One of the most enduring arguments about government vis a vis private business is that it is inefficient. Government programs are wasteful, routinely going over budget. And this is because government bureaucrats aren't subject to the discipline of the market. Private businesses on the other hand, because they ARE subject to the discipline of the market, are much more efficient. The logical policy consequence of this argument is that we should–when possible–privatize government services, or at the very least subject government services to the same forces of competition businesses should have to face.

This argument fails on its face.

I don't have to go all theoretical here.

I can just point you to one entity–the Post Office.

How many times has a piece of mail you either sent, or had coming to you, been lost in the mail? Even as conservatives have tampered with the Post Office budget, the postman always comes on time. Along these lines it's been recently reported that Food Stamp reliance has gone up significantly, and (here's the kicker) that overpayments have dropped to only 1%. In other words for every $100 given out in food stamps, only $1 has been wasted. Although I'd argue that I wish there WAS more waste–food stamps don't go half as far as they should in covering the needs of poor families–I wish this would put paid to the myth that government services are inefficient and ineffective.