Why Governments Fail?

Posted by: on Dec 21, 2012 | One Comment

When one is in office one has no idea how damnable things can feel to the ordinary rank and profile of the public – Sir Winston Churchill

Government isn’t the solution; government is the problem – Old slogan of the Libertarian Party of the USA

Feeling good about the government is like looking on the bright side of any catastrophe. When you quit looking on the bright side, the catastrophe is still there – P.J. O’Rourke

Why do governments perform poorly? Why do government actions have consequences which are the opposite of the intended objectives? Why are government forays into business abysmal failures? Why is the government record pathetic in controlling crime and terrorism? Why when the government administers justice, the horrendous delays negate the concept of justice? Why are government budgets perpetually in deficit and countries eternally in debt? Why are governments constantly looking for increased revenues and forever increasing taxes? Why are government actions hallmarks of ineptitude and inefficiency? Why is corruption endemic?….Why?

Are the people we choose to run the government unsuitable? Would a change in our politicians or bureaucrats make a difference? Should the Prime Minister or the President or the ministers or all of them be changed? Would the functioning of our government be any better if the opposition came to power? Would the business run by the government show an improvement if they were granted more freedom, if they were made more accountable or the employees were paid higher salaries? Should the laws, regulations or rules be amended?

Change Our Politicians and Laws?

The answer does not lie in changing our politicians – Many are corrupt and unsuitable but there are also those who are honest and honourable. The politicians are chosen from among us and by us. They have to go through tough preliminaries before they can become members of the parliament, let alone ministers or PMs. Many of our ministers may have performed well in business had they chosen that vocation. Politicians do possess debating and oratory skills which are higher than the average. Gandhi, Nehru and others did possess extraordinary charisma and leadership qualities.

The answer does not lie in appointing new bureaucrats. Some may well have got in due to their connections or caste or… but most have undergone an exacting selection procedure. It is doubtful whether we can improve the quality of our officials and if we could, it would not help us. Highly efficient regulators would think of even more obstructive regulations to hamper businessmen.

The answer does not lie in changing our laws. Enhancing penalties for corruption, smuggling or black marketing would not make life easier for the common man. With a more rigid system, people would find it vastly more difficult to go about their daily work or obtain their everyday necessities. In Iraq, frequent hanging of ‘Black marketeers’ do not eliminate shortages. Goods available at exorbitant prices simply become unavailable at any price.

The answers lie elsewhere. My next blog post will try and answer some of these…

1 Comment

  1. Rakesh Wadhwa :: Governments and Contradictory Objectives | Rakesh Wadhwa
    December 24, 2012

    […] previous blog – Why Governments Fail – addressed some questions. Governments do not fail because of inept politicians or a dearth of […]


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