Peter Thiel is a venture capitalist and billionaire who lives in San Francisco. Among his accomplishments is the co-founding of the Internet transaction site PayPal.
He wrote a piece in Tuesday’s (09/06/16) Washington Post that makes an excellent point. Our country, acting through its government, used to get things done.
He cites several examples. The Manhattan Project is one of them. The Manhattan Project employed more than 130,000 people in more than a dozen states and went from a clean sheet of paper to a deliverable nuclear weapon in less than four years. Despite the fact that so many worked on the project, security on it was air tight. It was an example of the government tackling a huge challenge and getting the job done.
There are other examples. One of my personal favorites is the Apollo project. In May 1961, President Kennedy challenged NASA to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth before the end of the decade. Nine years and two months after that challenge was issued, Apollo 11 landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility.
In 1940, when Britain was under nightly assault by the superior aircraft of the German Luftwaffe, and recognizing that the U.S. would be at war soon enough, the War Department sought a faster, more capable fighter airplane. One hundred two days later, the P-51 Mustang made its maiden flight. The P-51 was a triumph. It ran circles around German Messerschmitts and Japanese Zeros.
There are many other examples in America’s history.
Fast forward to 2016 and compare the P-51 to the Air Force’s new F-35 joint strike fighter. The F-35 has been under development for 15 years. After taking so long and going billions over budget, only 107 copies of the airplane have actually been built. It is, for all intents, unavailable for military use.
Examples of the government’s inability to get things done abound. The imprudently named Affordable Care Act has kept exactly none of the promises made on its behalf as it was being rammed through Congress.
Everywhere you look the U.S. government is spending more and more money and getting poorer results. Yet with every failure, the reason given is “lack of funding.”
Irrespective of political inclination, Americans are becoming fed up. The creeping incompetence of the federal government is simply too obvious and offers too many examples to be ignored.
Whether recognized or not, this growing realization is helping Donald Trump’s candidacy. For as much as Americans spend on government, it ought to work better. Yet no matter how poorly a federal agency performs, public employee unions make it virtually impossible to fire anyone. Accountability is therefore unachievable.
If ever there were a political candidate inclined to address this problem it would most likely be Donald Trump. It would certainly never be Hillary Clinton.
On his reality show, those who failed to perform heard Trump say, “You’re fired.” Millions of Americans would like to hear him say those words to thousands of unaccountable federal bureaucrats.