WikiLeaks revelation: U.S. government not terribly competent.

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Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010.

The WikiLeaks story is simply staggering. In case you’ve missed it, the website WikiLeaks has, over the past year, released on the Internet classified U.S. documents regarding the Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan and most recently, confidential cable transmissions from U.S. embassies around the world.

The documents apparently run the gamut from embarrassing at best to dangerous at worst. And apparently, much of what has been released came as a result of a low-level Army private who had access to the documents and proceeded to turn them loose.

The administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and diplomatic personnel all over the world are up in arms over the affair.

The WikiLeaks episode is bad news for average Americans for multiple reasons. But the chief reason is because it reveals a profound incompetence on behalf of the United States government at a time in our history when that same government is expanding into nearly every aspect of our lives.

Consider this, as one example.

One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (a.k.a. Obamacare) is that your health records will be stored in electronic form across a nationwide computer network. So think about sharing your most intimate health details with your doctor. Think about the record of that exchange existing on a national electronic health records (EHR) network.

Then consider some low-level pharmacy tech with access. One can easily imagine such an employee setting up a little side business that provides employers, business rivals, plaintiff’s attorneys and other malign third parties health information on targeted individuals – such as you for example – for a discreet envelope full of cash.

Oh yes, I know, the law contains all sorts of high-sounding language about patient privacy and protection of private information. But if the federal government cannot protect even its own secrets, as we have seen in the WikiLeaks fiasco, how can it possibly protect yours?

The larger story here is competence. To those who imagine that a bigger government is a good thing for American citizens, I ask, show me how that’s so. To my eye, the larger the U.S. government grows, the less competent it becomes.

The postal service is losing billions of dollars and is insolvent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all broke. Amtrak is running money-losing trains all over hill, valley and plain. NASA has lost its way and soon will be unable to even put a monkey into space. Only the incompetence of the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber – and not the crotch-groping employees of TSA – averted what would have otherwise been catastrophic terrorist incidents aboard commercial airliners. Securities and Exchange Commission employees that filled their government computer hard drives with porn remain on the government payroll.

And speaking of the government payroll, the average government employee now works less, gets paid more and has better health and retirement benefits than his or her counterpart worker in the private sector.

If you remain a committed big-government liberal, how much objective evidence will it take to bring you around?

Government is, by its very nature, inefficient, bumbling, tyrannical and antithetical to individual freedom. That’s why the founders so strictly limited the government when they drafted our founding documents.

I ask again, if the U.S. government can’t even protect a diplomatic secret, what then can it do?

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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18 Responses

  1. Another one right on the money. One thing the government does do well: makes reasonable and thinking people angry.

  2. Stoney Smith says:

    Much of what you say makes sense but when you start whinning about government employees as if they were the devil then I just tune you out. My Uncle was a government worker for 18 years before being killed in an armed robbery that his government job, police officer, required he respond to. I’m sure you’d see him as some leech on the government system but to the person he saved that day I’d bet he is not.

  3. L Miles says:

    Paul, I love your application of the TRUTH, however, you are fighting a losing battle in trying to apply logic to the unrelenting defenders of big government who have accepted the superiority of big government to control our lives, over individual liberty. After all, can we TRUST ordinary corporations, instead? Aren’t most big corporations corrupt? This is a false argument that we have to pick one over the other (government vs. corporations). The fact that government has to allow you to sue them and can use unlimited funds to persecute you through regulation, fees, taxes, etc., and that corporations can’t, doesn’t matter. The fact that government has perpetrated 100 times the waste, fraud, abuse and incompetence of that of corrupt corporations and individual citizens in business, doesn’t matter, either.

    A realist understands that the “right of refusal” we exercise in dealing with corporations does not apply with an all-powerful government. In the mind of a Socialist, the government can be subject to error, but that should not diminish their ultimate authority over us lowly citizens. After all, given time, they can “fix” themselves, with better leaders. The fact that there are NO built-in competitive forces to bring this about (as with corporations) is not a concern to the big government advocates.

    To the unrelenting worshipers of big government who have become true BELIEVERS in Liberalism or Socialism and/or Marxism, it is simply a matter of FAITH, just like any other religion, that their “god” is the ultimate dispenser of social justice, despite all evidence to the contrary. We all know that our FAITH doesn’t depend on hard scientific evidence to justify belief in a religious movement.

    I think it is interesting that the Socialists constantly want “separation of church and state” while they elevate government to “god-like” status to enforce unconstitutional behavior upon us inferior citizens that they want to control. If mistakes happen, so be it. Let “god’s will” be done. Until the Socialists realize that their FAITH in big government control (in conflict with the Constitution) is THEIR religion, we are wasting our time. I have to admit that we may be able to reach those that have not been corrupted, yet, by the partnership of big government and its arm of big media propaganda.

