Oh, I almost forgot….
Here is the news story that justifies the title, and also that made my dome blow, as I’m sure yours will.
A 14-year old sixth grade student from Pittsburgh named Suvir Mirchandani devised, as his science fair entry at Dorseyville Middle School, a computer project that examined printing costs. He analyzed a random sample of school printouts and measured how much ink various fonts use. Noting studies that found ink remarkably expensive (I thought it was just my printer), Mirchandani calculated that by simply switching from the Times New Roman font to a thinner, more ink-thrifty font like Garamond, his school district alone could reduce its annual ink costs by 24%, saving up to $21,000 annually.
His teacher encouraged him to submit his work to the Harvard-based Journal for Emerging Investigators, who were moved to inquire, “How much money could the government save if it switched to Garamond?”
Plugging in the Government Services Administration’s estimated annual cost of ink, Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% of the total $467 million, or $136 million per year. Placing state governments on a font diet would save an additional $234 million, he reported.
They checked his figures, and he was right. The simple act of changing a typeface would save taxpayers $400,000,000 a year. Kaboom.
Now permit me a brief rant…
A sixth grader figured this out. Not the GAO. Not the GSA. Not a government economist or a comptroller. Not a Congressman or high-paid bureaucrat. A kid. You do know what this proves, don’t you?
Nobody in our vast, soul-killing, money-eating, freedom-squashing, blundering, stumbling, bumbling, arrogant, corrupt network of knaves, fools, enablers, cronies, hacks and hangers-on we call our government, at least none with two brain-cells to rub together and a genuine sense of public duty, ever bothered to devote a good couple of days to seriously examining how the public sector could easily, painlessly, quietly reduce expenses so the money could be spent productively, applied against the debt, or better yet, returned to the people who originally earned it.
How do I know that? I know that because nobody ever looked at the huge sums of money our government spends on ink and as a result thought, “Wow! That’s a lot of ink! I wonder how we could use less of it?” IF someone asked that question; IF there were honest, dedicated, fair people in government posts who recognized that their very existence take money out of our pockets and they damn well better justify it, then the thought “Hey! I bet we could use a thinner font!” would have surely occurred to somebody. But it didn’t, so we know that either…
1. Nobody was smart enough to make the connection a precocious sixth grader did, or
2. Nobody gives a damn, at least nobody with the authority to do anything.
There is no third choice.
This explains a lot, indeed, everything. It explains Presidential vacations, and IRS Star Trek parodies, and our top Justice Department official exploiting loopholes to take personal trips costing millions. It explains why the tiny sliver of the Federal budget affected by the sequester caused so much pain and suffering, why Healthcare.gov still doesn’t work right, why nobody can stop agencies from growing, why there are so many redundant programs sucking up money, why all the projections are always wrong, or lies, or misleading, or hiding something, why government procurement is so expensive, why Secret Service agents get drunk on the job and why America can’t be a force for good in the world, which really, really needs one. It explains why our very form of government, truly a beacon of hope for civilization, has lost the trust of its own citizens. It explains the lies, and the fraud, and the constant misinformation spewed into the atmosphere like sulfurous smoke by villains like Nancy Pelosi, incompetents like Kathleen Sibelius, and toadies like Jay Carney. It explains why the American Eagle is bleeding red ink, and has become an object of derision and ridicule abroad.
You want to know why we balk at paying pensions for government employees? This is why. Because you couldn’t or wouldn’t figure out that you could save money by using a thinner type face. You’re a disgrace.
The leaders, high officials, bureaucrats and employees government, and its companions in the states, aren’t remotely smart or diligent enough to do all the tasks they have convinced lazy, inattentive, state-teat-addicted citizens that they can and should handle. The government doesn’t try to save money, or conserve it, or spend it wisely, or when and if it does try, those responsible are too dumb, careless, distracted or unmotivated do it properly. So thousands, millions of ways to save money, many as simple as just using a different type font, never get considered, because nobody with a brain or a conscience is thinking about it. This goes on for years and decades, while Republicans argue that costs have to be cut with a meat-axe even if desperate people are hurt, and Democrats wail that government is wonderful, it’s just that it needs more feeding.
It doesn’t need more feeding. It needs more dedicated employees with the initiative and smarts of a sixth grader, leaders who know how to manage projects and resources competently, reporters who objectively show us when the leaders are corrupt or stupid, and voters who throw them out when they don’t. We have none of those things now.
Oh—informed of Mirchandani’s discovery, the Government Printing Office politely told CNN that “the GPO’s efforts to become more environmentally sustainable were focused on shifting content to the Web,” and no change in official font was likely in the hear future.
Of course not.
* Note: A “Kaboom!” is the special Ethics Alarms designation reserved for news stories revealing ethical misconduct so shocking that it causes my head to explode.