Least vs. best

Column by David Cox

Every now and again, namely in every election, one or more candidates runs for office on the platform of small government.

It’s an appealing notion, of course. Commended by Mr. Jefferson, it betokens less government interference and lower government cost: “That government governs best which governs least,” goes a statement whose origin nobody really knows.

Far be it from me to commend outsized, out-of-control, over-the-top government. But let me suggest that those who favor small government for the sake of small government miss two points.

First, good government is efficient government. Just because a government is small doesn’t mean it can’t waste money like the big boys. Though the size of waste may be smaller, the percentage can be even greater, in some cases precisely because it is too small to provide the services or the oversight to ensure efficiency.

Second, good government is effective government. It’s big enough to get the job done. It does what the people expect it to do, from paving roads to providing schools to protecting the population. A government that is so small or so strapped that it cannot fulfill what the people expect is simply not effective.

A case in point: If your friendly local DMV office is so small that you have to wait a few hours just to register a vehicle, you might yearn for at least a slightly larger government that can tend to your needs efficiently and effectively.

So how can we develop a more efficient and effective government? Here’s my suggestion of the day: Have every agency review every regulation and program to assess whether it is still needed, cost-effective, and/or worthwhile.

Facing budget cuts arising from shortfalls in state funds, I asked the local director of a state agency what might be trimmed that may no longer be useful. This thoughtful person took a moment to consider, then suggested one effort that is now being met in a different way. That’s the kind of thinking I hope will occur on every level of state government.

I realize my suggestion will take time to implement, and some cost. But I think it’s worth the time and effort.

In taking on new projects that today’s needs demand, let’s look at what we did yesterday that may not work for tomorrow. Let’s see what missions have been accomplished, what goals met, or what goals no longer apply.

Governments, like attics, accumulate what might generously be described as stuff: Can we undertake a good, thorough spring cleaning? The result can be a more efficient, effective government.

And, not so incidentally, by removing obsolete rules and regulations, life can become a bit more efficient and effective for businesses, non-profits, and everyone else.

Maybe we can turn the old phrase around, and you heard it here first: That government governs least which governs best.


David Cox is the Democratic Party nominee in the 24th Senate District.

augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.