On Government Inefficiency
Today I thought it would be entertaining to poke holes in a common conservative/libertarian talking point: “government inefficiency”.
I.e. The idea that the government is always inefficient or more so than private alternatives.
Because many dissidents come from a libertarian or conservative background, even quite a few young dissidents hold tight to this concept.
If you have this idea as a foundational belief, then it is easy to argue against the government in nearly all avenues of discussion. Because they are supposedly always inefficient.
The general argument goes something like this:
X is always better than the government because the government is inefficient.
For X you can input the magical “free market“, or the private sector, or whatever you wish, depending on the topic.
But this is completely wrong. The foundational idea that the government is inefficient is simply inaccurate.
It is a lie that I believe has its origins with libertarianism. Libertarians have a cult-like focus on the economy and markets. So, if the government is not focused on what they themselves focus on, the libertarian believes that the government is in error. But they mistake why the government is not efficient in the economy. It is not because the government cannot do so, but because they do not want to do so. The libertarian struggles to understand this, because to them, everything revolves around economics. So they fail to see the alternative areas of focus that a state could prefer, such as culture or institutions.
Therefore, in this article, I will argue that the government is not inefficient. In fact, some governments are incredibly efficient.
But there is a catch: The government is efficient when it wants to be efficient.
That is the key.
As with most things, there is nuance involved. Certain governments and systems are more efficient than others. Certain governments and systems are also more efficient at certain tasks than others.
For example, absolute monarchy (Christendom) is generally pretty solid at keeping the culture nondegenerate. Democracy? Forget about it—That system cannot contain the culture at all.
One is efficient at that specific task. The other is not.
There is also the example of economic mobilization toward a common goal. Republics fail at this because of their competing individualistic priorities, whereas dictatorships thrive. Regardless of your moral feelings on them, Stalin’s economic revitalization, Hitler’s fiscal reconquest of Germany, Lee Kuan Yew’s transformation of an impoverished agrarian society into Asia’s most developed nation in only two decades, Atatürk’s intense economic reforms creating one of the few diversified economic powerhouses in the region, and similar, transcend any type of rule-by-many system by leaps and bounds.
No matter how much places like the Mises Institute yell that “capitalism has cured the world”, the plain reality is that the most quick transformational places throughout history were always rule-by-ones. The most stable were also rule-by-ones. Before a successful freedom-loving capitalistic state could even arise, it almost always required the hands of a rule-by-one to form the conditions necessary for it.
Still, I admit that the rule-by-ones can be incredibly great or incredibly horrible. Contrast Franco versus Pol Pot—One lead his country to great heights and the other slaughtered 25% of his population.
The difference is usually in terms of political alignment. Far-right does good; far-left does evil. This is just the reality of it, sorry for hurting your feelings centrists.
When we look at our modern day, the average libertarian or conservative can only see the current system they reside within. That is, a rule-by-many liberal democracy. It is true that this system is inefficient in the things that the libertarians care about (the economy god), but that does not mean that every government is inefficient in everything. You cannot take a small nonproportional sample and apply it to the whole.
Consider the rise of China. China is anything but a free market, liberty-focused, democratic society. They are rule-by-one, communistic, and strictly regulated. Yet, they have rapidly become the largest worldwide economic competitor to the United States in only a couple of decades. Why is that if every government is always economically inefficient? If that statement were earnestly true, we’d expect to see the exact opposite. Why are all of those non free-market states like China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Iran rising if all the governments are inefficient?
As dissidents, we know the answer. It’s because government inefficiency is a lie sold to us to make us less concerned with our current rulers and more aligned with our current system, instead of seeking alternatives.
Additionally, liberal democracy sucks at most things, so of course it is inefficient and looks miserable to all of us. But that is not the only option, even within the rule-by-many system options.
Just look at El Salvador—another rule-by-many system. They’ve been a crime ridden dumpster fire for decades. But then one strongman comes in (Nayib Bukele), and the situation is resolved in a few months. Crime is down by magnitudes not thought feasible. How can anyone say the government is inefficient with that knowledge? I did not see any private institutions or the fabled free market resolving their problems, even though they had both.
But you see, El Salvador (just like our others, such as Singapore and Spain) has a government system that is able to be efficient in this area and has a ruler that wants the government to be successful at a specific task.
Therein lies the truth of the situation.
