John Presnall’s commments in the thread deserve—again in the cause of advancing the “conversation”—to be posted separately. (This is only an excerpt.)

Surely the government shutdown is one further message to the best and brightest that their employment is contingent upon a fight over the amount of money that should go into needling micro-rules governing how much paperwork they must fill out. You might argue this is a good thing in the name of bureaucratic accountability and efficiency, but it hard to argue for in terms of the talents that excellence has to offer to the common good.

The same phenomenon occurs in education and medicine. So we have the unfortunate experience where engineers and teachers and medical doctors would rather “look for who is John Galt”–or for China–than deal with the ridiculousness of this whole attempt to objectively measure, regulate, monitor, and assess according to data driven best practices what their innate and educated talents or callings called them to in the first place. Who needs that crap? Plus, they’ve got college loans to pay back. So the shutdown is dumb.

Cruz’s remarks are unfortunate. The President irresponsibly exaggerates the resultant pain and suffering. It won’t change the asininity of this nonsense bureaucracy which claims it can achieve all kinds of ends through efficient rules according to the most recent studies of the sciences of education, management, economics, and psychology. These scientific rules seem to survive as the only measure regardless whatever outcome comes from budgetary, continuing resolution, or debt ceiling compromises–or regardless of whatever reckless brinksmanship tactics–one takes. I would say that these resultant rules only stifle the very motivation as to why talented people were called to do what they were doing in the first place. And that talent following a calling is what made America great. I would like to keep a place for such greatness today.

So an intelligent libertarian response here is that none of our best and brightest should be in public service. As John points out, though, it’s surely a nistake to either neglect or wholly privatize the space program, if only for the obvious national security reasons. More generally, I’m not so libertarian as to think that public service and national greatness are automatically oxymoronic.

Let the conversation advance!

Articles by Peter Lawler

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