Government

If Government Is Good at One Thing, It's Making a Crisis Worse

The same institution that's unable to run the Postal Service or Amtrak orchestrated our invasion and withdrawal of Afghanistan.

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Another government failure, another outrage. This time the scandal is brought on by the less-than-orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the realization that 20 years of military presence in the country achieved nothing but death and chaos. Observing another instance of large-scale mismanagement, I can't help being surprised that anyone is still surprised.

One needn't be a foreign policy expert to recognize that something in Afghanistan went terribly wrong. While many will blame the Biden administration for a fiasco that will have horrifying humanitarian consequences for the Afghan people, the failure also belongs to those who made the decision to go and remain there for two decades. These American officials argued that a continuing U.S. military presence there was important for achieving several goals, like training the Afghan army to resist the Taliban. Yet, today, the almost-immediate collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government makes it clear that whatever our strategy was, it failed.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that those who believed in nation building in the first place will realize from this dreadful episode that it never works as well as planned, even though the tragic scenario now unfolding before our eyes isn't the first U.S. government foreign policy disaster. And it won't be the last. People never seem to learn. Making matters worse is the fact that this sad state of affairs isn't limited to foreign policy. It exists everywhere and throughout all levels of federal, state, and local government.

During the pandemic, for instance, I was baffled to see Congress put the Small Business Administration (SBA) in charge of dispensing unprecedented disaster relief. This agency has a disastrous record of extending the suffering of small business owners after disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Having written extensively on that issue, I knew that this time around would be no different. It wasn't.

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative piece about the performance of the SBA's COVID-19 disaster loan program. The conclusion is that it was terrible. The report is packed full of examples of the ordeal that small business owners went through, many of which were carbon copies of stories that I reported about during other disasters. One of the recipients of the loans described dealing with the SBA: The agency "puts you in a state of confusion and doesn't allow you to focus on what you should be doing, and that is to continue to rebuild your business after a pandemic."

The article also includes an admission by a former SBA regional administrator who helped with the agency's response. "On the disaster side," he admitted, "we did a terrible job." However, it doesn't quite matter, as there will be no consequences for the agency. And the next time around, whether for a pandemic or a hurricane, the SBA will be called to the front lines yet again. And when it fails again, people will be outraged and wonder how this could have happened again.

I'm picking on the SBA, but the same criticism applies to other agencies and many other government efforts. Remember the flaw-filled rollout of the Obama-era Healthcare.gov? Remember the invasion of Iraq and discovering that there weren't weapons of mass destruction there after all? Remember former President Donald Trump's trade war, which was supposed to bring jobs back to the United States?

Books will be written for years to come about the utter failure of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to perform the most basic of responsibilities—preparing for a COVID-19-like pandemic. Authors will comment on all the CDC's well-documented fiascoes, like the unwillingness to use existing COVID-19 tests and the failure to recommend that schools be opened like they are, successfully, in many other countries. Similar books will be written about the Food and Drug Administration's poor handling of the crisis. The best of these books will even examine the agencies' pasts and note that the recent mismanagements are just more of the same.

Unfortunately, the incentives within government are such that this pattern won't change. After all, the same institution that's unable to run the Postal Service or Amtrak without being in the red orchestrated the withdrawal from Afghanistan and our previous stay there for 20 years. The only thing that will make a difference is if we, the American people, start demanding accountability and reform. That may include the termination of a few—or perhaps many—agencies and programs.

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  2. So SNAFU

      1. Even worse:
        SNAFUBAR

        1. TEOTWAKI but not quite.
          TARFU.
          Copious PEBKAC.

          1. PEBKAC is the root cause of all *FU*

        2. Sounds like trail mix I’d buy.

    1. Who does Veronica suggest handle military matters? I agree government is frequently incompetent, but the head,Ken to the article is idiotic.

