Cut the pork...
Sep 06, 2012 | 1422 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I read in last week’s T-I that the company managing the tailings pile project wants to shut it down for three months a year and that local government officials are looking for money to keep it open all year.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a former employee at the project. He had been hired for 10 hours a day, five days a week. No matter how slow he moved he was done within four hours. Fifty hours of pay and benefits for 20 hours of work every week. His opinion was that the project could run with no more than one-third of the current workforce. He finally quit to keep his sanity and pride intact. 

I don’t know if the new management is following suit, but I suspect that things haven’t changed much.

Cutting labor costs might allow the project to go year-round. Most of us would agree that this is a good thing. It would also cost jobs. Most of us would agree that this is a bad thing. A performance/efficiency audit might rationalize the options, but I’ve never heard of such a thing. It probably wouldn’t change much anyway. Regulation trumps rationality every time. Forms replace function.

What frustrates me is that there’s nothing any of us can do about the insulated institutional infrastructure of overregulation, inefficiency, inertia, and opportunism that exists here or anywhere else. The malaise is built into the corporate/government alliances that exemplify our culture. It’s the worst of both worlds. And, despite the rhetoric, it doesn’t matter if it’s Democrats or Republicans who claim to control the juggernaut.

The monster has a life of its own and politicians have neither the incentives nor the guts to buck the system. If they do, their corporate campaign funds dry up and the voters will kick them out of office for taking pork off the local menu. It drives me crazy.

—Rory Tyler


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