Ad Hoc Policy is Debilitating 

A municipal policy of addressing problems as they crop up, principally on an ad hoc, piecemeal basis, will wear local government down, and only produce worse policies. (Ad hoc policy, that is, literally a for this [purpose] policy.)

One should begin each discussion and problem from the vantage of a fundamental philosophy of government, adjusting that vantage only occasionally after careful consideration  (as the initial, fundamental philosophy should have, itself, been the product of careful consideration). 

In good times, ad hoc policy has limitations, in hard times it’s just jumping from one problem to another, with no overarching view to guide (and steady) one’s thinking and feeling.

If policymakers all had a clear, foundational philosophy, they’d approach a series of problems with greater confidence, with an admirable sang froid. (Some few are like this, but not enough of them.)

An example of a foundational philosophy: Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Peace.

Instead, it’s racing from one fire drill to another (e.g., revenue, Spring Splash, a grocery, etc.).

Look at the Banner or Daily Union, and on political & policy issues all you see is an ad hoc discussion of topics, with little connection between discussions (except, perhaps, a servile approach to favored authorities).  

Policymakers can live that way, if they’d like, but they’ll tire themselves doing so, and produce worse policies as a result.

It’s a downward spiral.

We’ve several challenges ahead, and one can see the toll past & present challenges have taken, particularly on full-time staff leaders.  

They’ll likely not change, to be sure.  In not changing, however, they’ll only diminish their own prospects for success in this community.  Whatever happens, they’ll not be able to say they weren’t encouraged to adopt a better way.

We’ve already passed the point at which simply insisting on political acquiescence produces support. (Old Whitewater – a state of mind rather than a person or chronological age – very much expects, but has never deserved, this kind of falling in line.) There’s still a small group that thinks this way, but they’ve lost the present, and will fare only worse in the future.

Much of the search of full-time officials for the support of a ‘silent majority’ (the use of the term is problematic and oddly ironic) is evidence of how little support the full-time administration really has.  

Broader reach comes from a broader, articulated, clear political or policy philosophy. 

Piecemeal isn’t enough to weather consecutive challenges successfully. 

One thought on “Ad Hoc Policy is Debilitating 

  1. You’re seeing what other people are. A mayor could be good or bad but on the good side could rally support for changes. It’s one of the reasons the old guard has always been opposed. But at this point things are getting passed because of public apathy not from public support. There’s no way the appointed city manager can be a rally point. It’s not that kind of job. City staff has no answer that will work except by causing bigger problems. They need to scale back now.

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