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"Running government like a business" is one of those zombie Republican lines; no matter how dramatically it fails time after time, it always comes back. That it survived the "MBA Presidency" of George W. Bush was staggering enough, but the 2010 class of governors went right back to it: John Kasich, Rick Scott, and Nikki Haley are among those raising zombies. And that's not even counting the high-profile failed candidacies of candidates like Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Linda McMahon.

Rotting, staggering reanimated corpse it may be, but it's a rotting, staggering reanimated corpse affecting how our states and nation are being run and how students are being educated, so it's worth poking at a bit.

In response to her governor's "run government like a business" moment, Laurin Manning at South Carolina Soapbox asked:

  • Don’t most—if not all—well-run businesses seek to grow? Don’t Republicans want to shrink government? Isn’t a business that is shrinking an unprofitable one?
  • Are the citizens of the businesstate of South Carolina the customers? Or the shareholders? Or both?
  • Do Haley campaign contributions  =  stock?

These are intended to be facetious questions, and the answer to the third one in particular may be an eye-rolling " honest is Haley going to be about that?" But they come uncomfortably close to truth. Because Republicans do not want to run government well. They want to run it so badly that people won't trust it.

As for whether citizens are customers or shareholders, in the business model that does all depend on our profitability to the people and corporations for whose benefit government-as-business is run. If we're customers, the point is to try to extract as much profit from us as possible. If we're shareholders, the point is to try to get us as much money as possible (after executive bonuses are subtracted, of course).

The "run government like a business" school of Republicans wants to treat us as customers of the least customer-friendly business imaginable. The business that charges its average customer exorbitant prices and gives them a broken product in order to rake off giant profits. Only here, the average customer is 90% or so of wage earners and taxpayers, the broken product is our nation's government, and the giant profits go to the wealthiest in the form of massive tax breaks.

As Seth Masket writes at Enik Rising,

Businesses exist to turn a profit. They provide goods and services to others only insofar as it is profitable to do so, and they will set prices in a way that ends up prohibiting a significant sector of the population from obtaining those goods and services. And that, of course, is fine, because they're businesses. Governments, conversely, provide public goods and services—things that we have determined are people's right to possess. This is inherently an unprofitable enterprise.

That's unprofitable in the financial sense, of course. There are other meanings of the word "profit," though, and by that token there are human and moral profits to good government. Matt Yglesias has gone all Jonathan Swift with this:

It’s not “entitlements” and it’s not “Social Security” and it’s not “Medicare” and it’s not “health care costs” it’s the existence of old people. Old people, generally speaking, don’t produce anything of economic value. They sit around, retired, consuming goods and services and produce nothing but the occasional turn at babysitting. The optimal economic growth policy isn’t to slash Social Security or Medicare benefits, it’s to euthanize 70 year-olds and harvest their organs for auction.

Proving the difficulty of satire in this political climate, Republicans then go and vote to end Medicare. Organ-harvesting it's not, but did you ever think you'd see the day?

This twisted logic has also increasingly made its way into education. Charter schools are often administered by or have leasing agreements with businesses. Those are typically nonprofits in at least a technical sense, but not always. And the effects of the business model are demonstrable. In Boston and New York, for instance, charter schools have been found to serve lower proportions of students who qualify for free lunches or don't speak fluent English than do traditional public schools. In Boston and New Orleans, charter schools serve fewer special needs students. Special needs students and poor students and students who are learning English are more difficult "customers," and while traditional public schools have to take them, charter schools—operating on the business model—don't have to and frequently don't.

The so-called free market is hitting higher education, too. Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat writes that:

Passing over local kids to admit out-of-staters—who pay three times as much to go to school there—is the corporatization, the privatization, of your flagship public university. And it's about to escalate, dramatically.

Causing the furor this spring is that the UW cut its slots for local students in next fall's freshman class by 150. That's a reduction of about 4 percent in the in-state enrollment.

It did so because it has had its taxpayer support cut so sharply that it had to go find money from somewhere else. So it's admitting more students willing to pay the out-of-state rate of $25,000 a year versus the in-state rate of only $9,000.

(h/t SC Soapbox)

This is happening at public universities across the country. These are the places where once kids could work their way through college and come out with little to no debt. Today that option is being taken away, making the cost of a college education a lifetime of debt for a vast number of students. And while they're in school, they suffer from more of the depredations of "running it like a business."

As Tenured Radical, one of my own former professors, writes:

One problem with free market theories for reorganizing education is that they lead to a free market in educators. This, in turn tends not to be conducive to what administrators need to deliver a quality education to students: faculties who commit to a particular school, and create a culture of excellence, over the long term. Policy makers who believe that free market competition creates better education for the most people have, frankly, never been in a classroom beyond their three-year hitch at Teach for America.

Colleges and universities are increasingly relying on adjunct professors, many of whom are talented and dedicated but who have little control over their working conditions or ability to advocate for their students. They are typically poorly paid and may not be on campus much to participate in outside-the-classroom aspects of education like holding office hours or being available to write reference letters for students applying to graduate school, study abroad programs, internships, and other important parts of a college education. Any individual course taught by an adjunct may be wonderful, but having a system that relies heavily on their labor strips away many things that enrich higher education.

To this point I’ve mostly focused on how the “business” model refuses responsibility for many of the things government is supposed to provide. But there’s also the revenue side. As noted above, businesses are supposed to turn a profit. They do that partly by not providing unprofitable services, but they also do it by trying to maximize revenue. And that is certainly something today’s “run it like a business” Republicans do not want to do.

Take Indiana Republican Congressman Todd Rokita, who recently told MSNBC:

We have too much revenue as it is. We spend too much.

His slide from “too much revenue” to “too much spending” is telling, and as ThinkProgress notes,

It’s worth noting that the last time Republicans claimed there was too much revenue coming into the federal government, they ended up solving that problem by helping to create the deficits of today. “[M]ore than any other” reason, President Bush justified his 2001 tax cuts by claiming the budget surplus President Clinton created was actually bad. “A surplus in tax revenue, after all, means that taxpayers have been overcharged,” Bush explained. Of course, the Bush tax cuts are one of the largest contributors to today’s budget deficit by depriving the government of needed revenue.

Time and time again, Republicans have shown that they don’t really want to run government like a business. What they want is to introduce the worst excesses of business—the incentive to poor service, the race to the bottom on wages, benefits, and workplace rights—and leave out the ideologically inconvenient bits like growth and the importance of revenue. We’ve seen its extremity in the Ryan budget, the attempts to turn Medicaid recipients into the new “welfare queens,” the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy and the insistence on keeping them going despite (or because of) what they’ve done to the economy.

