Ok, this doesn’t really qualify for a new thread, but whatevs.
John Carmack decides, after 20 years of not voting, to lay down some truth on the matter of politics:
My core thesis is that the federal government delivers very poor value for the resources it consumes, and that society as a whole would be better off with a government that was less ambitious. This is not to say that it doesn’t provide many valuable and even critical services, but that the cost of having the government provide them is much higher than you would tolerate from a company or individual you chose to do business with. For almost every task, it is a poor tool.
So much of the government just grinds up money, like shoveling cash into a wood chipper. It is ghastly to watch. Billions and billions of dollars. Imagine every stupid dot-com company that you ever heard of that suckered in millions of dollars of investor money before leaving a smoking crater in the ground with nothing to show for it. Add up all that waste, all that stupidity. All together, it is a rounding error versus the analogous program results in the government. Private enterprises can’t go on squandering resources like that for long, but it is standard operating procedure for the government.
Well, can’t we make the government more efficient, so they can accomplish its tasks for less, or do more good work? Sure, there is room for improvement everywhere, but there are important fundamental limits. It is entertaining to imagine a corporate turnaround expert being told to get the federal house in shape, but it can’t happen. The modern civil service employment arrangement is probably superior to the historic jobs-as-political-spoils approach, but it insulates the workforce from the forces that improve commercial enterprises, and the voting influence of each worker is completely uncorrelated with their value. Without the goal and scorecard of profit, it is hard to even make value judgments between people and programs, so there are few checks against mounting inefficiency and abject failure, let alone evolution towards improvement.
However, a lot is done in the name of misplaced idealism. It isn’t hard to look around the world and find something that you feel needs fixing. The world gets to be a better place by people taking action to improve things, but it is easy for the thought to occur that if the government can be made to address your issue, it could give results far greater than what you would be able to accomplish with direct action. Even if you knew that it wasn’t going to be managed especially well, it would make up for it in volume. This has an obvious appeal.
Every idealistic cry for the government to “Do Something” means raising revenue, which means taking money from people to spend in the name of the new cause instead of letting it be used for whatever purpose the earner would have preferred.
Helping people directly can be a noble thing. Forcing other people to do it with great inefficiency? Not so much. There isn’t a single thing that I would petition the federal government to add to its task list, and I would ask that it stop doing the majority of the things that it is currently doing. My vote is going to the candidates that at least vector in that direction.