GOVERNMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY:

INEFFICIENCY COMPOUNDED

FUTURECASTS online magazine
www.futurecasts.com
Vol. 3, No. 1, 1/1/01.
(from Vol. 1, No. 1, 8/1/98)

       Homepage   21st Century futurecast    Economic futurecast  International futurecast

[

  Government policies that create an economic environment that facilitates commerce are essential ingredients in modern prosperous economies - yet  Government remains the biggest threat to the vast prosperity forecast by FUTURECASTS online magazine.
 [
   To understand developments expected in government and politics during the 21st century, both what government does right and what government does wrong must be kept in mind.
 [
  We do democracy no favors by ignoring its many weaknesses. Indeed, to enjoy the many benefits of political freedom, we must clearly recognize those weaknesses and make democracy work in spite of them.

 Practical forms of political freedom:

 

The skeptics continue to underestimate democratic electorates.

   In the 21st century, only political freedom will work. Only multiparty forms of democracy can provide the flexibility and encourage the grass roots initiatives required by an environment of rapid change.

  Isn't it interesting that the most characteristic political impact of the Asian Contagion crisis was the peaceful exchanges of political power in accordance with reasonably fair elections in Indonesia, Russia, Taiwan and South Korea. Mexico and the Yugoslav states, too, have now experienced such peaceful exchanges of power after long periods of strife and economic hardship. Once again, the skeptics have underestimated democratic electorates.

  People are NOT well informed, politically responsible, or actively attentive to matters of governance. Thus, democracy must ALWAYS involve political inequality and minority rule with majority acquiescence, apathy and distraction, and an array of interest groups contesting for influence.

 

Limitations on the powers of government are essential if individual interests are to be provided a practical level of protection from majoritarian excesses and the excesses of power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[

  However, "perfect" forms of democracy clearly don't work. The challenge is to develop practical - workable forms of political freedom. Government must have the powers needed to perform its essential functions, but limitations on the powers of government are essential if individual interests are to be provided a practical level of protection from majoritarian excesses and the excesses of power.

  People are NOT well informed, politically responsible, or actively attentive to matters of governance. Thus, democracy must ALWAYS involve political inequality and minority rule with majority acquiescence, apathy and distraction - and an array of interest groups contesting for influence. Only with respect to particular issues - or when a ruling minority really screws up - will the majority pay attention and play an active role. The vast majority of "reform" efforts are actually just maneuverings for political advantage - as can be seen by current efforts at election reform. Indeed, "perfect democracy" is an oxymoron.

  A large part of the brilliance of the Founding Fathers of the United States Constitution is that - having experienced failure under the Articles of Confederation - they clearly understood the weaknesses of democracy and thus carefully established political systems to deal with those weaknesses. It is well to remind ourselves of all the things that government in the United States does right - especially since this provides a road map for East European and third world nations currently struggling to establish an environment conducive to economic growth and prosperity - and a political system that assures political freedom and individual liberty.

  Beyond economics, there are the political and civil virtues of a federal system that:

  • limits the powers of each arm of government, 
  • leaves considerable autonomy in the hands of state governments that is sufficient to respond flexibly to local concerns even after considerable modern reduction in favor of federal authority,
  • requires the separation of church and state that has limited sectarian strife in a diverse nation,
  • establishes the rule of law that substitutes combat by lawyer at $400 per hour for combat by pistols at 20 paces,
  • guarantees essential freedoms such as speech, press, petition, religion, assembly, association, due process, and the right of citizens to bear arms, and
  • provides legal safeguards within the criminal law process.

   There have been hundreds of efforts to establish democratic systems since the late 18th century - none of which have succeeded in improving on the American model. Many nations have failed several times.
  [
  Parliamentary systems that have proven functional have generally become enmeshed in majoritarian enthusiasms like socialism and the entitlement welfare state, while those systems afflicted with proportional representation have had great difficulty coping with minority passions and making the hard economic and political policy decisions that are sometimes needed.
  [
   The existence of an armed public is far from an unmixed blessing, but has served well to limit the extent of past outbreaks of mass violence and the scope of revolutionary movements.
  [
  While the United States has not been immune to problems, its complex checks and balances have limited the damage of unsound policies and facilitated opposition and - ultimately - rejection of many unsound policies.

I

  Government is in fact responsible in major part for the current and prospective prosperous outlook for the United States economy.

