Monday, January 16, 2017

The Autumn of the Think Tanks?

Did you know that they are mourning the death of the think tank over at the Washington Post? (H/T Steve Sailer)

According to Josh Rogin, "the Washington think tanks have been holding pens for senior government officials waiting for their next appointments" But Trump is hiring "business executives and former military leaders."

But the problem with this is that "policymaking will suffer."

It is interesting, isn't it, that Rogin accepts as divine writ the modern notion of the administrative state. Obviously, according to this world view, the appointment of successful business leaders and former military officers would break the exquisite Golden Bowl of the modern state. After all, business leaders are in the business of "creative destruction" and military leaders are in the business of straight-out destruction, and both are required to think on their feet, developing a strategic instinct that can see around corners. And both business and the military have the culture of doing something, anything, rather than just standing there.

But the ethos of the administrative state is to add accretions, one after another the the administrative state edifice, usually with careful consideration of the aesthetics of the addition. In between accretions they do nothing.You don't really ever throw anything out; you just quietly build over the mistakes of the past without actually admitting anything.

Will Donald Trump's appointees really go to work on a project of creative destruction? Probably not.

But there is this.

The left has been on its march through the institutions for so long that there is very little left in government with which conservatives identify. My American Thinker piece this week is about the failure of liberal policy to help the workers, the blacks, and women. How can liberals insist that more race and sex politics is needed after 50 years of non-stop liberal agenda implementation? So why not send a wrecking crew through? It is not likely that many of our voters will be affected. Oh yeah. Social Security and Medicare. Don't touch those!

The problem with big government is that government can really only do wars. Detect an existential peril? Then send out the Marines to smash it up. And send them home and return to peacetime expenditures.

Despite its imposing bulk, big government is really very fragile. It cannot respond to problems very easily. In fact the normal response to problems is to do nothing until havoc is at the gate. And by then it is often too late.

Here is one idea for the Trumpsters. If you look at the details of the federal budget, down at the level of the Public Budget Database, you encounter dozens of minor budget items that seem to be ghostly echoes of former times.

I bet you could burn through a couple-thousand of those items with harming a single Republican voter.

But without the courage to Do Something, nothing will change and the think tanks will continue to crank out policy analysis to grow government.

Republicans have always been terrified of the accusation of racim and sexism, and of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. I'd say that the only way that Trump can get anything done is to forget terror and Cut the Cringe.

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