It’s time for a change of thinking about government and business. Instead of trying to jam government and education into the language and the most destructive logics of business, we have to, as Corey Robin writes in The Nation, unveil the ways that the unfettered profit motive hurts us and makes us less free, as individuals and as a society.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Take New Hampshire Forward!.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The business Republicans want to emulate... (13+ / 0-)

    Would be Amway, and we are all down-level.

    Listen to the chair leg of truth! It does not lie! What does it say?

    by mhanch on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:11:18 PM PDT

    •  Lee Iaccoca said it best... (13+ / 0-)

      As he so often does, in his autobiography back in the mid-80s: "Government cannot be run like a business. Businesses exist to make a profit, and that's just not why government exists--or at least, that shouldn't be government's main motive."

      When one of the most successful CEOs in American history--a guy who saved not one, but two different auto manufacturers, and the second one (Chrysler) from going into the abyss entirely--makes a statement like that, he obviously must know what he's talking about.

      Come to think of it, he's demonstrated over the years he knows a lot more about management than Nikki Haley, John Kasich or Scott Walker have shown in their entire careers put together.

      "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

      by GainesT1958 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:32:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the thing that the GOP know and (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drewfromct, lcrp, sethtriggs, J Orygun, output, BYw

        oddly Democrats keep failing to point out.

        Their "business" initiatives are about privatizing government - about profits - and looting the US Treasury.  The GOP know that government can't be run like a business.  They know that profit-taking will diminish government at all levels, but they don't care about.

        Meanwhile, Democrats fucking parrot this bullshit and some are even stupid enough to believe that it can be done - and those are the ones who haven't a clue how businesses work...

        The reality is that if we were going to run this country like a business, the first thing we would do is auction off Alaska and Louisiana both of which put in far less than they generally take from the budget.  If Sarah Palin wants people to run this place like a business, Putin's Giant Floating Head should by all rights keep her up at night - lol.

      •  Iacocca required a Fed loan guarantee (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to save Chrysler - which was paid back early with interest.

        It was the American taxpayers, along with Iacocca, that saved Chrysler.

        Full disclosure: my father worked for Ford (GMI grad), three uncles worked for GM (two GMI grads), my dad's father for Chrysler, and my mom's father for Packard and then Chrysler.

        Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

        by Spud1 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:49:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Profit is the key in another way. (0+ / 0-)

        Who are the customers of the government-as-business? The entire populace? Voters?

        Nope, at least not from the Republican perspective.

        Like a business, the Republican-run government sees only those WHO CAN PAY as their customers. That's why nary a word about the poor every graces their leering mouths and everything is about the rich and more businesses: payers, not people.

      •  Remember, too (0+ / 0-)

        That Iaccoca came out with a book only a few years ago blasting (mostly) Republicans --in particular the Bushies.

        "Guns don't kill people. People in states without gun-purchase background checks & waiting periods kill people." --John Fugelsang

        by Artryst on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 09:15:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  but he didn't say (0+ / 0-)

        how a government should be run did he? ... and this was released while I seem to remember a guy running our country named Ronald Reagan ... who ran the country like a business that beat the Soviet Union into the ground (country not run like a business).

        Our country shouldn't be run like the Red Cross or Good Will either....

    •  re: Your Brains (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      FYI you're all going to die screaming

      It's all so clear to me now. I'm the keeper of the cheese. And you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.

      by bernardpliers on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:35:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bartcopfan, output, BYw

      when they say that they want to run government like a business, their model is Enron.

      Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

      by drewfromct on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:07:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which One? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I always ask proponents of running government like a business to name one business model that fits public bureaucracy?  Of course they cannot, there is none because open commerce and profit are not a part of government.  It is a polite way to end the conversation while making them look and feel like a twit. Try it and spread the word.

  •  I'll play devil's advocate here, as a longtime (10+ / 0-)

    govt. employee and say that there ARE benefits to govt. acting MORE like a business, although not the same.

    Govt. (at least the ones I have worked for) are geometrically less efficient than private industry.  I have seen this over and over.  I compare the technology and efficiency of (for example) the average grocery store with my agency, and it saddens me greatly.

    The problem is that in my agency, and govt. in general, there are immense DISincentives for us to ever be more efficient.  In brief, the more efficient we are, the smaller budget we get.  I actually had one supervisor admit that the reason we did one particularly inefficient procedure was because if we did it more efficiently, we could lose budget $$$.

    Seriously.  I have ZERO incentive to work harder than the minimum.  As a civil service employee, I won't get paid a cent more, and it exposes me to more civil liability and more opportunities to be disciplined etc.

    These problems are structural.

    •  I've experienced the flip side... (12+ / 0-)

      I take your point, there can be a certain detachment from outcomes inherent to working in government,  and that needs to be addressed and pushed back on....

      But I've worked for several large corporations, and as a buyer and finance guy for several small firms, have done plenty of business with large companies as vendors. And believe me, Corporate America is no model of effectiveness or paragon of efficiency, not based on what I have seen. Just as bad or worse as any lazy gubmint bureaucracy in the most fevered bad dream of a teabagger....

      There are outstanding companies that treat their people well, make good products and turn a profit. God love 'em and may their tribe increase.

      And there are plenty of Big Names out there that are just that, Big Names and not much more...if it wasn't for corporate welfare and government contracts, a lot of these "dynamic private-sector companies" would be, well, a lot less dynamic.

      "Democracy is like chicken soup. You have to stir it up often or a scummy oily film forms at the top."

      by StratCat on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:23:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I too have worked (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for government, large corps and small businessses and with out a doubt the large corps are the least effective at managing their processes.  Anyone who thinks government beaucrats are ineffective has never worked in a large multi-national corp. The left hand just doesn't know what the right is doing!

        "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."Thomas Jefferson, 1812.

        by truth is on the left on Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 06:31:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I worked at Bethelehem Steel and saw the very same (10+ / 0-)

      thing.  (shrug)

      The idea that private business is inherently more efficient and cost-effective than government, is idiotic.

      Just look at what happened to the "efficient" and "cost-effective" Bethlehem Steel when the more efficient more cost-effective Japanese moved in. With their government support.

