Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shannon Love on The Illusion of Government Competence

....or is that delusions of adequacy? Shannon Love has a post on government failures over at Chicago Boyz. She makes her point, that "government organizations do not systematically make better decisions in the same circumstance than do private organizations," using just three examples linked by Instapundit, all from just today. She says:

"Leftists like to argue that, by some magical mechanism, real-world politicians make better decisions, especially better economic decisions, than do private actors in the free market. They usually make this argument after either the free market corrects itself naturally or the government interferes. They then simply assert, without any possibility of empirical verification, that the magic government unicorns could have prevented the problem if only they had been given enough power to do as they wished."
One of the examples is the DC Metro crash from yesterday:

In the case of the DC subway system, the Metro government organization behaved just a badly as a reckless private company might, and arguably worse. The Metro might plead poverty, yet leftists habitually refuse to believe that companies cannot afford any safety standards that leftists deem necessary. Leftists hold companies to such an arbitrary high standard even though private companies cannot raise money on demand. They cannot compel investors to lend them money and they cannot raise prices higher than consumers will pay. Government organizations like the Metro have no competition and can fund themselves from compulsory taxation. What excuse does the Metro have for not funding improvements that would also not excuse a private company? Even worse, as a government organization, the Metro has sovereign immunity. It cannot be sued for harm caused by its own recklessness.
Shannon's first commenter posted a comment longer than her original post, also worth reading in its entirety. an excerpt:

"I think what’s involved here is a difference in viewpoint between collectivists and individualists analogous to the former’s belief in positive rights and the latter’s emphasis on negative rights.

The US has over the years been lauded for, and criticized for, its belief in “American exceptionalism”. I find that people dedicated to individual liberties find this exceptionalism to be derived from a systemic difference, i.e., the freedoms and progress of the American experiment are built on the foundation of the Constitution, and its accompanying intellectual and moral context. These individualists do not believe the US is immune from the mistakes of other societies, but that the structure of the state helps to prevent some of the more egregious abuses.

While collectivists are the loudest among those deriding the idea of exceptionalism, their fervent belief in the state as miracle worker is, in fact, a variation of that very concept. But, instead of an exceptional structure, the collectivist relies on a belief in exceptional people, right-thinking members of their own mythological group, who are free from the “false consciousness” that afflicts so many of those unworthy of inclusion in the mystical vanguard."
As most of you who know me know, I have a very low opinion of government and Shannon Love and the commenter "VeryRetired" do an admirable job of illustrating some of the reasons why.

Read both of them....
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