Hall of Shame–Politician’s admit deliberate lying to deceive the public

Welcome to a new category of post, the Hall of Shame.  This category is for the most outrageous of political economy issues.  For our inaugural post, I offer this quote from former San Fransisco Mayor Willie Brown, a California political institution in his own right.  Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 28 (As reported in the WSJ’s Notable and Quotable,)  Mr. Brown’s candor was both refreshing and shocking at the same time:

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone.  We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it.  In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.  The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.

Unbelievable.  Refreshing candor–admitting that public budgeting for big programs is a fraud intentionally from the start–but also discouraging.  We are apparently now in a moral world where ex-politicians can safely admit that their public projections on spending are known lies; they are only intended to get us to buy the lie so we approve what they do.  And they know if they ever told the truth we would rise up and stop them.  Exalt the lie, debase the truth.  Willie Brown’s actions put him in our Hall of Shame.

PS, thanks to those who caught my typos (hopefully got ’em all).  & hope they don’t put me in the hall of shame! :-)

13 thoughts on “Hall of Shame–Politician’s admit deliberate lying to deceive the public”

  1. Everyone lives on a budget except the government! During an election year were always talking about balancing the budget. We also talk about it when the government is supposedly getting ready to shut down. It’s amazing how much in debt we are as a country. My dad and I were talking about this a few weeks ago and he said he had never heard until the last few years the phrase financial cliff. It’s scary to think that because of overspending and mismanagement that our generation starts out in debt. I hope we can turn this around for our future children.

    1. The type of physician I would like to work for is a Pediatrician. Pediatrician’s speitalcy is to work with children. I have been working with children for a long time mainly because I work at a daycare facility. I’ve got to a point where I feel like I can handle anything that will come my way with them. It would also leave me feeling good at the end of the day to know that I have helped in some way to make a child feel better.The type of physician I would not care to work for is a Epidemiologist. Epidemiologist’s specialize in epidemics caused by infections agents and also work with sexually transmitted diseases. I feel if I were to work in this type of speitalcy I would be putting my self at risk of exposure to these infectious agents. Also I would be focusing a lot of my time on trying to not get infected instead of having a steady mind on what I was actually supposed to be doing.

  2. What a scary thought but I do also admire his candor about it. I will definitely view initial public budget estimates with much more skepticism now. If only, he could have had this much honesty from the beginning of the project.

  3. Doctor Rich from History and Government would appreciate this for his Public Budgeting class! That class, in which I am enrolled, has already begun teaching college juniors how to safely and accurately estimate anticipated expenses and “count the cost” of potential budget items before approving them. It’s a waste of public trust and of accountants’ time to make up numbers and use them. The books are basically useless then. It makes me wonder just what kind of credit gap is going to hit when the federal government finally approves a budget and all kinds of agencies find they do not have the kind of money they have been spending.

  4. A budget is something that a person studying government knows is essential, The mere fact that our national government has gone EIGHT YEARS without a budget is irresponsible. This is the largest part of our debt solutions. In theory we have a budget a continuing resolution for a budget that was passed 8 years ago with increases of all kinds but no clear budget that is up to date. No one knows how many people are on the payroll, how many much fraud there is cause of the lack of a budget. On of the essential principles of budgets is that you should overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues for the case that they do. What this mayor did is quite the opposite. With that being said, San Francisco actually does have a balanced budget,
    http://www5.sfgov.org/sf_news/2013/07/city-budget-mayor-signs-2013-15-balanced-budget.html.

    Here are some budgetary tips
    http://www.mnbudgetproject.org/research-analysis/minnesota-budget/process-reforms/five-principles-better-budget-process

  5. It’s enough to make you wonder just how frequently this type of bait and switch budgeting actually happens in other government offices and in other sectors.

  6. It’s interesting when he says, “We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost.” I’m pretty sure the “we” there just refers to politicians, but he kind of presents it like everybody in the city always knew, when, obviously, they didn’t. If they always knew that the initial estimate was way wrong, then what is the point of there being an initial estimate at all? You can’t just put out an official initial estimate and not expect people to believe that it’s at least somewhat accurate. Summarized, this quote pretty much says that it’s ok for politicians to lie to deceive the masses so that the politicians can get done the things that they want done. While this guy does not speak for all politicians, it’s still unfortunate to see that the people we elect want only to push their individual agendas rather than presenting truthful information for the population as a whole to decide from.

  7. Wow. After reading this I agree with you DJ W. How often is this the budgeting strategy in other local and state governments around the country? I will certainly be viewing budget proposals with much more scrutiny from now on…

  8. I have heard several people who are in charge of things later admit to lying just to get approval. People lie all the time to get others on their side, and it is wrong. This is a world where we can’t know what the truth is and who to trust. I personally just in my college career have been told ‘false promises’. When the truth finally comes out it just makes those people in charge look worse then if they would have just told the truth in the first place. I think this politician earned his spot in the hall of shame. He should have just kept his mouth shut or better yet not told the lie (or deceived people) in the first place.

  9. Mr. Brown’s notification to the general public of the corruption going on in “government budgeting” is discouraging, but certainly eye-opening– public budget estimates are not to be easily trusted.

  10. What I’ve been finding out about politicians’ methods and morality in recent years has been the equivalent of being on a Boeing 747 and opening the door to the cockpit to find the plane being flown by five arguming 12-year-olds.

    Its scary and its going to hurt a lot of people if we don’t change the situation quickly.

  11. Seeing this kind of blatant deception in government is discouraging, but it just reinforces how government is comprised of fallen men, just like the rest of us.

  12. I find this an interesting, and shameful, insight into modern budgeting. While it may not be possible to universally prove, it is interesting to apply this principle when examining other budgets. Upon further review, one may find this same “stretch the total” principle in many of this country’s budgets.

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