Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Failures and successes of the engines of democracy: Politics and Policymaking

Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better

Our democracy finally has been created to deliver specific outcomes. However, citizens are increasingly unsatisfied with governments. Fortunately we can analyse this fact through a new book that attempts to disentangle the issue going deeper than usual in the roots of the problem:
Americans have a dismal opinion of the federal government’s performance, one that is only getting darker.4 Significantly, this growing antipathy is not antigovernment generally. Instead, it targets only the federal government; respect for state and local governments is both high and stable. Nor is this hostility toward the federal government in Washington a partisan matter. Instead, it is expressed by a majority of Democrats as well as Republicans. And perhaps most revealing, this disaffection long preceded the current political gridlock in Congress that many pundits see (wrongly, as I shall show) as the root of the problem.
You may change the word americans at the begining and place your nationality and this former statement could work. We should question what government failure or success means and the authors look at the literature on policy evaluation and find fewer references than expected.
Understanding government failure, then, presents complex challenges. Its funders, consumers, and ultimate appraisers—“We the People”—are more disgruntled than ever, and the social scientists who assess the evidence most rigorously find that these appraisers’ disapproval is amply warranted.
The author considers that government failures are rooted on recurrent weaknesses that  include unrealistic goals, perverse incentives, poor and distorted information, systemic irrationality, rigidity and lack of credibility, a mediocre bureaucracy, powerful and inescapable markets, and the inherent limits of law. This sounds familiar. Anyway, something should be done, and part 3 is entirely devoted to this issue. I would like to highlight the limits of the law as a constraint, others details are in the book that I strongly recommend. He says:
The very nature of public law places some severe limits—both constitutional and functional—on the effectiveness of the policies that it communicates and governs. Although most of these limits cannot be avoided, some of them might be eased.
I really think that we should explore new options for producing laws and assessing its performance, the current situation of the "democracy engine" is outdated.

PS .A review at WSJ.
 Many of our political debates are about what if anything government should do about the problems our society confronts. The combatants in these battles rarely stop to consider just what government actually can do.
 Peter H. Schuck has written an essential manual for 21st-century policy makers.

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