 Economic virtues of the U.S. political system:
  The list of economic virtues has grown impressively long - starting with fundamental political virtues and Constitutional provisions, and continuing through trial and error - frequently egregious error - to the current mix of economic policies that the nation enjoys today.
  [

  It is well to remind ourselves of all the things that government in the United States does right - especially since this provides a road map for East European and third world nations currently struggling to establish an environment conducive to economic growth and prosperity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rather than "laissez faire," the nation has always clearly opted for economic policies intended to facilitate commerce.

 

 

 

 

Liberalization and expansion of international trade has been one of the primary reasons for post WW II prosperity.

 

Monetary integrity and balanced federal budgets have once again - after a six decade hiatus - been reestablished as the cornerstones of government economic policy.
  There are the four fundamental virtues of the American political system that are essential for its economic prosperity - political freedom, economic freedom, individual liberty, and rule of law.
  [
  There are such vital constitutional provisions as due process, property rights, the uniform and non preferential regulation of interstate commerce, an independent judiciary, patent and copyright protection, the postal system, bankruptcy provisions, and standardized weights and measures. Such basic rights as petition and press freedom also have commercial implications.
  [
  The Judiciary at state and federal levels continues to be guided by the requirements of commerce in its interpretation and development of such legal fields as contract, property, negotiable instruments, trust, and commercial and corporate law - although in the twentieth century it increasingly recognized competing interests in such legal fields as labor, tort, civil rights, product liability and environmental law.
  [
  State governments, under our federal system, still have a great deal of autonomy, and there has been increasing recognition of the advantages of local administration of government programs. This facilitates flexible approaches to match the differing conditions that exist in the various states and localities.
 ?
  Also, it places a great deal of governmental activity in political hands that do not suffer from the temptations of control of the monetary printing presses. It permits statewide and even local experimentation with new government initiatives as an alternative to nationwide experimentation. Current experiments with school choice are a good example.
  [
  Only the federal government can temporarily escape its budgetary constraints by resort to monetary expansion - and only the federal government makes its mistakes from sea to shining sea.
  [
  Economic policies - such as the establishment of the limited liability corporation and other economic legal entities - and the effective regulation of the banking system, the securities industry, and various "public utility" monopolies - and antitrust law enforcement - have improved substantially during the 20th century. These policies reflect continuing government efforts to improve market efficiency and facilitate commerce.
  [
  Police and military protection for persons and their property, assistance for transportation, education, and frontier settlement, and infrastructure projects have all played major roles in the development of the United States as an economic powerhouse.
  [
  Debates about "laissez faire" policy are obvious exercises in obfuscation. While individual economic policies have been either advocated, undertaken or rejected - and many egregious mistakes have been made along the way - the nation has always clearly opted for an active economic policy aimed at facilitating commerce.
  [
  The post WW II foreign policy emphasis on the liberalization and expansion of international trade has been a major factor in the ability of the economy to prosper despite Cold War burdens and a nearly disastrous twenty year experiment with Keynesian policies.
  [
  Of course, there have been economic policies of more dubious impact - such as the tariffs, import quotas, and subsidies for favored economic interests that played such a large role in the Great Depression. To a much lesser but still real extent - these kinds of policies continue to burden the economy to this day.
  [
  Multiparty politics assisted by a free press provide an effective means for punishing the political party in power when its policies undermine economic prosperity.
  [
  Monetary integrity and balanced federal budgets - the cornerstones of government economic policy during the first 150 years of the nation's existence - have once again - after a six decade hiatus - been reestablished as the cornerstones of government economic policy. Much of the hiatus was caused by WW II and the Cold War and was largely unavoidable, but the rest arose from the decade of futile efforts to borrow and inflate our way out of the Great Depression, and the two decade experiment during the 1960s and 1970s with Keynesian deficits and monetary expansion that resulted in the oppressive economic troubles of the 1970s.
  [
  By overcoming the attacks of its political and ideological adversaries and bringing these incredibly stupid Keynesian policies to an end during the harsh 1980 - 1982 recession, the Reagan administration - along with the Thatcher government in England and similar efforts elsewhere - achieved one of the greatest economic policy victories of the 20th century - and made the current prosperity possible in the United States and around the world.
  [
  However, there remain many Keynesians who are unrepentant. They await - like expectant vultures - for the inevitable next recession, when they will undoubtedly again peddle their invalid nostrums - and they remain a primary threat to the nation's future economic prosperity.

  The United States system of government has clearly proven itself more effective than those of any of the other major nations.

II

  Unfortunately, how governments mismanage their economic affairs is the other side of this coin.

