January 22, 2007 12:17PM

Hey, Mildred, Remember When Government Worked?

Walking into the Arlington County, Virginia, main library, I am confronted with a big display titled “When Government Works.” I guess we couldn’t really expect a tax‐​funded government agency to highlight “When Government Doesn’t Work.”

But here’s the striking thing about the display: Except for a couple of books about the glories of the Library of Congress, every single book on display was from the New Deal era: WPA state guides and books about the Hoover Dam, TVA, and federal aid for artists.

In the view of the defenders of expansive government, is the New Deal really the last time government worked? And remember, the display isn’t titled “When Government Worked” but rather “When Government Works.” There are arguments to be had over whether and by what criteria the New Deal “worked.” But if you think the last great success of government occurred before our recent presidents were born, shouldn’t you give serious consideration to the possibility that most of the time government doesn’t in fact work very well?