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Letter: The cost of micromanagement

The argument over Syria, like that over immigration, finds plenty of truth on all sides. The lessons learned from our recent excesses have us, and justly so, extremely reticent about diving into this swamp, or for that matter, even sticking in our toes. The problem is, a line needs to be drawn. We don’t have the option of letting others lead by themselves, and the costs of inaction have already decreed that further inaction will not decrease our eventual liabilities, largely because of the spreading refugee and instability crisis.

Those who argue that “dead is dead” are being disingenuous. Our indignation over chemical weapon use may be sanctimonious, but there is a decided interest in resolving that such agents will not be among the tolerated killers. Lines do matter.

Fiscal frugality has taken the local council off on its own pendulum swing, which may prove “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” Costs, direct and indirect, of micromanagement often render it inefficient and wasteful. Alarmingly, while they pinch pennies, they have tepidly committed to an exorbitantly expensive solution to problems of train noise.

The curse of the trains is one of bureaucrats who believe their bailiwicks exist in a vacuum. The narrow scope of accountability of railway safety boards leaves no need of balanced consideration, no need to follow the precept of “first do no harm,” no need to look for warning technologies more innovative than an increase in decibels. The communities, farmers and rural residents impacted by train noise should align and work through Congress to place modest restraints upon the independence of the involved safety boards. Instead we are compelled, under their divide-and-conquer strategy, to commit to an eventual ransom in the millions while our local schools are obliged to cut music programs.

If political action fails, twenty grand should be spent hiring indigent souls and providing them equipment to make “hit and run” replications of train whistle sound and volume outside the homes of relevant bureaucrats whilst they’re sleeping or entertaining.

Fred Cogelow