Peter Schuck

  • Aired:  05/06/14
  •  | Views: 14,764

Law professor and author Peter Schuck highlights policy lessons from his book "Why Governments Fail So Often." (5:57)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE SIMEONE. BALDWIN PROFESSOR OF

LAW EMERITUS AT YALE UNIVERSITY.ALSO AN AUTHOR,

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "WHYGOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN AND

HOW IT CAN DO BETTER."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAMPETER SCHUCK.

SIR, HOW ARE YOU?

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, WHYGOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN AND

HOW WE CAN DO BETTER.

WHY IS THIS NOT MORE A PART OFTHE NATIONAL CONVERSATION?

WHY DO YOU THINK THE NATIONALCONVERSATION IS SO TIED UP IN

CONFLICT AND PARTISAN RHETORICAND NOT THE BUSINESS OF

GOVERNANCE?

>> WELL, A FEW REASONS.

ONE REASON IS THAT PEOPLE WOULDRATHER TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY WISH

WOULD HAPPEN, HOW THE WORLDSHOULD BE, RATHER THAN THE WAY

IT ACTUALLY IS, THE WAY IT WORKSOUT IN REALITY.

MOST OF US ARE LIKE THAT.

SECONDLY, THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'TWANT TO KNOW IN MANY CASES WHY

IT'S PROGRAMS DO SO POORLY.

>> Jon: DO THEY HAVE -- WHATARE THE MECHANISMS OF GOVERNMENT

TO ASSESS THAT?

WHAT ARE THE METRICS THEY USEAND WHAT DO THEY EVEN DO TO

ASSESS IT?

>> THERE'S A FEW AGENCIES LIKETHE GAO AND CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET

OFFICE AND INSPECTORS GENERAL OFVARIOUS

DEPARTMENTS, THEY DO PERIODICASSESSMENTS OF PROGRAMS BUT ONLY

WHEN CONGRESS ASKS THEM TO DOTHAT OR DIRECTS THEM TO DO THAT.

THEY HAVE A VARIETY OFMETHODOLOGIES, COST

EFFECTIVENESS IS USUALLY THEMAJOR CRITERION.

>> Jon: AND, ARE THOSE FINDINGSUSUALLY UTILIZED? ARE THEY

IMPLEMENTED? WHAT'S THE RESULTOF THAT?

>> THEY'RE PUBLISHED. WHETHERTHEY'RE UTILIZED OR NOT.

>> Jon: THEY'RE JUST PUBLISHED.

[LAUGHTER]WELL THAT'S VERY LOVELY.

>> LIKE MY BOOK.

>> Jon: EXACTLY YOUR BOOK ISPUBLISHED.

IT'S PERFECT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]WHAT YOU DID WHICH IS LONG

OVERDUE IS YOU TRY TO FIND A WAYTO ATTACH VALUE TO THESE

PROGRAMS. YOU HEAR FROM -- ITHINK FOR PEOPLE WHO STILL

BELIEVE GOVERNMENT HAS ANIMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY IN

IMPROVING PEOPLES LIVES ANDTHEN WE WATCH THEM NOT BE ABLE

TO DO THE SIMPLEST OF TASKS LIKEPROCESS VETERAN HEALTH

CLAIMS IN AN EFFICIENT WAYIS DISHEARTENING.

AND THEN ON THE OTHER SIDE YOUHAVE PEOPLE JUST SAY, WELL IT'S

TOO BIG AND YOU HAVE TO CUTMONEY WITHOUT ATTACHING BIGNESS

OR MONEY TO ANY VALUE THAT ITMAY BE PROVIDED.

>> RIGHT, WELL YOU HAD A SEGMENTI THINK LAST WEEK ABOUT THE V.A.

AND THE COVERUP THAT OCCURREDAFTER IT WAS REVEALED. ALTHOUGH,

PEOPLE WHO WATCH THESE THINGSHAVE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME

THE V.A. BACKLOGS ARE TERRIBLE.

REALLY TERRIBLE.

THEY ARE REDUCED AND ONCE THEYARE REDUCED IT'S LIKE A HIGHWAY.

YOU REDUCE CONGESTION AND MOREPEOPLE COME ON.

>> Jon: WHY DO THEY HAVE SUCHTROUBLE REFORMING CLEARLY

FAILING OR INEFFICIENT SYSTEMS?

IT'S NOT THAT CLEAR TO A LOT OFPEOPLE.

PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT THESEPROGRAMS CAN FIND LOTS OF

REASONS TO THINK THAT THEY ARESUCCEEDING AND THERE

ARE ALWAYS LOTS OF INTERESTS WHOWANT THEM TO DO MORE OF THE

SAME. SO IT REQUIRES PEOPLE,LIKE ME, AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO

WILL ACTUALLY GO ANDLOOK AT THE DATA REALLY

CAREFULLY AND MAKE SOMEJUDGMENTS ABOUT WHETHER IT

WORKS OR NOT.

