Friday, December 27, 2013

Remarkable Accomplishments and Remarkable Failures

This is making the rounds on the internet:
During the 3-1/2 years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, the U.S. produced 22 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 34 million tons of merchant ships, 100,000 fighter aircraft, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, and 2,500,000 military trucks.

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, Sicily, and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.

It's worth noting, that during almost the exact amount of time, the Obama administration couldn't build a functioning web site.
Unable to create a web site to enlist people into the health insurance exchanges, the administration nevertheless assures us that government can effectively manage the health care of 300 million people.

During times of national crisis such as WWII, government is best positioned to perform the required feats of productivity recounted above, but, lacking any such emergency, government is typically slothful, inefficient, and incompetent.

If there's one reason why was a colossal flop with more disastrous consequences yet to come it is in my opinion because there was no competition and no accountability in its creation, both of which are a matter of course in the private sector but rare in government enterprises. Competition and accountability create powerful incentives to produce the best product possible, and absent these incentives the consumer can expect shoddiness and incompetence.

Here's an example: In 2008 Congress passed the Affordable Care Act on a straight party-line vote, and the President signed it into law, without anyone who voted for it acknowledging having actually studied it. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, tacitly admitted as much when she famously asserted that "we have to pass the bill to see what's in it."

To vote for a bill of such enormous implications for the country without knowing what it would entail was a stupefying act of governmental irresponsibility and malfeasance, an act for which every single congressional and administrative supporter should be held accountable by the voters. If we refuse to exercise our own responsibility as citizens and dismiss those who serve us so badly then two things will become frighteningly more likely: We will continue to suffer under the yoke of bad laws and worse politicians, and we make it more probable that those who see no possible constitutional redress will take it upon themselves to seek unconstitutional redress. Both of these would be disastrous and both become more likely in a polity in which an apathetic citizenry has resigned itself to ineffective, incompetent, and corrupt leadership.