Small favors

If a person had a penny for every time an elected official campaigned on or used the words, “smaller government,” that person could pay off the national debt.

The problem is that the very people who claim to want smaller government, and who often conflate budget reduction with that term, are the very people who increase the size of government and bureaucracy and diminish democracy. Take last week’s news story, “Flood Plan,” for example. And while we’re at it, take Gov. Brian Sandoval’s State of the State speech on Jan. 24 as another.

Last week, RN&R news editor Dennis Myers wrote about how Washoe County, Reno and Sparks have decided to create a new governing agency to administer a “huge flood control plan.” The new agency will have the power to impose fees and tolls.

“Its governing board will be made up of two members each of the Washoe County Commission, Sparks City Council and Reno City Council.”

Citizens will not be able to vote individuals with specialized flood know-how onto the board. And it’s likely that selections will be made in the most conflicted of circumstances—sort of like the citizen’s board of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, which elected officials usurped for their own membership.

How can citizens keep track of whether the individuals they elected are doing a competent job in their new positions as waterbosses or floodkings? Where is the accountability? These types of decisions are made by bureaucrats specifically to remove the power and control from the individuals our Constitution bestowed it upon—we the people—and removes it from transparency by hiding under yet another blanket of bureaucracy.

We saw another example of this in the State of the State. Gov. Brian Sandoval proposed “to redesign the Commission on Economic Development and recommend a 50 percent increase in general fund dollars to run it. A new entity, Nevada Jobs Unlimited, will be a public-private partnership existing largely outside state government. With a private sector mentality, it will be more nimble. And it will be a Cabinet-level agency, with the governor joining the lieutenant governor, Senate majority leader, Assembly speaker, and representatives of higher education and other critical stakeholders on the board. A majority of the board members will come from the private sector to ensure the focus is squarely on jobs.” Or so he hopes.

How is this not an increase in the size, spending and scope of government and a removal of transparency and control from Nevada’s citizens? How is this not putting the very individuals who drove Nevada’s economy into the toilet with their greed in charge of the sewer’s repair without public accountability?

This is smaller government. It may help in one way in the long run—by ensuring there’s a decreased population of citizens to which the government must administer.