Most Americans think that the federal government is incompetent and wasteful. Their negative view is not surprising given the steady stream of scandals emanating from Washington. Scholarly studies support the idea that many federal activities are misguided and harmful. A recent book on federal performance by Yale University law professor Peter Schuck concluded that failure is “endemic.” What causes all the failures?
(Yet still keep flapping their gums about how the government “should do something…”)
Here’s an excellent policy piece by Chris Edwards over at the Cato Institute, examining the main reasons that waste and inefficiency are baked into government action. Read it here. For the lazy, here’s a quick recap:
1) Planning and coercion, which allow connected groups and companies to be protected from market forces and public opinion.
2) Experts, but no expertise. Reliance on “experts” from academia with little real world experience, and connected interests which skew “facts” to their advantage. (See #1)
3) Politician look to hide their actions and the costs of the same with debt, and tax and fee schemes to disguise the true cost of programs.
4) Civil service bureaucracies reward inertia, not innovation. Poor performance perversely encourages growth of government bureaucracy as you fill more positions to “fix” broken processes. (And you get your Ivy League buddies jobs they would otherwise have trouble getting in the private sector…)
5) Bigger government costs more and have less benefit.