Challenge: Name Something Positive the Government Has Done

Yesterday on Twitter I saw a comment claiming that the rise of Trump is due to some decades of Conservatives asserting that government is bad – I retorted that the rise of Trump is due to 100 years of the government never getting anything right. That was a bit of a Twitter thing – you only have 140 characters, so you have to be brief and this can lead to exaggeration for effect. But then I started really thinking it over, and it occurs to me that my mind had just latched on to a salient fact.

Our Progressive friends would roll that around a bit and might come up with something like “roads”; this in keeping with their basic view that all goods things come from government. But here’s the thing – outside my neighborhood right now, the road is ripped up. There wasn’t anything wrong with the road – no potholes or cracks. It had been redone a few years previously. They didn’t install new sewer or power lines. All anyone can see is that they ripped up a perfectly good road to lay down an exact duplicate of what was destroyed. Go ahead and Google “Roman roads” right now – you’ll find all sorts of pictures of 2,000 year old roads which are still in pretty good shape. If government is doing roads right, shouldn’t they last a bit? Think about it – it is, bottom line, rock laid flat over dirt. This is not a complex engineering task. Anyone want to place bets on how long our Interstate system would last if we stopped re-doing it every couple of years? I drive to St. George, Utah on a fairly regular basis and the Virgin River Gorge is almost continually being redone. Don’t tell me we can’t build it once for all – but we don’t. And I can only suspect we don’t because if we did, there’d be less government money to shove at well-connected highway contractors. I know that cars and trucks cause more wear and tear than ox carts of Roman days…but we’ve also advanced in science just a bit since then and there simply must be a way to build a road which will last with very minimal maintenance (outside of large natural catastrophes) for centuries. Sure, it’d be vastly expensive to build such roads…but once built, we wouldn’t have to worry about it for a long, long time.

Schools? They barely make kids literate these days – don’t think that the racists who have popped up of late are old, white people…from what I can see of them, they are mostly young people and that means that they are products of our current education system. Or, rather, current mis-education system…and coming out of school absolutely ignorant of history, they are falling prey to hate-mongers who know how to use “cool” imagery to sucker people. College is even worse – you can pile up debt to get a degree which is absolutely worthless…and even the hard sciences are now being infected by political correctness so I’m starting to worry we won’t have sufficiently qualified engineers in 20-30 years to maintain the technical aspects of our civilization.

I read today that the military is spending time teaching soldiers about the evils of “white privilege”…I’m sure that’ll come in handy when someone is shooting at you. Cars and houses cost vastly more than they should thanks to government tinkering with what the “experts” think should be in a car (needless to say, the experts making the rulings have probably never built a car or a house in their lives). Milk, bread and meat is also more expensive thanks to government – which figures that humanity, which has been managing to feed itself for 100,000 years, wouldn’t know what to eat if a government nanny wasn’t present. Medical research? Let’s just talk about how much longer it takes to get a treatment or medication on the market thanks to government…and how much more expensive it is because government “helped” everyone along the way.

So, just name it – name one thing you think government has done well.

26 thoughts on “Challenge: Name Something Positive the Government Has Done

  1. Amazona March 9, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    Create a Dependent Class of able bodied people who will vote to keep it in control so they can continue to live off OPM

  2. Amazona March 9, 2016 / 9:29 pm

    This nation was formed with the feudal societies of Europe in mind–that is, to create a nation in which all had equal opportunity. I have been thinking for quite some time now that we are headed back to a new kind of feudal society,

    If few Americans are truly educated and have the work ethic that once made this nation great, they will become the new aristocrats, with the poorly educated being serfs and vassals.

  3. tryvasty March 9, 2016 / 9:44 pm

    It’s always fun to see a single person think they are smarter than an entire field of engineers. If only our civil engineers had come to you for your vast knowledge of materials science before spending all that time building our interstate highway system out of concrete and asphalt, we could have roads that last forever!

    Seriously, though, even ignoring the fact that you don’t seem to care at all whether there’s math that says paying $10 trillion to get roads that last 100 years is obviously a worse return than spending $500 billion to get roads that last 20, there are considerations to your road material beyond just cost versus durability. I live in a city where they are currently tearing up huge chunks of one of our major highways to add a toll lane. You can’t just build roads and be done with it for 100 years unless you expect traffic patterns aren’t going to change during that time. And if you’re going to change things, you’ll be spending lots of time tearing up your expensive, forever road material and throwing it away.