 Government management:

 

  Government management is INHERENTLY inefficient.
  Government management is INHERENTLY inefficient - as FUTURECASTS has pointed out since its inception - and must continue to point out because recognition of this powerful factor is essential to any understanding of future developments. A certain amount of favoritism, waste and even fraud is inherent in government programs.
  [
  With each inevitable scandal, the situation gets worse. Additional safeguards designed to reduce fraud and waste usually entail extra planning, authorization, appropriation, reporting and inspection procedures that cost far more than the waste and fraud that they are meant to prevent. Regulations proliferate constantly as each new regulatory fix induces a variety of responses requiring further regulatory efforts.
  [

It's the multileveled bureaucratic planning, appropriation, authorization, reporting and inspection procedures themselves that drain funds and vitality from government programs and reduce efficiency to ludicrous levels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lacking the essential management tools - such as functional accounting systems, sales charts, and profit and loss statements - government cannot grant broad discretionary powers to its front-line managers. Government cannot decentralize decision making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the absence of any private ownership interest, there is nobody who has any incentive for evaluating actual performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The process that is due" is constantly elaborated as a check on government excess.

   It is not the waste and fraud that is so devastatingly expensive - it is the regulatory responses and multileveled bureaucratic cycles of planning, appropriation, authorization, reporting and inspection procedures themselves that drain funds and vitality from government programs and reduce efficiency to ludicrous levels. Multiple levels of government continuously generate additional wasteful regulations and procedures at a rate far faster than any administration could possibly come to understand them and appreciably cut into them.
  [
  With a few notable exceptions, the expenses of administration are a vast part of the costs incurred for almost everything that government does. During the military buildup for the Vietnam war, for example, basic junior officers homes procured under government construction contracts cost over 25 percent more than the same houses procured under the "turn key" program without government construction contracts - and the "turn key" houses were still substantially more expensive than similar houses built for the private sector. With each increase in government involvement in health care, for another example, administrative costs soar and eat up an ever greater percentage of the money expended for health care.
  [
  Government simply doesn't have the managerial tools necessary for efficient administration of its affairs. Government accounting procedures are notoriously unreliable and twisted for budgetary and propaganda purposes to the point where they - intentionally - fail to show how programs are actually faring. There are seldom anything resembling sales charts and profit and loss statements with which to judge efficiency and effectiveness.
  [
  Instead, there are irrelevant and immaterial benchmarks - "body counts" - designed to be easy to satisfy and to support an image of success. Even the terminology is twisted.

  • Ordinary and necessary expenditures are allocated to "capital" budgets,
  • overhead expenses are allocated away from politically visible programs,
  • program expenses are viewed as "investments,"
  • accrued liabilities are ignored, and
  • vast embarrassing current liabilities are financed "off budget" and made to disappear.

  "Image is everything."
  [
  Organizational efficiency can only be obtained by organizing in breadth. Front-line managers must have substantial discretionary powers subject to the natural discipline of objective and clear functional standards of success. They must not be buried so deep in a pyramidal bureaucracy - at the end of long chains of command - that they lack ready access to the top decision makers.
  [
  Profits and sales provide functional performance benchmarks for private enterprise, and the means for organizational efficiency. However,

  • without profits there can be no autonomous profit centers;
  • without sales there can be no sales charts; and,
  • without meaningful and transparent accounting methods there can be no competent and efficient management at any level.

  Lacking these essential management tools, government cannot grant broad discretionary powers to its front-line managers. Government cannot decentralize decision making. Government is stuck with its smothering layers of organization in depth - up and down which must flow the interminable paperwork of myriad planning cycles, authorizations, appropriations, reports, and inspections - all smothered in proliferating regulations.
  [
  Even where government enterprises - such as the TVA - do sell commercial products and do engage in the pretense of establishing sales charts and profit centers and business accounts, these are invariably twisted to make performance look better than it is. Moreover, in the absence of any private ownership interest, there is nobody who has any incentive for evaluating actual performance.
  [
  Litigation threatens and ensnares government management at every point where it may conflict with private interests. There is Administrative Procedure Act litigation - bid protest litigation - environmental impact statement litigation - and litigation arising from dozens of statutory and regulatory substantive conditions and cross cutting policy strings imposed on government activities, contracts and grants.
  [
  "The process that is due" is constantly elaborated as a check on government excess. Even though the electorate wants ever more benefits from government, it really still distrusts government.
  [
  Government procurement of goods and services has its own peculiar horrors, as regulations governing contract bidding or negotiation, acceptance and performance, disputes resolution, reports and inspections, constantly proliferate and become more arcane. Government contractors must include the costs of over two dozen clauses imposing such requirements as special accounting procedures, special subcontracting procedures and requirements, preferences for domestic suppliers and favored groups, union wage requirements, and reporting and inspection requirements.
  [
  The regulations governing the Medicare program rival the Internal Revenue Code regulations in volume and obscurity. There are an incredible 130,000 pages of Health Care Financing Administration regulations. Nobody can know what these requirements are any more. About a third of the health care dollar now goes to administrative expenses. Hospitals pay six figure commissions to consultants who mine those regulations to obtain Medicare reimbursements.
  [
  As the federal government inevitably extends its tentacles further over the nation's vital health care system, the impact of its smothering regulatory burdens will become increasingly pervasive. Bureaucratic strangulation of health care is now sufficiently oppressive to cause substantial declines in nursing school and medical school applications.

