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View Diary: Lifeguards hired as public employees, Private Contractor fired. (66 comments)

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  •  But it's kinda not building a firetruck... (0+ / 0-)

    It's more like deciding to not buy a new, high speed fire truck that can fight five times as many fires in half the time with half the water and a quarter of the diesel fuel, all because the agency that maintains hydrants can't afford to change the fittings on them to work with your new firetruck.

    That is the problem that hamstrings governments at all levels and prevents them from adopting new things that they know will be better only if they could...

    And the federal government coming in and dictating a new standard for fire hydrants to be compatible with high-speed fire trucks is fine, as long as they want pay for it. If they aren't, then you're going to get workarounds that are put together on a shoestring budget.  And your fire department is going to work like the other agencies I've seen with my own eyes:  you're going to have one tiny little part of the agency that is using the latest, greatest, cheapest, most efficient system with the other vacuum-tube crap from the 1950s duct taped to the back of it.  And you're not going to get the efficiency from the new high tech system, cause it's still dependent on the vacuum tubes to work.  

    I went to college over 20 years ago.  When I worked in  government, I found them relying on systems that were programmed in languages that were obsolete when I was in college.  One system literally started out on punchcards, and was still in use.  They couldn't replace it because they didn't have the money, and because shutting it off would have broken things three states away, and nobody was 100% sure what they were.  

    One server was so old that nobody knew how to re-start it, or if it would re-start at all.  After 9/11 when the government declared that all such critical systems be moved to a "high-security" data facility (earthquake proof, flood proof, bomb-proof, tornado proof, airplane proof with multiply-redundant power supplies and data links), they actually removed it together with its battery backup system and hooked the thing up to a generator so they could leave it running on the truck as it was being delivered to the new data center.  LOL  It was quite a site to see.

    Don't get me wrong:  I'm not saying privatization can fix those kinds of issues.  They can be just helpful in some cases (even it it's a temporary fix).  The point was to be cautious about having faith in the ability of government agencies to make significant systemic changes to become more efficient.  Making changes in government is far more complicated than doing so in the private sector, and it's not the fault of the people who work there.  Most of them are dealing with systems and processes that were put into place before they were even born, and that's the type of inertia that can make even the most minor change impossible.  To make our system as efficient and "real-time" as a Scandinavian country's would take massive system-wide effort, and massive funding.  I'm not opposed to that at all: it would be great for the economy.  But until we are willing to do that, it probably ain't gonna happen.    


    •  great, let's do it. (3+ / 0-)

      BTW, there used to be this thing called the Bell Telephone System.  It ran the USA's part of the global decentralized nervous system of its day, and it functioned perfectly.

      If we still had the Bell, and it was running those .gov networks, there would not be a problem.  Bell and GTE ran AUTOVON and AUTODIN (AUTODIN preceded ARPANET, and also functioned flawlessly), during the height of the Cold War.  If it's good enough for times when nuclear war was a constant threat, it's good enough for today.

      In lieu of that, at some point it's going to be necessary to issue federal standards and then fund & force compliance all the way down to the municipal level.  Yes that'll be a techie boom in its own right: wonderful!  That along with clean energy construction, could be the thing that brings back the middle class.   It's about time...!

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:05:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Knock yourself out! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trueblueliberal, Dirtandiron

        I got out of that business years ago after I realized it's not healthy to wake up in the morning and think non-stop about how much you hate your career and that if you're lucky a Mack truck will take you out on the morning commute.  Nor is it normal to wake up on Saturday morning and have the first thing to cross your mind be "Fuck, only 48 hours until I have to go back there!"  

        I'm willing to chip in with the tax dollars and moral support, though.  


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