Bobby Jindal and what will $4 million buy

How many of you have heard the expression “in order to make money, you have to spend money?”  My phrasing here might be different as I have heard many variations, but regardless of if the concept is true or not it ain’t new.

How many of you have heard about an expression in the line of “in order to save money, you have to spend money?”  Like the prior concept, I think the succinct and often astute answer of “maybe” or my classroom preferred “depends” applies.

For example my living “up North” here in Maryland has made this southern boy just a bit more knowledgeable about the cold.  My childhood home did not have that fancy full house “conditioned air.”  During the summer, well practically all year, drafts into the home were welcome as air circulation by breeze assisted that created by ceiling fans.  Come winter, we would put out the no vacancy sign for drafts by way of closing the gaps with combinations of plywood, 2X4s, and various forms of insulation.  We had natural gas and modern appliances, so the old wood burning stove was a heater and not used for cooking.  It did warm that house and once the rest of my hair turns grey (I’m guessing maybe at age 45 since I had a few grey ones back when I got my first drivers license in LA) I can combine experiences of splitting wood back home, pushing it in a wheelbarrow across the field, and stacking it on the iron pipe wood rack on the porch for later inside stove usage along with the shoveling of snow here in Maryland to get outside for some good ole stories that are 100 percent true when you do add up the various percents of truth from the different locations to tell that single story.  For kids, I might even weave in some nutria to help make the kindling.

Seriously, back home I would be as impressed spending some $ for new windows and a sliding glass door as I am here in Maryland.  Sure the appearance would have been prettier, but comfort wise not much different from what we had when I was a kid.  Here, however, as our high temperature yesterday reached the teens, you would never realize that chill from inside even if you touched the glass panes.  Even with my fascination with expansion foam and love of caulking, the cost of the new glass and frames will very quickly pay for itself and save us $ in the near future.

I may not live there any longer, but I care about my home state of Louisiana.  My Dad has always lived in the state.  I’m Livingston Parish and especially the Hungarian Settlement flanked by Albany to the North and Springfield to the South for life.  Obviously I have never traveled to all, but I cannot recall any small town, village, or settlement anywhere in Louisiana where I have not met local residents who were simply friendly and fascinating people who enjoyed talking about their area’s history and traditions.  The diversity within relatively small regions is amazing.

Governor Bobby?  What in the heck are you doing now?

It’s no shock that I disagree with many of Jindal’s positions.  That does not make either of us right or wrong because in my opinion people should disagree and debate many political and ideological decisions. Differing perspectives often lead to better solutions.  At times there may be a type of compromise, but often one, both, or all the proposed “answers” become stronger as flaws become evident before implementation and the new revelations are addressed before damage is done.

From the professional study of history, personal experience in politics and government, and a basic upbringing learning from maternal Grandfather and Father that often you must make what you have available work to solve a problem, my opinion is that eliminating waste and inefficiency is necessary to address financial difficulties.  It is often a shock to discover that the capital already exists without a need to increase revenue to cover expenses of normal expectations.

Identifying cost savings across state government is an excellent idea in my opinion?

Who can tell the difference between the fat and the meat?

I’d like to think that it is the people trimming the meat in the butcher shop, but there are those who pad their profits by leaving some of the fat or who decide to keep a “trimming” of prime which is the equivalent in size to a whole side of beef.  Typically, though, there are others working in that area who see and hear what is happening.  Why not talk to those people or allow them to talk to others?

Many times an outside eye can see more than those looking from within, but that outside eye must belong to an individual who actually knows what he or she is looking at to determine the goods from refuse?

Just my supervisory approach which you can skip:

I’ve always favored holding supervisors accountable for what happens in their areas.  To give a college example, I am responsible for all my professors in my department whether tenured, tenure track, full time, adjuncts, and all the support staff which also includes graduate students and student workers.  My faculty have responsibilities for others on the payroll.  Some oversee specific adjuncts, others mentor different tenure track and other full time faculty, some have their own graduate assistants and student workers, and the administrative assistants oversee scheduling and the duties of other workers.