    As to the more general topic, I’ll go ahead and pick the obvious example: the military. Sure, pork sometimes cause them to get really expensive planes that they don’t really want, but that’s not really their fault. By and large, the military is administered pretty well. It’s a particularly fun example, because it amounts to something like a sixth of our total federal budget, and more than half of federal discretionary spending. Even if you can’t think of a single other thing that they do right, that’s $600 billion a year that makes it really hard to make a case that government can’t do anything right.

    It’s also one of those things that as a society we can’t really trust private industry to do, so there’s not even any competition there. Which brings us back to the interstate highway system. Leaving aside the question of whether your anecdotes about a road and a bridge are enough to make a value judgement on how “right” of a job the government is doing, there wouldn’t be an interstate highway system anything like what we have except for the foresight of people like Eisenhower. And no, that’s not just conjecture; look at any of the countries where US companies exported factory jobs over the last decades. Private entities build infrastructure, but only what they need to get what they want, with no central planning at all. There are a whole lot of factories with very nice roads going only to the port where they ship off their goods out there.

    So it’s reasonable to look at how good of a job the government is doing with our roads so we can hold them accountable and try to find better people to do the job if it isn’t going well, but at the end of the day the federal government building an interstate highway system was right, because not having an interstate highway system would be wrong.

    There are plenty of other things the government at various levels does that fall into the same category, too. I appreciate that emergency services will come put out a fire at my house (and at my neighbor’s house so that his house doesn’t start mine on fire). We might not agree on whether we should be capping carbon emissions, but I’d hope that you’re at least a little happy that industry isn’t allowed to drop heavy metals into your drinking water. The list goes on.

    And here’s the thing: the conservative narrative that everything the government does is awful actually hinders our ability to make any of those things better. If you start from the premise that the government will always, no matter what, be bad at maintaining highways, why even bother talking about how you can make them better? Certainly cutting funding for them, which seems to be the only thing I hear out of republicans as an answer to anything related to government efficiency, isn’t going to suddenly make our roads get better. But it certainly sounds appealing if you start from the premise that they are going to suck anyway, so we might as well not pay for them. And then they do suck, because you stop paying to maintain them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    So back to Trump. Of course a fast-talking outsider was eventually going make his way to the top of the republican presidential ticket. The government is awful, and business is great, remember? Why not make a businessman with no political experience president? If he had tried to make his way up various levels of office like everyone else, he obviously would have been tainted by the time he got there. Combine that with the thinly veiled narrative that black people deserve to be poor and hispanic immigrants are all coming here to ruin America, and is it really any wonder that what you got was a political outsider with no strings attached who is trading bigotry to get to the top? I just hope he gets the party nomination and loses the general election, because I’m terrified about what we’ll get out of the republican party next time if he doesn’t get his chance to prove that you can’t win the general election just with votes from the racist and “I just want to see it all burn” constituencies.

    • Amazona March 9, 2016 / 10:06 pm

      Anyone here willing to make book on which old troll has a new nom de blog? I suppose there could be a new one, but it is still the same old crap.

      “…the conservative narrative that everything the government does is awful ..” Wahhh Wahhh Wahhh. More of the tired old lie that “conservatives” HATE government. And the old police/fire department/roads all needing government, blah blah blah. As a matter of fact, that whole paragraph is garbage. I am pretty sure this guy would argue your ear off about electrolytes.

      Conservatives, in fact, LOVE government. We love the Constitution, which is the document that ESTABLISHED the federal government. We love the whole system it put in place. What the whining, lying Left doesn’t understand is that there is supposed to be a difference between the federal government and state and local governments. What the ignorant lying Left refuses to acknowledge is that this entire nation, built upon the concept of “government by the people and for the people” was always supposed to be governed for the most part close to home. That is why the federal government is so severely restricted as to size, scope and power by the Constitution, while the states are nearly unrestricted regarding what they can and cannot do. So we love a federal government that sticks to the 17 enumerated duties assigned to it by the Constitution, and furthermore we want those duties to be done well. And then we want EVERYTHING else done by state or local governments, or by the People.

      Don’t take my word for it, little Progressive troll. Look it up. Read the Constitution and see what is not negotiable, what the federal government is REQUIRED to do. Then skip ahead, if you are getting tired of reading about how the nation is SUPPOSED to be run, to the 10th Amendment. That’s worth several readings, till you get it through your head. I will paraphrase for you: If there is anything that is not specifically assigned to the federal government, it is forbidden to the federal government.

