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Why Obama's Smart-Government Initiative is Dumb ^ | July 12, 2013 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 07/12/2013 5:35:13 AM PDT by Kaslin

President Obama wants to make government "smarter." Who could disagree with that? After all, it's unlikely that even the biggest fans of big government believe the way government does what it does is the very best, very smartest way imaginable. Whether you're an anarchist, a Leninist or somewhere in between, everyone can agree that Uncle Sam could afford a few more IQ points.

Let's put it another way. If government is going to do X, it should do X the smartest way possible. On that proposition both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party agree.

Alas, this momentary flash of consensus disappears before our eyes like a shooting star the moment we ask a related but very different question: Is it smart for the government to do X in the first place? For instance: I think it's a dumb idea to tickle a grizzly bear cub while it's napping on its mother's belly. But if I'm given no choice but to do it, I'll eagerly inquire about what's the smartest way to do a very dumb thing. And if I'm told there is no smart way to do such a dumb thing (which I assume is true), I'll at least ask for tips on the least dumb way to do it.

In announcing his effort to make government smarter -- an idea with a very old pedigree -- Obama invoked two organizations he'd like government to emulate. The first was Google. We'll return to that in a moment.

For years, many of the president's critics, including yours truly, have complained that he's always in campaign mode. Obama is more comfortable whipping up enthusiasm among his fans on college campuses than he is working with his own Cabinet -- never mind members of Congress -- to actually get things done. So it was not without irony that the second exemplar Obama offered for the sorts of best practices the government should adopt was his own presidential campaign. It was "one of the most inclusive and most successful campaigns in American history," he assured an audience largely comprised of his own White House staff.

"We can't take comfort in just being cynical," the president admonished. "We all have a stake in government success -- because the government is us."

This is among the president's favorite formulations, and it gets to the heart of the problem. The government is not "us." The government is -- or is supposed to be -- a collection of agencies that do things taxpayers and voters want done. In short, it is a tool.

Sometimes the smartest way to use a tool is not to use it at all. A garden rake is a useful tool. But it's not useful for every task. No matter how smart the surgeon, there's no smart way for him to use a rake to remove a kidney.

Google is a wonderful company, but Google is as relevant to the tasks of government as a garden rake is to the tasks of a surgeon. Similarly, a presidential campaign is a vital tool for electing a president. It is utterly useless for enforcing contracts or repelling foreign invaders.

One of the advantages both a presidential campaign and a company like Google have is that they can fire incompetent employees quite easily. The federal government has no such luxury. According to a study by USA Today, death is the greatest threat to job security at the EPA, HUD and dozens of other agencies. In 2012, 0.4 percent of civilian employees were fired.

Similarly, when a campaign fails, it goes out of business (at least that was the case until Obama created Organizing for America). When a business fails, it doesn't necessarily go out of business, but it does stop selling its failed products. Coca-Cola stopped selling New Coke when no one wanted to buy it.

The day before the president announced his new initiative, the Washington Post profiled Marvin Horne, a farmer who owes the federal government $650,000 in fines. Why He failed to comply with the Department of Agriculture's national raisin reserve program, created by the Truman administration, which even liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan dubbed "just the world's most outdated law." The program stockpiles raisins in case of an emergency. Such emergencies -- if they ever existed -- ceased being a problem after World War II. It's no surprise, alas, that government programs are as hard to fire as the employees working for them.

Which raises yet another irony. The only people in the world who don't want the government to get much smarter are the ones working for it.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: congress; obama

1 posted on 07/12/2013 5:35:13 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Delightful article. Odumbo demonstrates his complete stupidity about making government smarter. He is flailing about looking for some distraction from the sheer horror of his presidency. If he were to call for the abolition of unions in government, merit pay, termination for cause, reducing government pay structure, cutting pork and a host of meaningful remedies, that would in fact make government smarter. He will, of course, do nothing of the sort. This is one more of a continuing parade of smoke screens intended to cover up the most dangerous and most foolish administration in our nation’s history.

2 posted on 07/12/2013 5:51:51 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: Kaslin

Impossible to have a smart government when its ranks are overrun with sloth and incompetence.

From the president, who stands in as the rotting fish head, all the way down to the tail this central socialist government stinks like an overturned outhouse.

Filled with leftist loons, homosexuals, lesbians and other equally messed up psychopaths, this government must go down for the nation and union to survive.

Wake up Bonehead and do your job. Same goes for the one-expressioned faced McConnell.

3 posted on 07/12/2013 6:00:49 AM PDT by IbJensen (Liberals are like Slinkies, good for nothing, but you smile as you push them down the stairs.)
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To: Louis Foxwell
This from the guy that thinks he can just sign an Executive Order and fix everything. The fact that he puts Joe Biden in charge of cutting government waste shows you he's not serious about anything of the sort.
4 posted on 07/12/2013 6:01:12 AM PDT by smokingfrog ( ==> sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: Kaslin

Smart government is like Jumbo Shrimp

5 posted on 07/12/2013 6:11:16 AM PDT by griswold3 (Hillary Clinton is Diana Moon Glampers)
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To: Kaslin
Why Obama's Smart-Government Initiative is Dumb

ANYONE, who believes 0bama wants to make government more efficient, or "smart", must've been in a coma the past five years!

His definition, and that of his 0bamunist automatons, is a communist/socialist state with him wielding unquestioned and unlimited power.

6 posted on 07/12/2013 7:06:59 AM PDT by The Sons of Liberty (Endowed by my Creator with certain unalienable rights!)
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