Markets fail, so we need to rely on government sometimes (or often) to set things straight. — That’s probably the single most comical piece of commonplace insanity in the world today. All kinds of people fall for it, even those who seem otherwise capable of coherent cognitive processing.
Chris Edwards puts together an impressive short (and implicit) demolition.
Fernandez’ summary of the Edwards post is even better (so I’ve left the link to him):
Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute believes there should be a National Museum of Government Failure. He argues that the displays at the Smithsonian would pale into insignificance if set beside the awe-inspiring sight of such things as the “$349 million on a rocket test facility that is completely unused“, the Superconducting Collider whose ruins include nearly 15 miles of tunnel and the ex-future Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. Yet these artifacts, whose scale would surpass many a Lost City, are far from the worst failures. The biggest fiascos by dollar value are the various government programs designed to win the war on drugs or poverty which after having spent trillions of dollars fruitlessly, lie somewhere in an unmarked bureaucratic grave.
A price tag doesn’t do justice to these calamities, which are not only wasteful, but positively and perversely harmful, but it’s a start. The category of ‘waste’ itself fails here, because it would actually be less culturally toxic for all the resources squandered on social programs to be simply annihilated into hyperspace without remainder. Ruinous dependency incentives would then be hugely lessened.
Of course, the idea that dysfunctional political institutions will cooperate with their own public humiliation is also a piece of lunacy (and this time, one that beltway libertarians are peculiarly prone to).
ADDED: Highly relevant.