I've just read 'Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working' by Jonathan Rauch. I will try not to make this into a book report and refrain from using his terminology, but he made some interesting points. In his book Rauch claims that government's ineffectiveness is due to big government mixed with a gridlock of special interest groups. While I can't agree more with the problem of big government I even think he is on to something with his assumption of special interest groups.
The growth of special interest groups is astounding. “In 1956, fewer than five thousand associations were listed. The number had doubled by 1970 and then doubled again by 1990. Over the period of 1970 to 1990 an average of about ten new groups were formed every week.”
Later, he makes the statement that special interest is not so special. “But the fact is that seven out of ten Americans belong to at least one association…and one in four Americans belongs to four or more.” I think of groups such as AARP, NRA, Right to Life and the membership they can boast about.
The result, any politician attempting to trim a government program will be attacked by a special interests group on the receiving end of the benefit. Government ends in a stand still. Why don't the people care? As Rauch puts it, if 12 companies are fighting for a $12 million subsidy where they each make an easy million, where is the incentive for the public of 270 million to fight over a fraction of a cent?
What do you think of this assessment?
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 Labels: government