  It is beyond dispute that government outputs don't equal government inputs. Billion dollar programs for health care, housing, education, military arms, etc., invariably produce substantially less than billion dollar outputs of health care, housing, education, military arms, etc. 

Government has a NEGATIVE learning curve.

 

 

 

 

Dependency on the tender mercies of government bureaucracies is an awful fate.

 

 

Privatization and deregulation are things that governments are now doing, but only after they screwed up so badly that they didn't know what else to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[

   Then, there is the government's NEGATIVE learning curve. If a government program involves much more than merely taking money in and issuing it to designated recipients on the basis of objective criteria, it must become increasingly inefficient over time.
  [
  There is the tendency for government to increasingly burden existing programs with additional and broader tasks, and all of the policy baggage of each new political fad. This tendency applies broadly - even where government is engaged in core operations - such as defense - or has established reasonably efficient programs - such as social security. It applies to all programs involving government procurement or grants.

  Incredibly, even as Medicare finances deteriorate at an accelerating rate, major increases in Medicare coverage are being enthusiastically arranged.

  During Europe's experiment with socialism, nationalized economic entities that worked tolerably well in the 1950s and 1960s were hopeless economic basket cases by the 1980s. Germans are properly renowned for their managerial efficiency, but not even they could keep the socialist economy of East Germany from utter collapse.
  [
  In the United States, Federal banking regulations - viewed properly as one of the proudest achievements of the New Deal - fell apart in the 1980s. Government low cost housing projects proved so irremediably bad that they are being blown up - a process that is occurring all across England, as well. Students from poor families are today determinedly confined to dysfunctional schools for the benefit of the education bureaucracy. Institutions designed to care for the mentally defective proved to be such horrors that courts decided that anybody capable of tying his own shoelaces was better off homeless on the street. Dependency on the tender mercies of government bureaucracies is an awful fate.
  [
  Privatization and deregulation are things that governments are now doing - but only after they screwed up so badly that they didn't know what else to do. Politicians and bureaucrats do not willingly give up control of levers of power. The history of the 20th century is the history of the overwhelming failures of government management.

  • The longer any government program of any complexity exists, the more it will lose priority to programs that are new or newly emphasized.
  • The longer any government program of any complexity exists, the more it must become encrusted with conditions - some intrinsic to the program, but others collateral or totally extraneous to the program - that sap its resources.
  • The longer any government program of any complexity exists, the more likely it is to be expanded and increased in complexity.
  • The longer any government program of any complexity exists, the more private individuals and entities learn how to take advantage of its activities.
  • The complexity of government regulatory efforts expands inexorably until they choke the industry regulated or inhibit competition. There is a never ending cycle of regulatory efforts causing private responses which require further regulatory efforts, etc. This cycle is further stimulated by the natural changes that occur in pertinent conditions over time.
  • Unionization increasingly undermines the efficiency, such as it is, of the civil service.
  • Government is a big marshmallow. It has practically no capacity to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the consumption of its resources. Each scandal forces government to wrap its activities in additional bureaucratic red tape to at least give the appearance of protecting the public fisc.
 

   Political, bureaucratic and administrative imperatives remain as always a major part of the overall problem with government management. They are so obvious and intractable that people tend to simply overlook them. There is:

  • Policy and procedural inertia,
  • policymaking primarily for the benefit of the policy makers and administrators rather than for the ostensible beneficiaries,
  • Parkinson's Law tendencies towards unlimited bureaucratic growth,
  • Peter Principle rise of incompetents into positions of authority,
  • political and budgetary checks and balances, and
  • planning horizons limited to the next election or fiscal year.
 

