June 24, 2011
I can think of nothing the government does more effectively than the private sector. Can you? Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, border enforcement . . . they are all costly, poorly managed and riddled with unintended consequences. National security is supposed to be Government’s primary purpose yet we have a porous border that truly threatens our security.
With few exceptions, the problem isn’t that those we elect to public office don’t intend for the programs they create to be wasteful and not perform as expected, it’s that the “I’m the government and I’m here to help” mindset fails to acknowledge and accept the actual outcome. Instead, supporters continue to ride on the intention of the action. Once the unintended consequences are known, any attempt to reverse the action is attacked with rhetoric about the original intention with no acknowledgement of the actual crappy result. It’s much easier for government to create a problem than it is for the problem causing legislation to be reversed.
A group advocating for a certain program or policy may intend for it to do a certain thing, but when the actual result becomes known, the supporters have too much hubris to say “oops, sorry, wrong, kill it” because to do so would reduce their clout/influence/power and our impression of their effectiveness as our elected representative. As a result we end up with programs that cannot/do not do what they were originally intended to do with no expeditious way to defund, remove or eliminate the action. This is the mindset we must change in Washington. We need responsible realists willing to look at the actual result, not the intended result who are willing to reverse course and undo, undo, undo.
So the question when evaluating any action should be . . . does it do what was intended better/cheaper than the private sector could do/does the very same job? This single question should be the score card for EVERY government action (program/policy/bill/whatever). EVERY SINGLE ONE, right after is it the government’s JOB to do this thing. If the unintended consequence of the action does not meet expectation or intended result, if it cannot meet those expectations in a cost effective way, it should be scrapped.
If we did this, it wouldn’t take very long before we get a government very reduced in size and much more efficient and responsive to the people instead of our current unweildy monolith. If we begin to tie the result, including unintended consequences, around the neck of every legislator who supported the action (certainly every bill’s sponsor) we might start to see some caution in what is passed into law.
Changing who is making the decisions in DC isn’t going to change the mindset. We MUST require that the effectiveness of the action be the trigger for whether the action remains in force or is summarily scrapped.