of public investment often suggest that, however strong the case
outlays might be in theory, the realities of American politics
make the proposals
a bad idea in practice. In particular, critics argue, efforts by
Congress to obtain "pork barrel" benefits are likely to destroy
any chance that
public investment programs can be effective.
The Renewal of the Public Sector by Steven Kelman Liberals, the political commentator William Schneider once remarked, joke about the telephone company, while conservatives joke about the post office. Conservatives must be getting more laughs these days. Americans appear to believe that giving any job to government dooms it to being poorly performed.
Yet, paradoxically, you risk a polite yawn if you say to someone that improving the operating performance of public agencies ought to be a priority. When Michael Dukakis talked about governmental competence, journalists and commentators smelled "technocracy." Voters were indifferent. Who's ahead in the latest horse race always seems far more exciting than mere matters of administration.