cost of government.
Gaughan is hammering the one set of governmental boards that are (generally) held accountable for their actions. The average town councilman lives in town, goes to church there, does much of his/her business there. He/she is visible to their constituency.
This is not true at all of government at the county, state or federal level, and absolutely not true of the New York Authorities, FEMA, DHS or most other Federal agencies.
If we are to reduce government bloat we have to do so at the highest of levels, not the lowest. That’s where the waste is occurring; that’s where the money spigot needs to be tightened. Because we have control over town and village governments, they are incentivized to be frugal with our taxes; or else they will be out of office.
If Kevin Gaughan put as much energy into fixing Albany or agencies at the Federal level we’d be a lot further ahead. But what he’s doing is penny-wise and pound-foolish.