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Commentary: Why our governments can’t solve problems

Commentary: Why our governments can’t solve problems

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Why can’t modern governments solve real problems?

Look around, it is becoming increasingly obvious our governmental systems are failing. We go to great lengths trying to hide from this reality. For the media, the sun rises and sets on government. Someone stubs their toe in Casper, Wyoming and reporters immediately ask if the President has been notified.

Frankly, I would prefer to live in a country where the president is relatively irrelevant. It would be nice to ignore government enough that every year would not be an election year simply because next year is an election year. I really don’t care what Nancy Pelosi thinks, and it would be nice if that didn’t matter.

The real problem, however, is the failure of modern governments to solve problems.

Why is that?

First, governments create problems. Thomas Sowell put it like this: “Too many political ‘solutions’ are solutions to problems created by previous political ‘solutions.’” Milton Friedman stated, “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” Or, as Ronald Regan famously stated, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Second, governments have reached the point of near total bureaucratic deadlock. It is almost impossible to actually do anything. Wherever you wish to go, you can’t get there from here. Every bureaucrat has some turf to protect. It is not as if bureaucrats are incompetent. We might be better served if they were. The problem lies elsewhere. Bureaucracies do not do outcomes, they do process. Bureaucrats would work themselves out of a job if they achieved an outcome.

Third, everything is political. The goal of politics is politics, not solutions. Thomas Sowell opined, “No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”

Fourth, the misguided belief that government is society. Unless a person wants to live in the equivalent of an anthill, a society should never be an appendage of a government.

Fifth, modern governments have created a closed system in which the boundaries of imagination never exceed that of the government itself. External realities are regularly denied.

In the real world, a government cannot continue spending trillions of dollars it does not have to solve problems it created. As discussed in Psych 101, you get more of what you reinforce and less of what you punish. If a government reinforces homelessness, then it will get more homelessness. If it reinforces illegal border crossings, then we will get more illegal border crossings. If you punish achievement, we will get less achievement.

The problems created by a closed governmental system are exacerbated when combined with an ideology so tainted by politics that it no longer matches reality. Data is ignored, or even banned, as the government sinks ever deeper into a mire of false pretentions.


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