      1. That’s the problem here – this was a military matter. Both the SECDEF and CJCS were repeatedly warned of the problems with their plan for our withdrawal. They went ahead anyway, and then pretended that they were caught by surprise. They shouldn’t have been, but if they were, they should resign. It was their orders that closed their defendable military airbase before the general withdrawal. If they took this screwup seriously, CHCS would be court marshaled (esp under articles 134 and 133 of the UCMJ) for deliberate negligence of duty causing deaths. He won’t be.

        1. Oh, I’m sure Biden’s cabinet people and their lackeys absolutely fucked this up. I knew months ago that they would. Biden is senile, and had subnormal intellect even his prime, and before those debilitating aneurysm surgeries ended up medically lobotomizing him (the second surgery literally did that). His handlers are the same kind of leftist morons that failed their way to the top. As failing upwards is the democrat way.

          This is just one example of the damage these incompetent marxists are inflicting on Americans and the entire world.

  3. If only they had a group specifically to get American citizens out of afghanistan… Oh wait there was, Biden disbaned it

    1. Hey man, they plan on trying. At least for a while. This stuff is hard, you know?

      1. C’mon man! I have a plan ter brontru intal presser. Listen fat. I was vishe principar runder Brock Toboggan.

    2. Good place to bring this back up: the Biden regime could have taken the credit for getting us out of Afghanistan by doing literally nothing and following the Trump withdrawal plan. But they didn’t.

      1. But Biden wanted his name all over it, with hubris. And now he’s got it.

      2. The 9/11 party would have been epic though.

  4. Donald Trump wouldn’t have allowed Biden’s withdrawal fiasco to be implemented in Afghanistan.

    The author deceitfully blames the entire federal government for Joe Biden’s disaster.

    1. Yes, this a deflection of attention from droolin’ Joe’s colossal fuck up.
      There was one idiot (Mikey Rat) who was whining that we shouldn’t let the Taliban take over (no offer on his part to fix it or pay for doing so), but no one else argues that it was long past time to get out.
      And we had a POTUS who had an (honored) agreement with the Taliban and a plan for withdrawal. Thanks to TDS-addled assholes, we ended up with a dementia-ridden pile of shit as POTUS who ripped up that plan and seems to think doing what he dreamed of in his last nap is the proper course of action.
      And then is SURPRISED when someone jams his idiocy up his ass for him.
      Low point for DeRugy

    2. No, I think de Rugby’s point is entirely fair.

      The withdrawal is definitely a Biden fuck up. But Biden wasn’t (solely) responsible for a technologically advanced 300,000 man army being obliterated by a bunch of cave dwellers in pickup trucks. He is not solely responsible for the intelligence community that had no idea how quickly this would happen. He is not solely responsible for the fact that 20 years of american blood and treasure were spilled to create a government that didn’t even survive the Americans leaving.

      I’ll say that again: We spent 20 Years to build a nation that had fallen before our troops had even fully withdrawn.

      I am HAPPY to see Biden get his lumps. But we have a far deeper problem in this country. Because you know those career bureaucrats, statesmen, analysts and officers who flushed 20 years and trillions of dollars down the toilet? Those are the same people in charge of our trillion dollar Carrier fleet. They are the same people managing our power grid and modernizing our air traffic control infrastructure. Look at Afghanistan and now ask yourself- when those same people say we have an operational nuclear stock pile, how confident do you feel?

      This goes beyond Biden. Milley, Vindeman- all those guys served under Trump, too. This is the entire federal government and that should keep you up at night.

      1. This goes beyond Biden. Milley, Vindeman- all those guys served under Trump, too. This is the entire federal government and that should keep you up at night.

        This. Most, if not all, of the same people who fucked this up under Biden would have likely been doing the same job under Trump, just as poorly. You can’t prove the counter factual of how the withdrawal would have gone under Trump either way, but if I were a bettin’ man my money would be on “just as bad.”

        It really doesn’t matter much who the president is anymore, and hasn’t for a while. Our government is a corrupt clown show.

        1. “…It really doesn’t matter much who the president is anymore, and hasn’t for a while.”

          You’re full of shit.

