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Government By Market

Click here for an excerpt from Elaine Kamarck's just-published The End of Government... As We Know It—Making Public Policy Work showing how market-based collection allowed San Francisco to achieve a 52 per cent recycling rate, while New York is still below 12 percent. I particularly like the bit about the mobbed-up garbage barge that sailed from Long Island to the Carribean in search for a nation willing to house New York City's garbage, only to have nation after nation decline.

Peter Cove of America Works writes in with a few words on the book:

Only occasionally does a really good idea come along in public policy circles. The journalist David Osborne captured a movement to refine bureaucratic management by shifting the focus from process to outcomes in his seminal Reinventing Government. The governance of municipalities has not been the same since.

Now comes a book by Elaine Kamarck which follows a similar trajectory. Included, of course, is an account of the reinventing government movement of which she was a major player in the Clinton White House where she led the National Performance Review. She looks at a variety of natural and independent phenomena in governance that, together, create the beginnings of a movement she calls "government by market".  Here is how she distinguishes it from former approaches.

"In reinvented organizations the public's work is done by people who work for the government: in government by network much of the public's work is paid for by the government even though it is not performed by people who work for the government and who, therefore,are not constrained by all of government's protocols and central control mechinisms. In the third emerging model, government by market, the work of government involves few, if any, public employees and  no public money. In government by market, the government uses state power to create a market that fulfills a public purpose."

The execution of government mandates with little or no new public money and hardly any bureaucrats is heady stuff for us policy wonks and wonkettes. Here are just a few examples she cites to illustrate the trend:
—Vouchers for school choice
—The Earned Income Tax Credit
—Child care vouchers
—The buying and selling of pollution rights
—Subsidies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and decrease financing of threats to our homeland security
—Tax breaks and other incentives to encourage a market for the development of vaccines that counter bio-terror attacks

Clearly, this is an idea that meets the needs of our times. Less government, less money, more results. There  is much to be developed here but the direction is clear and Ms Kamarck has pulled the cover off a movement and has begun a critical dialogue for the future of good government.

Click the continue reading link below to read an excerpt from Ms. Kamarck's book.