    •  Two Problems, and I Was a Gov't Worker Too. (16+ / 0-)

      1. There are many activities that are immoral to be run by the profit sector. Health is one, public campaigning is another. Many kinds of services are utility types of services, clearly among them public education, much infrastructure, and probably nuclear energy generation given the constant cheating of profit sector owners from design forward. And the for-profit sector needs a lot more regulation than it has now. All of that calls for a large government.

      2. Economic efficiency is killing society. The economy has become desperately over-efficient, which is what the accelerating concentration of wealth reveals. The economy no longer leaks wealth out beyond ownership at anywhere near a moral rate. One way or another, there's no prayer for a large middle class or meaningfully democratic society if that efficiency isn't seriously degraded in various ways.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:30:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Privatizing prisons comes to mind right away, (10+ / 0-)

        When you mention that it's immoral for certain functions to be incentivized for a profit. How anyone could not immediately see the potential horrors in locking people up for profit is just stunning to me. One would have to look far and wide to find a better definition of conflict of interest. The fact that we actually do this here, and that some Democrats helped make it happen gives me sick feeling...

        "Democracy is like chicken soup. You have to stir it up often or a scummy oily film forms at the top."

        by StratCat on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:37:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I totally agree (0+ / 0-)

        I would never want my industry privatized.  I am just saying they could learn a lot about efficiency from the private sector.

        Again, since we have a DISincentive to be efficient, though.  It may never happen

        Efficiency helps people in many ways, though

        Examples are that one can buy very complex, even precise and sterile instruments for very cheap - syringes, and pencils are two examples.  

    •  Productivity is directly tied to technology. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, drewfromct, sethtriggs, BYw

      It is a fact that most of the private sector's productivity gains over the past 20 years have been due to technology improvements.

      Government never has the money to invest in decent technology because they're always being nickel and dimed.

      Everybody I know who's gone from the private sector to the public tells me the same thing == you wouldn't believe how primitive it is.

      Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

      by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:35:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Govt' often won't USE (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bush Bites, drewfromct, lcrp, BYw

        the already existing technologies that private industry invented, though.  It's like we are allergic to technology and efficiency.

        One example, and there are many - digital signatures.  Fedex, even AMR has them.  We don't. We spend way more time than necessary using handwritten statements so we can get a signature when we could be using digital signatures.

        We also use literally a dozen different programs , none of which talk to each other, so we have to duplicate infomration entry.

        Paying somebody $50+ / hr to handwrite a form in a slow and tedious manner is insanity.  The waste is immense, and of course the handwritten form can;'t easily be analyzed (text/boolean searches) etc.

        It really is staggering

        Many years ago, we had a  VERY successful private software firm offer to write some software we needed FREE of charge, as they planned to later market it to other agencies.  We declined, spent several hundred thousands of dollars developing our own software, wasted countless thousands of hours using high paid employees as de facto beta testers...

        and a decade later, the software STILL sucks and is being replaced by a ... wait for it... privately developed one

        it was literally a million dollar mistake

        •  OK, I'll take your point. (0+ / 0-)

          Bad managers can exist in both the public and private sector.

          Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

          by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:58:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree. The operative difference is that (0+ / 0-)

            in private industry, it is rare for INefficiency to be incentivized.  Usually, it's the reverse.

            In public work, it is very common for efficiency to either not be incentivized one way or the other, or for it to be disincentivized.  

            In all 3 agencies I've worked for, it is generally disincentivized.  

            •  I disagree. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              output, BYw

              I've known many managers who've gone for short-term performance bumps even if long-term investment was required, largely because they're incentivized to make the books look good.

              I've also seen plenty of managers get credit or blame for conditions totally beyond their control.

              In fact, I'm working with a total idiot now who's the king of the c-suite because he happened to walk in when business was already turning around, after the last guy who was probably a little better (not much, but a little) was fired because the recession hit on his watch.

              I'm sorry, I've just seen too many screwed up companies and too many piss-poor managers to believe they're inherently better run.

              Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

              by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:07:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And I know that , generally speaking (0+ / 0-)

                A piss poorly run company will be beaten by a better run company.  Make the same thing for less, or make a better thing for the same, and you win market share.  It's really that simple.

                There is no such competition where I work.  We are IT.  We compete with nobody, because we don't have to.

                Furthermore, this is hardly just about management.  It's about the entire organization, from the lowest in the chain to the highest, none of whom are incentivized (often) to do a better or more efficient job and often see negative results when they do so.

                Granted, management is often insanely important in private industry, as is leadership.  that's why I decided to buy Apple stock when Jobs took over.  One of the best decisions I ever made, financially speaking.

                Of course, he had every incentive to do it better, and more efficiently than had been done.  

                We can agree to disagree, though

        •  Gov't recovers much of the 'mistakes' it makes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The gov't had to hire people to write that software and keep them employed.  Let's take 20 coders and 50k a year = 1 mill costs for simple math.

          First, federal, state, and local gov'ts will rake in something like a combined 35% back in taxes.  Boom, gov'ts got back 350k of that 1 mill.  We're down to 650k.  Next, if they like in a state with property taxes, as most of us do, and are homeowners, as many are, they'll likely pay 2500 a pop or so in property taxes.  That's another 50k in the pockets of gov't.  Sales tax?  I pay 6.5%, but lets stay with the simple math again, and go 5%.  Most folks in America spend pretty much all they make, but not everything actually gets taxed - food bought as takeout doesn't get taxed at my local drive in, though food eaten on premises does.  Let's say 25k in taxes there.

          So we're already down to 575k spent that isn't collected directly back by various levels of gov't,   Of that 1 mill spent by the feds, almost half returns directly to city, state, or the federal gov't.  And that 575k is spent buying goods and services from the rest of the country, and in turn generates an additional 20 or so '25k' jobs, each of which will again, return large amounts of taxes to various gov'ts.

          Private companies can't do that.  When they hire somebody for 50k, they don't see a penny return to them other than what they get in productivity, unless they happen to be making something their employees will directly buy.

          Now, we've also kept those 20 coders employed for a year, rather than unemployed and costing the gov't money, in unemployment insurance, in medicaid, in food stamps, in heating assistance, in dozens of other programs simply to help them survive.  And their quality of life will still suck a lot worse than if they were employed at 50k.  They'll be more likely to develop mental health issues or chronic physical problems.  They may lose their home, depressing property values for a lot of neighbours, and they certainly lose the ability to purchase many of the same things they did when they made 50k, destroying the economic activity that otherwise would have resulted in those 20 25k jobs.

