Print Column: We Overestimate the Government’s Ability to Solve Problems


MINOT, N.D. — Going by the promises currently being made by candidates for U.S. president, you’d think our federal government was an omnipotent machine, and politics merely the apparatus through which we aim it at problems.

There seems to be no upper limit on what national candidates will promise they can accomplish.

“Bernie Sanders promises that if he is elected, no one will ever have to pay college tuition for public colleges or universities ever again,” National Review columnist Jim Geraghty wrote recently by way of listing some of these pledges.

“Kamala Harris promises that if she is elected, the average teacher in America would receive a $13,500-per-year raise. Elizabeth Warren promises that if she is elected, no American parents would ever pay more than 7 percent of their income on childcare. Julian Castro promises that if he is elected, he will create 10 million new jobs in the ‘clean energy economy.’ Pete Buttigieg promises that he will cut the number of incarcerated Americans in half without any increase in crime. Andrew Yang says that if he is elected, all citizens over age 18 will get $1,000 per month from the government, forever. And Joe Biden, the supposed sensible centrist in the Democratic primary, promises that if elected, he will cure cancer.”

Before my left wing readers get upset, let me point out that Republican President Donald Trump was the “I alone can fix it” guy who promised that trade wars were easy to win and that Mexico would pay to build a border wall.

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