Mar 062013
Do we need more accountability when we give government officials powers over us?

Do we need more accountability when we give government officials powers over us?

We understand that everyone makes mistakes from time to time, whether they work for the government or not.

That’s unavoidable and okay, if the mistake was sincerely made in the first place rather than a deliberate abuse of authority (and authority is something that government employees tend to have much more of than people working in the private sector) and if the mistake is quickly rectified.

We also understand that some people are not very nice people, and will sometimes vindictively do bad things, just because they can.  That’s not okay, but this also happens in both the private and public sectors.

The key thing here is that the person who acts badly be accountable for their bad actions.  Usually, in the private sector, apart from union-protection issues, people who clearly and deliberately act in appropriately can expect consequences from their actions, including possibly even being fired.  But how often do we think that happens in government departments?

Here’s an appalling example of egregious abuse of authority by a Customs & Border Patrol individual who decided it was easier to impound a guy’s new boat than to correct her paperwork, and who refused to allow the boat-owner to speak to her supervisor or in any other way attempt to get her capricious decision reviewed.

As detailed in a follow-up post, this woman’s decision to impound the boat for no good reason ended up costing over $10,000 in fees to a broker to get the boat back.  The follow-up post is also interesting because it shows two additional things – first, how the woman or her co-workers will self-evidently lie to justify their actions, and secondly, how CBP view us – normal, ordinary, honest, Americans – as the enemy, rather than as the client they are there to serve.

Two questions :  What negative consequence will flow to this woman for what apparently was a wrong act on her part?  (Probable answer – none whatsoever.)

Secondly, will the boat owner and the company who sold it to him get their $10,000 broker fee reimbursed by CBP due to the inappropriate actions of their employee?  (You can probably guess the answer to this, too.)

The more authority we give to government departments and their employees, the more accountable they must become.  Currently, the opposite seems to be the case – we are giving them more and more power and removing their accountability at the same time.

Our government is in danger of becoming out of control, and rather than acting to help us, as was the original intention of progressing from anarchy to government in the first place, it all too often now seems to deliberately make things difficult for us.  There is a growing divide between government employees and the rest of us; an ‘us vs them’ situation which bodes extremely ill for the country as a whole.

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