Exclusive - Peter Schuck Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  05/06/14
  •  | Views: 35,292

Author and law professor Peter Schuck discusses good governance and effective public policy in "Why Governments Fail So Often." (6:25)

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE BALDWINPROFESSOR OF LAW EMERITUS

AT YALE UNIVERSITY. ALSO ANAUTHOR,

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "WHYGOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN AND

HOW IT CANDO 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, THE WORLD SHOULDBE RATHER THAN THE WAY IT

ACTUALLY IS, THE WAY IT WORKSOUT IN REALITY.

SO, MOST OF US ARE LIKE THAT.

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

ITS PROGRAMS DO SO POORLY.

>> Jon: DO THEY HAVE?

WHAT ARE THE MECHANISMS OFGOVERNMENT TO ASSESS THAT?

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

ASSESS?

>> THERE A FEW AGENCIES LIKE THEGAO, AND THE CONGRESSIONAL

BUDGET OFFICE, AND THEINSPECTOR'S GENERAL OF

VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS, THEY DOPERIODIC ASSESSMENTS OF PROGRAMS

BUT ONLY WHEN CONGRESS ASKSTHEM TO DO THAT OR DIRECTS THEM

TO DO THAT. THEY HAVE AVARIETY OF METHODOLOGIES.

COST EFFECTIVENESS IS USUALLYTHE MAJOR CRITERION.

>> Jon: AND, ARE THESE FINDINGSUSUALLY UTILIZE AND IMPLEMENTED?

WHAT'S THE RESULT OF THAT?

>> THEY ARE PUBLISHED.

>> Jon: THEY ARE JUSTPUBLISHED.

>> WHETHER THEY'RE UTILIZED ORNOT.

[LAUGHTER]THAT'S VERY LOVELY.

>> LIKE MY BOOK.

>> Jon: YES, EXACTLY. YOUR BOOKIS PUBLISHED.

IT'S PERFECT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]BUT, WHAT YOU DID WHICH IS LONG

OVERDUE YOU TRY TO FIND A WAY TOATTACH VALUE TO THESE PROGRAMS.

YOU KNOW, YOU HEAR FROM -- ITHINK FOR PEOPLE WHO STILL

BELIEVE GOVERNMENT HAS ANIMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY IN

IMPROVING PEOPLE'S LIVES ANDTHEN WE WATCH THEM NOT BE ABLE

TO DO THE SIMPLEST OF TASKS LIKEPROCESS VETERANS

HEALTH CLAIMS IN AN EFFICIENTWAY, IT'S DISHEARTENING.

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

IT'S TOO BIG AND YOU HAVE TOCUT MONEY WITHOUT

ATTACHING BIGNESS OR MONEY TOANY VALUE IT MIGHT BE PROVIDING.

>> RIGHT. WELL,YOU HAD A SEGMENT

LAST WEEK ABOUT THE V.A.

AND THE COVERUP THAT OCCURREDAFTER IT WAS REVEALED.

>> Jon: CORRECT.

>> ALTHOUGH PEOPLE WHO WATCHTHESE THINGS HAVE KNOWN FOR A

LONG TIME THAT THE V.A. BACKLOGSARE TERRIBLE. REALLY TERRIBLE.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND, THEY ARE REDUCED, ANDONCE THEY'RE REDUCED IT'S LIKE A

HIGHWAY. YOU REDUCE CONGESTIONAND MORE PEOPLE COME ON.

>> Jon: WHY DO THEY HAVE SUCHTROUBLE, THOUGH, REFORMING

CLEARLY FAILING ORINEFFICIENT SYSTEMS?

>> WELL, IT'S NOT THAT CLEAR TOA LOT OF PEOPLE. PEOPLE WHO

SUPPORT THESE PROGRAMS CAN FINDLOTS OF REASONS TO

THINK THEY ARE SUCCEEDING ANDTHERE ARE ALWAYS LOTS

OF INTERESTS WHO WANT THEMTO DO MORE OF THE SAME.

IT REQUIRES PEOPLE LIKE ME ANDOTHER PEOPLE WHO WILL ACTUALLY

GO AND LOOK AT THE DATA REALLYCAREFULLY AND MAKE SOME

JUDGMENTS ABOUT WHETHERIT WORKS OR NOT.

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

WAS COST EFFICIENT, YOU KNOW, ARESOURCE WAS GIVEN BY THE

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO AGROUP OF PEOPLE FOR A

PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND THATHELPED US SETTLE THE WEST. SO,

THAT IS CONSIDERED A SUCCESS.

