Friday, July 20. 2007
New York City had an explosion yesterday, demonstrating once again that stupidity and incompetence can do things that terrorists can only dream of. David Caruso, writing for AP, picked up in the Wichita Eagle today, writes:
$1.6 trillion is, like, double what Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the US since 2001. It is a number that is both prohbitively huge and more/less manageable. The only real difference is that nobody selling the Iraq war in 2002-03 came out and stated that the war would cost us a trillion dollars or more but would be worth it. Rather, we were told that the war would practically pay for itself -- mostly because no one would believe that anything over there would be worth spending trillions of dollars. For the warmongers, myopia was a necessity. But facing up to the infrastructure deficit requires exactly the opposite condition: it's easy to see that the investment is worth it in the long run, but hard to work it into the budget just now. Of course, as things do break, budgeting will get easier -- cf. the levies of New Orleans.
There are people who argue that government should be run like a business, which is scary given how notoriously short-term businesses think. The exact opposite is more like it: anything that a business can do most likely will be done by a business, unless government flat out obstructs it -- some businesses, like recreational drugs, even survive prohibition. The private sector responds to immediate demand, at least within frameworks where supply can be metered. On the other hand, government can act deliberately, subject only to politics. So government can do things that businesses cannot, like plan for the long term, or create public goods that need not be metered. The big problem is getting to where we can make sound political decisions. Politicians and government bureaucrats have notoriously poor reputations in that regard, in large part because government is relatively immune to the market corrections businesses respond to -- cf. the Iraq war. Getting better at political decision making requires that we get smarter about what we need government for, clearer about how we conceive of a public interest to counter against overly powerful private interests, more transparent and honest. It may even mean that we need to be willing to sacrifice some private interests to a broader, deeper good. That in turn requires trust and faith that most of our experience under unregulated power and greed turns us against.
Needless to say, this is going to get worse before it gets better. That much is clear from the people in power now and the trendline they represent and do so much to further.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The author does not allow comments to this entry