The Long Tail of Government

I’m currently reading Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail. It’s a very interesting book concerning how the internet has changed everything. Not just the number of books or CDs that you can order online, but all of retail economics. Its influence extends to all entertainment media, and, eventually, politics and government. I was struck by this quote in particular on page 64:

“It’s one thing to see a movie or listen to music and think ‘genius’ — that some gifted person and exalted apparatus has put together this unique work of art we appreciate. However, once you know what’s behind the curtain, you being to realize that it could be *you*.”

It is precisely this paradigm shift that will lead to the Second American Revolution. As more and more Americans realize that there is nothing special about our system of government, or, indeed, the individuals that run it, they will become less and less satisfied with its operation and begin to explore the possibilities (all over again) of governing themselves.

Why shouldn’t we? Do we honestly believe that there is “some gifted person” or some “exalted apparatus” that is in control of us all? Many of us do believe this. Many more simply wish that it is true, and try not to think too much about it for fear that we will completely lose faith in our government. But have you ever been to the DMV office? Or your city government? Have you stood in long lines and cursed the inefficiency of those bureaucrats behind the counter? Have you personally witnessed their blatant stupidity and/or rudeness? Where is this gifted person that is supposedly running the show? Is he in the back office, sequestered from the people so that our mediocrity does not dilute his genius? Where is this exalted apparatus? Does it reside in some central office far away from the rabble? Clearly the answer is no. We have precisely the government we deserve. It is horrendous. It is exquisitely inefficient. And it is breathtaking in its scope. But there is a growing number of people out there for whom it is no longer tolerable, and they are capable and talented enough to replace it with other things that work better, or simply just work.