At The Week, I have a reflection on watching SpaceX crash rockets with my daughter and the price we pay for expecting perfection in public policy.
Musk’s riches allow him to comfortably risk his money. But these more adventurous investments should be made by the government, too. I want to see more failures of government policy, as we experiment with more ambitious programs. There should be more iteration and revision of legislation, as politicians listen to citizens and rework their theory to take account of lived experience and the last-mile implementation of policy.
Unfortunately, our political institutions are sclerotic and fearful. While SpaceX attempts to learn from every launch, politicians rarely point to a failed or flawed policy as an opportunity to learn and improve. Even at the state level, the supposed laboratories of democracy, there are few governors attempting policy that is truly experimental — which they admit at the outset may not work and they are willing to roll back if it fails.