Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Accountability and Welfare

Politicians and pundits love to talk about the need for accountability in government. Lisa Falkenberg provides an example. She questions whether Sheltering Arms Senior Services (SASS), which uses stimulus money to improve the energy efficiency of homes, is being held accountable:
The monitoring report by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which is administering the stimulus funds, found that 60 percent of Sheltering Arms' weatherization work — 33 out of 53 units inspected— contained “workmanship deficiencies” that needed fixing.

“The Department is very concerned,” the report stated, with the organization's “capacity and commitment to implement” its Recovery Act weatherization contract. 

The report also cited the agency for spending nearly half its funding on administrative costs, which shouldn't exceed 5 percent by the end of the contract.
Falkenberg has no trouble with government taking from some for the alleged benefit of others. She just wants to be certain that it is done "wisely". She wants those benefiting from plundered loot to be held "accountable". What does she mean by "accountable"? And to whom? Unfortunately, Falkenberg doesn't tell us.

I can only assume that Falkenberg wants SASS to be held accountable to the government officials overseeing the program, and ultimately the taxpayers who are footing the bill. That might sound reasonable--no sensible person wants to see government waste the money it has stolen from the citizenry. But if we examine the full context, not only is this unreasonable, it is impossible.

When I purchase a product or service, I can easily hold the business I am patronizing accountable for fulfilling its end of the deal. I can complain if things go wrong, tell my friends of poor service, or take my business elsewhere. I can't do this with a government welfare program.

I did not choose to "patronize" the program. My participation is coerced. When the welfare program fails to fulfill its end of the "deal", I have no recourse. I can't take my "business" elsewhere. And I will be forced to "patronize" the next welfare scheme concocted by the statists. I can't hold anyone accountable because I have no choice in the matter.
I imagine that Falkenberg would respond that this is the role that she, and her fellow "reporters", are fulfilling. She is trying to hold SASS accountable for me--she is my eyes, ears, and mind. She will save me this effort so that I may spend my time laboring to pay for these give away programs. Thanks, but no thanks.

If Falkenberg is truly interested in accountability, then she must demand that individuals be free to spend their money as they choose. And she must demand that government officials be held accountable for protecting that freedom.

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