When Government Fails, Americans Step Up

Jennifer Pahlka is a remarkable woman. She realized what many have realized: government often fails at its most basic tasks.

Governments don’t keep up with technology or culture. Nor can they act nimbly. A start-up produces finished products worth millions in four months; it takes government that long to start the first feasibility study.

Spotting government’s shortcomings isn’t what makes Jennifer so amazing. Every sane American knows that government is a nightmare of bureaucratic hell that admires problems and punishes the successful. Complaining about government is as common as complaining about the weather . . . and about as effective.

Jennifer Pahlka is special because she launched and manages an organization that does what government should do, but can’t. In other words, Jennifer makes life better and government cheaper.

The organization she founded is Code for America. Here’s what they do:

Cities are under greater pressure than ever, struggling with budget cuts and outdated technology. Code for America believes that instead of cutting services or raising taxes, cities can leverage the power of the web to become more efficient, transparent, and participatory. And we want to help them do it.

I love this.

Tea Partiers are falsely accused of wanting to eliminate fire departments and hospitals and the like. In reality, we want government to do what it’s supposed to do–no more, no less–for a reasonable amount of money.

I doubt that Jennifer’s a Tea Partier, but her work should make Tea Partiers happy. Jennifer is making government work better for less money.

Please watch her inspiring TED talk. See if you’re not impressed with her vision and with Code for America’s mission.


In the battle to restore reasonable and effective government, every bit helps. Key quote:  “A neighbor is a far better and cheaper alternative to government services.”

Here’s Jen’s blog.


Published by: bhennessy

Bill Hennessy is co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition, expert in persuasive design and marketing, and author of three books, including The Conservative Manifesto (1993) and Zen Conservatism (2009)

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