On government competence…

This post really gets to the heart of why I am libertarian leaning.

I disagree with the libertarian positions that:

  • We morally are required NOT to require everyone to contribute to the greater good.
  • Taxes = theft
  • All regulations are unnecessary
  • It is wrong for the government to provide a basic safety net

However, I really think that almost all government functions are inefficient and excessively costly, just by being government run.  That’s why I would like to see government set up in a much different way.   Instead of government, for instance, doing research at NIH, the government comes up with a money distribution system for basic research and takes applicants for the cash.  What if a bunch of scientists want some newfangled hadron collider or some other big ticket item?  Be sure to come up with a way to account for that in the distribution system.  For regulation and inspection and audit, set up training for third party auditors to do it, require copies of all the third party audits, which are legally binding, and then re-audit a few of them.  This could potentially work for FDA, USDA, EPA, OSHA, SEC, IRS, etc.  Make the subject of the audits pay for at least part of the audit once it reaches a certain size (i.e. most individuals would not pay for IRS audits but JPM certainly would).  And many government functions would be outsourced, including administration of redistribution, such as social security and VA, and the auditing functions would set up parameters for evaluating these outsourced services.  So you would end up with money distribution and purchasing functions, and auditing functions.  What functions should stay run and executed more or less entirely by the government?  The military.  Intelligence.  Clearly there is enough evidence that prisons should not be outsourced.  I think infrastructure projects need comprehensive oversight.  And based on the audits, if certain industries are found to be inherently unable to adhere adequately to regulations, then maybe increase government role somehow there.  I would also radically revise the size and scope of our collective priorities, and dramatically simplify everything possible, starting with the tax code.  So, that’s my pipe dream, without the pipe.  Here’s someone else’s epiphany:

The Most Puzzling (and Haunting) Statement about the ACA Fiasco

obama todd

This may be a little after-the-fact, but I’ve been thinking about the ACA mess this weekend and keep coming back to President Obama’s November 7 interview with Chuck Todd.  Or more precisely, Ann Althouse’s post on the interview.  (I admit to not watching the full interview – Althouse’s excerpts were enough to stick in my head like an annoying song.)

Speaking about why his campaign website worked so well compared to the ACA site, Obama said:


You know, one of the lessons — learned from this whole process on the website — is that probably the biggest gap between the private sector and the federal government is when it comes to I.T. …

Well, the reason is is that when it comes to my campaign, I’m not constrained by a bunch of federal procurement rules, right?

He later added that:

When we buy I.T. services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn’t work or it ends up being way over cost.

BO, aren’t you kind of acknowledging that your ideological opponents are right?  Yet, you claim that these fundamental inefficiencies are easily fixed?

As Althouse notes:

we’ve been told we must buy a product, and things have been set up so we can only go through the government’s market (the “exchange”), and the government has already demonstrated that its market doesn’t work. But you can’t walk away, you’re forced to buy, and there’s nowhere else to go. And yet, he wants us to feel bad about the cumbersome bureaucracy the government encountered trying to procure the wherewithal to set up the market it had already decided we would all need to use.

Check out the Althouse post for more commentary and YouTube clips.

(h/t David Henderson)



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