During the 2019 fiscal year, the federal budget will top $4.4 trillion dollars—that’s a four with 12 zeros after it. All that tax money for the government to do things for us. Is it money well spent? Today, we speak to political strategist Laura Carno, author of the book: Government Ruins Nearly Everything.
Laura Carno: Frequently you hear people say, "Well, this ought to get fixed. The government ought to fix this thing." And I take the opposite view and I say the government's just not set up to fix things, either big things or little things. And if there's something that we really care about, we wake up every morning saying, "Gosh, I wish I wish this thing was better," why would we turn it over to the government to fix? They break just about everything they touch.
Sharyl: When you say that, are you talking about Democratic administrations and Republican administrations? Or are you talking about the persistent bureaucracy? What are you referring to?
Carno: Yes. And all of it. So when you take a look at the incentives that exist in government, they exist to get bigger. They identify a problem. We throw a lot of money at it because government can't fix things. And I'm also very hopeful and say, and here's why individuals, ordinary citizens acting outside of the government can fix things.
Sharyl: What are a couple of examples of things that the government in your view has ruined or not done?
Carno: The four big issues that I cover in the book, and I just dive right into the spicy ones: abortion, marriage, guns and schools. And so let's just take schools for example, where we have charter schools, let's say, where there is less government involvement and more involvement from local citizens and parents and teachers. Those schools perform better than where we have lots of federal oversight, federal dollars, federal mandates Those schools usually don't perform as well.
Sharyl: What does the government do well, if anything? There must be something.
Carno: Yeah. And I used the word "nearly" in the title for a reason. There actually is a proper role of government securing our rights, securing our borders, those sorts of things. But our founders could have never imagined that we would have a government so big that it was saying your soda size should just be this size and this size, or we shouldn't have plastic straws or those kinds of things. Government has gotten so big and invasive that it's really good for us to take a step back and say, is this the proper role of government or is it really better and more effectively done by individuals outside of government
Sharyl: What's an example of something an individual has done or started that exemplifies what you're talking about?
Carno: So John Annoni, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He's a teacher and he doesn't feel like he's doing enough for some of the kids who have turned to gangs because they don't have a complete family structure and doesn't feel like he's doing enough as a teacher. So he starts Camp Compass Academy. And it's, it's been 20 plus years in operation and it's an after-school program. And long story short, they ended up being able to take these kids hunting. Zero of the kids have gotten into trouble with guns and crime. And that's not the same as the kids who don't go to his, his academy. So you say, "Okay, can the government reduce gun violence in Allentown? No, it, it has no idea to do it, but John Annoni wakes up every day saying, "I want to save kids." So John can do it.
Meantime, the federal debt-- bills we owe that we can’t pay-- now tops $22 trillion dollars.