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Video: Is America a “Kludgeocracy”?

Liberals and conservatives may disagree about the appropriate size and reach of the federal government, but according to Johns Hopkins professor Steve Teles, that debate is largely a red herring. In his article "Kludgeocracy: The American Way of Policy," Teles suggests that the most important questions about modern American governance concern efficiency rather than scope. "The issues that will dominate American politics going forward," he writes, "will concern the complexity of government, rather than its sheer size."

Teles presented the idea of "kludgeocracy" in Common Good’s 2010 forum on "Fixing Government Paralysis;" here are some of his comments:

From healthcare to education to infrastructure, the works of government are gummed up by convoluted, piecemeal, and reactionary laws and regulations. As Teles puts it, "For any particular problem we have arrived at the most gerry-rigged, opaque and complicated response."

Philip K. Howard, founder and chair of Common Good, made a similar case recently in The Atlantic: "Simplification does not mean eliminating government oversight. It makes oversight better by allowing people to use their judgment. Rules can't think. Nor does it give tyrannical powers to officials. Checks and balances can safeguard against abusive decisions--but these checks must also be based on judgment."

That’s why Common Good is producing issue briefs that describe common sense reforms to simplify government, cut deficits and create jobs in our economy. Take a look at our briefs on education, obsolete law, infrastructure, and more here. And read Steve Teles’s essay here.