We’ve Always Done It That Way


How many times have you heard people say that?

“Well, that’s always how we’ve done it!”  Neighbors, co-workers, politicians, it doesn’t matter. The attitude is evident in all levels of society. I don’t believe the majority of people agree with that outlook; however, that idea is so institutionalized and so ingrained in our society, government, families, and even many businesses that the “tradition” continues generation after generation.

During my 20 year career in the Navy, one aggravating bureaucratic policy that is the same throughout most branches of federal, state and local governments, is the practice of quickly spending every left-over penny in the budget when there are unspent funds near the end of the fiscal year. Managers at every level get hysterical if they or their subordinates haven’t wasted the taxpayers money on “unneeded” equipment, materials, or services, for fear that the next year’s budget will be reduced by that amount.  You noticed I didn’t call them leaders.

I was not alone in advocating a change in government policy on this wasteful practice. Some businesses have “suggestion boxes” for employees to present their improvement ideas to management. The Navy had a similar process for sending good ideas up through the chain of command. On more than one occasion, I and many other shipmates called for ending the policy. Of course, it fell on deaf ears. I am sure many senior officers felt the same way, but the practice is so cemented in an unyielding government culture of fraud, waste, and abuse, that it must have been just too darn hard to fight “city hall.” I am confident that many billions of taxpayer dollars have been scattered to the winds in this shameful ongoing financial practice.

Another example of relying on that tired excuse of “it has always been done that way” has been in the national news repeatedly in recent years. It became a headliner when ObamaCare was working through the legislative process, and is now being highlighted as immigration reform is, once again, in the news. The fact, based upon many politicians’ own admissions, that they oftentimes do not read legislative bills before they cast their vote really pisses me off.

Congressmen are elected to office to represent their constituents. How can they adequately represent voters back home if they are not thoroughly knowledgeable about the laws that they make? Nancy Pelosi infamously said something like, “We’ll find out what is in the bill after we pass it.” That is no way to conduct the people’s business. They complain that the bills are too damn long to read them. That is probably true since many grow into hundreds and thousands of pages. That alone suggests a solution to solve more than one problem.

Ever hear of the KISS theory? Keep It Simple Stupid. Cut all the unnecessary and unrelated pork-spending attachments to the bills, get rid of 90% of the staff and attorneys that turn what should be a simple bill into volumes of legal mumbo jumbo and hidden surprises, and do what is morally right! Then Senator and Representative, you will have the time to read the bill yourself, and not rely on high-salaried staffers to give you a second or third-hand summary of what they think is in the bill. Start thinking about the taxpayers and the folks back home in your districts, and oh yeah, maybe think about what is good for your country for once, and dedicate less brain-time on your pal lobbyists or on your next re-election effort.

3 thoughts on “We’ve Always Done It That Way

  1. Thank you Senator John McCain for uttering my headline almost word for word, concerning the immigration bill. You are an American hero and have served your country most of your life, but, unfortunately, you have become a bureaucrat in recent years.

    I have not made up my mind on the immigration bill yet, because I still do not know what is in it, as it has ballooned into a massive, unreadable bill. You said on the news yesterday that the U.S. Senate used the same process in passing the legislation that you have been accustomed to and comfortable with the past 30 years. That is the problem. That is why the government is broken, possibly beyond repair.

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