Letters to the Editor

Bureaucratic pit

October 4, 2010


To the editor:

In your Sept. 27 article, “Westar proposal may energize loan program,” you note that only 58 applicants have been funded amounting to roughly 1 percent of the $38 million allocated to the Efficiency Kansas program. If my experience is typical, then the reason for these poor statistics is not lack of interest but rather a lack of “efficiency.”

In March of this year I attempted to apply to this program. I read the detailed instructions, was pre-approved for the loan, and paid $700 for the required energy audit using one of the contractors listed on the Efficiency Kansas website. After several phone calls and e-mails to Efficiency Kansas offices for help in filling out the required forms, the auditor submitted the 50-plus page report and plan, and then we waited.

After waiting five months, I finally gave up and implemented essentially all of the improvements recommended by the audit, totaling about $8,500 out of pocket. It’s possible that we either forgot to submit some form or filled something out improperly, but no one from the program office has ever contacted me or the auditor for additional information, and I obviously have no interest in or need for this program any more.

But if I couldn’t figure this byzantine, unintelligible process, how in heaven’s name could an elderly retiree who could really use this program have any hope? My guess is that more of the $38 million has gone toward paying the salaries of this bureaucratic tar pit than toward real energy improvements.


devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

And see what happens when health care becomes completely government-run.

Let's form a committee to hold hearings to pass legislation to discuss the funding of energy stabilization and conservation societies. These societies will conduct audits that will yield data that can be used by committees to form self-help groups and neighborhood groups where we can meet to discuss the forming of action items for the committees to investigate the possibility of forming groups that will meet to discuss legislation that will fund a program to form a committee that will.......

There are 5 people left in Lawrence who know which end of a hammer to hold. They all came here from Mexico. Because they don't speak English, they don't yet know that they can join a committee to pass the work off to.........

Ken Lassman 7 years, 5 months ago

Have you used the private health care system lately? If you haven't then maybe you don't know that reform passed because the current system was so dysfunctional that even the insurance companies admitted that it needed serious reform. Each company currently has its own mini-bureaucracy, with its own forms, own criteria, its own list of approved providers, etc. The byzantine bureaucratic mess that has developed is unfair, inequitable, fraught with waste and outright fraud, and full of duplication and inefficiencies. This is true whether it is a private or federal or state health care policy. To say that it needed reform is stating the obvious. To say that the reform accomplished the goal is not at all obvious, but at least the process has begun.

The health care mess was not created in a day, and I daresay it will take quite a while to sort out and improve. But I think it is totally politically disingenuous for the republicans to waste time trying to repeal the program instead of jumping in with the democrats and show bipartisan leadership to reform what was passed. So get off your anti-government high horse and demand of your representatives to continue the process that the health care reform started and don't stop until we have a system that is more efficient, less bureaucratic and provides the health care that each citizen deserves.

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

And the reason that it was so dysfunctional is that it was sophisticated. Insurance became a job benefit, my car insurance didn't.

Insurance and the businesses who paid for it worked to limit costs instead of leaving the charges and decisions up to the individual. This is a form of socialism, not by government, but by business. In any case, the individual is removed from the market. As costs and benefits became more intractable, the complexity grew. The shell game became so complicated that nobody could understand it, control it, manage it or deal with it.

So the government steps in. And it will not only continue to be a sophisticated mess, it will become worse.

The error was made in the 1960s when companies took over the responsibility of health care. It was supposed to be better. Computers, massive insurance companies, groups (KU workers) became subgroups (those KU workers who don't smoke) became fancier and fancier until nothing could be controlled.

Insurance clerks who know nothing about diabetes won't approve a medical regimen unless the patient has been tried on a protocol first. Even if the patient has been tried on many different protocols, and the doctor has found the one that works great, the clerk must be convinced that each protocol has been tried in proper order for the proper time. Doctors aren't doctors anymore.

Doug, we used to live in a free market economy. People were free to make lifestyle choices and pay their own bills. No more.
We now live in a bureaucracy. Your life is now run by committees of experts who decide medical protocols, construction codes, safety notices and warnings on products. You are at the mercy of regulations at every turn. And now the government will completely take over the medical system that was, at one time long ago, like all other things that we did.........


Don't forget your seat belt, you'll get a ticket. Don't forget to get that building permit when you plant a bush next time. And don't forget that subsidy for those upstairs window you want to replace.

Carrots and sticks clutter up government and business (don't forget that loyalty card at Dillons or that frequent flier mileage)

Here's an idea. Stop the games. Provide a service. Buy other services or not. Do not sophisticate anything. Remove the shells from the shell game. Find the ball that was hidden for long and simplify your life.

No government. No business "plans", loyalty programs, coupons. Just show up, do the job, then get paid and spend the money. Simple. Stop the insanity.

It won't happen. I will continue to live a life as simple as possible. But I know that I am loosing money. Tough. Can I just pay for my medical bill? No, I will be fines or even arrested. Sigh.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

"And see what happens when health care becomes completely government-run."

