9 Sep 2010

My politics, redux

In the post earlier today, WEH called attention to a number of government programs that are either broke or failures. I "allowed" that post to go up because I agreed with it, although perhaps not its phrasing. In short:
  • The USPS loses money every year, but it was very successful until the 1970s or so, when competition started to erode its customer base -- by delivering better, faster, cheaper. Its status is protected by unionized workers.
  • SocSec is broken because of its PayGo structure. We need individual accounts, private or not. This status is "protected" by a desire to avoid the reality of lower retirement payouts AND politicians desire to keep spending SS money on current expenses.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been failures since they started playing the market, socializing losses and privatizing gains. Their status is protected by political contributions.
  • The War on Poverty (...and Drugs and Terror) has failed b/c it ignores incentives. It's protected by a bureaucracy that loves to "do" something.
  • Medicare and Medicaid are broken b/c they give away too much without revenues to match. It's protected as "better than nothing" as well as doctors who know how to milk the system. (I favor a single payer, multiple provider system, btw)
  • DoE, like the USDA and DoEd, is a waste of money. All three could be shrunk by 90% and maintain core operations...
So, that's why I put up WEH's post...

Now, LL and DW both implied that I am supporting a "republican" agenda of some sort. Let me be clear:
  • I'm a libertarian -- see this post from two years ago.
  • Obama inherited a totally broken government, one that GW Bush damaged from a fiscal, legal, regulatory and political perspective. GW Bush was, IMO, the worst president in US history. Worse than Nixon (who was pretty corrupt) and certainly worse than Clinton (who was impeached for lying about a blowjob!)
  • Reagan said "The seven scariest words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'" That was ironic, since he then expanded the government by a huge degree, invaded small countries, and did a lot to make the government ineffective. 
  • I have a lot of sympathy for the Tea Party's fiscal agenda, but I loathe the widespread failure to understand just how to deliver efficient government.
  • Democrats are no saints, of course.
This blog is about effective government and policies, especially wrt the provision of water. I think that bureaucrats and politicians can do a good job, but I know that's no sure thing. What matters, often, is whether or not they care, and whether or not they can be monitored and measured for performance and/or forced to compete, so that they serve citizens.

That perspective is behind the "government failure" tag attached to many blog posts. The government can fail, just as markets can fail. The real problem is that government failure is a lot harder to correct.

So let's get back to that, shall we?