Big government isn’t the problem

Has the United States mutated from democracy into kludgeocracy? The term “kludgeocracy” is a coinage by Steven M. Teles, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and a leading public intellectual in his own right. In a new paper commissioned by my colleagues and me at the New America Foundation, Teles argues that the complexity of American government is a greater long-run threat than its size.“You can’t solve a problem until you can name it,” Teles argues.  The term “kludge” originated in computer programming, and means “an inelegant patch put in place to be backward compatible with the rest of a system. When you add up enough kludges, you get a very complicated program, one that is hard to understand and subject to crashes.” This sounds very much like American government — thus “kludgeocracy.”Teles finds kludgeocracy everywhere he looks. Sometimes it takes the form of multiple, overlapping or contradictory programs to promote a single objective. For example, to promote the objective of retirement security, Social Security, a simple and straightforward program, must now compete with “401(k)s, IRAs, 529 plans and the rest of our crazy quilt of savings incentives.”Continue Reading…

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