        2. “You can’t prove the counter factual of how the withdrawal would have gone under Trump either way, but if I were a bettin’ man my money would be on “just as bad.””

          What Trump had going for him was that 1) he would fire people for talking back to him, right or wrong. 2) He intended to have our evacuation complete BEFORE the fighting season began.

          My point was that the Taliban was going to take over by Aug 15 whether we like it or not. With Trump’s plan, americans would have been gone. But it would have still been a total surprise to everyone. The people who failed to train a competent army, the intelligence agencies who would have insisted we have 90 days, etc etc. Those people would still have come out looking like idiots. THe only difference is that we wouldn’t have thousands of our troops and civilians stuck there.

          1. And the optics would’ve looked like a withdrawal instead of an embarrassing, panicked defeat that leaves us publicly begging our enemy to let us pay them for fuel and to let the hostages through.

            Trump dropped a MOAB in the middle of nowhere Afghanistan just to show the Taliban what a really big ass bomb looks like, and that the US could afford to use one just for shits and giggles. Trump made sure the bombing of Syria’s airbase happened while he was hosting Xi for dinner. And he vaporized Iran’s iconic general when they crossed the line in Iraq.

            Whatever your feelings about Trump otherwise, Americans everywhere were relatively safe under his watch because people who’d seek to do us harm had to think twice with the possibility of getting hit back twice as hard on the table.

            1. Thousands trapped behind enemy lines, and we’re dependent on that enemy to provide fuel to get our planes out, but sure, might as well come out and announce this:

              @zerosum24
              Just In – The Biden administration is considering airstrikes on the looted larger military hardware, but they also fear that such a move could provoke the Taliban at a time where the U.S. is focused on evacuations. – Axios

              1. You can’t do anything but keep the Taliban happy as long as they decide if you get to withdraw our people.

                Foreseeable.

              2. Nardz, Afghanistan expert.

                Everyone on Twitter is an Afghanistan expert all of a sudden. The market is saturated.

        3. ” but if I were a bettin’ man my money would be on “just as bad.””

          Then you haven’t really thought anything through.

      2. There needs to be a forced hard reset of the federal government. Including the pentagon, civil service, federal law enforcement, and the judiciary.

        When I say reset, I mean taking the federal government back to factory conditions, like a smartphone. Running it strictly by the constitution and wiping out all the corrupted data I listed above. It all needs to go. Only replacing the constitutional parts. No more unconstitutional federal agencies. No more public sector union employees that are impossible to fire, no more lifetime judicial appointments for judicial activists that think they can make laws.

        They are welcome to go in peace, but either way, the reset has to be compulsory.

  5. The Taliban buttfucked Biden bare where some of the Reason writers and commenters would volunteer to clean him out personally coming up for air only long enough to blurt out, “But Trump!”

    1. Trump is the one who invited them to Camp David, so maybe he’s just not pretty enough.

      1. Well, you ARE the resident expert.

        1. Correct. I would characterize Donald Trump as some sort of daddy, but he’s not really shaped like any known human type, so who knows.

  6. https://twitter.com/disclosetv/status/1428388348561924098?t=Zf2Z5PEu58oXYnV8GBSycw&s=19

    JUST IN – Taliban captured 2,000 U.S.-made armored vehicles, up to 40 aircraft, and countless small arms (Reuters)

    1. Not covered by US legacy media; local news, I guess.
      The Chron this morning had one story date-lined Afghanistan: The Taliban killed a person.
      Droolin’ Joe’s colossal fuck up? Sorry, couldn’t hear you. What was that?

      1. Reuters:
        Another official said the current intelligence assessment was that the Taliban control more than 2,000 armored vehicles, including U.S. Humvees, and up to 40 aircraft potentially including UH-60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones

        The saving grace here is that without steady access to parts and expertise, and especially for the aircraft (and doubly so for helicopters), at least much of that equipment will not be too useful for very long in that environment. But the armored vehicles and hummers will be Taliban limos for years.

