Govt can’t always use kill switch

Tim Worstall points out the big difference between governments and markets:

. . . It takes great effort to get government to do anything. And that great effort comes from the interia of the system: meaning that it takes great effort to get something started and an equal amount of effort to get something stopped. This is in contrast to the market where yes, it takes great effort to get something working. But the system does contain that kill switch: bankruptcy. If something’s not working then it doesn’t take great effort to stop it. It just runs out of money and stops.

And that, I am afraid, is one of the reasons why politics is a bad way to get things done. Simply because they won’t stop doing things even when it’s obvious that they are the wrong things to be doing.

Whenever I have anything to do with the mechanisms of government – central or local – , which mercifully isn’t often, I feel like I’m trying to swim through syrup in gumboots.

The wheels of bureaucracy grind exceedingly slow and change rarely happens quickly.

That isn’t always bad – solutions to problems governments face aren’t usually simple and fast policy isn’t necessarily good policy.

However, politics does often get in the way of good change.

Governments do usually have a kill switch but they’re not always able to use it,

They generally have the ability to make changes but know that doing so will sometimes cost too much support.

Bad policy can be good politics and if change would be unpalatable to too big a chunk of the electorate  governments, and parties wanting to get into government, have to stick with it.

Purists slam this as unprincipled.

But given the choice of staying pure in opposition where they can achieve nothing or swallowing the odd dead rat to get into, or stay in, government where they can make a positive difference, most will opt to chew the rodent.

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