Government is Not the Problem. Bad Government is the Problem.

August 27th, 2010

And the solution to bad government is … good government.

A lot of people — maybe even most Americans — think that making government smaller will make it better.

But that reminds of the time when I a little kid that I got in trouble for pouring water out of a glass down a heat register in our house.

Why down a heat register? I can only say that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Why was I pouring water out of a glass? Because the water was warm, and I wanted cold water. I figured I could pour the hot part out. What can I say? The logic of children.

With the experience, wisdom, and sagacity of age, I’ve realized why that wouldn’t work. It’s like blood-letting, right? If you drain off the bad blood, you’ll get better!

For the last thirty years, the Republicans have been engaged in the political (and intellectual) equivalent of blood-letting.

Contrary to what the sainted President Reagan said, government is not the problem. Bad government is the problem.

The solution to bad government is not small government, but good government.

Pass it on.

  1. Chris T
    August 30th, 2010 at 10:12 | #1

    Of course the trick is determining what’s good government.

  2. Erik
    September 22nd, 2010 at 11:07 | #2

    Alternately, “The solution to bad government is not small government”, but it does equal less bad government. Sort of a least worst thing.

  3. September 23rd, 2010 at 11:14 | #3


    So you’ve got a glass of warm water. You pour some out. You’ve got less warm water.

    There’s this simplistic notion that all we have to do is cut government and the fabled utopia will arrive. It doesn’t require any effort, involvement, political compromise, good will, personal sacrifice, analysis, hard thinking, or long-term effort.

    Finger twirling in cheek.

    Time for some blocking and tackling.

  4. NotMilty
    January 7th, 2013 at 13:35 | #4

    Ugh…your analogy makes little sense. However, please share with us how to replace bad government with good government. If you know a way to do that you will instantly earn a Nobel Prize (not that they are all that well respected anymore anyway).

    The point is to replace activities that government naturally does poorly with activities in the private sector which are executed in a more efficient way. The incentives in government are certainly different than they would be in the private sector. Some activities may benefit from the difference but others will suffer.

    Certainly we would agree (I hope) that the government should not do ALL activities. So therefore we know that there are some activities that are better off left to the private sector. I would say that there are also activities that the government must do so the private sector should not do ALL activities either.

    I believe the point that small-government people are making (and I would largely agree with them) is that the government is now doing many activities that either are more effectively done outside the government or that produce far less than $1 of benefit for every $1 spent on them.

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