Taking Lousy Government for Granted
By David Henderson
Their Supreme Gall
There are two ways to take lousy government for granted: (1) to understand clearly how lousy, petty, vicious, self-serving, and narcissistic most government is, and (2) to understand implicitly how lousy, petty, vicious, self-serving, and narcissistic most government is but get so used to it that you hardly notice. I’m in category (1). There are a lot of people in category (2) whom I’m trying to get to category (1).
A case in point is the coming Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act. Whatever you think of that law and whatever you think of the constitutionality of the law, there is one thing that virtually everyone can agree on: whichever way the Supreme Court decides, its decision will have momentous consequences.
If the court decides that the ACA is constitutional, then state governments will need to get busy setting up “health exchanges.” If, on the other extreme, the court decides the whole thing is unconstitutional, the state governments and health insurance companies will need to change their planning. If the court decides that the individual mandate alone is unconstitutional, then various players will have to act differently because of that.
So any decision the Supreme Court makes will have momentous consequences. Decisions about the allocations of tens of billions and probably hundreds of billions of dollars will be affected.
The decision is likely to come out next week. Yet we’ve been told that the actual decision was made months ago and it’s probably the case that all the opinions were written weeks ago. So why can’t they tell us? Why make us wait?
Imagine that Apple found a bug in its iPad and came up with a fix. How would you feel if you had just bought an iPad and found out that Apple was going to wait 2 months before releasing the fix? My guess is that you would be angry. Yet I don’t see people getting angry at the Supreme Court. Why? Check out reason (2) above. We are so used to government officials being narcissistic and self-serving that we just accept that they take their sweet time telling us. The fact that waiting until the end of June instead of finding out in, say, mid-May, will cause the misallocation of billions of dollars? No biggie.