Sunday, October 10, 2010

Operating Instructions

A few falsely-framed and dubious issues in this election cycle (and something I've noticed as more prevalent over the last decade or so of elections) seem to have taken hold.

Ronald Reagan told us government is the problem. Bill Clinton said the era of big government was over. George W. Bush drove government into the ditch. An increasingly popular theme running through all these administrations: the public sector is The Problem, it should operate more like a private sector business [the perfection of the market and its omnipotence is implied], and the primary goal is job creation [although they're more concerned with price stability than full employment].

We have slowly morphed from the idea of government as a floor. A basic, humane foundation upon which we all try to make our own and others lives better. The public sector would give us clean water, make our workplaces safe, build roads, make the trains run on time, police our streets, put out our fires, etc. All these rudimentary and basic tasks, which our society needs to exist, have been diminished. Suddenly, these tasks were secondary, unimportant. Government needed to start subsidizing development, provide low-interest loans to the private sector, and build the infrastructure for private business. Government became the junior partner of the private sector.

Now we have the Ron Johnsons of the world running as "manufacturers" and "accountants." He bemoans lawyers in the Senate and mocks them as know-nothings. Does he realize that the Senate is a legislative body? They make laws. This actually sounds like the appropriate position for someone educated in the law. And...What the hell does an accountant know about airports, road building, water and sewage systems, etc.? How, by merely smearing someone else, does one become more qualified?

These purveyors of all things private proclaim the often-repeated mantra about running a lean government, just like a business. But, the thing is, government is not a business! Plus, in case people haven't noticed, over the past few decades, we have been continually subsidizing and bailing-out the private sector every few years. Including finance, banking, manufacturing, farming, information technology, medicine, construction, real estate, yeah, pretty much everything!

The right-wing has been snarling about cutting spending, shrinking government size, lowering taxes, etc. These are all red herrings. Every metric, measure, or indicator examined regarding the Republican platform has been an utter failure. Yet, for some reason, each election cycle they declare they're going to cut taxes, shrink government, and make our lives lovely. And, they're going to do it by operating the government like business.

They have failed every time. Yet, voters are still fooled by their snake oil.

Stop telling me what a great businessman you are! Stop telling me about all these jobs you're going to grow!! Stop telling me how you're going to manage the government like a business!!!

Run government like government.

People, this emperor has no clothes. Can we please drop this and start having a rational, adult discussion about the proper and necessary role of Government?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Stop telling me what a great businessman you are! Stop telling me about all these jobs you're going to grow!! Stop telling me how you're going to manage the government like a business!!!"

A big amen to that. Government is not a business and can never be one. If it were, it's purpose would be to market its services for a price and to create a profit. It does not do this, as we all know too well.