Too Big Not To Fail

It’s become Big Left’s latest line – America is “too big to govern”.

David French notes – of course it is:

What if trust in American democracy is eroding because the nation has become too big to be effectively governed through traditional means? With a population of more than 325 million and an enormously complex society, perhaps this country has passed a point where — no matter whom we elect — it risks becoming permanently dissatisfied with legislative and governmental performance.

It depends on how one defines “traditional means.” If we’re speaking about the post-FDR form of American government, with power increasingly centralized in Washington, then [Colby University sociology professor Neil Gross] is on to something: American political dysfunction will only increase so long as our leaders remain committed to that kind of government. But if one goes further back and defines “traditional means” as government ordered according to the vision of the Founders, then there’s hope for us yet. True federalism (and only true federalism) can match American government to the larger religious, cultural, and political trends that are pulling Americans apart.

And it shouldn’t even be a tough choice:

Simply put, our current national government isn’t fit for the times in which we live. What we stitched together in response to an unusual one-two-three punch of American history (the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War) during a period of extraordinary Democratic political dominance is now straining under its own colossal weight. It’s not responsive to a nation that lacks a mortal threat to its existence, and it’s incompatible with a population that is using the combination of geographic mobility and technological flexibility to wall itself off in increasingly cocooned and polarized communities.

Of course, true federalism would wipe out a lot of lucrative sinecures.  And that means it won’t happen until things completely collapse – at best.

5 thoughts on “Too Big Not To Fail

  1. Political analysis has come full circle.

    In 1776, America was geographically too large to govern from Washington. Subsidiarity was the only reasonable option. Now, it’s too complex to govern from Washington. Here we are again, back where we started. Never should have left, if you ask me.

  2. While not a fan of FDR, one does does have to admire his sagacity in recognizing underperforming government agencies and shutting them down.
    We have government agencies trying to run like Depression era factories and we wonder while they fail. Yet the only answer is more money. American exceptionalists want to adopt the economic system proposed by a 19th century political theorist and sexual abuser. It hasn’t worked anywhere else but we Americans can make it work?
    If you want to see failure, look no further than Minnesota. Only Minnesota can set up government run marijuana dispensaries and lose money. What we need is a sustainable government movement. Cut out the sinecures and fiefdoms. Make government lean enough to work again.

  3. Dang….seems like I’ve heard this argument before……just can’t place it.

  4. Minnesota, where the state headline university tried to claim that they lost money selling beer at their home football games……

  5. Loren; where they not only tried but DID lose money selling beer at football games. They did it by giving a huge payment to the vendor to set up the tents, and by hiring far more people than would actually be needed to check IDs, take money, and serve beer. They got only about one beer served for every 12 worker-minutes or so. Worse if the workers were getting less than $20/hour, which is almost certainly true.

    Back to the topic, what’s being said is pretty much what Hayek said over half a century ago. No matter how smart you are, you can’t know enough to set up a market for even the smallest things.

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