A Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Bad Government?

By Anthony | March 7th, 2007 | 1:21 am

Republicans often claim that our government is bad at solving problems. So, we probably shouldn’t be surprised when they take it upon themselves to prove it. A recent post at Balloon Juice takes a look down this road, tying it in to the recent problems at Walter Reed:

The lesson here is fairly simple. People who use our present circumstances to argue that government can’t manage its way out of a paper bag are either fooling you or fooling themselves. Of course government breaks down when it’s run by people who don’t care to do the job right. Contrary to the bill of goods that ideological partisans want to sell you, that is far from an argument that government shouldn’t take the lead in fixing problems. Rather it is a rock-solid case for putting people in charge who care about doing the job right and have a decent sense of how to go about it.

This echoes a post from Lance Mannion that I mentioned awhile back:

If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributer cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, See, this proves that people were meant to walk.

This fits in with the personal experience of a friend of mine who works for an agency of the Federal government. He’s told me that since the Democrats took over Congress this year, his job has gotten more difficult and intense. Unlike the situation under a Republican-controlled Congress, the Democrat-led committees are actually interested in what’s going on in his agency, and are requiring more reports and information to use in their decision making.

We shouldn’t expect government to be made efficient and effective by people who don’t believe it can be done.

6 Responses to “A Self-fulfilling Prophecy of Bad Government?”

  1. David Boyd Says:

    I think there’s some truth to this. Unfortunately instead of making the argument and dismantling unnecessary programs the Republicans took the easy way out and just kept funneling them money.

  2. Anglico Says:

    It’s not just that they think it can’t be done. It’s that they hate government as a central tenet. Why people who despise the role of government would spend so much time and money running for jobs that are all about leading government is beyond me.

    I am for excellence in government. I think the best of government should outperform private sector counterparts . . . and that people should get paid what they’re worth.

  3. PotatoStew Says:

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    David, I think you’re right, in that the Republicans as a whole don’t really seem to have the will to make the kinds of cuts they talk about. Part of the reason for this may be because they realize that large segments of America actually *want* many of those programs. The social security debacle was a good example of this.

    I’m all for “dismantling unnecessary programs”, but I do think there are areas where the government should be taking a role, so I’m sure I’d differ with you and other Republicans as to what counts as “unnecessary”.

    Anglico: Thanks for stopping by. That’s a good point – it’s very strange that people who hate government would want to center their lives around it. To be sure, not all Republicans *hate* the government, but maybe the ones that do see themselves as making a sacrifice (making it their career) to try to reduce government for themselves and others. Whatever the case, it does seem like they would be less likely to govern effectively, if they’re mostly focused on dismantling things. If they don’t feel that the govenrment should be doing something, they have no incentive to make sure it’s being done well.

  4. darkmoon Says:

    I’ll point out something. Just because there are more “reports” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more efficient. They play the whole numbers game. More supposedly means better, but it doesn’t.

    If anything, the issue is that the middle management is terrible, there is terrible bloat in government, and process is probably one of the least efficient means. Everything is trickle-down so thus everything has to come from Washington, regardless of whether or not those people have done your job or not. They have a say in it.

    Democrat – led Congress is better for government? No way. Processes still aren’t changed. You’re just asking for more reports at the top. The whole thing is flawed, so changing the output won’t mean a thing.

  5. PotatoStew Says:

    “Just because there are more “reportsâ€? doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more efficient.”

    True enough. But my friend seems pretty confident that they’re paying more attention and interested in the info, which seems to me to be better than not caring. Obviously, being this vague, and second hand, and anecdotal, I don’t expect it to convince anyone or count as evidence, but I know him and trust him that there is a difference.

    “If anything, the issue is that the middle management is terrible, there is terrible bloat in government”

    I’m sure there is bloat and inefficiency. Perhaps if Republicans made good on their threats they would take care of the bloat, but I don’t think Americans want the baby thrown out with the bathwater. There are certain functions that many of us feel the government has an obligation to fulfill. So yes, get rid of the bloat, but do it because bloat is inefficient and not because you want the government to be small enough to drown in a bathtub.

  6. David Boyd Says:

    The other thing to keep in my mind regarding your friends story is how much is due to the folks in power being Democrats and how much is due to someone, anyone new to a job? You know how it is. Whenever people start endeavors they’re full of vim and vigor until the professional bureaucrats beat them down.