Monday, May 30, 2011

Why Republicans can’t solve the nation’s problems

There is a saying in Total Quality Management, that “If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems will look like nails.”  It is the Law of the Hammer and explains why Republicans are so bad at solving the nation’s problems.

The Republican “Hammer” learned at the feet of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater is that big government and taxes are always bad and the private sector can always do anything and everything cheaper and more effectively than government.  Given these assumptions, Republicans are stuck with only three solutions to just about any problem: (1) cut taxes, (2) reduce the size of government, and/or (3) privatize. 

Even if we assume that Republicans are sometimes right about big government, taxes and the private sector—a big and largely unwarranted assumption—these Republican “truths” are in no way universally true.  Sometimes problems are so big and intractable that Big government is the only entity capable of solving them.  For example, neither the states nor private companies were able to address the pressing need for health insurance for the elderly.  It took a big government program like Medicare to get the job done.  Similarly, it is NOT true that the private sector can do everything better and cheaper than the public sector.  Private companies have been no more successful, and frequently less successful, in running prisons and schools than their public sector counterparts given comparable prison and school populations.  Finally, there is no reliable evidence that the economy necessary benefits from a cut in taxes and the “laughable” argument that lower taxes lead to higher revenues has been totally discredited.

Republicans must free themselves from the law of the hammer if they are to ever offer workable solutions to the nation’s problems.  Unfortunately, that is not going to happen any time soon, not as long as they are captive to the Tea Party.

Bottom line—if you want innovative solutions to the nation’s problems, look to Democrats.

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