In this post on EconLog, Bryan Caplan explores why government enterprises work so well.
He makes a good point.
I think the small-government types (like myself) can overplay disasters of government involvement and we lose credibility when we do so. So, I do think its helpful to recognize when government seems to be doing, at worst, okay.
On the flip-side, I think big-government types can overplay the successes of government enterprises.
But, I think much of this is explained to the extent of what level of government we are talking about and the dynamics of that level, to what extent it is bottom-up or top-down.
I discussed this in more detail in this post back in 2013. I think government enterprises that work pretty well are more bottom-up and the ones that don’t work so well are top-down.
That post was inspired by an apples-and-oranges comparison often made by government-types. They say that fire and police departments are government, and work pretty good. Then they make the logical leap to use this to support that some Federal government enterprise will work.
The lapse in that logic is that fire and police departments, while government enterprises, operate at the local level. There are thousands of these departments, that operate rather independently of one another, across our country. This makes these enterprises operate much more like a bottom-up organization, than top-down. This allows these enterprises to benefit from the same dynamics of innovationism as businesses.