More … and Better?

The op-ed pages (the ones I’m reading, anyway) seem to be taking it for granted now that government is suddenly in the ascendency.

That there’s more of it is not in question — at least if you look at central-bank interventions in worldwide economies. These are unprecedented, and, sadly, they are too often the primary way that citizens are experiencing government, especially in the West, and most especially in the United States. (Think about it: beyond personal payments and business lending facilities, what else have you actually felt from the federal government?)

But there’s another assertion tied to this one that I’m not so sure about: that citizens have suddenly seen the need for better government, and are demanding it.

Sadly, I’m not so sure about that. I’m more prepared to believe that more people are seeing the cost of bad government, but it’s a few steps from there to real, actionable agendas for effective government, and I’m not seeing enough momentum there yet.

On the bright side, many of those for whom the system has been working just well enough (including me) are getting a lot less comfortable. But on the downside, the current administration is clearly only too happy to keep undermining credibility, scope, and effectiveness generally. (“Don’t waste a crisis,” indeed: it’s a perfect time to roll back environmental regulation and step up deportations.)

Good governance is like clean air or water: you generally don’t notice it when it’s working, but you’ll really miss it when it’s gone.