The older I get, the more I put my faith in the gear-jamming, contentious nature of political institutions and the less I like any notion of "efficiency" in government.
Governments are inherently inefficient, and the ones that make the greatest claims to "efficiency" are also the ones the most likely to squander the resources, fortunes and lives of their own citizens.
We're better off with small governments; given that all governments are wasteful at approximately the same rate, a small one costs less than a large one. And a small, inefficient government is a lot less likely to infringe on your liberty than a large one: they can't afford it, and besides, they've misplaced the paperwork.
All this musing comes from a quick morning's study of the 20th Century's great experiment in multilayered governmental screw-ups, the Soviet Union. I was looking into autocrats, trying to find even one that lacked an overarching political philosophy, and I'm not finding it. From Mussolini to Stalin, they all had some damnable Idea that drove their thoughts and actions, and generally wrote of it, often at significant length and depth, quite frequently in the blood of innocents. If you want to find a Great Leader lacking in a Great Plan, you've got to dig way, way back, and even then you end up with the likes of Julius Caesar, who certainly knew his way to the end of a paragraph.
The muddy legislative waters of Washington, D.C. and the sound-bite culture that infests it, wafting its way into the nightly news and onto front pages, may be more of a bulwark than we realize: our would-be leaders never quite manage to get their flapping jaws around a really Big Idea, the kind that kills people wholesale for the supposed greater good. And I'm happy about that; we're better off stuck with penny-ante pissants than genuine Men On Horseback. Sure, it's kind of embarrassing, but it beats the alternative.
6 days ago