Well, of course, the only possible explanation is that government can't do anything, so let's not look into it any further. And if this program ever does get off the ground (doing things the private sector has thus far not chosen to undertake) we'll just pretend it didn't happen.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

You don't find it disturbing that this program, which pursues valuable goals, is so poorly implemented?

I do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

Does it work as well as it should? Clearly not. But let's find out why, and fix it. Declaring that governments always fail at everything will not get us there.

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

Let's see, bozo:

Welfare: Aid to families with dependent children, food stamps, government housing (the projects), free needles, breakfast, lunch and dinner for the kids, methadone, so many training programs that nobody in the world could list them. All well meaning. All effective and saved some people from death.

All having the apparent result of feeding the welfare culture. Gangs, single mothers, drugs, rampant irresponsibility at every level of existence. Schools can't run because of the thugs. Stores can't operate because of the robbery and thievery, and violence and loss of commodities even though they can be had for nothing. A civilization defined by the gang. Defined by the two f's. One of them is fighting.

In other words, no civilization at all.

Regulations: Why are pharmaceuticals being sued? Why aren't all pharmaceutical remedies evaluated by the government (oh I don't know, how 'bout the center for disease control, CDC, at Emory U in Atlanta). That way, Big Pharma could only be sued for bad manufacturing. The efficacy, the side effects, the overall distribution of pharmaceuticals would be a government thing. Why? Because suing Big Pharma is an industry. It allows lawyers to gain power. And don't forget, power is the goal of all human activities today. We're sophisticated. We care. We're the right people. We are right. We are right.......

Science: John Kennedy said that we will put a man on the moon before the decade was out.....the 1960s. Eisenhower warned of an unholy alliance between government and innovation.

We live today in an America where we killed a NASA goal of man-on-the-moon again because we can't do it. We can no longer put a man on the moon. But, you say, we can because of vastly improved engineering. We are impotent in engineering because we are no longer serving the goal. We are serving the sociology. Astronauts can no longer die. Therefore we can't take a risk. They are teachers and scientists. They aren't wild.... fighter pilots anymore. The daredevils are now doing what? NASCAR? Skateboards? Swimming with sharks. Gimme a break. Somebody in the government must have a pair. Somebody must try something really bold. Tipping at windmills. Nevermind, let the Mexicans do it.

We're living in a government-run bureaucracy that has no soul. We're done.

Thanks, bozo.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

Well that greatly oversimplified argument is just the perfect rationalization for establishing your Randian wet dream. Imagine that.

Centerville 7 years, 5 months ago

This program, built on printed Zippy money, isn't being used because the KCC purposefully made it too difficult to access. If someone wants to modify his/her home, it's easier and far more sensible to get a home improvement loan from the bank.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 5 months ago

Do you know of other states who are doing a better job getting the money converted to more efficient homes? Seems like I talked to someone who is in the business who said that Missouri's system was much better, and I'll bet there are other states that leave Missouri in the dust.

If we could find a good model out there, then we could lean on our state to copy theirs so folks could benefit from this money

Ken Lassman 7 years, 5 months ago

Do you know of other states who are doing a better job getting the money converted to more efficient homes? Seems like I talked to someone who is in the business who said that Missouri's system was much better, and I'll bet there are other states that leave Missouri in the dust.

If we could find a good model out there, then we could lean on our state to copy theirs so folks could benefit from this money

Ken Lassman 7 years, 5 months ago

OK, I poked around since nobody else seems to be interested in doing anything but complaining and not finding out a better way. ACEEE has an excellent website that looks at energy efficiency projects across the country, and they give annual awards and rate states by the effectiveness of their programs, policies, etc. I haven't delved much into their website, but it looks like the KEO and the utilities and legislators could find a lot of fantastic resources there if they were serious about energy efficiency improvements in our state.

For example, the state of Alaska started up a program in 2008 to provide energy rebates to folks who take measures in their homes to save energy. On the face of it, it doesn't look all that different from the one that Kansas has offered: you get an energy audit, which you get rebates for, followed by recommendations and then make energy efficiency improvements that you must implement within 18 months of the audit, and receive up to $10,000 in rebates.

Alaska allocated $160 million, and unlike KS, they actually set up a user-friendly program, resulting in 70% of the folks who got the audit done participating in getting rebates, which translated to 22,000 folks getting those rebates!

This is just one example of some of the states who have put their act together and are leaving us Kansans in the dust. We need to expect more and demand that our state implement well performing programs just like can be found in many other states.

Ken Lassman 7 years, 5 months ago

More from the ACEEE website: they generate a state energy efficiency scorecard for each state, and in 2009, the last time it was calculated, KS scored an abysmal 7.5 out of a possible 50 points, to tie with Oklahoma for 39 place, down one place from 2008. I can hardly wait to see what happened in 2010, which should be out this month.

The score is based on compilation of the state's policies in the following areas: household appliance standards, transportation incentives, building codes, combined heat and power incentives, state government initiatives, and utility and public policies.

Missouri slumped in at an even worse 41st place, while Colorado was 16th. Get the details at: http://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/E097.pdf

you have to register to download the report, but it's free.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

What happened to utility rates?

I agree that sounds like a better program, and fits with my idea that utility companies should not be the ones administering the programs.

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