    Merry CHRISTmas!

  4. Dr. Randolph Terry says:

    Paul, once again you have nailed it, but why is our government so incompetent? Consider this: for years government hiring policy has been motivated by quotas and affirmative action, rather than competence and being well-qualified; therefore, we are seeing what any private company would experience with similar employees. Of course, that private company would be out of business. Thanks,

  5. Dr. R.J. Ray says:

    “Of course, that private company would be out of business.”

    Like Citigroup, GM, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America???

  6. Marti P says:

    Big government’s incompetence is disgusting and scary at the same time. No way could a private business survive on its own if it were run like the government. I worked for IRS in an earlier life. Back then, 1980’s, it took six months just to get a ball point pen. We were told to go across the street and buy our own from Walgreens. As for electronic medical records…no thanks. If I can’t op out, I’ll forgo medical care.

  7. Linda E. Montrose says:

    It is no wonder that there is so much indentity theft going on when your Social Security number is demanded everywhere you go. Doctors, cellphone companies, credit card companies, you name it and you are asked for your ssn! Your ssn wasn’t supposed to be given to anyone but your employer and bank. But now everyone asks for it. I had a doctor refuse to see me because I would not give them my ssn! I called the ss office and asked them about it and they just shrugged it off like it wasn’t important. THIS is your government at it’s best!
    These leaks just show how unsecured our information really is. This is reality folks…you think that handy little cellphone that can do just about everything for you is just the thing to have. It can also open you up to anyone who wants your personal information. We all know it is a way of tracking people. We have become an “open” society until our “private” information has been breached, then we ask “how could this happen to me?”
    Wikileaks is just a peep into our future.

  8. Shared Prosperity says:

    You conservatives need to understand that both government and corporations suffer from the same issues of corruption because both are made up of fallible people that are subject to the pressures of special interests and self preservation.

    The only way we as a nation can achieve true social justice, equality, and fairness is to force redistribution of the wealth via the ballot box, therefore, reducing the concentration of wealth among the powerful. The myth of personal liberty, private property, and rugged individualism, passed away in the 1920’s as the world entered the era of the Great Depression caused by unfettered capitalism and greed, run amok. Luckily, most of the American people have seen through the propaganda of the radical right (conservatives) and have continued with few exceptions to elect leaders that are compassionate and are willing to force the rich to share their bounty with the public at large. After all, the common, every-day worker is mostly responsible for creating the wealth that the rich claim for themselves. Without the worker population, the vast wealth of this nation would not exist.

    Since the 1920’s, the history of the United States has been dominated by the adoption of the Welfare State. As properly stated by Wikipedia , the free encyclopedia: “The United States welfare state refers to those institutions, supported or managed by the U.S. government, that aim to ensure economic security, universal access to the resources for self-development and the reduction of social suffering, such as poverty and illness. The main guiding philosophy for the creation and expansion of the U.S. welfare state has been MODERN LIBERALISM, which holds that POSITIVE RIGHTS, such as health care and education, are requirements for individual liberty.”

    Today, “no man is an island”, we are all responsible for our collective salvation from poverty, destitution, and hopelessness.

    Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps (SNAP), WIC, Unemployment Compensation, Public Housing, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (housing ownership for the poor), Public Education, Federal Student Loan Program, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Progressive Income Tax system, OSHA, etc., are all a fantastic testimony to the long term judgment of the American people to elect leaders that care about the overall well-being of our society at large.

    You conservatives are in a losing battle and your weak Republicans have never been a match to the street fighters of the liberal Democratic Party. The Liberalism/Socialism of the Democrats has had a winning track record for the last 80 years in this country because they don’t ever give up. Barack Obama is now the most powerful person in the world and he will ultimately prevail in his agenda to bring about social justice in this country in spite of you conservatives who have not progressed beyond the last century.

    It is just a matter of time before voters in the United States dedicated to social justice will outnumber forces to the contrary and place this nation into a permanent state of Shared Prosperity.

    The federal government does not have a monopoly on lack of competence. As voters, we must insist on better congressional oversight. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.

  9. L Miles says:

    It is a mistake for Liberals to assume that Conservatives support the crony capitalism (bordering on fascism: socialism with a capitalist veneer) that is practiced by the Big Government alliance with Big Wall Street and Big Unions.

    Favoritism in government has taken on a new meaning with the Obama regime as trillions have gone to favored corporations, unions, government employees, and soon to be State governments. This money always comes with strings attached. What happened to “equal justice under the law”? This is how the federal government can expand further control into all aspects of our lives.

