Thursday, June 14, 2012

Government Does Very Few Things Well

By Doug Patton

It is almost axiomatic that if something can be done efficiently by the private sector, local government will try to restrict it, tax it, regulate it or take it over. If local government somehow manages to do something well, state officials will do their best to make sure responsibility for that thing is transferred to them. And if, by some miracle, state government is in charge of a thing that is functioning properly and economically, you can rest assured the feds will conclude that, against all logic and historical evidence, they are the entity that can best serve the public in that area.

That is almost never the case, and yet, gallingly, as Ronald Reagan once said, the closest thing we have to eternal life on this earth is a federal government program.

Which is precisely why the excesses of unfettered Democrat rule from January 2009 to January 2011 was an economic disaster that dwarfed the reckless spending of the Bush administration by a measure unimaginable, pre-Obama. Take Obamacare (please!). If the U.S. Supreme Court does not strike down this monstrosity, in a generation it will become the untouchable bureaucratic monster of the 21st century — not unlike Social Security and Medicare — a massive entitlement program that will attach itself to our body politic like a barnacle to the bottom of a decrepit, sinking ship.

Americans work hard for their wages, and government takes an obscene amount of it in taxes — tax revenue Barack Obama has wasted at a greater rate than most administrations have spent in total. This was never clearer than when contemplating the ongoing struggle to build a new V.A. Hospital in Omaha to serve veterans in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas.

The current facility, built more than six decades ago, has administered medical care for three generations of veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the ongoing war in Afghanistan and countless vets who served in peacetime. Unlike most of what the federal government does, this is a service that it should be in the business of providing.

The projected cost of replacing the aging Omaha building is $560 million, a number that jumped off the newspaper page at me, not because it was so high (although it obviously is) but rather because it is so similar to the amount Barack Obama threw down that now-infamous green energy rat hole known as Solyndra.

In case you have not been paying attention for the last year or so, the sad reality is that, as a payoff to one of his fundraising bundlers, Obama wasted one half billion dollars of your tax money on a solar panel company that suddenly and mysteriously went bankrupt. Five hundred million dollars. How do you go bankrupt after cashing a check like that?

And that half billion was just a snowflake on the end of an icicle on the tip of the iceberg that was the president’s ridiculous $863 billion so-called stimulus package. You know, the one that was supposed to create so many “shovel-ready” jobs that the unemployment rate would never rise above eight percent. The one Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman says was not nearly large enough. That stimulus. Remember?

Under this president, Americans have reluctantly learned to think and speak in terms of trillions of dollars. Each and every day, the United States government is spending $4 billion more than we are taking in. That means that the deficit incurred today and tomorrow would build all 16 V.A. hospitals that, like Omaha's, are in need of replacement — if the money was not being squandered elsewhere.

Governments are cumbersome and wasteful. Their priorities are generally wrong. They devour resources that could be put to much more efficient use in the private sector, where there is motivation to produce a quality product, on time and on budget. The operations of federal agencies are never conducive to increased liberty among the citizenry, and reversing the course of a government is like trying to turn a speeding battleship. It takes time or it takes revolution.


© 2012 by Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors.