The DemProg’s love of government

dmv-line_100369529_mOne of the reasons I didn’t write anything yesterday was that we went into the City to have lunch with friends. The food was wonderful, which I knew would be the case, since Yank Sing is my favorite restaurant. The conversation was frustrating.

It all started when someone tried to look something up on the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s website, only to discover that it’s a terrible website. I pointed out that, being a monopoly, once the DMV created a somewhat functional website, it had no incentive to create a better one. A DemProg at the table, who works in the private sector, instantly defended government workers.

“I know government workers,” he said, “who work crazy hard.”

“So do I,” I replied. “I’m not talking about individuals; I’m talking about a systemic problem.”

“So you’re saying no government workers can do a good job?”

“No, I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that when there’s a monopoly, which is always the case when government is involved, you only need to get things functional and no more. You’re not going to lose business, after all.”

“That’s not true!”

(It occurs to me as I write this that the DemProg took my argument as a veiled attack on the Obamacare website, although that hadn’t even crossed my mind at the time.)

The argument volleyed back and forth for a while, with the DemProg insistently saying — and me agreeing — that there are wonderful government employees out there. I kept repeating my point, though, that the system discourages hard work and innovation because there are no rewards for either.

Since we were at an impasse, the DemProg switched to another argument:

“It’s not the workers’ fault and it’s not just because no one else can compete with them. It’s because of the regulations that limit them.”

“That’s my point exactly! The nature of government is such that every agency, from its inception, is prevented from growing, innovating, and creating. It’s designed and limited by committees that have nothing to do with it’s actual functioning.”

I’m a bit muddy on where the conversation went at this point. We definitely touched upon government unions, which he said were necessary to protect workers, and which I said were corrupt ab initio, because the people whose money is at stake (i.e., taxpayers) are the only ones not at the table. Instead, I explained, although I doubt he or the other DemProg guests understood, unions pay money to elect politicians who ensure that they get insane benefits, far better than in the private sector, because the politicians know that a portion of those same benefits will be turned into cash to re-elect the politician. No taxpayers — the ones who fund this corruption — are involved. I especially flummoxed my audience when I added that Progressive icon FDR feared public sector unions.

I suggested a thought experiment: Imagine that the DMV is divided into two separate entities, one of which serves all state citizens whose last names end with the letters A through L and the other of which serves all state residents whose names end with M through Z (and we’re assuming that pretty much divides the state population in half). Both DMV entities are given the same goal — do DMV stuff — but they’re not explicitly told how to do that. Moreover, they are told that, at the end of each year, there’s going to be a customer satisfaction survey. Whichever DMV department wins that survey will be rewarded: The employees will get significant bonuses. The other DMV won’t get any bonuses and, if the survey answers are really bad, people will get fired and salaries will be docked.

I then asked, “Would the above scenario improve performance?”

To which my DemProg friend said, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

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  • Texan99

    They always think it’s about good intentions. And yet, when they have choices, as in the private market, they rarely waste a moment on the good intentions. They automatically choose the vendor that provides the best product at the lowest price. Ditto for their employers: for every example of a public-minded hero who works for peanuts when “he could be making a fortune on Wall St.” or wherever, there are legions of Progressives who think they should be paid more, and who are not that interested in their employers’ good intentions.

    Maybe the trick is that they think the good intentions excuse poor performance whenever they identify with the people performing badly, as in the case of government “service workers.” It’s interesting to watch the cognitive dissonance when they try to decide whether to blame cops or soldiers for their mistakes.

  • qr4j

    Thoughtful, logical lines of argument do not deter the ideologically committed. And they don’t keep the committed from spewing accusations intended to stifle such lines of argument even when the accusations themselves are not logical and do not flow from these lines of argument. It is a religion whose mysticism transcends reason.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    “To which my DemProg friend said, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.””

    My way is easier. Find his “Democrat government” friends and then discover that they are corrupt.

    See… easier.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Whether a person is hard working doesn’t matter. When the taxpayers are paying for their ipods and electric bills, they work for the people. The people don’t work for the IRS. Yet normal people are supposed to kowtow and bend their knee to the “hard working government workers and their fairness based unions”?

    People have an aristocratic fetish, don’t they, your associates Book…

  • http://politicsandprosperity.wordpress.com/ Tom A.

    I know several lefties. All of them would reflexively defend government programs and government workers. None of them would tolerate employees, colleagues, or companies in the private sector who perform as poorly as government. It’s another case of wishful thinking that’s rampant among “liberals”: They wise government would be a paragon, and so it is — in their eyes.

    • http://politicsandprosperity.wordpress.com/ Tom A.

      They “wish” not “wise.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Their religion needs to be torn apart. This ain’t no debate club. Everything the Left holds sacred and valuable, everything they cherish and value, must be ripped apart in front of their eyes. Only then will they come to “Believe”.

  • Matt_SE

    “Would the above scenario improve performance?”
    No.
    The two DMV divisions would collude to game the system and split the rewards; just like what happened in the VA.

    • http://bdroppings.blogspot.com jog267

      Divide the DMV into 5 or 6 (or more?) separate but identical entities, with identical budgets and yearly surpluses posted online. Then have each face the voters for “retention” or “disbandment” every four years; performance would improve dramatically.

  • Ron19

    I finally figured out that when my wife changed the subject during a discussion/argument, it meant that she had lost and wanted to switch to something where she could win.

    Sort of like a certain car salesman a while back.

  • Mike Devx

    Book said:

    > Moreover, they are told that, at the end of each year, there’s going to be a customer satisfaction survey. Whichever DMV department wins that survey will be reward: The employees will get significant bonuses. The other DMV won’t get any bonuses and, if the survey answers are really bad, people will get fired and salaries will be docked.

    > I then asked, “Would the above scenario improve performance?”

    > To which my DemProg friend said, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

    Brilliant, Book! You hit the nail on the head and provoked exactly the expected response. Because your solution would hold INDIVIDUALS responsible, and the last thing a leftist can handle is individual responsibility (or individual freedom).

    Individual responsibility is both a poison and an absolute evil to people like that man (or woman).

    And furthermore, you introduced competition into the bureaucracy! Oh, oh, oh…. the HORROR! The HORROR! The absolute, unmitigated, evil HORROR!

    Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” comes to mind.

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  • Michael Adams

    It was a good day: The Prog friend did not end the conversation by calling you a raaaacist.