Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Government F.U.B.A.R.

Haven’t you noticed? Look at Obamacare--a word the president now (strangely) embraces.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), just before deciding not to seek re-election next year, candidly gave Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius his views on Obamacare, of which Baucus was a principal author:
"I just see a huge train wreck coming down. You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet. I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far — very concerned. Small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect. You need data. Do you have any data? You've never given me data. You only give me concepts, frankly."
Baucus is, I repeat, a father of Obamacare. And then there is TIME’s Joe Klein, close to the Democratic power center for 2+ decades (he wrote Primary Colors about Clinton’s 1992 campaign), going directly after the president’s health care program:
Obamacare will fail if he doesn’t start paying more attention to the details of implementation, if he doesn’t start demanding action. And, in a larger sense, the notion of activist government will be in peril—despite the demographics flowing the Democrats’ way—if institutions like the VA and Obamacare don’t deliver the goods. Sooner or later, the Republican party may come to understand that its best argument isn’t about tearing down the government we have, but making it run more efficiently.
Government incompetence is so much bigger than Obamacare--failing to fix foreign policy, to achieve economic growth, job growth, or income growth. The Washington Post’s George Will has hit on government’s misuse of debt and regulation, two “legitimate government functions” now being “perverted to evade” the “nuisance” of democratic accountability, and to avoid open taxation, a trend Will calls “politically dangerous.”

Will explains:
Today’s government uses regulation to achieve policy goals by imposing on the private sector burdens less obvious than taxation would be, burdens that become visible only indirectly, in higher prices. Often the goals government pursues by surreptitious indirection are goals that could not win legislative majorities — e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases following Congress’s refusal to approve such policies.
And deficit spending — borrowing — is[, in the words of the Hudson Institute’s Christopher DeMuth] “a complementary means of taxation evasion”: It enables the political class to provide today’s voters with significantly more government benefits than current taxes can finance, leaving the difference to be paid by voters too young to vote or not yet born.
Will notes that before, government used taxes to pay for things — roads, dams, bridges, military forces, and there were limits to what government could buy. Now government spends primarily for consumption. Therefore, in DeMuth’s words:
The possibilities for increasing the kind, level, quality and availability of benefits are practically unlimited. This is the ultimate source of today’s debt predicament. More borrowing for more consumption has no natural stopping point short of imploding on itself.
Government will yet be the ruin of us all. Yet government’s damage to us is much overlooked. To properly convey the government problem’s depth, I give you the well-informed “Zman,” who in anonymously commenting on Mark Steyn’s recent National Review article about how the FBI mishandled two Chechen bombers ahead of the Boston Marathon, said:
All bureaucracies are incompetent. It is their nature. They are inward looking and self-serving. The whole point of having all those meetings and steering committees is to avoid real work and, mostly, real responsibility. Since government is nothing but an enormous collection of giant bureaucracies, government will always be incompetent. Blaming the FBI here is like getting mad at the dog for not doing your taxes.
Therein lies the root problem. The insanity of our ruling classes is this. One side thinks government can and should perform all sorts of duties that have traditionally been the responsibility of the individual. The observable fact that the government cannot do basic things well is never considered. The other end of the ruling class thinks they can make government run properly and do all of these things effectively. The fact it has never been done on earth never occurs to them.
New York Timesman Thomas Friedman upon the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad proclaimed:
I coined the term “Fayyadism” — the all-too-rare notion that an Arab leader’s legitimacy should be based not on slogans or resistance to Israel and the West or on personality cults or security services, but on delivering decent, transparent, accountable governance.
Friedman is just 5 words [given in brackets below] from a far more profound truth:
I coined the term “[conservatism]” — the all-too-rare notion that a.   .   . leader’s legitimacy should be based not on slogans or resistance to [the wealthy] or on personality cults or [government unions], but on delivering decent, transparent, accountable governance.
Though “Zman” doesn’t agree government can work, we should keep trying.

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