As I expected, someone commented in agreement but posited that the military does well.
I disagree. The military is inefficient, indifferent to loss of life in certain situations (let's call it "acceptable losses"), and a confusing (and confused) bureaucracy. By contrast, private armies (mercenaries) are much more efficient and much more concerned with reducing their own losses. Unfortunately, they are much less concerned about collateral damage and civilian deaths. there are complex reasons for this but the main reason for the government run militaries' inefficiency is the ownership. The goals of the military are simple: win the battle, win the war, vanquish the enemy. The government 's goals are much more complex, much more political in nature. They are affected by public opinion and world opinion. This can hamstring military goals. These can also impact military budgets which, in turn, impacts how successful a military can be.
While serving in the Navy, I witnessed countless incidents of inefficiency, confusion, and poor performance. Anyone who served can testify to this. There is waste of property, waste of effort, poor decision making, and waste of lives. the larger the military, the more of these there is. A small military can be much more efficient but it may not meet the needs of a nation at war for its survival. So militaries should shrink and expand according to need and that must often be done in spite of what popular opinion says.
I tend to agree with Stossel but I think government is a "necessary evil" that must be watched closely and I think it can do some things well for short periods of time. The trouble always lies in letting it "take over" functions that were once done well by private enterprises.
I also find it ironic that many of my liberal friends desire more government intervention while decrying Big Brother. Don't worry, I also see something similar with my conservative friends. I am not wearing blinders here.