Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.



June 2012

Uninformed Government

Written by , Posted in Health Care, Welfare & Entitlements, Waste & Government Reform

How people imagine government works and how it actually works are often two very different pictures. Many people like to believe, for instance, that government is run by deliberative lawmakers and interested technocrats who careful consider policies before implementing them, and then later consider the data to evaluate their progress.

Little could be further from the truth.

Government is better thought of as children. Politicians jump from issue to issue seemingly at random, showing at first the kind of intense interest similar to a youngster discovering a new hobby only then to see it abandoned a week later when something newer and shinier comes along.

Laws already on the books are yesterday’s news, of no more interest than the half-finished, abandoned tree fort in the backyard. Government, it turns out, doesn’t care enough to know any details about how its policies are doing:

Americans spend $80 billion each year financing food stamps for the poor, but the country has no idea where or how the money is spent.

…Coinciding with lobbying by convenience stores, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program in conjunction with states, contends that disclosing how much each store authorized to accept benefits, known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), receives in taxpayer funds would amount to revealing trade secrets.

As a result, fraud is hard to track and the efficacy of the massive program is impossible to evaluate.

This is no way to govern. And it’s not just lawmakers lacking information. As Gene Healy explains, this administration has taken keeping the public in the dark to a whole new level.

Government as it turns out is not a thoughtful, deliberative process, or a place where smart people get together to solve all our problems. It’s more like a dark, dank back-alley full of drunks stumbling around to find their footing.