    Check out the bailout list (and funds) at the following link. You will be shocked!

    http://bailout.propublica.org/list

    True Conservatives believe in the free market and there are bankruptcy laws to take care of any enterprise that gets in trouble. Nothing is “too big to fail”. Once the ramparts of the Constitution are breached, anything is possible and we will exchange a “free society” for one that is ruled by men instead of laws.

  10. Bob Jones says:

    It’s good to know businesses would never do something as bad as let thousands of customer credit card numbers or private information ever be stolen or exposed.

  11. K Myers says:

    To Mr “Shared Prosperity”: You scare me to death. How dare you think that anyone has the right to stand on another person’s shoulders to attain “collective salvation”? Where is it written that one man’s hard work should be sacrificed to support another. Americans are among the most personally generous people on earth giving billions to charity but we conservatives balk mightily at having the government take our money because “they know best” how to spend it. I know who in my neighborhood is truly in need and who is sitting on their backside waiting for the next government check so they can score their next fix. What will you liberals do if the majority of middle class to wealthy working people in this country just say ” To Hell With It”. and move to another country? Why have all of the Liberal Socialist/Marxist countries around the world had to lock down their borders and “control” their populations to keep them from fleeing?
    Have you not read any of history’s teachings? What happened in Russia when the government took control of the farms? How long does a person have to wait in the U.K. to see a health care specialist? Did you miss Mr Gleiser’s statement that the current government run systems are mismanaged and broke?
    And a note to Mr. Jones: the difference is that I can sue a business for damages and/or take my business somewhere else. Good luck doing that with the government.

  12. Shared Prosperity says:

    K Myers obviously didn’t understand my fifth paragraph. Your theoretical arguments against the Welfare State have been mostly rejected for 80 years. The march to Social Justice in practical terms (as listed) continues in this country as well as around the world.

    We simply need better managers in government to make it work better. Wouldn’t you say the same thing for Corporations? Obama is trying to do this. You need to support the healthy evolution of your country and forget the threat to move out! Where would you go?

  13. Ann Compton says:

    “And a note to Mr. Jones: the difference is that I can sue a business for damages and/or take my business somewhere else. Good luck doing that with the government.”

    So police departments, fire departments, public schools, government run hospitals, country sheriff departments, and such never get sued?

  14. Ann Compton says:

    “True Conservatives believe in the free market and there are bankruptcy laws to take care of any enterprise that gets in trouble. Nothing is “too big to fail”.”

    Tell that to AIG or General Motors

  15. L Miles says:

    As I said in my post on 12/9/2010: “The fact that government has to allow you to sue them and can use unlimited funds to persecute you through regulation, fees, taxes, etc., and that corporations can’t, doesn’t matter.”

    Please see the quote from the following link:

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_a_US_Citizen_sue_the_government

    “The US government is protected by ‘Sovereign Immunity’. In 1946 Congress passed The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) giving individual LIMITED right to sue the government.”

    Go ahead, you Liberals/Socialists/Marxists, and see how far you get obtaining a “redress of grievances” as you try to sue the almighty federal government, your buddy, your “god”, as opposed to simply not doing business with the evil corporations you so despise.

    If you can’t see the superiority of the free enterprise system compared to government welfare and crony capitalism (fascism fostered by legalized theft (taxes) from the producers), then, please be honest and leave the country and go to Cuba where your talents and intellect are in great demand.

  16. Eric Earline says:

    As a strict constitutionalist I find the government completely incompetent which is why I oppose activist socialist reps like Leo Berman and the like who want to alter the constitution (14th amendment)

  17. Russell Greenlee says:

    “If the government can’t protect secrets….bla bla”

    Really? Does anyone really want to know that you had an infection below the belt? Please.

    People WANT to know war secrets. And someone wanted to tell them. And this is all that got out?

    GET SCARED FOLKS

    All your medical records are belong to us!

    This should be even more reason to hate your government in every breath, but wave American flags like you love it.

    The same kinds of people that have your records now, will have your records post healthcare law.

    Paul, you really don’t have to turn EVERYTHING that happens into some anti-Obama spat. It seems Obama could cure cancer and you would still manage to moan and groan. Just what will you write about when republicans are in power? I guess you will complain that the store was out of Cristal and you had to settle for the poor man’s stuff.

  18. Justin G. says:

    Dear Paul, America has the right to know. We fund the military, it is our tax dollar that has funded the iraq and afghanistan wars and i thank wiki for what they have done. For once, the blanket that the military hides under when we come knocking has been taken off, their hand is shown and they are ashamed as they should be. Good for them i say, because they have done something good for us.

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