          So while it 'appeared' that the gov't made a 'million dollar mistake'.  The true cost to the federal gov't was a lot less, and if you factor in monies going to state and local gov'ts, as well as economic activity....

 might well be in the gov'ts financial interest to make such mistakes.  Keeping people employed, even 'fruitlessly', is far better for the country than having masses of them unemployed and destroying economic activity.

          •  Compare to the alternative. (0+ / 0-)

            The argument you are making also applies pretty well if the government paid a private company $1M to write the software.

            The same taxes get paid by workers - income, property, and sales tax. If the private company made a profit (as one would expect they would usually do), they might hire two less workers, but the resulting profit would be taxed -- sometimes multiple times (as corporate profits and then again when distributed to shareholders or when shareholders realize a gain on the stock due to the profit from this job).

            If the private company could, because of higher efficiency (perhaps because they work for many clients so have more experience and scale), bid $900K and make $100K on the deal, the government just saved $100K and can spend that savings on something that adds value to the public.

            Of course, in reality, too often government pays WAY too much to private companies so perhaps internal government waste is no worse than overbidding.

            It's simplistic to assume:

            Now, we've also kept those 20 coders employed for a year, rather than unemployed and costing the gov't money, in unemployment insurance, in medicaid, in food stamps, in heating assistance, in dozens of other programs simply to help them survive.

            If the private sector did the work with 18 coders, it's true there would be two less coders working that year AT THAT JOB. However, when there are an excess of coders, they take other jobs (perhaps in the industry, perhaps outside it) and new workers enter other fields instead of those with oversupply -- thereby balancing the market. When there is excessive demand for coders, adding two more coding jobs drives prices up and encourages people who are not efficient coders to enter/stay in the coding field. We saw both sides of this between 1999 and 2001. A LOT of incompetent programmers were making big bucks in 1999 and a lot of these coders were in other jobs in 2001.

            •  I work at a private software company, and I (0+ / 0-)

              would suggest that the money won't flow the same.  Of that 1 mill going to a private company, maybe 1/4 will actually go to coders, with the rest raked off for the boss and shareholders.  My boss charges a minimum of 4 times my hourly wage (and I get no bennies) for work he has me do for clients.  Since much of the money is being siphoned off to be dividends or stock appreciation or whatnot, it's getting taxed at a lower rate, if at all, and much of it is NOT getting spent back into the economy, unless the boss wants to buy a solid gold globe or somesuch.  Most goes off into the stock market.

        •  don't know what gov't you work for, but (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sethtriggs, output, BYw

          ...the federal government recognizes digital signatures, as anyone who just did their taxes knows.

          Seems like you are overstating your case here.

          So, do you work for the feds, state, or local government?

          I am all for efficiency, and actually take a very (true) conservative position on it. But for some reason, all this talk of inefficiency starts to make it sound like it is a universal problem with all government sectors, and then you have politicians attacking Social Security and Medicare as inefficient, when in fact they are very efficient with low overhead.

          •  I'm not. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Efficiency (in the public sector) puts people out of work, and they become drains on federal programs for the poor.  Inefficiency keeps them employed, and, in the public sector, the various levels of gov't will recover a lot of what they spend in all sorts of taxes, as well as keep economic activity going because people are employed, rather than letting the economy grind to a halt when large numbers are unemployed.

            •  Wouldn't it just be cheaper... (0+ / 0-)

     pay those people not to work? It would be greener (the people don't have to go to work), it would save real estate costs (no office space is required to warehouse them during working hours).

              It sounds like you are promoting inefficiency in government. That strikes me as absurd. Wouldn't it at least make sense to run Program A more efficiency to free up 100 workers to run Program Z which previously didn't exist in spite of providing some benefits to the taxpaying public?

              •  Sorry, I'd gone to bed. (0+ / 0-)

                Would it be cheaper to pay them not to work?  Possibly.  We've done that in many ways over the years already, such as 'soil banking' where we pay farmers not to grow crops.

                But the point is not to deliberately pay people to make useless things, but not to get overly worried when a gov't job doesn't pan out as usefully as we'd like, because the actual 'loss' is a hell of a lot less than when the same thing happens in a private company.

                Sure, you'd prefer for them to be useful and productive as well.

          •  I work for local govt. (0+ / 0-)

            with that said, i never said GOVERNMENT (qua govt. ) didn't recognize it.  I was comparing my govt. agency that frequently needs signatures, but wastes metric assloads of time having employees who get 50-90 / hr handwriting statements so they can get signatures.

            And that's one TINY example of many in how inefficient we are.

            I am saying ime, and I have worked for 3 different govt. agencies and interacted with many others (including federal), govt. is far less efficient on average than private industry.  Imo, that's because we have often no incentive to be efficient, and often even have an incentive NOT ot be efficient

        •  On software development... (0+ / 0-)

          Government agencies, unless they have very specific requirements, are not the best organizations to develop software (scientific bodies such as NOAA, who does our weather models, or NASA GISS or GFDL who develop climate models are a good example of such agencies) but  the Not Invented Here syndrome exists in all kinds of organizations.

          For most routine IT needs it is silly to try and finance a develpment organization if an off the shelf solution can be bought -- even if it is one which requires customization.  I recently had to convince a manager of mine of this.  We had a choice of purchasing a solution from a vendor for $1000 or paying me to learn how to create a solution for several thousand dollars more.  I wasn't averse to developing the solution, hey it would have been good for the old resume, but I stated quite flatly that spending the money would be better.  Guess what?  It was, because it led us acquiring a toolkit which was far more adaptable than anything I could have developed in a reasonable time.  Economy of scale.

          As far as using "high priced employees as beta testers".  Believe it or not, in the commercial world beta testers are your potential customers.  A beta is a release of the software that is close to being ready for public consumption but may have bugs or implementations of poorly specified features which need work.  If they had been used as ALPHA testers (which should be the QA organization) that is a different question.  

          But rest assured.  If the company which offered to develop the software for your agency had gotten the contract the agency employees would have been beta testers.  And there are plenty of examples of government software projects which have been contracted out which did fail, so private industry is not w/o it's own faults.

      •  Oh yeah, exactly (0+ / 0-)

        Having been involved in the industrial private sector for nearly 30 years now, I can say with a lot of authority on the issue that your presentation about technology being the biggest contributor to productivity gains is dead on.  And, with my bride working in the public sector all those years, I also know a bit about how technological improvements from just bookkeeping and filing and record keeping to logistics to IT to managing human resources has lagged behind in a huge way in government.