   Generally, governments have no economically rational basis for such common managerial decisions as:

  • The beginning or ending - or expansion or contraction - of activities,
  • the location of activities,
  • capital expenditure decisions - whether to use, abandon or modernize existing facilities or invest in new facilities or more sophisticated equipment,
  • alterations of existing activities,
  • choice of component and material alternatives (the "gold plating" problem), and
  • evaluation of personnel - which is generally based on seniority and experience rather than merit or the value of retaining trained and skilled personnel.

  Such decisions are unavoidably based on deplorably crude decision making methods. All too frequently, it is political or bureaucratic considerations rather than economic considerations that drive economic decisions.
  [

 

  Of course, socialistic efforts to provide goods and services - such as are widely advocated for the health care system - face innumerable additional problems. Government managers have no rational economic basis for

  • "make-or-buy" decisions for either goods or services,
  • decisions concerning quality and variety,
  • the undertaking of research and development projects and the appropriate levels of funding,
  • choice of accounting techniques,
  • pricing decisions,
  • wage and salary differentials, and
  • personnel policy decisions - to either hire new employees or incur overtime when work expands, or to lay off employees or stretch out work when work contracts - especially vital for dealing with goods and services that incur seasonal or other periodic variations.
     Insulated from ordinary sales chart and profit-and-loss statement disciplines - and with the ability to allocate credit and bestow a host of government benefits at public expense and without personal risk - government policymaking and administration can continue for lengthy periods of time substantially divorced from the harsher aspects of economic reality. If a successful program of any complexity lasts long enough, it must eventually become just another money sewer. Government has a NEGATIVE learning curve.
  [
  Thus, there is the difficulty experienced by the government in closing unneeded military bases - a task still not completed more than a decade after the end of the Cold War. There was the dilatory response to the savings and loan crisis that turned a $20 billion problem into a $120 billion fiasco and then pushed it off budget and out of mind with a financing program that will ultimately cost about $300 billion. The dilatory response to the long recognized need for reform of social security and Medicare entitlements is entering its second decade.
 [
  Then, there are those worthless pennies in your pocket that the government persists in coining.
  [
  Examples are numerous. A major network news program has no trouble finding items for its "Fleecing of America" series. The General Accounting Office never runs out of inefficient government activities to study and report on. For autocratic governments the situation is even worse, as levels or rigidity and corruption rise unchecked over time.
  [
  These are the reasons why socialism and government "industrial policy" failed. These are the reasons why the Evil Empire now resides on the trash heap of history. This is why every increase in government involvement in health care undermines the efficiency and threatens the effectiveness of the health care industry.
  [
  These are the threats posed by government to the continuation of prosperous economic growth.

III 

Evolution of Government
(from Vol. 2, No. 3, 10/1/99)

  It must also be recognized, however, that political governance is not standing still. Even now, it is evolving rapidly in response to the demands of rapidly changing conditions. These changes will continue, as political leaders struggle to provide effective governance in the face of rapidly changing technological and economic conditions - and to respond to a bewildering array of political pressures. These changes naturally raise questions about the future of the nation state itself.

 Devolution, globalization, and privatization:

   Decentralized decision making processes are being recognized by governments all over the world as essential if their nations are to have the flexibility to take advantage of the opportunities and deal with the problems of rapidly changing times.

 By the end of the 21st century, national governments will still retain the essential characteristics of sovereignty.

 

 

The difference between poverty and plenty will continue to depend on the effectiveness with which national governments facilitate commerce within their own borders.

  • The privatization movement is entering its second decade, with no end in sight.
  • International organizations are being granted increased authority to make binding decisions on matters that nations used to reserve for individual treaties. The World Trade Organization has had remarkable - albeit not total - success in resolving trade disputes.
  • The European community and other regional associations and international agencies are becoming more influential, and all major powers and most lesser powers are finding it in their interests to jointly combat international terrorism, discourage aggressive warfare, take part in international governance and engage peacefully in international commerce.
  • National governments are devolving authority to deal with matters within the boundaries of lower level governments and delegating authority to autonomous agencies.
  • Partnerships between governments and private for-profit and non-profit entities - by means of contracts and grants of various types - are being used to more efficiently and flexibly provide services that were previously the sole province of government.
  • Non-governmental organizations are inserting themselves - with varying degrees of effectiveness and varying degrees of acceptance - into the governance spectrum. Sometimes they courageously pursue humanitarian, civil rights and other activities even in environments that are chaotic and hostile - sometimes they venally attach themselves as a parasitic burden on international activities. In the main, the usefulness of their efforts range in between these extremes.

