Last Call!

In a recent interview with Dennis Miller, Tim Pawlenty offers a great illustration of how incentives matter.

All you really need to know about what we need to do with government is go to two weddings.  Go to one where there is a cash bar, go to one where there’s an open bar and you’ll see very different behaviors.

And the government has been running itself like an open bar.

If you run systems and programs where people have no idea what the price is, no idea what the quality is, the only measurement is how much they consume, and the provider of it has the measure of how much volume they can provide and the fiction is created that the bill goes somewhere else, that system is doomed to fail.

Unfortunately, that’s most of what we have in government, we’ve been running it as an open bar mentality.  The party needs to come to an end in that regard.  We got to switch to people being in charge of more of their own money, give them good information about price and quality and to the extent we can afford it, give them help, but give it to them directly.  Don’t run it through a big bureaucracy based out of Washington DC.

Sometimes the answers are hiding in plain sight.  The open bar analogy is perfect.  We can all identify with it.  I’ve had some rough nights after an open bar.  Not so much with a cash bar.  We all respond to incentives.

Yet many people unrealistically want to believe that we can have an open bar and somehow control behavior to prevent the downsides that causes.

6 thoughts on “Last Call!

  1. I just listened to this yesterday and was about to make sure you saw this – it’s a great story.

    That being said, cash bars are the devil.

  2. i catch a bit of his show almost every day. he is a very talented radio broadcaster and i appreciate his literacy. one thing that gets under my skin about him is the phrase ‘lets touch indians’. ive been frosted lately about the pres. and u.s./native relations.
    some of the comments are rather telling. natives have it pretty rough..despite (or perhaps because of) years of ‘free’ health care and 8a no-bid contract agreements, they are still very poor.
    im pretty disgusted that the freaking football team of our great nations capital has ‘the redskins’ as its mascot..i know mr. miller is a big sports fan..i wonder what his feelings are on the subject?

    someday i will post on topic. =]

    • I had to look up what that meant.

      Maybe Miller can borrow a phrase from George Lopez. In one segment of Lopez’s live show, he was inspiring the audience to live a little and don’t let life pass you by, similar to Brooks’ character in “Lost In America” (origin of the “let’s touch…” phrase). Interspersed in all of the stuff Lopez recommended doing to live life was, “get yourself a red-headed friend.” I liked that. We can use more friends.

      Maybe we should start a campaign for Miller to use “Let’s get some red-headed friends” in place of the other phrase.

  3. Pingback: Incentives matter | Our Dinner Table


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