Editors Note: The following is a guest post by Seton Motley, founder and President of Less Government.
Government is terrible at…well, pretty much everything. The examples are legion – and myriad.
In large part because government doing anything violates the Wallet Rule.
You go out on a Friday night with your wallet. You then go out the following Friday night with my wallet. On which Friday night will you have more fun?
If it’s money you’ve earned, you’ll be a lot more wise and frugal with it. If you have it handed to you – earned by and taken from others – these human nature restraints on how you spend it are out the window.
Government is always operating on other peoples’ money – so titanic amounts of waste, fraud and abuse are going to happen. It’s inherent – it’s human nature.
Which is why government is terrible at…well, just about everything.
It’s so elementary, even (some) Ivy League professors get it.
Peter Schuck is an emeritus professor at Yale Law School and the author of the provocative new book “Why Government Fails So Often, and How It Can Do Better.”…
Professor Schuck gets most of it. Government can’t do better – because the Wallet Rule is immutable.
“Essentially, I use a criterion of cost-effectiveness, arguing that no other criterion is workable and makes sense.”
When you hear “government program” – I’m sure you immediately think “cost-effectiveness.” The federal government is already over $18 trillion in debt – and that’s peanuts compared to what’s coming down the pike.
Not exactly cost-effective. And that tally was from 2012 – before ObamaCare really kicks in.
Speaking of ObamaCare – there was a bit of a blowup regarding Oregon’s version.
Scandal? Disastrous health care exchange?
No cronyism there.
No cronyism there.
With all of this government going on – I can’t imagine why Cover Oregon was a disastrous mess.
Is government taking responsibility? Of course not – it’s not what government does.
Despite all of the (inherent) government fail, despite all of the cronyism – Oregon is blaming the private sector.
Oregon…hired Silicon Valley giant Oracle to lead its state health insurance exchange – a project that received nearly $250 million in federal funds.
Oracle is obviously a very successful company. Oregon’s choosing them was not the foolish notion the federal government had for ObamaCare.
Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.
CMS officials are tight-lipped about why CGI was chosen or how it happened. They also refuse to say if other firms competed with CGI, or if there was ever a public solicitation for building Healthcare.gov, the backbone of Obamacare’s problem-plagued web portal.
(At least) one problem with Oregon blaming Oracle – it appears Oracle did what they were supposed to do. The fail began when they delivered to government.
Cover Oregon did manage to sign several hundred thousand people up for Obamacare and Medicaid before making the decision to dump everyone into the federal exchange. How did it do that?…(T)hese centers were registering people using the backend of that never-launched (Oracle-built) website.
Further, we know from February 2014 emails from Cover Oregon boss Bruce Goldberg to Kitzhaber — emails that Kitzhaber tried to get the state to purge, by the way — that his agency thought the system could “function with a 90+ percent of accuracy for 90-95 percent of the population”; that the beta reviews were “more positive than negative”; and that many problems “can be overcome with training.” On the last point, he explained, “You need to use your mouse to click the ‘next’ button.… using your return key sends you back a page.”
These quibbles sound like typical beta testing concerns, not the stuff of lawsuits and dramatically failed exchanges. And yet, here we are.
Oracle contends that the site was ready to launch in February of 2014. The head of Cover Oregon basically agreed with that assessment when he was being candid with the governor. Instead, the state chose in April to fold the project and funnel all Oregonians into the federal exchange. Why?
If you think Oracle is basically right, then there is no sane answer to that question.
Anyone tethered to Reality knows looking for sanity from government is a fool’s errand.
And deciding whether Oregon or Oracle is right in all of this mess is a variation of a Hobson’s choice.
A Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered.
Given the history of government, the history of failures of government – and Oracle’s history of private sector success – whom are you going to choose is to blame here?
Hobson would know. A Yale Law professor knows. We should too.