  All of these tendencies will continue and intensify throughout the 21st century.
  [
  Does this mean the demise of national governments and nationalism as predicted and ardently desired by internationalists for more than a century? Don't hold your breath!
  [
  Political governance will certainly change considerably and in unpredictable ways during the 21st century, and national boundaries will expand, fragment and contract -- but peoples all over the world will still look to their national governments to take care of their essential national interests and to provide those essential and desired governmental services and benefits that are beyond the means of lower level governments.
  [
  By the end of the 21st century, national governments will still retain the essential characteristics of sovereignty. The ultimate authority to tax and spend for national and international purposes, deploy military force, make and break international treaties, and make and enforce the law within national boundaries will remain with national governments.
  [
  Despite brave rhetoric by some politicians and internationalist activists, international interference with the internal affairs of rogue nations will be limited by the need to avoid major power confrontations and military deployments in battlefields that are difficult or of little strategic significance. A blind eye will continue to be turned towards the harsh methods used to oppose Islamic Fundamentalist and similarly disruptive forces.
  [
  The difference between poverty and plenty will continue to depend on the effectiveness with which national governments facilitate commerce within their own borders. International agencies will still have to respond to the national governments that give them their franchise.

 

IV

  During the 21st century:
  (from Vol. 1, No. 1, 8/1/98)

 Even when government is a necessary part of the answer, it is always a part of the problem.

  1) An ever-increasing government role will inevitably be required as population densities and levels of technological complexity increase: There is, unfortunately, no simplistic answer to the question of whether and when government is the problem and whether and when it is the answer. Even when it is a necessary part of the answer, it is always a part of the problem.

Rumors of the demise of "big government" are definitely premature.
(from Vol. 2, No. 10, 5/1/99)

 

 

[

  2) Twentieth century liberalism - even if by some other name - will continue to drive American political policies for the foreseeable future. Now that "liberal" is a dirty word - and politicians of both major political parties are carefully occupying centrist territory - it is time to acknowledge the tremendous victory of 20th century liberal ideals during the past 100 years. Assertions that "the era of big  government" is over are certainly premature, and constitute nothing more than just another Clinton prevarication.
  [
  Conservative opposition has served to strengthen liberalism by forcing the strengthening of liberal programs - the elimination or rollback of the weakest liberal initiatives - and by restraining the growth of liberal programs to levels that are not overly burdensome. Indeed, the conservative effort is like a labor of Sisyphus. Its successes in the 1980s have provided the basis for the great prosperity that today funds an ever greater array of liberal government programs.
  [

 Protectionist policies that restrain foreign or domestic commerce pose a primary threat to prosperity.
(from Vol. 1, No. 1, 8/1/98)

 

 

[

  3) Big business and big labor will be increasingly important, and increasingly dangerous: Business must have the freedom and flexibility needed for success - and must be permitted to fail. However, it must not be permitted to restrain competition. Unions must be powerful enough to protect worker rights - but must not be powerful enough to restrain commerce, either domestic or foreign.
  [
  Government policy in these areas will have profound economic consequences, for good or ill. Government policy will be unlikely to achieve the right balances for any length of time, and will continue to be a source of intense political conflict throughout the century.

  Indeed, all kinds of excuses for dangerous protectionist policies are being created, Europe and the United States squabble interminably over trade restraints, and the wealthy nations of the world continue to unconscionably refuse to open their markets to imports from third world nations.

 The public will tend to vote for those who promise them benefits from the public treasury.

  4) Demagoguery will remain the strongest force in democratic politics: The public will tend to vote for those who promise them benefits from the public treasury. The "Politics of Envy" works, constantly feeding redistributionist fervor. There will never be more than a handful of "small government" conservatives in Washington.

  Somebody failed to inform the recent presidential candidates that "the era of big government is over." Both candidates bid ferociously to provide the most attractive government benefits for the electorate.

 Parkinson's Law will continue to govern government growth. 

  5) Growing prosperity will spin off vast resources for government programs:  The Economic futurecast for the 21st century is for a cornucopia of material prosperity. The financial burdens imposed by the vast debts incurred during the wars of the 20th century will rapidly diminish as the economy grows. Parkinson's Law will continue to govern government growth.

  The politics of budget surplus have replaced the politics of budget deficits. Government programs and government budgets are exploding at the state level - under both Democratic and Republican administrations - and the same is happening at the federal level. Awareness that the growth of liberal programs is dependent on healthy government budgets has rendered liberal Democrats the guardians of fiscal solvency.

