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Zickar: Time to Reconsider a Sunset Commission

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” — Warren Buffett“The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled, it burns like a consuming flame.” — Theodore RooseveltOne of the first things they teach you in business school is the concept of the value proposition. Simply stated, value proposition is the benefit a consumer receives from purchasing a good or service. Value proposition has always been a key component of any business. But in tough economic times, the concept has become even more important.With budgets tight, people are justifying their every purchase. Companies that have weathered the recession have recognized this and have adjusted their strategy accordingly. The Target Corp. is a good example. Ten years ago, ads for the chain of stores were famous for featuring the company logo and little else. Once the economy began to slow, Target changed its approach. The logo was still there. But it was now accompanied by four words that not only resonated with people who were being squeezed financially, but conveyed the company’s value proposition as well: “Expect More, Pay Less.”With the country emerging from the recession, people’s pocketbooks are loosening and their shopping habits are beginning to change. But one thing hasn’t changed. People remain unsettled — around 60 percent say America is headed in the wrong direction. People are also angry. Much of this anger is directed at Washington. There are many theories as to why that is. Those on the right believe it’s because the government is spending too much. Those on the left believe it’s because the government is doing too little.But perhaps there is another dynamic at work. It is a dynamic that has less to do with the size and scope of government than with its value proposition. Call it the reverse Target effect. Instead of expecting more and paying less, Americans feel just the opposite is true when it comes to the tax dollars they send to Washington and the return they get from the federal government.In 2010, the average American household will pay $18,276 in federal taxes, according to the Heritage Foundation. Increasingly, people are asking what that money is buying them. The reason for this question should be obvious to anyone who has observed American government in recent years. Our federal bureaucracy appears incapable of doing the job taxpayers expect it to do.

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