  7. https://twitter.com/ukpapers/status/1428269503452962818?t=qgTCgVYhBr9YE5-9ZZuMTQ&s=19

    Parliament Holds The President In Contempt

    ▫MPs and peers unite to condemn ‘dishonour’ of US president’s withdrawal and his criticism of Afghan troops left behind to face Taliban

    #frontpagestoday #TheDailyTelegraph #UK

    [Link]

    1. But America Was Back!

      1. But seriously, that’s a pretty dick move on their part even if they’re right.

        1. The British MPs need any sort of distraction.

          1. Yeah, I’ve been reading the British papers and it’s a shit show for them too. They definitely need the distraction, and Biden is the perfect fall guy.

  8. Oh, the pop-up vid in the lower right now has “Human Rights Crisis” as a headline. I’ll let someone else open it to see how they’re blaming Trump.

  9. >>the failure also belongs to those who made the decision to go and remain there for two decades.

    love to complain about (R) and (D) in the same sentence, so yes!

    also, T worked the deal to get us out. shame the swamp drain got clogged.

    1. And yet we did not get them out.

      1. You realize that droolin’ Joe tore up Trump’s agreement, right?

  10. Quite an understatement.
    “If Government Is Good at One Thing, It’s Making a Crisis Worse”

  11. On the plus side, chemtard’s dream finally came true, as we’re about to resettle a medium-size city’s worth of refugee child molesters.

  12. https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1428451668287438850?t=pibhw4AVLxxOHzGZwnk0KQ&s=19

    BREAKING: White House Walks Back Biden’s Statement About Defending Taiwan, Says He Misspoke
    [Link]

    1. “We made a sacred commitment to Article 5 that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with – Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about that.” 

      In case you are unfamiliar, Article 5 is an agreement which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all. 

      As reported by Reuters, a senior Biden official said the policy has not changed, however, and Biden simply misspoke. 

      Indeed, the U.S. is required by law to provide Taiwan with the necessary means to defend itself, but has followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene to protect the island if there were a Chinese attack. 

      1. Biden can’t do ambiguous. You have to actually have a clue in order to do ambiguous.

        1. Not big on strategy either

          1. His owners aren’t going to let him do much to protect Taiwan. Since they have the goods on Hunter, and possibly The Big Guy himself.

      2. “…and Biden simply misspoke.”

        The wrong ventriloquist had a hand up his ass.

      3. Biden simply misspoke.

        Get used to seeing those three words a lot.

  13. Not gonna argue that the exit was less than ideal but if you think government just makes everything worse then you’ve got your head so far up your ass that you are struggling to breathe.

    Black and white statements are for fools.

    1. >>Black and white statements are for fools.

      is a black & white statement?

      1. Shitlunches is a fool, yes.

        1. MOAH shitlunches for the munchers of “smart pills” from the bottom of the rabbit hutch, for R MacDonald had a Farm!!!!

          (Take some many-many-many MOAH “smart pills”, R MacDonald had a Farm, and SOME Sunny Day, ye will be a Fart Smeller!!! Shirley!!!! Very soon now!!!)

          1. spastic flag.
            Fuck off and die, spaz.

      2. There was a radio show here in the 80s-90s. The host was discussing absolutes with a caller. The host understood that there are absolutes. The caller claimed there weren’t. So near the end of the call the host asked the caller if he really thought there were no absolutes. The caller said “absolutely”. The host said thank you, nice talk.

    2. So initiating force, which is what the government does, is sometimes good?

      1. Raspberry celebrates April15.

      2. Shitlunches is an authoritarian, yes.

    3. “Not gonna argue that the exit was less than ideal…”

      Slimy pile of lefty shit ask Mrs Lincoln:
      “Other than that, how was the play”?
      Stuff it, asshole. We had a deal with the Taliban which it was honoring, and a plan to get out.
      Your guy tore that up and seems to have decided to wing it. And ended up with what he (and you, asshole), deserved: a truly complete fuck-up

    4. Do you hand out government cheese for a living or just a recipient?

  14. You’re assuming that an orderly withdrawal was what they wanted. No they want chaos. Just like BLM all last year they want this to be horrible to use it as an excuse to bring millions of Afghans here to help with the destruction of this country and their acsencion to eternal power.