 

 

Government corruption must inevitably grow with the growth of government.

  6) The more that government tries to do for the public, the more its esteem with the public will decline: The 21st Century futurecast for accelerating rates of change means that the shortcomings of government policymaking will be increasingly exposed. Evidence of government ineptness and sheer stupidity will become increasingly apparent in everyday life.
  [
  As government continuously expands its activities, outside entities will increase their efforts to influence government. They will, of course, succeed - by means both legal and illegal. Government corruption must inevitably grow with the growth of government. Government itself will become the primary sociological problem of the 21st century.

  The money flowing into campaign coffers provides irrefutable testimony of the correctness of this expectation. Efforts at campaign reform will - of course - fail to stem the tide.

 It's the economy, stupid.

  7) Recessions will continue to pose the only real threat to the vast majority of incumbent politicians: Only when the extent of government mismanagement threatens economic growth will the public turn at least temporarily to politicians who profess a desire for reductions in government -- only recessions provide the political cover for some reform of government programs. Elimination of government programs will remain a rarity.
  [

 Philosopher Kings on the Bench.

 

 

 

 

[

  8) Judicial activism will reach epidemic proportions: Top law schools routinely instruct their students that the Constitution is a malleable thing that lawyers and judges should feel free to alter as they see fit. Congress, too, is at fault. It enacts vague statutes, leaving it to the courts and administrative agencies to provide the precise meanings and boundaries of important provisions. The courts will become increasingly recognized as just another political organ of government, control over which various interests must struggle. No interest group will feel any obligation to respect the precedents of courts controlled by other interest groups.

  Control over the ideological disposition of the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary has become a political issue of fairly widespread impact.
 [
  Judicial activism is not totally undemocratic. Activist decisions that have substantial public approval - like product liability and the abortion rights decisions - become established, while decisions that the public comes to dislike - such as those that undermined the effectiveness of the criminal law - are ultimately themselves undermined or reversed as strong political processes ultimately affect the courts.. For the mass of decisions that the public simply doesn't care about, however, jurists of opposite ideology increasingly feel little respect or inclination to accord recognition as binding precedent.
 [
  There has accumulated a vast array of decisions by the current sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court that will last only as long as the current slim conservative majority on the Court.

  This means that "rule of law" will increasingly be replaced by "rule of men" for politically controversial rulings. Public respect for the Judiciary - for the unelected "Philosopher Kings" on the bench - will decline sharply.

  Well, hasn't this futurecast come on like Gang Busters. Now that their ox has been Gored (or their Gore has been oxed), even the Democrats are screaming about judicial disregard for the rule of law. Indeed, both the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court are widely viewed as having disregarded the rule of law in their recent decisions on the Florida election process.

  When the Supreme Court becomes widely perceived as just another political arm of government, there may be serious efforts at Constitutional amendment to impose some checks and balances. Limiting Justices to a term of office, after which they would have to seek election, is a technique used by some states. 
  [

Resort to the "science" propaganda ploy will continue unabated.
(Vol. 2, No. 4, 11/1/99)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tendency to believe one's own propaganda is one of the classic mistakes of the propagandist.

 

 

The deceptions of the "science" propaganda ploy - used to enhance professional prestige and influence - have proven to be far from harmless.

 

[

  9) Efforts to turn nonscientific practical arts into "sciences" for propaganda purposes of enhanced professional prestige and political influence began in the 19th century and, unfortunately, will continue unabated into the 21st century.
  [
  Deceptions - intentional or unwitting - by economists and sociologists engaged in the intellectual discourse on public policy will remain a major problem as long as these fields continue in thrall to the "science" propaganda ploy and to the effort to reduce professional analysis to mathematical calculation.
  [
  Most aggregate economic and sociology statistics are too inaccurate for anything resembling scientific purposes. The appearance of precision in these aggregate statistics is a deception. These statistics are indeed very useful - but only for purposes of evaluation - not for use as actual measurements. Most aggregate statistics can do no more than assist in the evaluation of extent and trends and the determination of  acceleration or deceleration, beginning or ending.
  [
    Economics, social "science," political "science," military "science" - all purport to deal with pertinent government policies, but seldom  consider the inherent inefficiency and limited effectiveness of government decision making processes. Even History has been absurdly presented as a "science" by a noted scholar in a recent Pulitzer Prize winning book.
  [
   Indeed, aggregate econometric models have proven so unreliable that not even the economists who work with them will vouch for their accuracy any more. In sociology, too, we see efforts to measure the immeasurable and create ludicrous indexes of sociological and environmental phenomena.
  [
   The ability to predict outcomes is the ultimate test of scientific theory. However, the published predictions and expectations of modern economic theorists have failed so miserably that many of these economists are now reduced to the ludicrous assertion that economic theory should not be judged on the basis of its ability to predict outcomes - that economic theory is somehow different and must be accepted as valid even if it never successfully predicts anything.
  [
 