        So, if repubs were all about running the government like a business all the years they were in a majority in local, county, state and federal positions, I sure don't want to go to work for any business they're running.

    •  If you have to be motivated from the outside... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      r2did2, acnetj, lcrp, Ezekial 23 20 do more than the minimum, then maybe you're in the wrong line of work altogether.

      I've put in plenty of years at civil service work; whether or not my unit is as efficient as it could be, the job we do matters. I've put in enough time in private sector jobs to know they're not exactly paragons of efficiency all the time either.

      Don't forget - your agency at the top answers to politicians and political appointees. Picture what a corporation would be like that saw it's top management replaced every other year or so by what is an adversarial process. It's a wonder government works as well as it does.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:51:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i'm not talking about me (0+ / 0-)

        I am talking about institutional problems, and if you've EVER worked a civil service position, you'd know exactly what I am talking about.

        Of course it's a strawman elsewhere because I never claimed that private industry is all light and good and super efficient, and public work isn't.

        I said, that in my experience, private industry is far more efficient than private industry, and considering that they have incentives to be efficient, and we generally don't, that's not surprising.

        The job I do matters a LOT.  it doesn't therefore follow that the combination of civil service, the functional equivalent of tenure, and the disincentive to work hard and be efficient doesn't have an influence.

        It does.  

      •  The uncertainty of who (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tier Nostro

        your next boss is and whether your next boss values your work can be very discouraging. It is not as if the private sectors don't have that, but at least there's no multi month long political campaign leading to that.

        Government and most big business jobs have rigid policies and procedures, and little incentives to go extra miles, but provides relatively stable income and benefits. With smaller businesses, extra revenue can mean extra pay, but you also take more risk with less than expected level of customers and revenue.  

    •  New York City example. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, output, BYw

      Check out this piece by a NYC deputy mayor on how much the city can save by bringing some functions back into government or exercising greater oversight of inefficient private contractors.

      As others point out, there's tons of inefficiency in private business. You see one set of things in government, and maybe many of those don't apply in business, but others do. As a civil service employee you have zero incentive to work harder than the minimum? Now, studies tell us that's not actually how the vast majority of people behave. But also, how many companies are paying the boss's idiot kid to do something s/he isn't qualified for or interested in? Not to mention the opportunity cost of employee turnover. Etc.

    •  See my comment about (7+ / 0-)

      providing universal service. It is, by its very nature, inefficient.

      For example, the US Postal Service. How much more efficient it would be if it could just tell those folks that live in the middle of bump-fuck, "Tough shit - you live 15 miles from the nearest road!"

      Instead, UPS drops packages for these hermits at the local Post Office for the USPS to deliver.

      Or those charter schools that are all the rage? You think they will take the children whose mothers were still smoking crack or shooting heroin while they were in the womb? No, they will not.

      But the public schools HAVE TO DO SO.

      Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

      by Spud1 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:55:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what you have if (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you have the "public option." From a business point of view, not all potential customers are created equal, and that you want to serve customers that are willing to pay for what you intend to sell. At least with the public option, someone will still get served rather than not being served.

        An alternative to the public option is basically give people who can't afford the service vouchers. This is what food stamps is based on, but obviously it doesn't the best solution for all essential services.

        •  The problem with using food stamps (0+ / 0-)

          as an example is that a person can only eat so much food. The amount of required medical care, however, varies widely, and it's difficult to set an exact limit.

          2500 calories a day of food is easy to determine. How do  you do that with health care?

          Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

          by Spud1 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 05:37:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  and you don't see a problem in this statement: (0+ / 0-)

      Seriously.  I have ZERO incentive to work harder than the minimum.  As a civil service employee, I won't get paid a cent more, and it exposes me to more civil liability and more opportunities to be disciplined etc.

      If you were paid on your merits and not because you were in a union you would be jobless.  The End.

      btw ..thats more than structural ...thats called pride or lack thereof.

      That is an honest statement for many civil service employees ... I can tell you if i worked the bare minimum on my farm go broke .. so if i work harder and earn more money then you will tax me what exactly is my liability to work harder and make more money?  Oh right take more away so why bother.

      •  I see a lot of problems in that statement (0+ / 0-)

        It's a statement of HOW IT IS, not how I WANT it to be.

        I am 100% union, and damn proud of being so.  This aint about unions (for the most part).

        It's about structural differences and institutional problems inherent in govt. work

        There's a reason why the term "good enough for govt. work" resonates.  There's an underlying truth there.

        I take immense pride in my work, and I go way beyond what is required of me.  I am just saying I am not incentivized to do so and often an DISincentivized to do so

  •  One of many problems with the Republicans' (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StratCat, claude, acnetj, Ezekial 23 20, BYw

    claim that you can run government like a business is that Republicans who run for office are pretty much incompetent in business and their families push them off on voters so they won't run their own businesses into the ground.  

    "Forever is composed of nows." Emily Dickinson

    by Leftovers on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:14:31 PM PDT

  •  If they want to run it like a business... (8+ / 0-)

    why do they want to voluntarily cut it's revenue by lowering taxes???  Looks like they would want to maximize revenue, especially when the "business" has the "staggering debts" they talk about.

    Join us at the Amateur Radio Group. Serving the Left Side of the Dial since 2011.

    by briefer on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:14:33 PM PDT

    •  One of the primary roles for government (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      armd, BYw

      is to regulate businesses, especially those with natural monopolies (power, gas, telephone, etc). Because these companies are profit driven, they would've raised rates and reduce service to less profitable customers if it weren't for the government.

      So if the government really does act like a business, it would've raise taxes like power and gas companies.

  •  Trump could run it like a business -- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, drewfromct, BYw

    lots of shady deals and in and out of bankrupcy every other week.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:15:54 PM PDT

  •  "Running government like a business?" (0+ / 0-)


    That is all.

  •  They didn't say ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... they wanted to run government like a well-functioning business.

    To actually run the federal government in that manner, you'd have to, among other things, jettison the notion of American exceptionalism.

    Tell a competent CEO that his employees think their company is the best company in the world just by virtue of its existence and will maintain its superiority no matter how they perform in their jobs and he will begin trying to change their attitudes immediately — or at least as soon as he regains consciousness.  

  •  We run government so that we may better (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mike101, xaxnar, acnetj, armd

    enjoy our freedom.  We permit business because we can better enjoy our freedom, benefiting from innovation done by adding value over time.

