(p. A21) Steven M. Teles had a mind-altering essay in National Affairs called “Kludgeocracy in America.” While we’ve been having a huge debate about the size of government, the real problem, he writes, is that the growing complexity of government has made it incoherent. The Social Security system was simple. But now we have a maze of saving mechanisms — 401(k)’s, I.R.A.’s, 529 plans and on and on. Health insurance is now so complicated that only 14 percent of beneficiaries could answer basic questions about deductibles and co-pays.
This complexity stymies rational thinking, imposes huge compliance costs, and aids special interests who are capable of manipulating the intricacies. One of the reasons we have such complex structures, Teles argues, is that Americans dislike government philosophically, but like government programs operationally. Rather than supporting straightforward government programs, they support programs in which public action is hidden behind a morass of tax preferences, obscure regulations and intricate litigation.
For the full commentary, see:
DAVID BROOKS. “The Sidney Awards, Part 2.” The New York Times (Tues., December 31, 2013): A21. [National Edition]
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date December 30, 2013.)
The article praised by Brooks is:
Teles, Steven M. “Kludgeocracy in America.” National Affairs 17 (Fall 2013): 97-114.