Okay. I’m no economist. Nor am I an accountant. But the economist or accountant who comes up with the way to integrate the following concept might do wonders for reining in an ever-expanding Leviathan in Washington (and 50 little Leviathans, nation wide).
Here’s the basic idea: give government employees incentives at every level and in every department to reduce the amount of money they spend by giving them a percentage of the money they save in their paychecks. This, theoretically, would shrink government and allow government employees to get bonuses for being better stewards of our tax dollars—rather than simply looking for ways to keep growing. Sounds simple, right?
Of course, real life is always more complicated. One problem with this idea is that you can always get your masters to raise the baseline. For example: if you told bureaucrats in The Department of Deadweight Loss that they would get 1 percent of the savings in the annual budget – distributed quarterly – then these folks would have an incentive to lobby the appropriate budget writers and legislators to raise the baseline for the following fiscal year. This would allow everyone to grow government while supposedly “saving money” from year to year – i.e. missing the point (and gaming the system). Therefore, you’d have to peg the baseline to something besides percentage savings in the annual budget.
But to what? There may be an obvious answer. And this is where a bean counter or economist might be able to help. In any case, the basic idea is to incentivize those internal beneficiaries of government largesse to consume fewer resources. Hopefully, this post will spark something that smarter people can run with.
(Note: Another problem is that budgets are determined by legislators. Might they also get an incentive to save/shrink?)