Once upon a time, government was able to get things done. Big things. The space program, the Hoover Dam, and other big projects of the early 20th century were all conceptualized and completed in a short time frame that would be unfathomable today. Now, a much more modest project, the Obamacare website, has taken three whole years to create, and has debuted with so many bugs that it is practically unusable. As the estimable Glenn Reynolds argues at USA Today, this is a natural consequence of government growth over the second half of the past century:
As it’s gotten bigger the federal government appears to have gotten less competent. Apollo was a success on its own terms, but the big government policies that followed — the War On Poverty, the War On Drugs, the War On Cancer — have all been pretty much failures, sometimes disastrous ones.Even Obama himself is evidence of this problem. His 2012 presidential campaign was famous for its mastery of technology, building up an electronic campaign infrastructure in just a few months that helped him win the election. But, of course, it wasn’t a government operation. Obama without the government — a technological success. Obama within the government — a technological embarrassment. The difference between success and failure here, as even Obama-haters will have to admit, wasn’t Obama. It’s more likely that a political campaign has clear goals, and lots of freedom to improvise, while a federal program is much more encumbered by law and bureaucracy.
We couldn’t agree more. We’ve long held that one of the key problems of the blue model is that as government grows bigger a proliferation of red tape and bureaucratic hurdles makes it more difficult to get things done. Perversely, this even applies to projects progressives like (Obamacare very much included). No wonder there are so few truly “shovel ready” projects today.Read the whole thing.[Hoover Dam photo courtesy of Shutterstock]