The nuanced reality of government efficiency is then twofold:
- The government is efficient in things that the specific system (republic, monarchy, etc.) can be efficient in.
- The government is efficient in things that the ruling class wants it to be efficient at.
This shows that the situation is more nuanced than the extremes. The government is not completely inefficient (libertarian belief), but neither is the government able to solve all problems flawlessly regardless of the particular rulers/system (leftist belief).
This is the middle road, an intelligent approach to the question.
Once you understand the above two points, everything makes sense. Both historically and in our current situation.
For example, in the United States:
- The reason our government is not efficient in market resource allocation is because the rulers have no desire to allocate resources efficiently (Even if they did, a republican system cannot do so effectively). The rulers can just print money if they need it, and they absolutely do not care about your financial health, so they have no incentive or desire to be efficient at this.
- The reason our government is not efficient in bureaucratic activities is because the rulers do not care about making it easy for you. It is easy for them because they can pay major sums to avoid any bureaucracy.
- The reason our government is not efficient in maintaining infrastructure is because the rulers do not care about how your city or roads look; their roads and towns are fine.
The list is endless.
But you want to know what the government is efficient at?
- The government is incredibly efficient at public psychological operations and mainstream media indoctrination. Why? Simple, because the system requires that the grey masses maintain faith in certain “democratic” institutions, or the system will fail. The rulers also need the grey masses to believe and do what they want them to do, so the rulers can remain in power. So there is both ruler incentive and system need. The ability of our state to manipulate thoughts and beliefs is so massive that it is hard for most people to believe. And it is incredibly efficient. Just look at the covid vaccine propaganda for an example of that.
- The government is also great at fiscal manipulation like money printing. In the past, governments used to be great at collecting revenue. They don’t need to be anymore, so now they kind of suck at it (Looking at the IRS). But that’s because they don’t care much about that anymore because they can just print it, so they’ve specialized their expertise in fiscal manipulation instead. Both are tools by the rulers to stay in power, so they’re efficient at one or the other.
- The government is incredibly efficient at infiltrating political movements like ours. Nearly every political movement that had even a small semblance of success had probably half of their members being Feds. This is some gestapo-level infiltration efficiency.
Our current state is also efficient at ruining our lives, to the betterment of elites. Max efficiency there.
Just look at more recent history:
- The government is great at hunting down Jan 6ers. They can even tabulate phone data to estimate persons, who they can then track and intimidate into confessions. But the Secret Service can’t seem to figure out how cocaine got in the White House, and the FBI can’t seem to nab anyone on any federal-level political corruption aside from Trump. Odd how that works. They seem to be efficient… when they want to be.
- The government can organize a coordinated worldwide shutdown, mandate vaccines nationwide, decimate small businesses, and instigate fear into a population using a minor flu virus. But they cannot fix a road or control immigration. Too “inefficient” there. Weird how that works.
You cannot simultaneously say “the government is inefficient” and “the government is psyoping the population / the government is purposefully destroying our lives / the government is covertly fighting the average person / and so on”. These are contradictory statements. Either the government is inefficient, or it can perform functions like these. Not both.
Thus, the truth of the matter is the government is not an inefficient entity.
The rulers just want you to believe it is, so you misjudge its abilities.
It’s almost like they are taking a note out of the most well-known strategies of all time:
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
[Wang Tzŭ, quoted by Tu Yu, says that the good tactician plays with his adversary as a cat plays with a mouse, first feigning weakness and immobility, and then suddenly pouncing upon him.]
So, exactly what the government does.
“We’re inefficient and weak,” the state says. Then a few innocent people walk into the Capitol and they hunt them down with maddening efficiency.
This cycle has been repeating for decades. And newcomers keep falling for it.
So, let’s repeat: The government is incredibly efficient at what they want to be efficient at.
They just don’t give a damn about you or me, so they aren’t efficient at anything we want them to be efficient with.
If we fight for a better ruling class and system, we’ll get a more directionally efficient government. One that is efficient at the things we want them to be efficient at.
Therefore, to summarize: The much-fabled “government inefficiency problem” is not actually the problem.
The root problem is the motives and desires of who rules that system and the system itself. Those two factors determine what the state is efficient at.
Our current leaders and system, naturally, leave much to be desired.
Read Next: The Julius Caesar Solution
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