  15. The premise of the article is superficially true, but so much so as to be banal.

    Nihilism is as

  16. Don’t worry. The feds may have failed in Afghanistan, managing the COVID pandemic and at many other things, but they will make single-payer medicine a success.

  17. The only way to win is to not play.

    1. WOPR would have kept boots off the ground.

      1. I had a huge crush on Ally Sheedy back then.

  18. AND that same gummit are making an absolute terrible mashup of every aspect of this nation on the barey noteworthy matter of a virus that was released from a lab in Wuhan province China. They have mangled and pervertedEVERY aspect of the disease itself and their tyrannical mandates, restrictions, informatioin management and censoring, making the entire situation far worse than it ever should have been on its own. All “because we can”. No, not quite. ALL BECAUSE WE LET THEM

    1. The only answer is nullification and secession.

  19. Americans have become complacent and worse, they have lost of the spirit that created this nation in the first place.
    In fact, a good share of the American people support tyrannical measures in the false belief it will make them safe from the phony pandemic. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the end, they will not only lose their liberty and freedom, they will become more ill from the unproven vaccine that is now poisoning their bodies. These are the people who have been indoctrinated into the false belief that government is the answer to every problem.
    Never forget the immortal words of Dr. Benjamin Franklin and pay attention to Dr. Ron Paul.

  20. That may include the termination of a few—or perhaps many—agencies and programs.

    BWAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! I was waiting for the punchline for the entire article and you didn’t disappoint. Bra-fucking-vo!

  21. OnlyFans bans adult-oriented content. Elizabeth Nolan Brown hardest hit.

    OnlyFans has announced that it will ban sexually explicit content starting in October. The platform was not built specifically for porn but that has grown to be its most popular and visible use case, but pressure from “banking partners and payout providers” means the company will have to leave the adult content world behind and focus solely on SFW material going forward.

    Private Corporations [__________________________________]!

    1. OnlyFans got Tumblr-ized.

      1. It’s as if a million sex worker voices cried out, and then were silenced.

    2. Yeah because the internet has proven that there is no profit in porn.

      1. Now they gotta go on the cam sites and compete with thousands of other women.

      2. Are the tits you have to pay for really all that more special than the tits you get for free?

  22. Dave Smith should deliver this article verbatim (and attributed) as a direct message to partisans, then open the event to press questions in the run-up to his candidacy for the Libertarian presidential nomination. What a slam- dunk. Thank you Reason.

    Government makes nothing better. They increase costs, separate consumers from suppliers, destroy businesses and kill people every single time. Perfection!

    1. This time, we’ll get it right, though. A vote for _________ is a vote for Donald Trump!

  23. I cannot find one thing the fed. has done as promised or never worked. Many were never meant work in the first place. Social program, along with Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud and abuse. The two meds pull in the biggest chuck at our tax money. They also have the worst oversight, and accountability records.

    1. Why would you assume what you’ve described isn’t how they’re supposed to work?

  24. If Government Is Good at One Thing, It’s Making a Crisis Worse
    If the Biden Administration is good at one thing it is creating Crises.
    If the Biden Administration is good at one thing it is bungling.
    If the Biden Administration is good at one thing it is blaming others.
    If the Biden Administration is good at one thing it is lying.
    If the Biden Administration is good at one thing it is being the least transparent Administration in history.
    Wow! Look at all the things the Biden Adminstration is good at!
    If Reason Magazine is good at one thing, it is loving Biden and hating Trump. Go figure?

  25. The only thing that will make a difference is if we, the American people, start demanding accountability and reform.

    If the American people are good at one thing, it’s totally failing to demand accountability and reform.

