In a recent op-ed article in The New York Times titled Start-Ups, Not Bailouts, Thomas Friedman displays once again how the country’s intellectuals are outsmarting themselves. Mr. Friedman argues that the country needs to attract and create more high-IQ risk-takers to help shore up America’s pool of intelligence and entrepreneurial spirit. So far, so good.
Where Mr. Friedman goes off the rails is in urging that high-IQ risk-takers enter government service. He says that in America’s “heyday” the system “attracted a disproportionate share of high-I.Q. risk-takers to high government service.” I’m not sure exactly when the “heyday” Mr. Friedman is talking about occurred, but I do know that government is not the appropriate place for “risk-taking” behavior. Excessive government risk-taking created Social Security, which even Mr. Friedman admits is going to cost more money than it makes this year.
Government does not exist as an outlet for risk-taking social experiments. Risk-taking should be left to those with risk tolerance. Risk-taking should also be voluntary; participation in government is not. You have to pay your taxes. You have to abide by the law. You have no choice.
Risk-taking governments generally force their citizens to participate in endless drives for utopia. One such drive, and its failure, were on full display during Mao Tse-tung’s disastrous Great Leap Forward in China. The Leap was the very definition of high-risk government, betting the country’s prosperity on grand schemes envisioned by the high-IQ risk-takers who inhabited the Communist Party. The Great Leap Forward led China into the worst famine in human history. Millions died.
Americans can see the result of grand risk-taking done in their own names. Their states have been bankrupted by Medicaid, they have a Medicare system on the brink of exhaustion, and Social Security already can’t support itself. America’s high-IQ risk-takers in Congress and the White House recently took a great leap forward by passing Obamacare.
Casinos and the private sector are appropriate places for risk-taking, not the halls of Congress or the Oval Office. Let America’s entrepreneurs take the risks—government shouldn’t do it for them.