Some criticize government for not having effective programs — but the real problem is that government doesn’t want to know if its programs are effective, and doesn’t care.
The more I think about, the more I think that’s a big message from a recent Civitas co-sponsored event, NC Watchdog Training, plus a recent report by Matt Willoughby. (And we’ll have more video of the whole Watchdog event on Monday.)
Too often, bureaucrats and politicians don’t care about the results; they don’t know and they don’t want to know. That’s the real scandal.
Take the newest video from Project Veritas, which the group’s president, James O’Keefe, discussed at NC Watchdog Training.
He and his associates created a hilarious fake company — it dug holes. Then filled them in. Then O’Keefe and company got video of some labor bosses laughing about it, and say that even if it was B.S., so were lots of other “green jobs” programs their workers got in on.
It’s not just that this is a waste. It’s that the government and its allies, here the unions, don’t know and don’t care what government programs do. And, as PV makes plain, that’s what it does all the time.
Project Veritas videos are funny on their own, but when you see them and O’Keefe explains the wider context, they are more powerful. He and his associates dress up as a pimp and hooker, as an IRA terrorist, as Russian mobsters, yet, facing these obviously phony characters, ACORN and Medicaid staffers are totally nonplussed, and go about telling them how to get more goodies from government. Ditto when PV got film in NC about scams that would be obvious vote fraud (if they were real), and officials ignore the evidence. And I don’t mean merely overlook it; officials actively reject the evidence. What’s that old Groucho Mark line: Who do you believe, me or your own eyes? Well, they refuse to believe their own eyes, or our own eyes.
When you listen to O’Keefe, you see he’s exposing not just a few careless paper pushes, but the whole system.
Look at Matt Willoughby’s recent report on how much information the state gets from its own forms about the effectiveness of programs run by grant recipients: about three tweets’ worth. Let’s cut through the chatter: it’s virtually impossible to assess the effectiveness of a dropout program from such a tiny segment of information. And what little we do see if anything raises further doubts about the programs.
So government built a report system that made it unlikely or impossible to assess the programs. In other words, NC government doesn’t know if your tax money is being wasted on these grants, and probably doesn’t care.
Of course, worst of all is when the government doesn’t care about the public goal, because it has a covert goal.
Going back to NC Watchdog Training, after the dinner, author and townhall.com editor Katie Pavlich explained why the ostensible purpose of the Fast and Furious gunwalking program obviously never was to trace guns to the cartels.
As she noted in her speech, out of 2,500 weapons sent to Mexico, two — 2 — had GPS devices. “Does that sound like a serious tracking program to you?” she asks rhetorically.
She says ATF whistleblowers said that sending guns into the hands of the cartels was the plan — the opposite of the stated intention.
This is not to say that all government programs are ineffective. It’s worse than that: government doesn’t really care if they work or not.
Take Matt’s expose, for instance. What if some of the programs really work well? Maybe they could really help kids stay in school. But we’ll never know.
As for the programs that fail, we don’t even get the benefit of learning from their failures. And since most programs fall somewhere on that bell curve, many have good and bad points that would help other educators. But we’ll never find out.
And remember the waste. If we don’t know which ones work and which fail, NC will keep funding the failures — and that means taking money from programs that actually succeed.
On top of that are the Fast and Furious-type scams.
Government waste isn’t just of taxpayers’ money; it’s a waste of lives. People might be helped but won’t be because government doesn’t know or care if programs work.
A cynic might even say governments want programs to fail, so government won’t run out of failures that … need more government money. Ah yes, “I’m here from the government to help you.”