Frequent stories in the Washington Post describe failures in federal management and programs (e.g. here and here). There are also frequent stories about efforts to further centralize power in Washington. The ambitions are endless, even though the failures keep piling up.
From a Saturday story on education:
The Obama administration is making a second attempt to regulate the way the country prepares its classroom teachers, saying training programs should be held accountable to improve the quality of K-12 teachers.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that his department will propose regulations for teacher training programs this summer and seek public input in a process that should result in final rules in a year.
Some professions have standardized systems and national exams to ensure consistency … But teacher preparation programs vary from school to school, and each state sets its own licensing requirements. Most programs are run by universities, but some are run by nonprofit groups or school districts. They each have their own standards of admission and completion requirements.
In a nod to democracy, Secretary Duncan says that he will seek “public input” for his new national rules. But ultimately his department intends to bludgeon the education system into conformity with the threat of denying federal funds.
This story is a microcosm of the continual expansion in the federal aid system, which I’ve argued is a main cause of the erosion in American freedoms over the past century. The growth in the aid-to-state system—which has more than 1,100 programs—has undermined efficient, responsive, and frugal government in the United States.
With a track record of failures, wasteful paperwork, and stifling regulations, it is hard to believe that policymakers would want to expand the aid system further. But there is a continually barrage of proposals for increased federal aid spending and top-down regulations coming from Democrats.
Liberal Republicans such as George W. Bush have also been culpable in expanding central power through aid programs. And it was John Boehner who helped Bush foist No Child Left Behind on us. Nonetheless, there is at least an ongoing debate within the Republican Party about the wisdom of centralization.
As for the Democrats, they gush about “diversity,” “community,” and “democracy,” but their penchant for national top-down public policy is helping to destroy those very features of our free society.