Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 12, 2013

Government needs to be held accountable

SPRINGFIELD — As the Transportation Safety Administration agent rummaged through my suitcase she picked up my tube of toothpaste, shook her head and said “no.”

The tube went sailing into a waste basket filled with bottles of suntan lotion, cans of shaving cream and other odds and ends the TSA considers too dangerous to bring aboard a jetliner.

The tube of Colgate was 7.8 ounces rather than the requisite maximum of 3.4 ounces.

I felt like giving the TSA agent a piece of my mind.

But it’s not her fault.

She’s just doing her job – enforcing rules generated somewhere within the bowels of the TSA bureaucracy.

We all have those feelings sometime when confronted by a bureaucracy – and usually it’s not something as minor as a tube of toothpaste. You could be a small business owner trying to comply with a labor regulation, an elderly person confronted with a confusing tax form or just an ordinary citizen trying to comply with a complicated regulation.

Whether faced with a silly rule or just a desire to have a question answered, it’s aggravating not knowing where to turn.

And that goes to the heart of a problem within big government – a lack of accountability.

Who do you blame? Where do you bring solutions? How do you ensure greater responsiveness?

It’s a lot more significant than $5.92 tube of toothpaste.

Even legislators are frustrated by the bureaucracy. The multiple layers of government become worse when officials add rules and regulations that don’t quite mesh with one another.

Just last week, 133 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote the TSA to express concern about allowing passengers to start carrying pocket knives aboard a passenger aircraft.

That’s right – TSA recently passed a rule allowing travelers to tote knives aboard a plane. John Pistole, the head of TSA, shrugged off those concerns and said passengers can begin carrying knives later this month.

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