Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why is the quality of American Governance Low?

Frank Fukuyama writes:

Conversely, I would argue that the quality of governance in the US tends to be low precisely because of a continuing tradition of Jacksonian populism. Americans with their democratic roots generally do not trust elite bureaucrats to the extent that the French, Germans, British, or Japanese have in years past. This distrust leads to micromanagement by Congress through proliferating rules and complex, self-contradictory legislative mandates which make poor quality governance a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The US is thus caught in a low-level equilibrium trap, in which a hobbled bureaucracy validates everyone’s view that the government can’t do anything competently. The origins of this, as Martin Shefter pointed out many years ago, is due to the fact that democracy preceded bureaucratic consolidation in contrast to European democracies that arose out of aristocratic regimes.

I note that very similar arguments can be applied in NZ given its anti class sentiment upon settlement.

HT Marginal Revolution.


1 comment:

  1. I am seeing a variation of this theme in a project I am working on in a country formerly controlled by the then USSR. Bureaucrats are extremely reluctant to let go their power and decision making as a group of us strive to reform the country's SOE structures. IFI conditionality might be the only solution but it's tricky device to resort to.