      So quit your whining about this Progressive-invented hatred of government by conservatives, because it is tiresome and a lie. Then take a break to rest up and get back to work, cleaning the crap out of your brain that lets you even THINK of posting such utter BS as “… thinly veiled narrative that black people deserve to be poor and hispanic immigrants are all coming here to ruin America,…” You seem to be so happy with the toxic sludge that evidently fills your brain that you are eager to share it with us. But don’t bother, because you are not the first profoundly stupid or vicious or dishonest Progressive who has come here to spread your mental excrement, and we can smell you a mile away.

      • tryvasty March 10, 2016 / 2:51 am

        Right, M. Noonan is just complaining about how the government hasn’t done anything right in the last 100 years because he thinks government is great. Government. The word “federal” appears 0 times in his rant. This isn’t about federal vs. state vs. local. The claim was literally made, right at the top of the page. I don’t have to make things up, I can just scroll up and read if I want to go confirm that you entirely full of it.

      • Amazona March 10, 2016 / 8:31 am

        Yet your screed was full of utter BS about your invented “conservatives” and how awful we are, lie after lie. And that is what I responded to.

        If you want to argue the overall wonderfulness of engineers (and you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about engineers being underappreciated) then write about that. But spare us the Progressive drivel about conservatives having a“… thinly veiled narrative that black people deserve to be poor and hispanic immigrants are all coming here to ruin America,…” and “…cutting funding for them, which seems to be the only thing I hear out of republicans as an answer to anything related to government efficiency..” and so on. It is just the same old nasty lying “narrative” beloved by mindless Liberals and it is simply not true. So why don’t you just scroll up to the virulent garbage you wrote to confirm that you are entirely full of it.

        If you have a reasoned and rational argument that our roads are wonderful, or why they are not, ot whatever it is that has your panties in such a twist, make it. This is a really good place to argue things like that, if that is what you are arguing. It is not, however, a good place to spout the utter stupidity that passes for Progressive “thought”.

        Better yet, why don’t you take on the position of arguing that government is efficient. Even better than THAT, why don’t you argue that the bigger government is, the more efficient it is. Because if you are even half as smart as you seem to think you are, even you can see that the complaint about the failures of our government are not complaints that the government EXISTS but about how badly it often does its jobs. If that is what got you all snippy, then defend government efficiency and oversight.

        Clearly, Mark tripped a couple of your triggers. If you have something legitimate to say about anything he said, then say it. If you took your bruised feelings as an impetus to spout toxic lies about the eeeeevils of conservatives, take your confused and false and hostile “narrative” somewhere else.

      • tryvasty March 10, 2016 / 9:37 pm

        You could probably save me a lot of reading time if you just replied to each of my posts with “You lie.” I’m not sure I can find anything else concrete that you have to say. There are plenty of personal insults, some entertaining attempts to figure out what box you can put me in and a couple of attempts to pivot like a politician in a debate into talking about what you want to talk about, regardless of whether it has anything at all to do with what I’ve said. None of that is worth responding to.

        I’ll take your list of potential topics to consider under advisement. Since they have nothing to do with what anybody is talking about here, I’ll have to get back to you, though.

    • M. Noonan March 10, 2016 / 12:30 am

      Twenty years ago it was estimated that the overall cost per mile (factoring in both urban and rural roads) for an Interstate is $20 million – or about $30 million per mile, today. That’s a lot of scratch – and the stuff doesn’t last 20 years. As I said, the stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge has been re-worked at least a dozen times in the 15 odd years I’ve traveled that way. No matter how you slice it, the efficiency of road construction is bad…it could be just that no one is thinking ahead. You know – “well, we want to resurface this stretch this year – but, you know, we’re going to be completely re-doing that road to widen it in two years, so why don’t we kill two birds with one stone and either do the widening this year, or just so maintenance until we’re ready for widening?”. And it’s even worse if someone comes back and says, “we don’t have long-term plans for the roads – it is all ad-hoc based upon what Congress decides year by year”. And let’s suppose – I doubt anyone has worked it out – that the cost of building in the Roman fashion is even three times the cost (so, $90 million per mile)…but if it last for 500 or a thousand years with only minimal maintenance, it is worth it. This is no denigration of the engineers – I’m sure if we told them, “build it to last for centuries”, they would work up a sound plan in short order. But no one orders them to do so…because there is no upside, goverment-wise, for such long-term thinking and spending. As an aside, there is a dam in Homs which the Romans built in the 3rd century – it is still working precisely as designed 17 centuries after completion.

