The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Could “Government is the problem” be part of the problem?

with 10 comments

Like so:

Government is bad,

We should cut its funding whenever we have a chance to do so.
Of course, then …

Government agencies end up under-staffed, under-equipped, and unable to keep up (years-long immigration-hearing delays come to mind, or the Katrina response, or …)

Government’s best and brightest administrators get fed up and leave, finding industry positions that ask less and pay more,
Which opens the door for …

Incompetent, patronage-appointed bureaucrats become administrators (“Great job, Brownie!”)
And, Presto!

Proof!  Just look at how badly this agency functions!  Government is the problem! It can’t do anything right!

Maybe the idea that “government is the problem” needs to be replaced with “bad government is the problem.”

Finally, a related quote:

(Newser) – Barack Obama’s former car czar says he had no choice but to fire GM’s Rick Wagoner. “Everyone knew Detroit’s reputation for insular, slow-moving cultures,” Steven Rattner writes in an essay for Fortune. “Even by that low standard, I was shocked by the stunningly poor management that we found, particularly at GM, where we encountered, among other things, perhaps the weakest finance operation any of us had ever seen in a major company.”

Aha!  “Business is the problem?”

‘Course not.  Bad business is the problem.


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10 Responses

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  1. I couldn’t agree more, and I’ve been pushing this point with a number of folks lately. There is always room for improved efficiency in government, but smaller government is not the answer to everything. The corruption is, I believe, in most cases a direct result of the entanglement of corporate enterprise with government operations.


    November 22, 2009 at 1:53 am

    • Indeed – thanks – and I think this idea that government size is the problem leads directly (and intentionally by some of those who push it) to a smaller and more impotent regulatory capability.

      If I were a big business backroom dealer, I would want nothing more than to promote a mantra that would neuter the government’s ability to make me play by the rules.


      November 22, 2009 at 9:41 pm

  2. Right on, Monte. I’ve been saying this for years, and interestingly, I find that it resonates with my reasonable-rightist friends.

    It’s hard to convince them that making government smaller (especially by underfunding) has real potential to make it worse, but they’ll even acknowledge that sometimes.

    The main resistance, I think, is that it throws you into the whole messy business of crafting effective policy (and the even messier politics that go with it); there’s no easy solution like just cutting taxes. People want easy solutions.

    Steve Roth

    November 5, 2009 at 10:08 am

    • That seems like a wise observation, Steve. How often I have wanted answers to be simple! But making things function well must boil down to very skilled people doing very hard and honest work. Perhaps if public service were esteemed again, the attraction of such folks to government service would be facilitated.


      November 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

  3. Hi, Monte! My computer blew up a few weeks ago and there was all kinds of chaos with its replacement and, yoikes! I found a big chunk of my brain blew up with my computer… my bookmarks! OMG. I’m finally beginning to get them back little by little, and so can come here for for a little charge from your good thoughts betimes again.



    November 2, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    • Ah thanks, my friend. It is always good to hear from you. You are so creative!


      November 5, 2009 at 10:57 pm

  4. Excellent post, Monte. Exactly. It’s bad government and bad business that are the problem; the problem is compounded when bad government supports bad business, which is what we’ve had here for a long time.

    And welcome back.


    October 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    • Amen to that. Bad government and bad business make mighty scary bed-fellows!
      And thanks!


      October 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm

  5. There is a time-tested solution to bad business that can be summed up in three words: Let it fail.

    Derin Beechner

    October 26, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    • And what if 50,000 people like you and me lose their livelihood just because their executives were irresponsible? I’ll grant you that that’s time-tested, but how is it good or just?


      October 29, 2009 at 9:18 pm

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