>> Jon: YOU MENTIONED THEHOMESTEAD ACT AS A PROGRAM THAT

WAS COST EFFICIENT, YOU KNOW,

A RESOURCE WAS GIVEN BY THEFEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO A GROUP OF

PEOPLE FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSEAND THAT HELPED US SETTLE THE

WEST. SO, THAT IS CONSIDEREDA SUCCESS.

>> WELL, THAT WAS A RELATIVELYEASY CASE BECAUSE THE LAND WAS

BASICALLY FREE EXCEPTFOR THE INDIANS WHO

HAPPENED TO LIVE THERE AND WEREMASSACRED ALONG THE WAY.

>> Jon: SURE.

>> Jon: I'M SURE ON THEIR "THEDAILY SHOW" THEY ARE HAVING A

VERY DIFFERENT CONVERSATION. [LAUGHTER]

>> THAT WAS RELATIVELY EASY. ITDIDN'T COST

ANYBODY ANYTHING REALLY EXCEPTFOR THE NATIVE AMERICANS.

>> Jon: YOU COULD REALLY JUSTEND EVERY CONVERSATION ABOUT

THIS COUNTRY WITH THATPHRASE, BY THE WAY.

SO IT WORKED OUT,

EXCEPT FOR THE NATIVE AMERICANS.

[ LAUGHTER ]WHAT ABOUT SOMETHING A LITTLE

WONKIER SOCIAL SECURITY?

>> SOCIAL SECURITY HAS BEEN ASUCCESSFUL PROGRAM BUT IT'S

GOING INSOLVENT.

FORTUNATELY WITH SOCIAL SECURITYTHERE ARE A LOT OF RELATIVELY

STRAIGHTFORWARD FIXES THAT COULDBE DONE.

YOU CAN EXTEND THE RETIREMENTAGE, YOU CAN TAX UPPER INCOME

RECIPIENTS.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

>> Jon: YES, EXACTLY. KICK ITIN, BABY I'M READY.

>> BUT, YOU ARE NOT 65 YET.

SO, IT DOESN'T MATTER.

>> Jon: YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHATIS GOING ON INSIDE MY BODY.

I'M ABOUT 93.

[ LAUGHTER ]>> YOU CAN INCREASE THE WAGES

THAT ARE TAXABLE.

THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO DO IT.

>> Jon: DO YOU HAVE A SENSETHAT WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IS

A MORE ACTIVE MANAGEMENT OFTHESE PROGRAMS OR THERE HAS TO

BE A MORE FUNDMENTAL CHANGE INTHE WAY WE VIEW THE

IMPLEMENTATION OF POLICY?

>> I THINK IT'S BOTH.

IT'S NOT JUST ACTIVE MANAGEMENT.

THE MANAGEMENT IS OFTEN VERYINTERIOR. OUR BUREAUCRACY

HAS BEEN DEBASEDAND DEGRADED OVER TIME. IT HAS

A TERRIBLE MORALE PROBLEM.MUCH MORE SO THAN IT USED TO.

>> Jon: BUT, THAT'S A MANAGEMENTPROBLEM MORE THAN IT IS, YOU

KNOW, THE PEOPLE I TALKTO IN THE BUREAUCRACY

ARE GENERALLY PRETTY GOODHEARTED, PRETTY MUCH WANT TO

DO THE RIGHT THING BUT DON'THAVE THE MARCHING ORDERS.

>> BUT THAT'S PART OF THEPROBLEM.

THERE'S BEEN MUCH MORE LAYERINGOF POLITICAL APPOINTEES ON TOP

OF THEM TO A MUCH GREATER EXTENTTHAN IN THE PAST. SO,

THEY DON'T HAVE THE SAMEKIND OF AUTONOMY, THE SAME

SORT OF SENSE OF MISSIONTHEY USED TO.

IN THE BOOK I DISCUSS A NUMBEROF STUDIES

THAT HAVE INTERVIEWED THEM ANDHAVE DONE A VARIETY OF TESTS TO

SEE HOW THIS BUREAUCRACY ISFUNCTIONING.

IT'S IN DEEP CRISIS.

>> Jon: WE'RE IN THE DEEPCRISIS.

WE'RE ON THE PRECIPICE OFCOLLAPSE. WE'RE GOING

TO COMMERCIAL, YOU'LL BE ON THEWEB AND YOU'RE GOING

TO TELL US HOW TO FIX IT ANDYOU'LL HAVE THREE MINUTES.

WHY GOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN.

THIS IS THE BOOK.

THESE ARE THE CONVERSATIONS THATTHE NEWS NETWORKS I THINK

SHOULD BE HAVING.

>> THEY DON'T.

>> Jon: YEAH, NO. I KNOW.

PETER SCHUCK.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE][CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

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