October 04, 2005

Donald Sensing's Missing the Changes

Donald Sensing thinks that GWB is Carteresque in that he's full of ideas but none of those ideas are long term or last much beyond January 2009.


Here's what I left in comments:

President Bush's most lasting legacy will be in very unsexy, nuts and bolts areas of the government. You have to go looking for this sort of thing and the news media isn't helping. Here's a few far reaching changes:

1. We now have an education system that actually tests for competence in a way that parents can use to judge spending effectiveness
2. We are committed to eliminating treatment favoritism in old age medical care. We used to subsidize expensive surgery and not subsidize cheap pills. Now we're moving to an even-handed system.
3. We're committed to forcing the medical profession to get out of the 1980s with their technology usage and, over the next 8 years (it's a ten year plan started 2 years ago) squeeze out enormous costs by reducing paperwork through automation
4. We're completely redoing the DoD personnel system in a way that will very much reduce the social pain of military life creating better soldiers in the bargain.
5. In fact, we're redoing the entire DoD in a way that hasn't been done since its creation (see Tom Barnett's recent Esquire interview with Rumsfeld)
6. The Government Accounting Office is now the Government Accountability Office and is starting to act like it.

There are others but I'm saving it for a blog post

All throughout the government, throughout every government, in fact, the big problem has been that feedback loops are either nonexistent or seriously distorted, not fulfilling their proper role of moderating bad behavior and encouraging good. In fact, what feedback loops exist are more often just the reverse, encouraging the most perverse sort of behavior. "If you solve a problem, you lose your job" creates an ethic of making sure that no problems are ever actually solved. The proposition that this can ever be fully fixed is a central tenet of communism and the proposition that this can never be fully fixed is a central tenet of capitalism as well as conservatism.

This does not mean that all governments are doomed to the same level of incompetence. George W Bush is our first MBA president and all jokes aside about his intellectual skills, the man is working hard at creating a government system that is much better at imitating free market feedback loops than it was when he arrived in office. Those reforms are not sexy, they're not generally covered by the media, but they'll be paying benefits for the american people for decades out in the future.

Posted by TMLutas at October 4, 2005 10:20 AM