      As for the military – no. You lose. I was in the military – I have seen with my own two eyes how lavish is the waste in that department. Careerist officers are the bane of all professional military forces and our military has it as bad (or perhaps even worse) as any other. This is not to indict most of the personnel – most of them are dedicated and will lay down their lives for us at a moment’s notice…but it is not such people who polish desk chairs in DC. The good soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are out in the fighting forces, honing their skills and preparing every day for the unthinkable. Some times – rarely in peacetime – such people rise to the top…but most often during peacetime it is the apple polishers and time-servers who advance (and thus you see a very common experience at the start of wars…lots of senior officers being given the boot as they fail utterly in war fighting – thus providing a temporary opportunity for good people to rise to the top). I’m pretty confident that a complete overhaul of the military system would allow us to cut military spending by a third and still allow us a larger and more lethal force (my big thing on this is the British First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher at the start of the 20th century…gave Britain a Navy vastly more powerful than it had before for less cost than the old, less efficient Navy – addendum; it should be noted, however, that after Fisher built that magnificent fleet when it came crunch time and it had the German fleet in the palm of it’s hand, it flubbed the job…once again, Government At Work). Big spending doesn’t necessarily get you what you want – it is akin to high living in personal life: the more money a person has, the more chance there is that rot will set in. It is when you have to do the best you can with what you’ve got that you get the most efficient use of resources. It was the funding-starved Army and Navy of the 1920’s and 1930’s which produced for us, rather in the nick of time, Douglas MacArthur, Chester Nimitz, “Bull” Halsey, “Lightening Joe” Collins, George Patton, etc…it was the lavishly funded military of the 1950’s which gave us Westmoreland and the tactical and strategic monstrosity which was the Vietnam War (though, of course, you can go too far that way…which is why at the start of WWII our troops lost their lives because they simply didn’t have proper weapons and material; a proper balance must be struck – not cost is technically too high, but just massive spending isn’t the answer).

      • tryvasty March 10, 2016 / 4:03 am

        “Twenty years ago it was estimated that the overall cost per mile (factoring in both urban and rural roads) for an Interstate is $20 million – or about $30 million per mile, today”

        Those numbers sound crazy if you sit around thinking that we’re paying $30 million to lay a mile of asphalt, but those costs aren’t actually evenly spread per mile. Roads through mountains where they had to blast out chunks and verify structural integrity of cliff walls cost a lot. Turnpikes cost a lot. Bridges cost a lot. There’s a 12 mile section of highway in Colorado that has 3 tunnels, 40 bridges and viaducts, and who knows what else to perch it along the edge of mountains.

        Also, despite your apparent belief, part of it is that they didn’t skimp on materials. Almost 60% of the interstate system is concrete rather than cheaper asphalt (source: You see all of your apparent issues because we do a terrible job of maintaining it. It’s a testament to how well it was all built that it’s lasted as well as it has.

        “And let’s suppose – I doubt anyone has worked it out – that the cost of building in the Roman fashion is even three times the cost (so, $90 million per mile)…but if it last for 500 or a thousand years with only minimal maintenance, it is worth it.”

        Yes, if we trust in your fake, made up numbers about both the cost and durability, that would totally make sense.

        Here’s the problem: there’s nothing magical about roman roads. They are just coarse gravel then fine gravel then sometimes cobblestone/other rocks. The distinction of wear between a horse and carriage and a semi going 70 miles an hour is a lot bigger than you think it is, and our highways have to deal with many times as many semis as roman roads had to deal with carriages. We already have a highway system where large portions of it would last hundreds or thousands of years if all they had to deal with was a hundred years of horses and carriages and then nothing after that. And that’s to say nothing of what it would be like to try to drive 70 miles an hour on cobblestone.

        “This is no denigration of the engineers – I’m sure if we told them, “build it to last for centuries”, they would work up a sound plan in short order.”

        Again, this is all just a nice sounding daydream. I’m sure they could come up with a way if you ignored costs, but concrete already has a pretty high compression strength (and tensile strength if you stick some rebar in it), especially as a ratio to its cost. So you’d probably get some plan that involved something like tungsten that we could never afford to make our roads out of. But then you’re probably also going to need to figure out how to get a surface that doesn’t either wear into a slip and slide where there’s no traction and everybody crashes or wear into a bunch of jagged edges that shred people’s tires, because again there are considerations to road material beyond just durability. Also, it’s a lot easier to throw concrete into the back of a truck and pour it than it is to fabricate and carry around a bunch of slabs of tungsten.

