But Does This Distract From the Real Problem?


I agree with the intentions of Rep. John Boehner and company in issuing the Little Book of Big Government that you wrote about.

But, having looked at it, I question the book’s reliance on examples of “oh look, they overspent on this” or “oh look, here’s someone who ripped off the government.” As the nation’s largest employer and purchaser, the government is going to be victim of fraud and have some loopholes in its purchasing process. The really expensive washers came from a contractor who fraudulently exploited a loophole in government purchasing rules and will go to jail for having done so.

The real problem, I think, is not waste per se. With a few exceptions — Wal-Mart, Toyota, Southwest Airlines — big companies are at least as top-heavy as much of the government and probably just about as prone to waste. Simply from the standpoint of administrative services, the U.S. Senate was far better run than the large private company I worked at before coming there.
The real problem is whole areas where the government simply doesn’t belong in the first place. Simply asking questions about “how” we do things is almost never enough: In my judgment, Boehner and company don’t ask “Why do we do this at all?” nearly enough.