    Done properly, government provides a robust commons so that we may live low cost, low risk lives, and do the same for business, so that our nation may compete well with it's peers.

    Republicans do not get that, because they do not believe in self-governance, preferring a elite class of old.

    That's the problem with running government like a business.  It moves the focus from empowerment and freedom to one of simple resource allocation and merit, both of which run counter to the basic idea that as free people, that freedom should be our primary consideration.


    by potatohead on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:21:56 PM PDT

    •  More to the point... (9+ / 0-)

      Republicans don't believe in a robust commons. They DO believe in lemon socialism, privatizing profit and socializing loss. And they believe the economics they espouse is not just a human construct but the natural order, a modern version of divine right requiring deference to whoever has the most and sharpest teeth.

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:43:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. And that is perhaps the biggest norm (0+ / 0-)

        we've got to overcome.

        It is SO damn pervasive and easy for them to exploit.  Your trouble is "those other people" and "government", basically dividing us, pitting us against one another, and always implying that there isn't enough, so you better get yours, and fuck them, before they take it for themselves.

        The idea that we can labor to prosperity as people is something they are completely blind to.


        by potatohead on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:49:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Modern Businesses are Bought, Broken Up and Sold (6+ / 0-)

    off for extreme profit for a few managers and shareholders. As the majority shareholders and the employees are bankrupted. That's how we got from a thriving economy to a monopoly-dominated casino.

    They ARE running the country as they believe American businesses are to be run. They're running it as many many businesses were run beginning at stampede pace in the bubble 90's.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:22:18 PM PDT

  •  What kind of business? (10+ / 0-)

    A family owned hardware store?

    A doctor's office?

    A multinational oil company? (God help us!)

    An investment banking firm? (God help us even more!)

    Wal-Mart? (not even God can help us with this one!)

    "Democracy is like chicken soup. You have to stir it up often or a scummy oily film forms at the top."

    by StratCat on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:28:39 PM PDT

  •  It made a little sense when US businesses.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pescadero Bill, xaxnar, Ezekial 23 20

    .......cared about improving quality and reducing errors and the like -- I think Gore actually headed up some kind of quality initiative in the Clinton Administration.

    But that was when US businesses actually produced things.

    Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

    by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:29:18 PM PDT

  •  Fareed Zakaria had the PepsiCo (5+ / 0-)

    CEO on today. She was brilliant, in response to Fareed's question on how--from her perspective as a CEO--President Obama is doing. She said he's just like a CEO who has:
    1) A board of directors, more than half of whom want him to fail
    2) Stockholders who are fractured and polarized and constantly misled
    and 3) who took over the company not in good times, but in disastrous times

    She made a couple of other points about the CEO comparison. It somebody can post this, great!

    An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics. ------------Plutarch

    by CitizenJoe on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:30:28 PM PDT

    •  Hopefully someone will find that vid.... (0+ / 0-)

      She makes good points (particularly the first one about the board of directors) ... the Rand-heads and tea party simpletons don't acknowledge that decision makers in large businesses don't always have common goals or even the organization's best interest at heart (i.e "iron law of oligarchy", "turf wars", etc) ... this is how baggers believe that W. Bush's and Rick Scott's sleazy and underhanded past business deals are positives because the baggers "think" that guys like Bush & Scott will use those methods to benefit them

  •  This is the bedrock GOP myth. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, truth is on the left

    "Running government like a business" has been at the heart of GOP rhetoric for 30 years. We'd get rid of conservative Republicanism for at least that long if we could destroy this talking point, but short of forcing everyone in America to read this post and other pieces like it, I don't know what to do.

    Fight until we win. Then we can begin arguing about the details. - Kwickkick (RIP) 2009

    by RickMassimo on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:34:13 PM PDT

  •  How about running govt like a family? (7+ / 0-)

    They take care of each other AND  they invest in their future. Imagine.

  •  If it were to be run like a business... (4+ / 0-)

    ...shouldn't they be attempting to charge enough (i.e. taxes) for the product?  I don't see business constantly striving to lower the amount of money they get from their customers.

    "I regret that I have one life to give for my country. I'd feel safer if I had two or three." -- Anonymous U.S. Navy Pilot, 1942

    by Skail on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:35:28 PM PDT

  •  Rarely are for-profit businesses compelled to (12+ / 0-)

    provide universal service, and this one distinct feature provides the most obvious significant difference between governments and businesses.

    The examples are numerous, from the postal service or public schools. But the best example is fire protection.

    When fire protection companies were originally established, this form of insurance would send fire fighters to knock down blazes in buildings that had paid for the service. Very quickly, communities saw the benefit of providing universal coverage, since putting out one fire for a paying customer might leave half the town burning.

    So communities, acting collectively, chose to insure every building within the city or town limits.

    Every building. No matter if it had a sprinkler system, or was built to code, etc.

    Imagine a privatized fire protection system in your community. How would you feel if you paid for the service but your neighbor(s) did not?

    This is where governors like Rick Scott, Nikki Haley, and one not mentioned in the diary, Maine's governor Paul LePage will fail.

    They do not understand the concept of universality.

    Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

    by Spud1 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:37:39 PM PDT

    •  Or when your neighbor's septic system (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, Laura Clawson, sethtriggs

      overflows into your kid's play area. Suddenly, shared sewer becomes a desired service.

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:50:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The GOP wants (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to turn services that are provided to the society as a whole into services that are sold to the individuals. That has been their agenda all along.

      Fire protection is something that has to be "purchased" collectively because a fire at one property can threaten another. There are also innocent lives involved as well.

      The ironic thing about GOP is that they also like to things collectively, as along as they're in control. These gates communities they live in have a lot of restrictions on what you can or can't do with your house, and what fees you're required to pay into even if you don't use. Their thinking is that if you do something they don't like then they have to suffer your eyesore and/or see their property value drop.

  •  Great piece, Laura. For the record... (14+ / 0-)

    ...if they want to harvest one of my ancient organs, I've got a right eye they can have.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:38:29 PM PDT

  •  If government was run like a business (6+ / 0-)

    they wouldn't allow outsourcing the only true wealth creation they have which is manufacturing.  They would want fair trade not free trade.  They would want trade balance and would reject massive debts to bail out failed banks who gambled and failed on an epic scale.

    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:39:41 PM PDT

  •  Said it before, will say it again: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, sethtriggs, armd

    Business is easy; Government is hard.