The tendency to believe one's own propaganda is one of the classic human mistakes. All of the phony social "sciences" have suffered substantially from efforts to live up to their "scientific" image. Theories that are not based on mathematical reasoning are ignored, and perfectly reasonable - and indeed clearly valid - objections to statistically and mathematically based reasoning are routinely rejected if they are not based on mathematical reasoning. Anything that cannot be expressed as an equation is ignored - efforts are made to measure the immeasurable and calculate the incalculable - and evaluations are often based on phony "body count" benchmarks and indexes.
  [
  Indeed, the world has suffered immensely due to the professional limitations of those authorities who have limited their professional understanding to the bounds of their "scientific" knowledge, and have insisted beyond reason that obvious objections be rejected.
  [
  World War I - the inflationary dislocations and vicious swings of the business cycle of the 1970s - the extensions of massive credits that bankrupted many third world nations in the 1970s and 1980s - and decades of decline and despair for billions of people afflicted with socialist schemes - were all justified and facilitated by authorities and supporting intellectuals acting on purportedly "scientific" principles. The deceptions of the "science" propaganda ploy - used to enhance professional prestige and influence - have proven to be far from harmless.
  [
  Unfortunately, the intellectual community shows no signs of retreating from absurd, misleading - and dangerous - applications of mathematical reasoning and the "science" propaganda ploy.
  [

Immigration and assimilation will continue to provide the United States with many substantial benefits.
(from Vol. 1, No. 1, 8/1/98)

 

 

 

 

Those who seek to permanently divide the American people on the basis of ethnicity or race - for narrow ideological or political advantage, are beneath contempt, and will fail. 

  10) The American melting pot will again triumph: Assimilation is the ultimate victory and crowning glory of the American Way of Life. It is an essential advantage that nations in the Western Hemisphere enjoy over nations on other continents.
  [
  Immigration from its adversaries has provided the United States with many benefits - not least of which is a potent propaganda weapon. Official allied propaganda can be disparaged - but no adversary can distort or hide the obvious success of expatriates who immigrated to the United States - many of whom routinely send back financial aid or return to display obvious financial and personal success.
  [
  Assimilation will continue to triumph over narrow ethnic and racial politics and ideology.
  [
  Despite the inevitable existence of some prejudice, the nation is broadly accepting of its new ethnic and racial minorities. The second and third generation young will continue to find infinitely greater opportunities in the broader national economy and culture than can be found in narrow and increasingly dispersed ethnic and racial communities.
  [
  Love will conquer all; intermarriage rates will assure that we are truly one nation. Even black-white intermarriage rates will be substantially higher by the end of the century.

  The 2000 census confirms the acceleration of intermarriage rates - and the continued success of the American melting pot in welding disparate ethnic - and racial - peoples into one nation.

  Efforts to maintain diverse cultural heritages will remain clearly valuable, but will be increasingly difficult. Those who seek to go further - to permanently divide the American people on the basis of ethnicity or race for narrow ideological or political advantage - are beneath contempt, and will fail.

  One of the most consistent images from this summer's Olympic Games was the sincere national pride of this nation's medal winners - of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

The keys to prosperity are to be found in the fundamental economic and political virtues of the American Way of Life.

   11) The fundamental economic and political virtues of the American system will continue to spread to other nations: The International futurecast is that economic freedom (capitalism), political freedom (multiparty democracy), limited government (checks and balances on government powers, especially property rights and an independent judiciary), and individual liberty (legally enforceable individual rights), will be forced on reluctant politicians around the world as the only practical arrangements in a world of accelerating technological change.
  [
  Capitalist markets are inexorable -- they always eventually win. The great material prosperity obtainable during the 21st century will be realized by only those nations that adopt and properly adapt to their own conditions the fundamental economic and political virtues of the American Way of Life.

  Besides the several examples of initial peaceful democratic exchanges of power, a wide variety of nations have continued to enact significant economic reforms, opening up their economic systems, and creating political, legal and economic environments conducive to capitalist commerce. Many third world nations have even opened their banking systems to foreign ownership.

 

  Please return to our Homepage and e-mail your name and comments.

   Copyright 2001 Daniel Blatt