Ten Reasons Why Governments Fail

Saturday, November 24, 2018
By Paul Martin

by Anthony Mueller via The Mises Institute,
ZeroHedge.com
Fri, 11/23/2018

When politicians and bureaucrats fail to deliver what they promise – which happens a lot – we’re often told that the problem can be solved if only we get the right people to run the government instead.

We’re told that the old crop of government agents were trying hard enough. Or that they didn’t have the right intentions. While it’s true that there are plenty of incompetent and ill-intentioned people in government, we can’t always blame the people involved. Often, the likelihood of failure is simply built in to the institution of government itself. In other words, politicians and bureaucrats don’t succeed because they can’t succeed. The very nature of government administration is weighted against success.

Here are ten reasons why:

I. Knowledge
Government policies suffer from the pretense of knowledge . In order to perform a successful market intervention, politicians need to know more than they can. Market knowledge is not centralized, systematic, organized and general, but dispersed, heterogeneous, specific, and individual. Different from a market economy where there are many operators and a constant process of trial and error, the correction of government errors is limited because the government is a monopoly. For the politician, to admit an error is often worse than sticking with a wrong decision – even against own insight.

II. Information Asymmetries
While there are also information asymmetries in the market, for example between the insurer and the insured, or between the seller of a used car and its buyer, the information asymmetry is more profound in the public sector than in the private economy. While there are, for example, several insurance companies and many car dealers, there is only one government. The politicians as the representatives of the state have no skin in the game and because they are not stakeholders, they will not spend much efforts to investigate and avoid information asymmetries. On the contrary, politicians are typically eager to provide funds not to those who need them most but to those who are most relevant in the political power game.

III. Crowding out of the Private Sector
Government intervention does not eliminate what seem market deficiencies but creates them by crowding outthe private supply. If there were not a public dominance in the areas of schooling and social assistance, private supply and private charity would fill the gap as it was the case before government usurped these activities. Crowding-out of the private sector through government policies is constantly at work because politicians can get votes by offering additional public services although the public administration will not improve but deteriorate the matter.

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