Jonah Goldberg

Google is a wonderful company, but Google is as relevant to the tasks of government as a garden rake is to the tasks of a surgeon. Similarly, a presidential campaign is a vital tool for electing a president. It is utterly useless for enforcing contracts or repelling foreign invaders.

One of the advantages both a presidential campaign and a company like Google have is that they can fire incompetent employees quite easily. The federal government has no such luxury. According to a study by USA Today, death is the greatest threat to job security at the EPA, HUD and dozens of other agencies. In 2012, 0.4 percent of civilian employees were fired.

Similarly, when a campaign fails, it goes out of business (at least that was the case until Obama created Organizing for America). When a business fails, it doesn't necessarily go out of business, but it does stop selling its failed products. Coca-Cola stopped selling New Coke when no one wanted to buy it.

The day before the president announced his new initiative, the Washington Post profiled Marvin Horne, a farmer who owes the federal government $650,000 in fines. Why He failed to comply with the Department of Agriculture's national raisin reserve program, created by the Truman administration, which even liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan dubbed "just the world's most outdated law." The program stockpiles raisins in case of an emergency. Such emergencies -- if they ever existed -- ceased being a problem after World War II. It's no surprise, alas, that government programs are as hard to fire as the employees working for them.

Which raises yet another irony. The only people in the world who don't want the government to get much smarter are the ones working for it.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.


TOWNHALL MEDIA GROUP