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Governments too big, too costly – and too reluctant to change

The Conversation (www.theconversation.com) recently noted these statistics: “Part-time work is up 57 per cent over the past 40 years, and now accounts for nearly 20 per cent of all jobs in Canada.
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The Conversation (www.theconversation.com) recently noted these statistics: “Part-time work is up 57 per cent over the past 40 years, and now accounts for nearly 20 per cent of all jobs in Canada. Temporary work is also up 57 per cent over the past 20 years, and now forms 13.5 per cent of workforce. Across OECD countries, growth in non-standard work accounts for 60 per cent of job growth since the mid-1990s.”

The background conversation to these statistics is a concern that, while industry and the free market are rapidly adapting to the digital age (as evidenced by the above statistics), governments remain firmly bound to the 19th century (when most major governments were formed), and are rapidly becoming static and incapable of addressing current concerns. Governments are structured around departments of single issues (Defence, Justice, Labor, Health, etc), yet the “outside world” has adapted to a structure where multi-disciplinary actions are not only common, but increasingly absolutely necessary.  The Conversation goes further, and speculates that the nation’s work force, required to have multiple jobs and roles during their lifetime, while also needing to adjust to lowered lifestyles, will become increasingly angry that their hard work is needed to pay the expense of lifetime, high-paying, government jobs. The contradiction apparent in this structure seems painfully obvious.  

For many years, now, I have repeatedly sensed a growing frustration with all levels of government, be they municipal, provincial or federal. There is a widely held perception that governments are ineffective, staggeringly expensive and guilty of profound interference in the life of that nation’s businesses and individuals, all of which is of highly questionable value. I recently noted that at the place where I work, we are required to maintain 27 different licences and permits – all of which require costly volumes of reporting and expensive fees to maintain. Yet the industry I am involved with is not considered “highly regulated” by governments, so I can ill imagine what level of government permitting and cost is required in other sectors of the economy – with health care being the obvious victim of this outdated thinking. Even worse, despite the trillions of dollars spent on health care throughout North America, the overall system seems so heavily burdened with regulation that the quality of actual health care provided is dwindling. With the current spending required for the health care system, it becomes obvious that, within 15 years, it can be extrapolated that 100 per cent of all government revenues will be devoted to this one area – leaving no funds for paying for all other government services that currently exist. While one can look at this fact and quickly conclude that “this simply cannot be permitted to happen” (and I agree), I fear that governments are so outdated in their thinking that no one will actually do the work necessary to solve this problem before it occurs.   

The reality of the current situation boils down to this: the people who created this massive storm of problems, are also the same people we are paying to fix this problem. A sports example might help: the quarterback who constantly throws interceptions is not the individual who you would hire to teach other quarterbacks how to not throw interceptions, yet this is exactly what we are doing.

I fear our governments are too big, too expensive, and too “addicted” to the current structure to ever willingly agree to change this structure, again, until it’s too late.

Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.





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