Deconstructing the liberal myth of government management as a better solution
America’s education system is falling behind its global counterparts. Liberals suggest that we send more tax dollars to the same government systems to finally get it right.
We need to protect our environment and steward our natural resources. The left’s first inclination is cede state authority to federal regulators hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Government management is the liberal answer to the right’s free marketplace. The left rails against the corporate tycoon as out of touch with the common man and the uncertainties of the market as too unreliable to meet the needs of the poor and uneducated.
At first blush, it actually seems to make sense. If capitalism produces an every-man-for-himself society subject to the uncaring and ever-changing laws of supply and demand, government control feels like a natural safeguard. The left holds government out as the remedy to the wrongs our free society creates and a source of stability in a tumultuous economy.
First, dispense with the notion that the political left is somehow run by the “common man.” The same elitism the left vilifies in the corporate boardroom is a virtual requirement in the upper echelons of government. In spite of the fact that the left is run by their own elite, they profess that their system of control produces better outcomes for society’s poor and vulnerable. In other words, they are elitists that care.
Again, the narrative feels good and the left spins it well. Americans pay their taxes and government addresses poverty, education, healthcare, and the environment and protects us from a host of bad things, like Ebola and terrorism. For the liberal, more money to the government means more of the good things and less of the bad things.
The mythic aspiration for government is shockingly disconnected from reality. The main problem is that the government behaves more like a slot machine than a vending machine. Buying more of it does not guarantee better outcomes. It is far from stable and equally as unpredictable at producing the desired outcomes for those the left hopes to aid.
Sometimes good policies and practices actually take shape. The Clean Water Act is a perfect example. In many respects, the original legislation worked as intended. Constraining the ability of industry to dump toxic waste into our national waters cleaned up the environment considerably.
Other times, and particularly recently, the results are shockingly incompetent. Consider the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s response to the Ebola outbreak. The CDC appears to have offered guidance that could have actually helped spread Ebola by assuring a nurse, now being treated for Ebola, that she could fly after coming into contact with an infected patient. Problems with the Affordable Care Act website, issues at the IRS and failures at the Secret Service are other troubling examples.
The danger of the political left’s myth of government provision is that it creates the feeling that we are solving society’s problems without much accountability for results. We continue to suffer the effects of poverty, declining education outcomes, and high costs of healthcare even as government has grown.
The myth operates as a soothing balm for the many liberal consciences. If we pay our taxes, we need not worry too much about society’s most vulnerable. Government will take care of them…except that it often does not.
Capitalism will not cure all of society’s ailments, but it was never designed to do so. It will only ever be as good and altruistic as the people participating in it. The left has responded with a myth that government will effectively and predictably fill in the gaps where the marketplace fails. The question we must answer is whether we would rather feel better believing the myth or face the reality that government might actually be more elitist and unpredictable than the free marketplace liberals find so inadequate.