Jonathan Bernstein argues that, although it is bad in itself and should be deterred to the extent possible, increased presence of fraud in a government program is a good sign that the program is achieving its desired ends.
The lack of real evidence of actual voter fraud is probably a good sign that we’re not doing enough to promote voting. The big Obama-era example is the negative one from the stimulus. I don’t have the citation at hand — I seem to remember it was Matt Yglesias, but my apologies to whoever made the point — but the gist of it was that there hasn’t been nearly enough waste, fraud, and abuse in the execution of the recovery act. That’s exactly correct: the lack of waste, fraud, and abuse is a good sign that there hasn’t been enough focus on getting the economy back in gear and producing jobs. (Of course, in the case of economic stimulus, it’s also not always clear that “waste” is actually a bad thing, since the whole point is to get money out there). On the other hand, the myriad abuses and likely abundant fraud and waste in counterterrorism under George W. Bush was a good sign that the government really had made that a priority.
Since I thought this theory interesting, and haven’t seen it formulated before, and since it makes quite a bit of sense, I fully second the good professor’s request that the theory be called “Bernstein’s Law.”
UPDATE: In case it wasn’t clear from the post title, consider this an all too rare open thread.