        It really goes back to the fact that you have absolutely no reason at all to think that you’d know better than the engineers that built our highway system what materials to make it out of, because you don’t even have a tenuous grasp of the materials science at play.

        “But no one orders them to do so…because there is no upside, goverment-wise, for such long-term thinking and spending”

        And here’s the crux of it. The reason you think there’s something wrong with how the interstate highway system was built is because it was built by the government, so there has to be something wrong with it. For you, it seems like the government being incapable of doing anything right isn’t the conclusion, it’s the premise.

        And you know what? There are absolutely things wrong with everything the government does, highway system included. I’ll accept that you likely have experience with inefficiencies in the military that I can’t see from where I’m sitting. And I even mentioned in my initial comment that I know they have to deal with the whims of congressional pork giving them expensive things they don’t need to create jobs in some congressman’s district. But I don’t think anything less than perfection counts as the government not being able to do anything right or positive.

        And heck, the implicit message in your talking about cutting military spending and still increasing fighting strength, with a historical government employee as a model (!!) is the idea that we can do better, and that we can make some changes to satisfy your threshold for how well the military would have to be run “right”. If everybody talked about how to make things better instead of just talking about how everything the government does is always awful, maybe there would be enough accountability to improve some things. And maybe we’d be less likely to see people throw up their hands in disgust and go out and vote for people like Trump.

      • M. Noonan March 11, 2016 / 12:01 am

        You’re really missing the point – if the government can barely do roads in a useful manner, how can it possibly do things like health care, the overall economy, the environment, etc?

        By extreme effort – and with a huge amount of graft and waste – government can barely maintain the roads and provide us a military hopefully sufficient to meet contingencies…to put it in charge of things which really matter in our day to day is an absurdity. You’re trying to prove me wrong by saying government isn’t entirely a hideous monstrosity…you don’t realize that all you’ve said merely proves my point.

      • Amazona March 10, 2016 / 8:49 am

        OK, so you are hypersensitive about real or imagined slurs regarding (1) engineers (2) roads (3) government inefficiency. We all have our pet topics and so far at least those seem to be yours.

        But Mark also wrote about the miserable failure of government-run education. We now have home schooled children outperforming kids “educated” in the indoctrination centers run by our tax dollars, “taught” by professional, accredited teachers who are often nearly illiterate, “taught” by not reading classics like Huckleberry Finn because it has a non-PC term or two in it but in many school districts being REQUIRED to read pornographic accounts of pedophilia because, as the defense goes, we need to understand how pedophiles THINK and how they FEEL. (Because the book in question is about a black incestuous pedophile one defense was that this is necessary so we can understand the black experience. So far I have not heard of this person being attacked for racism though I was offended for black people in general once she made this defense.) Is this changed by the fact that there are some really good teachers? No, because they are the exception and not the rule. We are now told that a truly wonderful teacher is the one who makes the children feel happy and eager to learn, not the one who teaches them how to spell and how to add and subtract and how our country was built. I for one have absolutely no problem in saying that overall government has destroyed our educational system. Not because it IS government, but because so much of it is run by Progressives.

        I don’t always agree with Mark on every single thing, and as a matter of fact we have often gone head to head on our disagreements. But we do this ABOUT OUR DISAGREEMENTS. For example, I don’t blame “government” as a whole for the failure to take out the German fleet, as much as simple human error, and I suppose I could engage him in this. And in the end he would be right about some of the things that he is talking about and I would make some good points on my side.

        You whine about spending cuts for highways, yet to do this you have to simply ignore the fact that there is not, cannot be, enough money to do EVERYTHING and when Libs demand vast amounts of money to buy votes through their schemes to keep a Dependent Class growing and a sure source of votes something has to give somewhere else. You also have to ignore the inefficiency of government that would not be tolerated in the private sector.

        Get a grip, focus, and stop the bleating about all the horrible things about conservatives that just really tick you off. That will not only get you shut down here, it will get you kicked off here, so the only place you can defend whatever it is you think needs defending will have to be over on the Dark Side, where they eat that crap up with a spoon and beg for more.

