Will Wilkinson intuits that smaller government would mean better government:

The delay and general unpleasantness of the confirmation process may scare away some talented prospective civil servants, but there may be other excellent reasons they stay away. Suppose a couple years in government has an effect a bit like maternity leave, setting the worker on a permanently reduced income trajectory upon return to the private sector. Or suppose it becomes well-known among the best and brightest that, in addition to paying relatively little, high-end government work tends to be a gruelling source of constant frustration. Perhaps the status conferred upon those who have chosen to embark upon a period of public service has declined relative to the esteem awarded to those occupying the relevant private-sector posts. Take your pick...

This suggests to me that philosophies of government requiring very large numbers of exceptionally competent government operatives will run into predictable staffing problems. It seems plausible as a general principle that the more comprehensive and intensive a government's regulatory oversight, the lower the average level of bureaucratic competence and the higher the likelihood of government failure.

Free Exchange says "not so fast." Jonathan Bernstein argues that we need to fix the confirmation process.

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