For over a century, liberals have put forth the idea that they have good intentions to help people and when you put those intentions together with running the government through the benevolent actions a disinterested experts, they could achieve great things. Unfortunately, the results don't bear out these assumptions.The fundamental problem, dear reader, is that Governance requires either Consensus, which is unlikely, or Compromise, in which everybody hopes to get everything, but in practice, either nobody gets anything, or the resolution gets deferred, in a way that might be more costly later.
Here's an essay by Charles Blahous for the Manhattan Institute that explains why expertise is unlikely to produce a lasting resolution through government policy. It's well understood by economists who advise politicians that given a choice of A, which precludes some of B, or B, which precludes some of A, the politician will wish for both (or, with President Truman, for a one-handed economist). But to get legislation passed may require the imposition of A or of B. In his essay, 40 percent of the population each strictly support A or B.
An ethically defensible solution would be for public policy makers to choose either A or B, explain the trade-off, and make the case for their preferred choice. This would likely draw the support of at least 40 percent of voters, plus some fraction of the 20 percent that could understand and accept a persuasive explanation of the trade-off.Put more forcefully, individual action might often be more effective at solving individual problems, than collective action is at addressing some aggregation of those problems.
But even this is not the optimal solution. The optimal solution would be to allow those voters who want A to choose A and those voters who want B to choose B, and have the government not attempt to steer either choice. Then at least 80 percent of voters will be happy.
The diverse public attitudes that [Josh] Barro/[Jonathan] Gruber assert require the government to lie in fact argue instead for greater freedom of consumer choice. The progressive agenda of having the government determine answers for everyone introduces the supposed contradictions and incoherence into national health policy.