      • M. Noonan March 11, 2016 / 12:13 am

        It is, to me, just one of the more interesting thing – the Dreadnought race was one of the key factors (though not nearly the only one) which precipitated the First World War…and yet the only Dreadnoughts sunk during the war (HMS Audacious of the Royal Navy and SMS Szent Istvan of the Austro-Hungarian navy were sunk, respectively, by a floating mine and an act of daring sabotage). The whole thing turned out to be a waste of time, to a certain extent. Now, when the Dreadnoughts finally did clash, the British made a complete hash of it…Beatty failed to concentrate his overwhelming force of Battle Cruisers and paid for this with two of them being blown out of the water…and allowed his forces, which outranged the enemy, to get close enough for the enemy to hit him…and hit him hard they did, blowing two of his Battle Cruisers out of the water. Later, as the Dreadnoughts finally clashed Jellicoe (the overall commander) allowed them to slip away…but even with that, the Brits would have probably had a stunning victory except for the fact that a large number of their shells failed to explode properly because they were badly designed…something which had been noted by Jellicoe years before the war but which the British government allowed to slide. Supposedly, after it was over, the aged Jackie Fisher was found to be in a rage, shouting, “they failed me!”…and failed him they had…because it was precisely officers like Jellicoe and Beatty that Fisher had promoted ahead of others, with the design, especially in Jellicoe’s case, that he would be in command of the fleet when war broke out. But perhaps if Fisher hadn’t been so determined to show favoritism towards officers who agreed with him then Jellicoe might have spent longer in charge of British ordnance, thus making sure the shells were re-designed before the war and maybe someone other than Beatty would have been in charge of the Battle Cruisers and would have done the simple tasks of keeping his force concentrated and keeping it out of range of the superb German gunnery.

        That is just how things work – badly; because it is all done by human beings. And the lesson is – never give anyone too much power, because they are bound to mess up somewhere along the way and the less power they have, the less effect their mistakes will have on the lives and fortunes of all.

      • tryvasty March 11, 2016 / 2:12 am

        “You’re really missing the point – if the government can barely do roads in a useful manner, how can it possibly do things like health care, the overall economy, the environment, etc?”

        I don’t think I’m missing the point so much you’re making a different point. Which is fine, if that’s the point you were trying to make, you should have just said that and not asked a hyperbolic question about whether government has ever done anything right.

        I also don’t know where else to go with the continued assertion that roads are only done in a barely useful manner. The only thing I’ve got here is they have to do lots of work on some 40+ year old, heavily traveled bridges in Utah. I guess I just have to disagree with your premise.

        I guess I’ll leave with a question. If the interstate highway system, even if it cost more than it should and construction was/is managed poorly, generates more economic benefit than what we spent to build and spend maintain it, was it a good idea?

  4. Amazona March 9, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    It’s not just the government. Several years ago my husband and I bought a condo in one of several buildings in a fairly large complex in a ski area. Our building was the fourth in the complex, the first three being a few years old. The builder had been responsible for several such projects ranging from Telluride to Vail.

    Our first winter the entire building was shut down for several weeks. Imagine a cross section of an exterior wall, starting from the inside. This building’s wall cross section was: Sheet rock on the inside, then insulation, then plumbing, then siding.

    Yes. An “experienced” developer, working with an architect or several, and with contractors including the general contractor and plumbing contractors, built a large residential building IN THE MOUNTAINS with the water pipes protected only by a thin layer of wooden siding. Evidently no one looked at the plans and said “that ain’t right”. Evidently when the exterior walls were insulated no one said “shouldn’t those pipes be INSIDE the insulation?” Evidently no plumber, working on roughing in plumbing for something like 40 units, ever said “you know, this is going to be a problem”.

    In Denver there is a major intersection, where I-25 crosses one of the largest and busiest surface streets in the city, Arapaho Boulevard. This intersection was under almost constant building/rebuilding for several years. Didn’t make ramps wide enough, didn’t think of drainage, did drainage wrong, decided to change ramps again, built it so eastbound traffic on Arapaho wanting to go north on I-25 would turn left across Arapaho, changed their minds about that, and so on. They would build it, tear it out, rebuild it, tear it out, rebuild it, tear it out, for years. It is still a confusing intersection. It was as if no one ever sat down and thought of a master plan, planning ahead for things like rain, population growth, etc. They always looked like they were making it up as they went along.

    New VA hospital in Denver—-no way to be able to explain that mess. Billions of dollars over budget, way behind schedule, will cost more to finish than the original bid.

