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Government Is the Solution?

By April 30, 2020Commentary

I am seeing a lot of people suggest that one outcome if this epidemic will be that people will turn more to governments for solutions.  God help us!  I hope everyone realizes that governments are exactly what has gotten us into this mess.  Through two successive administrations, the one before this one and this one, our standby stockpiles of certain key equipment were allowed to degrade.  We did not have ample stores of basic things like masks and testing swabs.  There appeared to be no real plan that could be activated.  Many of our long-term care facilities appeared completely unprepared to do even basic infection control.  Those facilities are supposedly heavily regulated by government.  On the other hand, we seem to have an excess of public health experts, who are happy to tell us all how we have to live, but who apparently can’t do accurate forecasting of who is actually at risk in an epidemic and what the likely toll will be.

And our political leaders did their usual chicken-out job and hid behind the public health experts instead of considering the advice of economic and other experts as well.  So we have gotten totally unnecessary extreme shutdowns that have put tens of millions out of work and reduced economic activity by as much as 30%.  We have shutdown the normal health care system, causing exacerbations of illness for millions of patients and leading to deaths for some as well.  People are scared, using alcohol and drugs more, experiencing more mental illness, and, most unfortunately, engaging in more spousal and child abuse.   All of this is caused by government.   Other government actions are equally inane–give people more in unemployment compensation than they were making working, so they have no incentive to go back to work when and if (big if) their job reappears.  Making loans (grants really) more readily available to large organizations than the small businesses that really need them, but often lack the resources to figure out how to access the funds.

There are things that probably can only be done by governments and I think there is always a role for government in many areas, if it is truly motivated by doing what is best for the most number of people.  That rarely happens.  And governments, like any large organization, including large businesses, are inherently inefficient and often incompetent, because the organizational dynamics in large organizations are very different than those in smaller groups, and because, for governments, they have become the only place that hires and retains people who are not good at their jobs.  So there is always a bias for government action to be timid, costly, and dumb.  A really great combination.  And that is what we have seen so far in regard to the coronavirus epidemic.  So why would anyone want any more government actions or programs than absolutely necessary?


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