Ten Reasons Why Governments Fail

When politicians and bureaucrats fail to deliver what they promise — which happens a lot — we’re often told that the problem can be solved if only we get the right people to run the government instead. We’re told that the old crop of government agents were trying hard enough. Or that they didn’t have the right intentions. While it’s true that there are plenty of incompetent and ill-intentioned people in government, we can’t always blame the people involved. Often, the likelihood of failure is simply built in to the institution of government itself. In other words, politicians and bureaucrats don’t succeed because they can’t succeed. The very nature of government administration is weighted against success.

Here are ten reasons why:

Knowledge

Government policies suffer from the pretense of knowledge . In order to perform a successful market intervention, politicians need to know more than they can. Market knowledge is not centralized, systematic, organized and general, but dispersed, heterogeneous, specific, and individual. Different from a market economy where there are many operators and a constant process of trial and error, the correction of government errors is limited because the government is a monopoly. For the politician, to admit an error is often worse than sticking with a wrong decision – even against own insight.

Information Asymmetries

While there are also information asymmetries in the market, for example between the insurer and the insured, or between the seller of a used car and its buyer, the information asymmetry… weiterlesen


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