Here’s a heck of a point from the Troglopundit.

We don’t trust politicians. We don’t believe that they put the common good above their own political welfare.

We do believe that politicians are swayed like wheat grass in heavy winds by the smell of a nice big check. The highest bidder, we believe, gets his way. Not us.

And yet, we’re handing these same politicians more and more power to spend vast amounts of money and create vast networks of bureaucratic authority that affect more and more aspects of our daily lives. These same politicians, whom we do not trust.

There’s a question at the end of his post we really ought to consider. I’ll ask one of my own.

Why do we continue to grow the size of government even though we know it’s laden with corruption, waste, inefficiency, and incompetence? If our mechanic or plumber gave us the same service we get as a matter of routine from the federal government, we’d not only stop using that mechanic or plumber, but we’d probably sue them to get our money back.

Even so, we eagerly sign on to the next big program and bloat up the programs we already have despite what history and our own eyes tell us. And when government fails us, we don’t seriously consider making it smaller. We buy the line, from the politicians who have a vested interest in the outcome, that what we really need to do is fix the program just a little.

Why do we act that way? Why do we lose our good sense when it comes to government?

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3 Responses to “Why Do We Keep Making Big Failed Government Bigger?”

  1. Tweets that mention Why Do We Keep Making Big Failed Government Bigger? -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jimmie, Margaret . Margaret said: RT @jimmiebjr: New Post: Why Do We Keep Making Big Failed Government Bigger? [...]

  2. Terry Ott says:

    Jimmie, doggone you, I am going to hate you just a little bit for asking that question. It's such an easy thing for you to ask, but it is so multi-faceted to answer. But I'm a sucker, so here goes.

    First, we don't feel the pain financially as much as we should. We borrow so much of the money now, and only those of us who worry about the downsteam effects of the deficit go all nuts about it when we get little or nothing in return. If we had to pay out of our wallet today for the stuff the government spent on yesterday, different story.

    Second, we don't measure effectiveness. Businesses do, as a matter of course. There is the old saw "that which gets measured gets done." So while we have a perception of ineffectiveness and inefficiency, well justified, the data is not out there for us to see and raise the roof over.

    Third, we don't have much control over it. How do we effect change? Vote someone else into office? But realistically, how many politicians (except at the local level) get voted out because agencies they (sort of) oversee are crappy performers. We get worked up about all manner of OTHER things, including things that even the politicians and their minions may not have much control over, but efficient operation of the public sector gets people excited ONLY when we face a funding crisis and someone is pressured to cut deadwood (the kind of pruning that happens every day of every week in the private sector). And even THEN the folks tend to be protected by civil service rules and political connections, so the non-performers may not be the ones who are eliminated.

    Fourth, the Federal Government, it is now so big and so complex and so diffused with so many fingers in the pie that I doubt anyone really has the complete picture of who is supposed to do what. As a result there is egregious overlap with unclear objectives and missions. Kind of like trying to find your car in a huge parking ramp when you were preoccupied as you were parking it. Except you have to find your car. You don't really HAVE to find where this or that really got screwed up, so after a while you just go, "oh, well …." Case in point: When Robert Gibbs gave a press briefing on the Yemeni airplane bomb plot, he rattled off the acronyms of the agencies that were dispatched to look into it. I swear it was like something one would have heard on Monty Python back in the day — FBI, CIA, HSA, BATF, XYZ, LMNO, PQR, STU, DEF, NFL, NBA, WWE, and on and on. So who was in charge? Doubt anyone really knew.

    Big issue: the way we budget. We don't start with "what will it take to do this, that, and the other". We start with "how much more will it cost this year versus last year". Clinton/Gore actually went off a little "zero-based budgeting" spree in his second term for a little while, right after "The age of big government is dead". (uh-huh). Then William J got his priorities changed by Monica and kind of gave up on it, as I recall. That was a shame.

    Another issue: Who ever asks the question "is this department or agency or task force still necessary?" Maybe Paul Ryan will.

    And finally, it is decades of conditioning. We just have gotten used to them losing our paperwork, taking weeks to get back to us, being given the wrong answer three different times, and so on. The expectations are so low that "adequate performance" seems truly spectacular in the rare instances where we see it. So we don't make an issue, we make joke — "close enough or good enough for government work". Helluva job, Brownie.

    I do have a sliver of hope that the newly elected members of Congress will take this more seriously because in a number of cases they seem to have been elected precisely because they said they would. Let's hope.

  3. Chris Tune says:

    I agree with much of what is said here, but I'd like to add an observation:

    Nothing about the way our government is set up, implies, by design, that it can "disassemble" government structures and programs. The legislative branch is designed to create new legislation, the executive branch is designed to administer existing government structures and the judiciary is designed to resolve disputes and (according to their own ideas) distill policy from vague sections of law (I do not believe this is right…).

    What would be needed here, is a radical, even revolutionary way of running a government. You would need to turn the vast resources of the government into a machine that seeks to reduce, and diminish itself. That is quite an accomplishment, IF IT CAN EVEN BE DONE. The closest we have ever seen is some reductions during Harding and Coolidge (1920's), some under Reagan (1980's), and recently an effort in Great Britain. Not much of a record of government cut backs, huh?

    I pray we do find a way to do this, but I'd caution that this is far more difficult a project than, say, the Manhattan Project, or WWII, in general. This will take immense, fundamental change demanded by overwhelming, and relentless insistence by a very, very vocal populace. I worry that the people forget things far too easily once things become somewhat comfortable. There will always be those who believe that government and central planning is the way to solve everything. They, too, do not seem to stop. EVER.

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