Public policy benchmarks

I seldom bother to comment politics for the obvious reason: it’s the core problem, not the solution (read e.g. Bastiat’s the Law). Nevertheless, if you want to measure the performance of your current government, the following might provide some food for thought.

It’s common sense to take care of something you receive, and at least conserve or improve it till you pass it on, again. How’s the public sector’s resource allocation? Has the current administration managed to enhance the well-being of fellow individuals by providing better services with more efficient resource usage? In other words, have the financial situation improved, the tax burden and the debt level decreased, and the public sector reduced its size thanks to innovation and improved efficiency? Are individuals better off with more disposable income that results a better living standard and improved purchasing power thanks to lower taxes?

Hardly is something considered a success if one uses more resources, increases the amount of debt and provides the same or even worse service/products than before. It is not very hard to ask for more money and then do something with it – especially when the funds are acquired at gunpoint (which is the case with all public sector expenditure).

Less is more. Has the legislative situation improved? How many redundant, useless or aged acts have been voided or simplified? It’s easy to pass new laws but it’s equally straightforward to realise that increasing the amount of legislation year after year is not a sustainable state of affairs. Complexity increases each passing year making it harder to follow and obey laws, increasing the costs and burden for private individuals and enterprises. Most of the laws are not logical, nor they follow common sense. They are merely results of compromises, bargaining and short-sighted self-interests that are cumulated over time into a unmanageable piece of legislative codex. The law is immoral, and certainly not a source of individual moral or ethics. It has very little to do with justice, either. It’s just a convenient means to political ends. So, has the legislative situation improved for individuals?

Freedom. People tend to become depressed or lethargic when they have little or no control of their own affairs. This also tends to effect one’s perception of individual happiness. How many people are dependent on public sector’s social welfare handouts and subsidies? Has the amount of financial independent persons increased? True prosperity of a nation is based on its individuals’ wealth. If people are dependent on and must rely on politically and bureaucratically controlled financial aids this is clearly no measure of individual strength and wealth. What’s the ratio of private sector employees (net payers) that are forced to pay for all the public sector’s employees, unemployed and at least partly the retired people’s pensions (net receivers)?

Quality of living. No two individuals have the same preferences and values. Diversity is richness and division of labour enables ever greater variety in selection and standard of living. Monopolies and legislative burdens narrow down choice – often to only one. How happy would we be if there were only one type of shoes for everyone? Or bread, or cars or food or houses? Has the freedom of choice increased and legally enforced barriers, subsidies, trade restrictions decreased? Are you at liberty to visit a doctor at your convenience? Can you choose your dentist, doctor or medical treatment and get your health treatment immediately? Do you control your pension savings and can retire at your convenience? These are just a few examples of the choices and decisions that affect our everyday live. Is our quality of living increasing every year?

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