TMLutas' blog posts can now be found at Flit(tm)

September 25, 2003

Wanted: a Department of Anarchy III

Posted by TMLutas

Jennifer Roback Morse has an interesting article on NRO outlining 10 ideas for the next Governor of California. What interests me right now is #8:

8. Create a California Sunset Commission that would systematically review the continued relevance and performance achievements of 20 percent of all state programs annually.

As the kids would say, "Duh."

This is my previously advocated Department of Anarchy in another form. One improvement I would make is that the Department/Commission should be required to issue one of three ratings:

1. The program has improved the problem it was created to solve. The consequences of this would be a continuation of policy

2. The program has neither improved nor made the problem worse. The consequences of this would be an automatic five year process for sunsetting the program. A simple legislative majority would be able to override this judgment.

3. The program has actually made the problem worse. The consequences of this rating would be a two year sunset in order to give time to create a better answer and redeploy resources in a way that wouldn't make things even worse. Again, the legislature could (but why would they?) override the recommendation through the normal legislative process.

By creating an institution devoted to not only evaluating the quality of government solutions but also armed with the power to do something about it, we'd reverse the ratchet effect of stupid government solutions creating pressure for further government intervention and pouring good money after bad down the rathole.

Iraq's Coming Around III

Posted by TMLutas

I've written about US intentions in Iraq before. In particular, what interests me is the attempt to create a new model for nation building, planting liberty trees. Here's more evidence in the form of a Donald Rumsfeld op-ed that this is what the US is actually trying to do.

While it seems like simple common sense, the idea of holding on to the reigns of power only until locals are able to take over is something that is both hard to do and not done very often. The easy way out is to leave too soon and wash your hands of the mess. The worse temptation is to stay too long and morph from liberator to occupier to imperialist.

There simply aren't a lot of successful hand-overs where local institutions are robust enough to take over and sustain a free society and there is no post liberation bitterness at the occupiers' overlong stay. Whatever the final status of Iraq is, success or failure, we have a new model for dealing with the aftermath of dictatorship. Frankly, it seems to be the best one on offer. No matter where individuals fall on the question of the US and its role in the world, it's a model that needs to be watched closely and made to succeed. It's our best way out.

Note: Thanks to OxBlog for the pointer to the Rumsfeld Op Ed.

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