  5. bardolf2 March 11, 2016 / 10:01 am

    I think George Will wrote about positive government contributions somewhere.

    One of the greatest government achievements was the WEST of the USA. That is where most of the posters on this blog live.

    “Although few Americans think about this, much of the Western United States as we know it today is the creation of various federal programs. It has been that way from the very beginning, starting with government-sponsored explorations of the West in the early and mid-19th century. It continued with the federal government providing the money and troops for the depressingly efficient program of “Indian removal.” The government also sold public land to settlers for low prices and sometimes even gave it away. The railroads, which spurred so much growth in the West, would not have been built without massive subsidies from the federal government. And today, much of the farming in many Western areas is made possible by federal water projects, substantial parts of the ranching are subsidized by the artificially low grazing fees on federal property, and much of the mining is made more profitable by dirt cheap access to federal land. Cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas would dry up and blow away without the federally funded dam and canal projects that provide water to those arid regions. So it is ironic that while anti-big government sentiment is very strong in parts of this region, the West literally would not and could not exist as it does today without the sustained help of the federal government.”

    • M. Noonan March 12, 2016 / 1:00 am

      I’d hardly put down Indian Removal as “good job, government!”.

      • bardolf2 March 12, 2016 / 7:28 am

        I thought to remove the Indian removal from the essay. Since I didn’t write it, it seemed misleading to cut and paste only the favorable aspects of the government’s role in creating the West.

        I’m sure you’d think that the Catholic church bringing the Gospel to the Americas was a good thing, but in the hands of liberals they’d remind you of atrocities. Does that make the net impact of the church positive or negative? I’d argue positive on balance.

        In the same way, on balance the government has done a good thing in creating the West. Ultimately people settled the West once the government set the course. Today, casino builders in Vegas take chances and are rewarded if things go well. But, those chances are always predicated on having an artificial water supply guaranteed by the government.

        Mark Noonan wouldn’t be living where he is without the massive infrastructure built by the federal government.

      • M. Noonan March 13, 2016 / 12:00 am

        True, Las Vegas did require Hoover Dam…and the mob/hookers/gambling thing.

        There’s nothing wrong with government building things – but the road between Las Vegas and Los Angeles was first made by people simply going between the two points. If government was in charge of actually laying out the road net during pioneer days, then I-15 wouldn’t go from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, but from Los Angeles to Ione…population a few years back when I drove through it, 8. Because that was the big city…built, it must be noted, without a red cent of federal money or planning, by the way. But it ceased to be a big city when the mines played out. It is people who decide what is right and necessary – when the government decides it invariably gets it wrong…and before the government gets involved, it should wait a while. If the government had been in charge of internet development then Lord only knows what it’d be like…

  6. bardolf2 March 11, 2016 / 10:12 am


    • Retired Spook March 12, 2016 / 8:50 am

      A lot of Ben Carson supporters are apoplectic that he would endorse the guy who called him a pedophile.

      • Cluster March 12, 2016 / 2:38 pm

        It is a surreal political environment.

  7. Retired Spook March 12, 2016 / 8:48 am

    I think I’d rename the title of your post: “Name something positive the government has done well and on budget.” And to say that (fill in the blank) would have NEVER gotten done without massive subsidies from the federal government is silly. How could one possibly know that something wouldn’t have happened “if”? It’s likely the colonization of Mars will be done without ANY government subsidies. In fact, the government is so deep in debt and has so many unfunded liabilities, that it doesn’t have any money to subsidize much of anything. Well, maybe not entirely true. I’ll bet the government will continue to subsidize non-work, but at least that’s paid for in the sense that the money is taken from people who DO work.

    • M. Noonan March 13, 2016 / 12:05 am

      My father essentially worked for government his entire life – from the Marines in 1944 until he retired at 65 in 1992; in private firms, but always on government contracts. Made for an interesting set of projects – X-15, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle, F-117A, F-35…and it should tell you something that dad was doing design work on the F-35 1992 and earlier and it is only being deployed now, and apparently is having some massive teething problems (I’m guessing because they changed it’s design parameters later on – my dad simply would not have spoken so highly of the design if it were a dog…because he wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is). The first work on it was started in the late 1980’s…can you say “sclerotic”?

      • Retired Spook March 13, 2016 / 7:49 am

        “sclerotic” is the exact word Charles Murray uses to describe the way many government agencies functions in his book, By the People.

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