Responsibility is delegated down the line.  I expect each person to do their jobs and to communicate with their respective coordinators.  I also expect to be informed by coordinators of any problems happening under their watches.  I want that student worker to understand that if they feel like they are being treated unfairly by their supervisor that they can bring the issue directly to me.  They same is true for anyone in the department.  I will meet with those in charge of specific areas to make sure that they are doing their jobs.

Anywhere in my department, however, if there is an issue or problem, it is my responsibility to develop a solution.  If the student worker on the lowest rung of the ladder screws up, it is my responsibility.  Sometimes that fix takes place on the rung of the problem, but at times it is on the higher rungs which have damaged the lower rungs.  I in turn answer to my Dean who answers to another.

I don’t like micromanaging, and honestly feel it is unnecessary with good communication, clear examples of both short and long term goals, and people who take pride in themselves and their work.  Fortunately my supervisory experience to this point has involved tremendous individuals.  Sure I and they have made mistakes, but it is amazing how even the largest flubs can be dealt with more easily by communicating and working together as opposed to just letting something remain hidden.

I bring that up because Bobby surrounded himself with a core group of advisors.  Well into a 2nd term in office, shouldn’t they be aware of the waste and inefficiency in the areas they supervise?  What exactly are they doing to earn those salaries that are significantly higher than their predecessors and exponential when compared to the majority of state employees under their oversight?

At this time to pay $4 million to a private firm, Alvarez and Marsal, out of New York to conduct a 90 day government effectiveness and efficiency assessment, would not make sense to me if the state were rolling in money.

I’ve tried hard to imagine that Bobby Jindal is trying a variation of the Wisconsin Idea best advocated by Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., who served as Governor of Wisconsin from 1901-06 and US Senator for the state until 1925.  One can look at that Wisconsin Idea politically as an incorporation of the premise that an employer is responsible for his or her employees, but that oversimplifies the principle.  Bring in individuals from the university system, experts in their fields, to offer advice, provide technical skills, and just be resources of information to answer questions so that those writing public policy and proposing bills actually understand the issues and what it takes to address those issues.

As much as I try, that thought of the Wisconsin Idea is merely a dream because Bobby has decimated Louisiana’s higher education system.  Buildings and classrooms are crumbling as there is no money for repairs.  Many of the most productive faculty members are leaving the state for systems where the terms teacher and professor do not receive the equivalent reaction of saying that your profession is an arsonist, embezzler, or sadly even murderer.  Some people will only cite the monetary issues, but that lack of respect by the Governor and his people cannot be disregarded for migration out of the state.  I would love to live nearer to my Dad and be surrounded by the cultural opportunities and the really fine people back home, but I know for a fact that no amount of money would convince me to return home to work given the atmosphere the Jindal administration created in the higher education systems in the state.  That’s just sad.

Alvarez and Marsal may be the best in world for all that I know, but at this particular time the decision to hire that firm implies to me that Bobby Jindal and his administration are too incompetent to assess effectiveness and efficiency in the state government.  I wonder what the taxpayer received from all of Bobby’s trips out of state speaking at fundraisers for GOP and Tea Party causes.  Will those expenditures appear on the report?

I reckon the reality is that Bobby wants to give someone money and build a nice talking point for his dream Presidential aspirations.  By the way, the state previously conducted some streamlining studies and recommendations.  One can see examples here, or you might be able to wait 90 days and see many of the same things in the $4 million report.  Professor Robert Mann at LSU welcomes others to send in their recommendations to cut waste and create efficiency.  Heck, if I read correctly he is even willing to donate both labor and materials for that truly radical idea of “suggestion boxes.”

Most will understand that unique concept, but if one happens to be like Bobby and his “Yes” circle of advisors, just pick up a copy of the Louisiana History text edited by Ben Wall, and look up the term “deduct box.”  Now instead of taking money from state employees to fund your political machine, imagine taking “suggestions”  or reading “ideas” from those state workers on what would actually work to make their departments more effective and efficient.–4M-efficiency-study/18105387