Or, Two Unrelated, Related Stories.
Franklin Foer of the oh-so-liberal New Republic: Obamacare’s Failure Is A Threat to Liberalism.
Liberalism has spent the better part of the past century attempting to prove that it could competently and responsibly extend the state into new reaches of American life. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the administration has badly injured that cause, confirming the worst slurs against the federal government. It has stifled bad news and fudged promises; it has failed to translate complex mechanisms of policy into plain English; it can’t even launch a damn website. What’s more, nobody responsible for the debacle has lost a job or suffered a demotion. Over time, the Affordable Care Act’s technical difficulties can be repaired. Reversing the initial impressions of government ineptitude won’t be so easy.
Megan McArdle of Bloomberg News: Obamacare’s Architects Think They Can Manage Anything, Anywhere, Anytime
The technocratic idea is that you put a bunch of smart, competent people in government — folks who really want the thing to work — and they’ll make it happen. But “smart, competent people” are not a generic quantity; they’re incredibly domain-specific. Most academics couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Most successful entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to muster the monomaniacal devotion needed to get a Ph.D. Neither group produces many folks who can consistently generate readable, engaging writing on a deadline. And none of us would be able to win a campaign for Congress.
Yet in my experience, the majority of people in these domains think that they could do everyone else’s job better, if they weren’t so busy with whatever it is they’re doing so well. It’s the illusion of omnicompetence, and in the case of HealthCare.gov, it seems to have been nearly fatal.
The Blue State Model is dying: It’s dying here in the U.S., and it’s dying overseas as well. All Obamacare has done is speed up the process a little bit. The simple fact of the matter is that a system of government that was created to deal with the needs of industrialized nations cannot and will not be able to deal with the needs of post-industrial nations.
It’s like trying to write code on an assembly line: It is just not going to work right, and you’ll spend a lot of time building factories and power plants before you figure out what works.
In a post-industrial world, information wants to be free, and people do as well.
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