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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Wrong Box
Welcome Back! Professor Tax has been trapped in a timewarp for the last few months, spending all his time and then some on private tax consulting projects. It's good to have real world experience (and it pays the bills), but now it's time to return to commenting on the public scene.

Governor Schwarzenegger's new State Performance Review is like a Hollywood movie set. Not even a real movie set, more like a Universal Studios Themepark version --an image of an illusion of reality. The Review is a facade, a graphic designer's idea of what a management consultant's report should look like. Many folks in the state bureaucracy worked honestly and hard to come up with specific proposals for improving state operations, but the Review is all about "centralizing", "coordinating" and "consolidating" into something "integrated", "strategic", "performance-based", ''technological" and "meaningful". All under the glorious guidance of Der Leader, whose Prescription for Change, we are told, "is dramatic and farsighted like the new Governor who called for it."

Professor Tax will say more about the details later. For now, just note how the Report proposes to dramatically change the state's organization chart. The current fragmented and disorganized chart shows lots of square boxes with the name of a California agency pasted inside each one. The sleek new chart uses twice as many fonts, and has rounded boxes instead of square ones. There aren't as many boxes, but those that remain are bigger, with several agency names fitted into each box. The new chart is so much easier on the eyes -- even the most farsighted can read it without glasses or contacts. And -- the biggest difference -- while the old chart had a box near the top labeled "Governor" just below a box labeled "People of California", in the new diagram the People have vanished, and the box atop the power pyramid is now occupied by "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger".




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