When I read that 18 million dollars in government stimulus related funds had been issued to dead people and some folks who were in jail, my first thought was that this would be solid evidence for those of us who want more efficient government. I also thought that this would bolster the position of those who argue against government altogether (the "government is bad," unless it's doing something I need (Medicare/Social Security) types). But in light of the mounting scandal with the private sector mortgage lending industry, I am glad that I waited to write anything.
I think that both of these stories are good examples of how both sides, those who advocate for greater government involvement and those who advocate for greater free market involvement, need to see and acknowledge the problems that can be inherent in their favored positions.
It makes no sense that this money should have gone out from the government without a reasonable check on the status of the individual due to receive funds. Now, I think that for those people who'd been incarcerated or who'd died fairly recently, there should be some leeway granted. I mean if I sent a letter to someone, and they passed away before receiving it, I wouldn't find out about that until after the fact. But, there certainly should be constant updates for things like this, and the government needs to be much better with regard to information sharing and developing better and more integrative systems, if only to prevent things like this from happening (and kudos to the people who have been returning the funds).
But for all of the people who would gleefully point out this bit of government ineffectiveness, I am bothered by the cavalier attitude that was taken by those in the private mortgage lending industry who were not bothering with their own protocols and kicking people out of their homes as a result. Personally, I think that is more cold blooded than mistakenly sending out $250 checks to the wrong people. The only saving grace on this side is that those who didn't do their jobs properly can be fired easily. On the government side, not so much, and that should change.
I think that we can agree that most people want our government, even as it is right now, to be as efficient and effective as possible. And I think we can agree that most people want the private sector to deal with consumers honestly, making sure that they are doing what they are supposed to do, and reassuring its customers. It all just reminds me that we cannot have it all one way or another. Our society requires both an efficient/effective government, as well as an honest private sector, because abuse from either side should not be tolerated by anyone.