    All any idiot has to do to run a successful business, is show a profit - and lots fail every day.  Why morons think the ability to pile up money is all that's needed to run a government is beyond me.

    Government and the people who run it have to serve everyone - they can't pick and choose their 'customers' or a market niche. They have to do it day in and day out - and not just to meet a monthly figure or a quarterly target.  Government has to think and plan for  the long term as well as the immediate present, and that's not a skill set that seems to matter much in business these days.

    When a business fails, the employees, the owners, and stockholders bear the consequences (unless they're too big to fail.) When government fails, everyone suffers.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:42:07 PM PDT

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

    One other point, that I kept making during the last Gubenatorial election in CA -- Whitman kept repeating the "business model" mantra.  One of , no doubt many things, she didn't realize is that it is not a business --she can't just go in and say to the legislature "You're fired"..... it just doesn't work like that.

    I realize that many of the new Repug governors may just now be in the process of learning that -- pesky, annoying and frustrating at it may sometimes be -- this is (or used to be) a democracy......

  •  Medicare overhead: 3%; private insurance: 20% (15+ / 0-)

    Next question.

    Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

    by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 03:54:05 PM PDT

  •  "Run education like a business." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That was a constantly repeated refrain during the 1990s as "education reformers" set the stage for No Child Left Behind.

    In public education, the depth of the ravine between management and labor is rivaled only by its width.

    by algebrateacher on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:00:17 PM PDT

  •  If Rs think they should be running government like (3+ / 0-)

    a business, what are all these culture war issues about which they gave their very first priority when the House switched last winter. What is the business motive of shutting down PP or NOAA or insisting that abortion not be covered by insurance or deductible, or torturing LGBT+ or selecting a denomination of a religion and writing its beliefs into law when huge numbers do not share them, or trying to reinstitute bigotries.?. There is NO business interest in any of their  social issues, but they are in practice the Rs' highest priority.

  •  Well, if they want to run (4+ / 0-)

    government like a business, they should understand that deficit spending (business loans) is in keeping with that. After all, don't many business people say you have to spend money to make money? :-)

  •  Running Govt. Like a Business Doesn't (0+ / 0-)

    necessarily mean you're trying to run it at a "profit". Obviously, government programs and agencies are not designed to turn a profit, like typical businesses. They can, however, operate efficiently. This is what I think most people - Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc., mean when they say government should be run more like a business. No one likes waste, and most people, however naively and mistakenly they may be, believe that American businesses are run efficiently because they are trying to maximize profits. Everyone has a story they can tell about their encounter w/ some silly bureaucratic process or lazy govt. employee they've had to deal with at some point. Unfortunately, these individual encounters get stereotyped and become the universally accepted "truth" in certain circles.

    While I can't dismiss outright the general concept of running government agencies more like businesses if it means making them more efficient, neither can I support running them like businesses if appreciation is lost for the special role government plays in providing services that are for the greater social benefit and therefore should not be measured by financial profit.

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

    by Citizen Earth on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:05:29 PM PDT

    •  Probably anyone who's seen behind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs, ebohlman

      the curtain in a business has quite a few appalling stories to tell involving waste and inefficiency. Most of them don't get told, though, as they can jeopardize one's employability.

      OTOH- Telling stories about the government has become a game.

      -- We are just regular people informed on issues

      by mike101 on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:42:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, let's elect Mitt Romneyreagan (0+ / 0-)

    the guy who Wall Street brought in to dice up businesses for rich shareholders wanting out, and subsidized the protection of their profits by laying off workers, killing pension contracts, and offshoring jobs.

    That sounds like a great path forward, a lesson learned!

    Or not.

    Zombie Mitt Reagan has the hair, but needz more brainz.

  •  What a crock of shite! Who framed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the argument that society had to be run like a business?  Life is too short-run it like an artists commune and we'd all be a helluva lot happier.

    The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people. Noam Chomsky

    by willkath on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:17:21 PM PDT

  •  ahh, 'business', the very apotheosis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of human effort, the very pinnacle of human achievement.

    Let it's basic premise be carved in the hardest granite; the Ultimate Truth:


    don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:23:33 PM PDT

  •  W ran it like prior businesses (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ezekial 23 20, Laconic Lib

    Ran it into bankruptcy and walked away.

    Businesses are not democratically run operations. Most decisions come from the "head honcho" i.e. CEO or Chairman. Disagree with the boss and you are either booted or side lined...hmmm sort of like a dictatorship.. Maybe thats what they really mean by running Gov like a business.  

  •  If we run the government like our (0+ / 0-)

    governor (Nikki Haley) we'll file our taxes late - year after year.  And pay penalties.  Yup.  That's the ticket.

  •  I think gov't could be run like a business, IF the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    people claiming they want to run it that way were honest.  After all, savings and loans are businesses.

    1. Businesses are not inherently profit generators.

    2. Businesses invest (aka spend capital) on physical plant and infrastructure.  

    3. Businesses (that want to continue to exist longterm) invest in research and development, and in training workers to be productive.

    4. Businesses fulfill a need or needs for the larger community in which they exist.

    Where the Repubs fail is that they want to run gov't like bad businesses, that exist merely to suck cash from consumers (the population at large) and hand it over to cronies and friends.  They don't care how bad the services they provide are, as long as someone can be induced, or even forced to buy them.

    If indeed we saw the citizenry as the stockholders, as well as the consumers, gov't would seek to provide services efficiently while generating an ROI that might, as the diarist points out, be far more than just monetary.

    Attach a true cost to currently ignored and externalized costs like pollution/lack thereof, the toll on the country of unemployment, and similar problems, and I think you'd quickly see it's a better deal to train and hire people to produce goods or services than to ignore them and be forced to then provide services to them for no monetary return.  And to provide proactive services and regulations that keep them healthy, rather than treatment for chronic conditions they've acquired as a result of an unhealthy environment.

    In Ohio, the gov't has long been a distributor of alcohol in the state, and generates large profits from such every year.  John Kasich wants to sell this guaranteed and profitable revenue stream off to private sector cronies for a few years' revenue upfront.  That's the equivalent of chopping your arm off to sell to buy some antibiotics because you've got the flu.

    No intelligent, honest businessman would sell off his best income streams unless he bloody well knew he intended to simply end the business, or had an even better winner to replace it with and needed the capital to buy that winner.  Kasich has no such replacement, and he's not going to be able to 'end' the state, only his own tenancy of the governorship.  So one must assume that he is stupid, dishonest, or both.

