Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Government Has A Role

Yes government does have a role, but I think the bigger question is how we make government do what it is supposed to? How do we change an inefficient and incompetent government or a government that has been co-opted by corporations, unions, and special interests for their benefit? What is the mechanism to make government better?

Elections only replace the top level of government, it doesn't do anything to change the bureaucrats and lower level employees, what if they are incompetent and fail consistently to do their jobs? The SEC and their counterparts like the Commodities and Futures Commission (CFC) are good examples. We're told they were at MF Global overlooking the company weeks before they went bankrupt and stole over a billion in customer funds. How do we get these regulators to actually do their jobs? Unsurprisingly, no one has been fired from the regulators, how do we make them accountable? What is the incentive for these agencies to do better?

How do we determine if a government service is a good value? The TSA is a good example. How do we figure out if the benefits of their service outweigh the costs, both in dollar terms and time spent?

People are frustrated because we don't seem to be able to change government and make it better. With a private enterprise, we would just stop being customers and they would either have to shape up or go bankrupt solving the problem and another, better company would rise in its place. We have no such mechanism for government. Mark Thoma and others here make too many assumptions, especially about the efficiency of government and that government will operate as it's supposed to. What happens if it doesn't?