Devil's Kitchen alerts me to this fascinating exposition of how, starting in 1984, the New Zealanders got themselves out of the deep, systemic hole they were in. The first step, which really should come as no surprise, was to stop digging. The next was to bring in qualified outsiders - and to cut senior officials right the hell out of the reform process.
It's a heartening story - until your realize that the example was set a generation ago, and that the lectures on which this article is based were given in 2004. The only thing we learn from history is that nobody learns from history.