The Pine Cone's editorial this week


Editorial: 'Good enough for government work'

Published: September 12, 2008

IT’S A slogan we’re all familiar with, but its meaning has radically changed over the years. In fact, it’s come full circle.

According to Al Gore (though there is plenty of debate whether he’s right), during World War II the phrase, “good enough for government work,” meant something that met very rigorous standards.

Most of us know it to mean something else: the bare minimum. In other words, “good enough for government work,” has long meant something that was barely good enough to get by.

But nowadays, the meaning should be: “Whether it’s any good or not, it costs way too much.”

Several stark illustrations of the government’s addiction to paying top dollar for something that may be of very little benefit to the public have recently arisen right here on the Monterey Peninsula.

Two weeks ago we reported that a bicycle path just 1.1 miles long is to be constructed in Carmel Valley. The cost? About $2.1 million. Surely it could be done for about one-quarter as much.

Likewise, in today’s Pine Cone we report that a consultant will be paid $200 per hour to assess Flanders Mansion to determine what work needs to be done to keep it from deteriorating. Can it be true that consultants with competence in construction and historic preservation are worth the equivalent of $416,000 per year?

And then there’s the proposed restrooms for the south end of Carmel Beach, which the Carmel City Council considered this week. Congratulations to the council for hesitating to spend upwards of $300,000 for this (very modest) project. Where we come from, $300,000 is enough to plan and build a very nice 1,500-square-foot house.

Time was, the government cut corners and trimmed costs wherever it could. Now, it spends far more on consultants and development projects than private individuals or businesses would under similar circumstances. Likewise, private sector salaries used to be far higher than government wages for similar jobs. Now, the equations have largely reversed.

Our fault?

SEVERAL WEEKS ago, we illustrated some basics concepts of media bias by pointing out that no major American news outlet has seriously reported a widely held belief in many parts of the word: That the attacks on 9/11 were carried out by the U.S. government or Israel. They don’t report it because the reporters and editors at the New York Times, CBS and NPR simply cannot give it any credibility.

This week, the New York Times reported the phenomenon. But the newspaper came up with a new anti-American twist. While the U.S. may not, in fact, have been responsible for the attacks, the Times reported, it is our fault that people believe we were.