May 31, 2016

NOW HE TELLS US: Take it from Larry Summers: Gummit ain’t workin’ good.

Guess what blatant reactionary wrote the following words: “It seems plausible to wonder if government can build a nation abroad, fight social decay, run schools, mandate the design of cars, run health insurance exchanges, or set proper sexual harassment policies on college campuses, if it can’t even fix a 232-foot bridge competently.”

Stumped? The answer is Lawrence Summers, secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, presidential senior economic adviser in the Obama administration and, in between, president of Harvard, writing in the Washington Post. For more on the fiasco of the rebuilding of the Larz Anderson Bridge, between Cambridge and Boston’s Allston neighborhood, see another opinion article by Summers in the Boston Globe.

As it happens, I wrote a column myself back in 2010 on how long it was taking to fix the Humpback Bridge, a portion of George Washington Parkway which rises about 30 feet above an inlet of the Potomac. From the top of that bridge you can see the Pentagon, still the world’s largest office building, which was built in 18 months. I’ve had occasion also to write columns on how excellent books by Philip K. Howard, Peter Schuck and John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge which illustrate that, as I put it, “gummit don’t work good.” And I’ve written more recently on the tragic deterioration of the Metro, Washington’s “Great Society Subway.”

So even as we hear from Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton how government is going to painlessly provide us with free healthcare, free college and free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (uh, just kidding about the last one), we see all around us how government is unable to do things it could easily do 50, 100 and (think Flint water) 150 years ago. What makes anyone think it can take on additional tasks and perform them satisfactorily? Apparently Summers, lifelong Democrat and frequent advocate of more government spending on infrastructure, is having his doubts.

We have the worst political class in American history. Thus, the government it runs is performing badly. It is not a coincidence, but it is unfortunate, that we also have the largest government in American history.

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