Thought For the Day

Radley Balko with this observation:

I don't promote government failure, I expect it. And my expectations are met fairly often. What I promote is the idea that more people share my expectations, so fewer people are harmed by government failure, and so we can stop this slide toward increasingly large portions of our lives being subject to the whims, interests, and prejudices of politicians.

I will concede that there's a problem, here. In the private sector failure leads to obsolescence (unless you happen to work for a portion of the private sector that politicians think should be preserved in spite of failure). When government fails, people like Dinauer and, well, the government claim it's a sign that we need more government. It's not that government did a poor job, or is a poor mechanism for addressing that particular problem, it's that there just wasn't enough government. Of course, the same people will point to what they call government success as, also, a good argument for more government.

It's a nifty trick. The right does it with national security. The fact that we haven't had a major terrorist attack since September 11, 2001 proves that the Bush administration's heavy-handed, high-security approach to fighting terrorism worked! But if we had suffered another attack, the same people would have been arguing that we need to surrender more of our civil liberties to the security state. Two sides. Same coin.


  1. zero wolf:

    searing, incisive commentary indeed from balko!

    of course, its impact is lessened somewhat when you take into account that he was an obama cheerleader pre-election, ("he'll fight for and safeguard our freedoms, i just *know* it! besides, palin - even though i don't know the first thing about her - is **stupid**!! i read it somewhere!"), and then duly proceeded to vote for the guy.

    NOW he's appalled by the emerging chicago thuggery/runaway statism?? that any half-bright blind & deaf guy could see coming from miles away?? and tries to cover it up with pompous 'policy' statements about 'stopping the slide toward big government'? the way i read it, he's either A) naive and stupid, and desperately trying to cover his rear or B) a gross hypocrite, and desperately trying to cover his rear. either way, not exactly a shining moment for a "passionate proponent" of libertarianism. if he wants to bash bush, fine. bush was a clod, and a tool of his puppetmasters who signed off on the patriot act and campaign finance reform and couldn't muster the nuts to veto a bill - ANY bill - for 6 years and change. but balko's main problem with the guy seems to stem from the military response to 9-11. bush hadda do SOMEthing in response to such an atrocity, something **big**, and planting a seed of (sorta)democracy in the middle east while simultaneously placing massive numbers of US troops and materiel right next door to 2 terror-sponsoring, rogue nations with nuclear aspirations is arguably not all that dumb a move. rest assured, had he done what bloodthirsty savages like me were clamoring for - turning teheran, baghdad, damascus, tripoli, kabul, and whatever city the pakistani ISI works out of into a sea of radioactive glass, and then daisy-cutting the kaaba into little black pebbles - rest assured balko and his ilk would whine and scream just as loud as they did anyway. so sure, he's great at *criticizing*, but pretty damn incompetent at deciding which president will "safeguard liberty" - which you'd think a "libertarian" like he claims to be would be good at.

    you sure you wanna be quoting that guy?

  2. Tom Nally:

    After reading this take, I sent this note to my acquaintances:

    When I read [Balko's quote], it reminded me of what I've said on more than one occasion regarding the FedGov's response to Hurricane Katrina. Considering the fact that the government is…well…the government, I thought they performed spectacularly during Hurricane Katrina. They exceeded my expections. By saying that, I realize that I am in a group of 1.

    (Sorry if the blockquote tags didn't do anything...)

  3. Tom Nally:

    By the way, just to followup on my previous note above...

    I do live in New Orleans, but in the area known as "Algiers". We didn't flood in that area. Nonetheless, my family did evacuate at 4:00am on Sunday morning prior to Katrina. We stayed in Memphis for a couple of days, then in Baton Rouge for a couple of days, and then in Houston for about 25 days.

  4. Johnita:

    I believe that the US is the greatest country in the world and am proud to say I am and American, unlike our first lady I am always proud of our country.
    Big goverment never helped anyone but I have seen it destroy a few things. People are the foundation of the country not government.
    The bigger the government gets the smaller the people are, do we really want those people telling us how to live when I can't say they've shown me anything great in the last 2 years.
    The biggest thing Obama has done since he has been in office is to anger people enough to say "We want our country back in the hands of the people" I think people are more aware of big government today than ever before and we're not setting back and letting the politicians run us.

  5. anon:


    Really, the shouting that "we want the government back in the hands of our people" has been going on for about 20 years straight, alternating between what is ironically called the left and the right in this country.

    When you guys figure out that multi-millionaires are simply not "your people" for an overwhelming majority of folks, let me know and I'll get interested in politics again.

  6. anon:


    "bush hadda do SOMEthing in response to such an atrocity, something **big**", well, I just wish we'd have decided to bomb Canada or Mexico, that'd have been a lot cheaper. I mean, if this is really just about doing *anything* big... hey, how about we could have bombed Manhattan, the WTC was already rubble anyway, and we'd have saved on fuel?

    There's a thread somewhere else here about ones rights ending where other people's rights begin. Reflect on that before bombing a nation that did nothing to you in response to some crackpot's attack.

  7. zero wolf:

    @ anon -

    yeah, and i also expect there's a thread somewhere around the web having to do with 'living in a make-believe world, with big rock candy mountains and no jihadists busy bombing/trying to bomb unarmed innocents just trying to work; or see a show at the theater; or learn something at the beslan school' versus 'life here in the real world'.

    it's one of libertarianism's fatal flaws: the refusal to understand that if you're going to be the number one big-dog country in the world, then A)everybody's going to hate you, even if you're really nice and cool and would never EVER be judgemental B)that someone else wants to grab that top spot, and to get there, they'll have to knock you off; and C) the iron law of history shows us that should anyone be foolish enough to attack the big dog or his people, they'll need to be dealt with **extremely** severely, or else others will be encouraged to try. if i remember my history correctly, after rome destroyed carthage in a MOST "disproportionate response" kind of way, no one else jacked with them for decades afterwards. it was very very sad that rome ignored the rights of their enemy, true. OTOH, the republic of rome was peaceful and prosperous for a long time after that. hmmm. i wonder if there might be a connection?

    reflect on that while you ponder how our "measured response" to the murder of 3000 of our countrymen hasn't gotten us anywhere. as for that pathetic, tired old "bombing a nation that did nothing to you" pablum, kindly note that since saddam had targeted our fighters patrolling the 'no-fly' zone multiple times before 9-11, and had - IIRC - even been foolish enough to fire on one or two of them, iraq had technically committed acts of war towards the USA. and while i'd have much preferred that we kill the entire saud family, seize all their oil, and lay waste to mecca as penalty for pissing off the big dog, iraq was certainly a fair target of our wrath.

    or would you prefer we just try and open a *dialogue* with the slobbering jihadis? *reach out* to them? *build a bridge* to meet in the middle? in other news, we read that peace-loving syria has supplied the peace-loving terror organization 'hamas' with long-range, quite-accurate ballistic missiles. good thing israel didn't wipe hamas out "in response to some other nation's crackpot attack", huh? i wonder how THAT'll turn out...