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

BASICALLY FREE EXCEPT FOR THEINDIANS WHO HAPPENED TO LIVE

THERE AND WERE MASSACRED ALONGTHE WAY.

>> Jon: SURE. I'M SURE RIGHT NOW

ON THEIR "THE DAILY SHOW"THEY ARE HAVING A VERY DIFFERENT

CONVERSATION.

[ LAUGHTER ]>> BUT, SO THAT WAS RELATIVELY

EASY. IT DIDN'T COST ANYBODYANYTHING REALLY EXCEPT THE

NATIVE AMERICANS.

[LAUGHTER]BUT.

>> Jon: YOU CAN REALLY JUSTEND EVERY CONVERSATION ABOUT

THIS COUNTRY WITH THAT PHRASE,BY THE WAY.

SO IT WORKED OUT.

>> I WORKED OUT.

>> Jon: EXCEPT FOR THE NATIVEAMERICANS.

[ LAUGHTER ]WHAT ABOUT SOMETHING A LITTLE

WONKIER, SOCIAL SECURITY?

>> SOCIAL SECURITY HAS BEEN AVERY SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM.

BUT IT'S GOING INSOLVENT.

FORTUNATELY WITH SOCIAL SECURITYTHERE ARE A LOT OF RELATIVELY

STRAIGHTFORWARD FIXES THAT CANBE DONE.

YOU CAN EXTEND THE RETIREMENTAGE.

YOU CAN TAX UPPER INCOMERECIPIENTS, PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

>> Jon: EXACTLY.

I'M READY.

KICK IT IN, BABY I'M READY.

>> BUT, YOU ARE NOT 65 YET SO ITDOESN'T MATTER.

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

I'M ABOUT 93.

>> YOU CAN INCREASE THE WAGESTHAT ARE TAXABLE.

THERE ARE JUST LOT OF WAYS TO DOIT.

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

SAY MORE ACTIVE MANAGEMENT OFTHE PROGRAMS OR THERE HAS TO BE

A MORE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN THEWAY WE VIEW THE IMPLEMENTATION

OF POLICY?

>> WELL, I THINK IT'S BOTH.

AND, IT'S NOT JUST ACTIVEMANAGEMENT.

THE MANAGEMENT IS OFTENVERY, VERY INFERIOR.

OUR BUREAUCRACY HAS BEEN DEBASEDAND DEGRADED OVER TIME.

IT'S MUCH LESS WELLEDUCATED, NO THAT'S WRONG,

IT'S MUCH LESS COMPETENT THANIT USED TO BE

RELATIVE TO THE REST OF SOCIETY.IT'S BEEN --

>> Jon: NOW, HOW DO YOU QUANTIFYSOMETHING LIKE THAT? BECAUSE

IT SEEMS -- YOU ARE SAYING THEACTUAL GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY IS

LESS EDUCATED THAN IT WAS 30YEARS?

>> NO, NO I DIDN'T MEAN THAT.

AND, I MISSPOKE IF I SUGGESTEDTHAT.

I JUST MEAN THAT THE BUREAUCRACYHAS 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. 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.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> SO THEY DON'T HAVE THE SAMEKIND OF AUTONOMY, THE SAME SORT

OF SENSE OF MISSION THEY USED TOHAVE. SO, IN THE BOOK I

DISCUSS A NUMBER OF STUDIESTHAT HAVE INTERVIEWED THEM AND

HAVE DONE A VARIETY OF TESTSTO SEE HOW THIS BUREAUCRACY

IS FUNCTIONING. IT'S IN DEEPCRISIS.

>> Jon: OK, SO NOW WE'RE AT THEDEEP CRISIS.

WE'RE ON THE PRECIPICE OFCOLLAPSE.

WE'RE GOING TO GO TO COMMERCIAL,COME BACK AND YOU'RE GONNA BE ON

THE WEB AND YOU CAN TELLUS HOW TO FIX IT.

AND YOU'LL HAVE ABOUT THREEMINUTES.

[LAUGHTER]WHY GOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN.

THIS IS THE BOOK, THESEARE THE CONVERSATIONS

THE NEWS NETWORKS I THINK SHOULDBE HAVING.

>> THEY DON'T.

>> Jon: YEAH, NO, I KNOW.

PETER SCHUCK.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE][ APPLAUSE ]

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