Michael Ramirez cartoon via Powerline
I suppose I've reached that time of life when you can look back on all the shiny and hopeful plans, projects and grand schemes of various governments and ask myself "what went wrong?"
It all seemed so simple.
And if those conservative fuddy-duddies would just shut up about costs, inflexible bureaucracies and unintended consequences and get the fuck out of the way, we'd be halfway to the promised land by lunchtime.
But it was never that simple.
Sclerotic and creaking bureaucracies, even with the best of will and intentions, can never run anything very well for very long.
And I certainly do believe that there was always the very best of will and intention.
But look at the nightmare that is Britain's National Health Service. Every week now brings another horror story of endless waiting or filthy hospitals or appallingly bad care of patients, and all as costs escalate (partly due to the expansion of levels and layers of middle and upper management).
While any bureaucracy, public or private, exhibits many of the same characteristics, the problem with most public ones is that they normally never die. An inefficient business will, unless propped up by taxpayers' money, eventually suffer the consequences and go out of business.
All too often in government, inefficiency is effectively rewarded with more money to fund yet another restructure that creates an even more complicated organisation that is used to justify the increased numbers of middle and upper level managers, while the numbers of people actually providing the service either remains the same or even shrinks (often held up as "proof" of an improvement in efficiency).
Insiders say this is one of the problems here with the CSIRO now. Endless restructuring that is geared more to the needs of the managerial class that now runs it, not the scientists or the science it is supposed to be supporting.
And yet we are increasingly a people whose first response to anything these days is "what is the government going to do?", not "what are we going to do?"