Thursday, September 3, 2020

The inevitable failure of government programs

Peter points out the prolonged and sustained failure of a particular government program aiming to keep poor inner city kids out of trouble

America has a terrible problem in its obsession with "programs".  Do we have this, or that, or the other problem in society?  Let's start a program to address it!  Let's throw money and propaganda and activists at the problem!  Yet . . . so few of those programs produce any positive result.  All they appear to do is perpetuate the problem, while paying the salaries (usually rather nice salaries) of those who run the programs.  They almost never actually change lives, because they don't demand that lives should be changed.  Those they're trying to help are seldom, if ever, truly challenged - bluntly, directly, without compromise - to change their outlook on life, their attitudes, and their behavior.  The programs are "all hat and no cattle", to quote an idiom common here in Texas.

This is absolutely spot on, but reminded me of the comparison of "Rich People's Leftism vs. Poor People's Leftism" from ten years ago:

With this new approach in mind, let me contrast Rich People’s Leftism (RPL) with Poor People’s Leftism (PPL).

RPL thinks that its goal is to help poor people, while PPL thinks that RPL’s primary goal is to ensure that wealthy leftists dominate and get great jobs.

The whole post is worth reading in full, but these parts seem particularly prophetic:

RPL favors equality and so rejects upward mobility. PPL favors upward mobility via capitalism, since it sees that “egalitarian” schemes never work and are really disguised hierarchies with wealthy leftists at the top.

RPL respects wealthy liberals for wanting to help the poor. PPL observes that these wealthy liberals ensure that they are well paid for what they do and prefers to support wealthy conservatives, who at least are honest about where they are coming from.


RPL likes the idea of a revolution that would throw out the wealthy capitalists. PPL doesn’t like the idea of such a revolution because it would mean that (1) a lot of people would be murdered, and (2) wealthy conservatives at the top would be replaced by wealthy leftists, while the poor would remain poor.


RPL likes high taxes so that the government can form a lot of agencies to help the poor. PPL thinks that all those agencies will be staffed by wealthy liberals, and it is tired of paying taxes so that wealthy liberals can get great jobs.

RPL sees government as the solution, while PPL sees government as sometimes helpful, sometimes hurtful.


RPL is soft on crime, since it represents an attack on an immoral system, while PPL is hard on crime, since it generally just hurts the poor more than it hurts the system.

RPL thinks that “rebelling against the system” is wonderful. PPL thinks that this is a wonderful game for rich kids, but that it can severely hurt poor kids, making them unemployable and otherwise screwing up their lives.



Richard said...

Yeah, I used to preach that we didn't need programs, we needed institutions that worked and stuck to their mission. No one listened then and it has gotten much worse since I retired.

Ted said...

Yes, The goal of all government programs is to expand the program because the the larger the program the more influence the people who run the program accrue. The goal of the programs constituents is to exploit the program as much as possible. Neither group is encouraged to actually solve the problem. That would be contrary to both groups goals.