Now that I’ve got you’re attention, former Clinton-Gore aide Elaine Kamarck has a new book, “The End of Government…As We Know It: Making Public Policy Work.” Washington Post columnist Stephen Barr recently wrote about the book, the full article can be found here. I haven’t read the book but I sure like the title, and from the looks of Barr’s column I just might enjoy the book too. Kamarck argues that we need a new way of governing and she relies on many of the tools that Reason has been fighting for. For example, Government needs to focus on results and use performance measures to track programs and services. Unfortunately, government employees unions have fought these efforts in the past and most likely will in the future. Furthermore, when was the last time an elected official had the stomach to end or alter a failing program (does public education ring a bell)? The government’s usual response is to send more money. Kamarck also calls for “government by network.” She may have picked this up while at Harvard where my friend and colleague Bill Eggers along with Stephen Goldsmith recently wrote “Governing By Network” – essentially this is where government uses the network of service providers — universities, laboratories, nonprofit and for-profit organizations to do the work that the government wants done. Last, Kamarck also calls for “government by market” where through incentives are used to change peoples behavior, such as one so people will stop driving gas-guzzling cars. This one probably raises a red flag for any liberty lover in this country — its a pretty slippery slope when you start using taxes or incentives to create the world you want…especially if taxes are used as penalities for exercising your preference.
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.