  26. Biden’s going to do to the pandemic what he did to the Taliban!

    1. Let it kill a bunch of barely civilized religious freaks?

      He’s got ice water in his veins, that Biden.

  27. Those Americans in Afghanistan would completely fucked right now if it weren’t for govt trying to save their asses.

    1. lol when did you start in with satire?

    2. “We dumped you in a lake of boiling water and maybe we’ll save you from that boiling lake. Maybe maybe not. It’s really difficult and the last guy is really at fault. You know what fuck you, if it wasn’t for us you would be completely fucked right now in that lake of boiling water we threw you in.”

  28. I think the Taliban will not last very long, at least not if they try to rule like they did before. For one thing a whole generation has grown up with relative freedom. They do not know how to manage an economy or run a government. Also Afghans have long patience in insurrection. They will take as long as they need. Already there is a province not under Taliban control and never was. Besides how many of them are there. Afghanistan is a big place.

  29. The post office was working before a corrupt president installed Louis DeJoy as its head, with the explicit mission to destroy the post office. DeJoy, a competitor of the post office, was happy to comply.

    No president could win in Afghanistan. We had no legitimate cause to have our army there in the first place. Twenty years helping one side of a civil war is enough. Moreover, just as with Vietnam, the US has no genuine national security interest in selecting which faction is going to rule a small, distant country. When government does something right (build interstate highway system, mandate seat belts in cars, maintain cleanliness standards for food) they can do it magnificently. It would be impossible to do Afghanistan “correctly,” as we learned in Vietnam. Regarding withdrawal from Afghanistan, Trump was right to make the deal, and Biden was right not to cancel it. Failure to get out now would cost tens of thousands of lives, hundreds of thousands of crippling injuries, and billions of dollars, just to have the same outcome simply delayed for a few years, while squandering the money needed for infrastructure, health, education and jobs.

    In other words, the author was wrong about just about everything, but needs to support his bias by making the incorrect claims.

    1. “Twenty years helping one side of a civil war is enough”

      Now do Korea.

  30. The pattern is: government policy and poor regulation cause a crisis. The government publicly and violently searches for culprits, aided by the MSM, and names the wrong parties–usually in the private sector. The government then rolls out a massive new law and its regulatory children to “fix” the problem as they defined it. The new law doesn’t solve the real problem, costs a lot, and has massive unintended consequences, including setting the stage for the next crisis, which will be bigger and more damaging.

    Memory of the past crisis fades and everybody reluctantly adjusts to the massive new regulatory overhead. A new crisis occurs. The government publicly and violently searches for the culprits, aided by the MSM–looking exclusively in the business community…and so it goes.

  31. Is there a single ungoverned place on earth any of you people would choose to live?

    No?

    Then shut the fuck up with this greasy infantile argument. Is anyone not aware by now that it’s a bunch of horseshit rhetoric meant to tilt the dials in the direction of corporate vampirism?

    The Post Office is one of the most successful operations in human history. Sure, Republicans sabotaged it. All the better to be proved right about how government sucks.

    If the only way you can prove your theory right about how government doesn’t work is to actively make government not work, that just means you’re an asshole.

    1. I see the Biden presidency is beginning to touch nerves.

      1. The Biden government is doing remarkably well for being run by a 7,000 year-old car salesman with a stutter. Circumstances make the man, of course.

        Circumstances also make the grunting ape, it seems, as we can see with various Republican governors killing their citizens because it’s actually a political winner for them in their party primaries.

    2. “The Post Office is one of the most successful operations in human history.”

      They should just mail people out of Kabul. Problem solved.

  32. Afghanis freed of GOP national socialism are already getting into production and trade. “Allahu Akbar” matches are now exported duty-free as “Great Satan Strikers,” recommended for lighting up opium AND forests. With enough smoke, mirrors and CO2, primitive domestic terrists should be able to shut down all industry. We too may soon enjoy the bracing wonderfulness of the 12th Century our own religious conservatives have struggled so ineffectively to bring about since Ike was liked.

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