Paco has an image of a Newsweek cover that has Obama as a left-wing Shiva. He rightfully makes fun of the “it’s too much even for The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived, so America has really become ungovernable,” but I believe that there is a marked portion of truth in the statement. Not that Obama is The Smartest Man Who Ever lived, or even that America is, as such, “ungovernable,” but the federal government is where GE was 40 years ago.
I’ve written before about how the federal government is like a late-industrial conglomerate. Companies would reduce risk by expanding into unrelated industries, so you could smooth out bad years in one field by hopefully having a good year in a different field. The problem here is that the executives lost the ability to put all of the pieces together. You had people who were pretty good in their own fields, but there weren’t any people who could put it all together. When the dog food, light bulb, cash register, air conditioning, and brake pedal division chiefs of SuperBigCo got together, they all argued that they needed more funding, and there wasn’t anybody at the top who could make correct, valid decisions on what to do. As a result, instead of having five separately-funded, independent companies that could all succeed, and far from having spread out your risk, you were actually tethering lots of companies together, so that if you make a mistake in one, you take the whole thing down. This is why companies which were highly horizontally integrated went out of vogue and into bankruptcy.
The federal government is in this boat. A modern President is not necessarily supposed to be an expert on everything under federal purview, but is supposed to be able to balance the needs of all of the different divisions under his control. The thing is, I seriously doubt Obama even knows the names of all of the departments, sub-departments, and sections under which he has authority, much less what they all do and how they are all supposed to operate. There is absolutely no way that any man could handle everything associated with being a modern President, and that is yet another reason why we see government failure. Unlike markets, there is no governmental competition and no knowledge aggregation mechanism which allows dispersed individuals to act in a way harmonious with the actions of others. Instead, the model of government is command and control, so it all depends upon the top knowing enough. But the top governmental officers don’t know nearly enough to control things effectively.
There is only one way to make America “governable” again, and it doesn’t involve culling ideologies or political parties. It involves scaling down the federal government. Let’s start by getting rid of 2/3 of governmental responsibilities, regulatory bodies, departments, and pieces of legislation. 2/3 is a number I pulled out of a hat, but it’s probably a good starting point. That way, the President and the remainder of his cabinet can focus more effectively on the remainder of the government, thereby being able to make better decisions. As it stands now, there is simply too much going on for any man.