By: Columnist Bob Grafe
As a mellow senior citizen and admirer of Thomas Jefferson, I usually give my fellows at the “commons” (property owned or leased by the government for the benefit of “the public”) the benefit of the doubt by not jumping to too many quick negative conclusions about them.
However, as Thomas Jefferson once warned and my personal observation has confirmed about dealing with the Social Security Administration, “Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
That said, the “commons” at my local Social Security Administration office have become a wee bit too familiar to the federal government employee clerical help and contract armed guards who dwell very comfortably at that office — an office building which is currently appraised by the local tax office at nearly $1 million.
At that local Social Security office, their posted work hours “available” to the public are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily; of course except on holidays, sick days, annual leave days, military leave days, family leave days, training days, weather days, federal holidays, other “approved” holidays, Saturdays and Sundays, or when there are special union organizing meetings or when the sun sets in the west.
I wonder if the armed guards on duty who “protect” the paper-shuffling staff and their building get time off to go to the range to “qualify” … just in case! After all, you just never know about those very dangerous senior citizens who need to occasionally frequent the Social Security Office.
The history of the “camel’s nose under the tent” syndrome in my little semi-rural community is a study in government run amuck.
Thirty years ago, the Social Security office was located in a rented non-descript building that had previously served as a third-tier retail business and infrequently rented office space.
When the feds rented this otherwise difficult-to-rent building, this helped the local economy by generating rental funds and by keeping the property regularly occupied.
A few years later, the federal bureaucrats decided that the “staff” needed more space and the office operation was relocated to another third-tier building. The building seemed adequate to this observer for both the staff and the public who needed to visit the local Social Security office at the time.
Now, the local Social Security Administration office building, parking lot, grounds, security fences, electronic gates and cameras rank among one of the costliest “first-tier” buildings in town — most certainly when looked at on a cost per employee basis who are actually physically there on-site and actually working.
Perhaps my little town is a microcosm of what is happening on the national level regarding the possibility of “tampering” with the bulging costs of this Social Security sacred cow.
It seems that President Obama’s recently created “Debt Commission” has Social Security and other fiscal “drains” on the discussion table to see if there are any savings that can be made by creating a more efficient “SS” administration.
Well, the Commission could start in my town by moving the Social Security office to a more appropriate (much less costly) work environment for federal government employees, by reducing staff, by eliminating extravagant employee benefits, and by taking effective measures to make sure that illegal aliens and other “illegals” are not robbing our Social Security funds through fraudulent means.
Thomas Jefferson must have envisioned both the IRS and the Social Security Administration when he admonished “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
Perhaps Jefferson was aware that a future “Debt Commission” would suggest creating a national sales tax to increase “needed” revenues to continue to pay for the wasted spending in the federal government. That revenue-increasing “idea” is currently on the Debt Commission’s table.
Then again, perhaps Debt Commission Co-Chairman Erskine Bowles meant what he said recently that when it comes to the idea of entitlement program cuts, “If we’re going to be serious about balancing the federal budget and righting this fiscal ship, then we have got to have everything on the table, and that includes the entitlement programs.”
Recognizing the evils of debt, including a national debt, Thomas Jefferson suggested “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
Had we followed Jefferson’s advice, we probably would not be in the fiscal mess we are in today as a nation.
If Jefferson was correct when he said “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” then it probably is time to drastically cut federal government program costs, jobs and “inside the castle wall” employee benefits — and keeping the Social Security Administration at the top of the heap for cuts is the correct approach.
Senior citizens and others alike need to speak out about the waste that is observed at all levels of government — not just about Social Security. Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”