The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
How does government grow? The same way new products are introduced – convince people they have a need and that the product is the best way to meet that need. In the commercial world, we see products that meet a real need, such as computers, as well as those that don’t (pre-sugared cereals).
In government, one of the key ways of “selling” a new program is to invent or overemphasize a threat and then come up with far-reaching regulations to address it. The results of this favorite of the “environmental” lobby have been seen locally with the Lowe’s wetlands fiasco.
Another response is to create a bureaucracy to administer the means of responding to the threat. We’ve seen this locally when the state Department of Transportation decided that our area wouldn’t get highway work done unless a regional planning commission was activated. Under duress, the counties acquiesced and set up the commission and hired another government employee to run it.
A third favorite response is to hire consultants to tell the local people how to respond. That’s what’s happening with the potential threat to Whiteman AFB. It appears that the neighboring cities and counties are kicking in $5000 each to make sure that Whiteman stays open. While having a plan in place isn’t a bad idea, the rhetoric I’ve read is overblown, to say the least. Whiteman’s primary mission, the B-2 bomber, isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s not going to move, either, because of the cost of replicating the unique facilities.
What’s needed to strengthen Whiteman is to find additional critical missions, as Representative Ike Skelton was instrumental in doing before the missiles were deactivated. Perhaps putting some effort into enhancing what the consultant considers “quality of life” might help, but the number of military retirees who’ve chosen this area make one wonder if it’s as bad as he makes out.
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