"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Don't they have special magazines for people like this?
Some people have a thing for legs, others for breasts or even feet. Some people are into leather or nurse uniforms or stockings. Apparently the new White House Chief of Staff, the President's uhhh...right hand man, has his own peculiar fetish - Dubya's bloodstained hands

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Government should be run like a business"

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

This has long been a typical conservative hobbyhorse and, as might be expected, has the accompanying scent of horseshit.

Government should be run like government, not a business. That is why whenever the sort of backslapping, Chamber-of-commerce "self-made men" who inherited Dad's hardware store and turned it into a chain of four hardware stores get elected to office and declare that "government should be run like a business" generally manage to completely screw things up and alienate the voters and the bureaucracy, while sending the state into debt (see: Reagan, Mulroney, Harris, Bush et al).

Businesses are run from the top down, the head of the company is pretty much god-like in his or her power over employees. Businesses are run to make a profit and the president and board of directors are answerable to the shareholders who own the company and no one else. Their ultimate goal is to maximize profit. They can be autocratic, they can focus on profitable areas of business and abandon businesses,products and services that are unprofitable. They are all about the money, the capital, the return on investment, the dividend. Not that there is anything wrong with that, in a capitalist economy it is the expected state of affairs.

Democratic governments are supposed to be by, for and of the people. They exist to serve all the citizens, not just those who can afford to own a share of the apparatus, or their customers. They cannot ignore public opinion. They cannot turn their back on unprofitable lines of businesses such as national defense or education or law enforcement. They are not supposed to make a profit -- that doesn't mean they can be fiscally irresponsible, but they should not be taking in significantly more than they are laying out. Their responsibility is not to line someone's pockets, but to ensure peace, order, and good government, protect people's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Governments are an organized way for people to work for the common interest of everyone, to protect the underprivileged and disadvantaged, to provide essential services that business doesn't see any profit in, such as workmen's compensation or welfare, or that they should not be trusted with -- such as law enforcement or environmental regulation. Government is immediately answerable to the people, business is not.

So the next time some jackass in a nice suit and an expensive haircut starts telling you the problem is that goverment isn't run like a business, ask him if he'd like to see it run like a really successsful corporation like say...Enron. Then ask him if he thinks the police and fire department ought to only serve people who can afford their services or if we should get rid of all the environmental regulations, all those annoying zoning rules, and building codes. Ask if he'd like to have the cops run a credit check before they show up when his business is being robbed or his wife raped. Ask if he'd like the fire department to decide that having paramedics or local fire halls wasn't cost effective the next time he has a heart attack or his kid's school catches fire and the closest fire hall is on the other side of town where the rich people who can afford it live. Ask if he'd like to have his house fall over in the next strong wind because the builder cut corners or if he'd like a 24-hour-day strip club to open next to his kids school or an iron foundry and rendering plant to be built right next door to his home.

That's what running the government like a business would mean.