Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Kaus-Reynolds Paradox

Instapundit had a good question after the Parkland school shooting:

Looking for 'solutions' to mass killings? Start with punishing failure.

Law enforcement keeps failing, and people keep dying. Where are the consequences? Where is the accountability?

And yet these repeated failures among others keep getting swept under the rug as we look for “solutions” to the problem of violence.
“Accountability” for government died in the fires of Waco.

Mickey Kaus was really on point on this at the time.

Am I alone in thinking there's something perverse, even a bit obscene about the current lionization of Attorney General Janet Reno?

She made a disastrous decision that resulted in the loss of more than 70 lives. Then she accepted ''responsibility.'' In a bizarre bit of political alchemy, this somehow protected her from suffering any of the consequences that normally attend disastrously handled responsibilities. Far from restoring accountability, Reno seems to have hit on the formula for avoiding it. Make a dreadful mistake? Go immediately on "Nightline." Say the buck stops with you. Recount in moving human terms the agony of your decision. And watch your polls rise. Truman plus Donahue equals Absolution.
Over and over we see the Kaus-Reynolds paradox play out:

1. A government agency fails.

2. When it finally ‘fesses up, the failure is immediately consigned to the memory hole.

3. The consequences of its failure are then used as a justification for giving that agency more power over ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with the failed policies and botched operations.


Inkling said...

I've always been a bit disturbed by officials and executives in Japan who commit Hara-Kiri, but at least it demonstrates genuine remorse and some sense of honor. We seemed to have lost that. Mere pretense is sufficient.


Ingot9455 said...

This is exactly how Stalin achieved power. He was given governmental tasks, he used power to make things worse, then claimed the task was impossible with the powers he had so he needed more power to fix his own failure.

Seth said...

#2 isn't required. Many government agencies fail, don't own up and ask for more power or funds to fix things -- as if those in charge had nothing to do with why it isn't working.

And, many folks seem perfectly content that that giving them more money and power is the only reasonable thing that can be done to try to fix things.

This dynamic happens in the private sector, also. Sometimes it works. But, it doesn't work as well, because investors do stop giving money to things that aren't working a lot sooner than taxpayers. Well, they CAN stop giving money to things that aren't working. Taxpayers have a harder time with that bit.

Mark Michael said...

Example. The government agencies monitoring our banking system both after the dot.com bubble burst and then after the Oct. 2008 stock market crash were clearly failures at detecting the impending disasters. Yet, after the dot.com bubble, Congress passed Sarbanes-Oxley which added more red tape to banking laws and gave the failed bank regulating agencies more power. After the Oct. 2008 crash, Congress passed Dodd-Frank, which layered more red tape on the banks, introduced the "too big to fail" (IBTF) provisions and expanded the scope to try to include insurance companies like MetLife, Aetna, etc.

Hard to visualize a worse result for the ordinary American just trying to live his ordinary life.

Oh, yeah, just increasing the equity that banks are required to hold - instead of the microscopic amounts that some types of assets only require - would be a very simple, non-red-tape solution to risk aversion. Libertarian economists have figured this out a long time ago.

TBlakely said...

Government “accountability” died far earlier than Waco. Remember Ruby Ridge? There are innumerable examples throughout our history in fact throughout human history. The lack of government “accountability” is the norm not the exception.

daniel said...

If a government agency succeeds in solving some problem, it need no longer deal with that problem, and so has its range of power reduced. Furthermore, it obviously had enough money to solve it. If it fails, it obviously needs more money and influence in order to be able to solve that problem.
The result of this obvious set of facts is that government efforts somehow usually lead to making problems worse rather than better, which benefits the agencies making the efforts in this way.
The War on Poverty, by making poverty much more attractive to teen age girls, increased poverty. And it replaced fathers to their children by the government; unfortunately the government is a much less caring father than most men are, and this helped ruin the lives both of fathers and their children. It should have been called the War for Poverty.
Now it is said the 70% of black children have no fathers in the home (when social workers might come by).

thunder said...

Well, Lenin really. or Trotsky, or Bukhanin.. Animal Farm had a deep bench.

Cincinnatus said...

I believe Obamacare was a deliberate train wreck, on the assumption that democrats know how undeserved power is granted.

Jay Dee said...

Obamacare was indeed designed to fail; thus proving that we needed to implement a single-payer healthcare system.