Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Unfunded Mandate

     Recently, the Federal government made a decision, which depending on your view could be somewhat surprising, but someone in a non-descript building in Washington D.C. came to the conclusion that all street signs in all the cities in America should be reflective and in both caps and lower case.  This is not a big deal, or at least it should not be.  The government makes these sort of declarations on a semi-regular basis, and in this case they did it for safety, or maybe for some other reason that they just cloaked in the guise of safety, because nobody will ever say no to something that is done in the name of safety.  The safety of the children especially.  So they said that signs made out to their specifications would be easier to read for police and fire and paramedic types, and for general drivers, so they don't have to stop in the middle of the road or make sharp turns to get where they are going, etc.  Fine, great.
      This has been a story that I have seen in more news outlet sources that I ever thought I would have.  I heard it in the first place and thought that would be it.  But there it was again.  And again.  And again.  It came back over and over like it was The Highwayman or something.  See, as it turns out, it is a little expensive to erect (HAHAHAHA! I just said "erect"!) new street signs - somewhere on the order of $40 apiece - and that has all the people in charge of the suddenly very broke town and cities across America a little bit mad.  And they have gotten the attention of the media.
     This, in return, has gotten me a little mad.  See, all these folks - the city managers, the Street Department heads, the aldermen, etc. - all work in government, and the bulk of them have for some time.  So they should know what I already know after working for the government for a short time.  This is what is called an "unfunded mandate" and they happen ALL THE TIME.
     That's right folks, unfunded mandate.  It is really a neat little trick to play, provided of course that you are not at the bottom level of the food chain, which unfortunately most of these poor municipalities are.  It works like this: Some government makes a rule that everyone under its jurisdiction - which for the Feds is everyone, for a state would be everyone in the state, county everyone in the county, and so on - must follow, but then gives them no money with which to implement and enforce the new rule.  For instance, the Federal government decries that everyone must have new street signs by 2018 or whenever, then gives no money to anyone to help get it done.  Wow, I didn't even have to make that example up.
     I know, it sucks balls.  It sucks royal, smell, shit covered monkey balls.  But it happens all the time, all around the nation.  In all sorts of shapes and sizes.  The bottom line is that that is just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.  And in this case one of those times is right the fuck now.  A lot of the larger cities aren't worried, because they have it in their budgets over the, oh EIGHT YEARS that they have to make this happen, to replace all those signs anyway.  So no big deal, just check a different box on the order form.  And for all you tiny little towns, I can't say that I am feeling too bad for you.  You have had the same metal signs that you can't see at 25 mph in the dark since 1928, I think you've gotten your money's worth.  Just suck it up and get something pretty that has a little picture of a waterfall or something on it for added prettiness and effect.  Yeah, that would be nice.
     So just suck it up and do it.  There's an unfunded mandate for ya.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it’s like they never heard of the 10th amendment which keeps the federal government out of the business of other sovereign localities . Who the hell do these politicians think they are breaking a constitutional amendment? Its also a problem because Johnny fucktwat in D.C. can spend spend spend and rack up a huge amount of deficits but other forms of governments (except California…which should fall of the country by now) have to follow some crazy rules called the generally accepted accounting principals. One of the biggest rules states and I quote from sec 3 paragraph 4 of being some what intelligent, “if you spend more than you have…your fucked”. It’s as simple as that. I don’t understand why federal politicians can’t grasp that concept. For fuck sakes most of them came from giant corporations. What would happen if they ran their business like that? Oh yea…they would elect their friends and get a government bail out. What was I thinking?
DM