.. as power is centralized, those further down the chain of command, who are nominally responsible for maintaining government assets, have less and less authority to do so. Since nobody really owns government assets, nobody has a personal stake in protecting their value. Consider a few cases.
Why Can’t Government Maintain New Orleans’s Levees? .. The nearly half-million people of New Orleans wanted to live in their big bowl below sea level .. Then Hurricane Katrina hit .. We all know what happened next .. Bottom line: Nobody in the city, state, or federal governments wanted responsibility for maintaining the levees.
Why Can’t Government Maintain Public Housing? .. Because poor people tend to live in poor housing, many people thought it would be a good idea for government to build housing .. Without constant vigilance it is nearly impossible to keep the units clean .. Despite spending millions of dollars on law enforcement in the housing projects, neither the federal government nor the city have been able to maintain public safety. Maintenance people were afraid to enter the housing projects, which contributed to their deterioration .. The government was incapable of maintaining anything it built.
Why Can’t Government Maintain National Parks? .. More than a century ago, “Progressives” promoted the idea that only government could be trusted to take care of natural wonders like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon .. Since the federal government “owns” the national parks, their funding depends on Washington politics .. There has been a big backlog of deferred National Park Service maintenance jobs that lacked funding. Roads are sometimes hazardous because of potholes. Visitor facilities are falling apart. Historic structures are in jeopardy. Sewage systems have broken, causing pollution.
Government cannot be counted on to maintain anything well because there’s no political glory in maintenance. Those who sign major laws, who launch new government programs, and who cut the ribbons for new government buildings can brag about their exploits during reelection campaigns. But politicians don’t seem to gain any credit with voters when they maintain programs that somebody else started .. Since taxpayer money is wasted when it’s spent on projects that subsequently suffer from inadequate maintenance, and often much harm is done, government should be limited to projects it might be able to maintain. If this means government ends up doing little, so be it.