In Washington, penalties for failure are few: Has anyone been fired over the Obamacare launch debacle? Problems are always the fault of circumstances, or the Evil Opposition, or are simply swept under the rug. Of course, that means there’s not much learning from mistakes, and “more of the same, only we’ll try harder!” is a common response. As in The Hunger Games, life is always posh in Capital City; suffering is for the poor schlubs out in the provinces.

In the world that works, on the other hand, mistakes are painful: They cost people jobs, they cost investors money, they result in bad publicity that’s harder to explain away. Thus, people learn from them. Unsurprisingly, the world that works is where the money that Washington spends ultimately comes from.

The problem is that the bigger Washington gets, the less room is left for the world that works. As more and more of American life is taken over by the world of politics — in which wealth is not generated, but taken from one’s opponents and distributed to one’s supporters — a smaller share is left for the world that works.

Politicians don’t care about that; like two-year-olds in an ice cream parlor, all they want is more. But the rest of us should think long and hard about how many resources we should allow politicians to control, given their track record lately. Because Washington is clearly a world that doesn’t work.