WSJ Opinion: Bush and Big Government

Nick Gillespie, one of my favorite journalists writes up a summary of the Bush legacy in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend. Here’s a choice quote:

Mr. Bush's legacy is thus a bizarro version of Ronald Reagan's. Reagan entered office declaring that government was not the solution to our problems, it was the problem. Ironically, he demonstrated that government could do some important things right — he helped tame inflation and masterfully drew the Cold War to a nonviolent triumph for the Free World. By contrast, Mr. Bush has massively expanded the government along with the sense that government is incompetent.

The latter is the most important bit. It is more than a sense however, it is the truth. Government’s cure for everything seems to be shoveling mountains of money at problems, rather than actually solving them. First it was taxpayer money. Then it became future taxpayer’s money. My hope for the new administration is that it will stop this practice and start showing some fiscal responsibility.

I’m not holding my breath however.

3 thoughts on “WSJ Opinion: Bush and Big Government”

  1. The problem with all sides is their insistence that government is de facto completely incompetent at everything, while private industry is perfect, the Libertarians holding the most extreme version of this view, the radical democrats not so much.

    That, to be nice, is a lie.

    Government is quite often clumsy, and a bit stupid, but hey, we keep electing clumsy, stupid people, so we get what we want. However, it’s not completely incompetent. What it is however, is completely political and that does a great imitation of incompetent.

    For example, a subject near and dear to my heart, the B-1B. WHile now recognized as one hell of a strategic bomber, 22 years ago, it was the biggest, most politicized weapons systems ever, and a bit of a joke. No, really, *every state in the union* got money out of that program. It was reviled, and everyone said it was a joke compared to the B-52, (all the while forgetting the rather intense growing pains that programme had).

    Yet, in spite of all the noise, and some rather stupid bits of incompetence, or outright lying (always on the part of the contractors…private industry all), it persevered, and is now quite the bit of aviation.

    That’s not incompetent, and it’s most definitely a gov. program.

    Or mail delivery. Sure, we all rag on the USPS, and quite often, it’s earned, but, we’ve both had just as many cases where UPS and FedEx are Just as bad, if not worse than the USPS. Blatantly lying about delivery dates, calling you stupid for believing said lies, (no, literally, FedEx told us “You should have known those dates were impossible”. Oy-fuckin’ vey), staggering incompetence and lazyness.

    yet, they’re private industry, and if you believe the big lie, therefore, automatically better than anything the government can do.

    Science is another area, where government is not only just as good as private industry, but to be honest, has funded and/or created a LOT more useful science and research than private industry even comes close to.

    If we want to fix government, we have to deal with the reality of government, not the popular image, because you can’t fix the problem until you are able to analyze it according to reality, not fantasy.

  2. Thank you, John. I tire really goddam fast about this misconception that ‘gummint’ is completely staffed by buffoons. I know: I’m a gov’t worker and the vast majority of those I work with are highly ethical and competent people. That being said, I’m a geologist: only a wee bit of politics involved!

    This misconception is *another* instance of the generally lowering level of fundamental understanding by Joe Six Pack.

  3. There are things that Government does well and things that private enterprise does well.

    Stereotypes exist for a reason IMO. I can only speak for myself, but my impressions of government come from personal experiences. My day to day dealings with our local government are usually fairly painful. I dread dealing with the Division of Drivers Licenses because every time I go in there the people you deal with have horrible attitudes. They act (with rare exceptions) like they are superior and entitled, and they act that way because they feel that barring the stabbing of a “customer”, they will keep their job for as long as they want it. They know it. You know it, and they know you know it. There is no *incentive* to provide excellent customer service. This results in a room full of glib workers and civilians wanting to get the hell out of there as fast as they can. It shouldn’t be that way IMO, but those attitudes are hard to avoid in a monopolistic system.

    If you go down to city hall for a building permit it’s the same situation. The government employees act like they don’t care if the Sun comes up tomorrow. Don’t get me started on the building inspectors.

    My point is that people have a bad impression about government because the impressions people take away are from actually engaging with the local level government employees. For me, that impression day in and day out is a poor one.

    I think the public also perceives the government as being very wasteful with (our) money. We hand our hard-earned over to the government and then watch as it’s allocated in an inefficient manner (putting it nicely). This happens constantly and obviously doesn’t lead to much goodwill between the government and it’s citizens.

    I have not worked for the government, so I have not seen the other side of the equation. I’m sure that there are many competent, good people like vroomie manning the stations, but those kind of folks aren’t in customer service around here. Perception is reality even if it doesn’t tell the whole story.

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