  •  Here Doggie! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, foresterbob

    I love Pavlov. You can see how much theyve been turning their minions into pavlov's dogs. During the 2010 election, my roommate (independant) had several expensive laminated posters of anti-Conway hate.

    Both of them lied about everything, one claimed he supported a "death tax" and had a picture of a crying child with parents next to it. (Its worth noting that neither parent in the picture was dead, so its just stupid on stupid at that point.)

    The big part though, was the trained pavlovian reaction: The word "Liberal" appeared seven times across two pages that could hardly be considerd a coherent paragraph.

    They just shout liberal at the TV and five minutse later you'll have some idiot bitch crying over her bible to whatever friends fox personality comes out to use them as propaganda.

    Oh, but theres an interesting thing. When rightwingers fall down, we leave them there. When frail leftwingers are tackled to the ground, why, she deserved to be curbstomped. How DARE she try to speak her mind in a public forum!

    "It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times?!"

    by kamrom on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:56:49 PM PDT

  •  Love the headline pic. (0+ / 0-)

    I've always wanted to know what Teh Trump (a Koch zombie if there ever was one) looked like w/o the wig and heavy makeup.  Now I know!

    I count even the single grain of sand to be a higher life-form than the likes of Sarah Palin and her odious ilk.

    by Liberal Panzer on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:58:24 PM PDT

  •  Run Govt like a Govt... stupid! (0+ / 0-)

    If I wanted to run a business I would run a business. If I wanted someone to run my government I would expect them to run it like one. Anything else is inviting trouble. And that is what we have today.

    Citizens are not stockholders. And they should never be. They are citizens plain and simple. When they say Corporate America they mean Wall Street not Washington, DC. These Republicans are out of their gourd!

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 04:59:19 PM PDT

  •  Excellent essay, why do you insist on thinking? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ezekial 23 20, SoCalSal

    I'm a public sector doctor, all of my children are public sector employees. There are problems in the public sector, but we are trying to be constructive. My daughter is a college professor (won't name the state university) whose secretary and office phone were eliminated by the Washington State legislature- now she must list her cell phone number and pay the bills. My secretary was chopped, but I don't have to list my cell phone. However, that daughter won't quit. Remember that Ronald Raygun destroyed the air traffic controllers union, kind of like what governments of Bahrain and UAE are trying to do. Maybe if there were an air traffic controllers union, we would not have controllers falling asleep- just asking.

  •  Frank White beat Bill Clinton (0+ / 0-)

    in 1980, partly because he said he would run Arkansas like a "bidness."  He lasted exactly two years.

    Republicans have more staying power with that slogan these days, unfortunately.

  •  The easiest way out is to do nothing (0+ / 0-)

    and let the Bush tax cuts to expire.  It was chump change at the low end anyway and only significant for the rich.

    We have a business nerd (his term) running Michigan and believe me he is no prize

    Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

    by J Edward on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 05:21:59 PM PDT

  •  Just one fact nitpick about adjuncts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    At least here in California, at most State and Community Colleges, we've had a hiring frieze on adjuncts ranging from 1-2 years now. This just happened nearby me, actually. I'm hearing similar things from friends in other States and noticed the article you linked to was from '09. Since then, the modus operandi, at least here in California, is to slash Departments, implement furloughs, and toss out adjuncts in favor of graduate interns, as well as paying tenure-line Profs a rock bottom fee while keeping them in a prolonged state of non-tenure. Some tenured faculty are also filling gaps in Departments where they aren't actually faculty (like if, say, the French Department is scaled way back, and the lower level Gender Studies faculty is also scaled down, then tenured French faculty will actually wind up teaching Gender Studies, etc...)

    Good diary but I wanted to correct that one bit since it's a little outdated OR regionally specific, perhaps.

  •  The 'Pub's Zombie Lie is a false dichotomy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... and it's a powerful one: a simple statement with accessible metaphors that utterly misdirects the listener's thinking. "GSBRLAB" insinuates that government is inherently "bad" and must be run like a something else to succeed:

    The way to kill a Zombie Lie is to give it a little shove into the realm of the absurd:

    "Government should be run like a religion"
    "Government should be run like an army"
    "Government should be run like a hospital"
    "Government should be run like British Petroleum"

    OK, now we've broken the spell of the words "like a".

    Voters instinctively know the difference between "good" government and "bad" government - and that's what the debate should be about. Instead of simple-minded analogies, lets talk about qualities and objectives.

    "Government should be run efficiently"
    "Government should be run carefully"
    "Government should be run honestly"
    "Government should be run inexpensively"
    "Government should be run compassionately"

    Or - just cut to the chase and say:

    "Government should be run by people who believe in good government"

    Now you can engage the voter in a real discussion of what constitutes "good" and "bad" government. It's not easy because good government is largely invisible, and everybody's heard the zombie lie of long lines at the DMV (Hint: make an appointment).

    But a good rhetorical angle is that government handles all the stuff that's too hard for business.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 05:44:42 PM PDT

  •  Micro- v. Macro- economics (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, ebohlman, armd

    Microeconomics: Use it for homes, businesses, and small governments
    Macroeconomics: Use it for governments that oversee large economies

    Microeconomics: Debt used for durable assets or profitable investments is good if full repayment is affordable without more debt. Debt used habitually for operating expenses is bad.
    Macroeconomics: Government's debt is someone else's asset, so large debt is a wash as long as interest payments are managable and the debt is used to generate economic growth.

    In short, thinking about government spending like home spending is confuddling microeconomics with macroeconomics. For government, large debt is fine as long as interest rates are low and the money is spent on things like education, health, infrastucture, research, and the like.

    Government Austerity is the application of MICROeconomic thinking to a MACROeconomic problem, and that's why large governments that are implementing severe austerity plans (like the UK) are experiencing unexpected economic contraction when they had been expecting renewed respect for their fiscal discipline to lead to so much consumer and investor confidence that economic improvement would surely follow. OOPS!

    There are two political aisles: Center-Left and Center-Right. It's impossible to cross them both. Republicans know this and govern accordingly; Democrats don't.

    by Jimdotz on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 06:05:41 PM PDT

    •  An analogy: Arithmetic v. Algebra (0+ / 0-)

      The two fields of mathematics have a lot in common -- and Arithmetic IS a stepping stone up to Algebra -- but there are many problems that can be solved using Algebra that are impossible to solve using Arithmetic. So it is with Microeconomics having a lot in common with -- and being a stepping stone up to -- Macroeconomics.

      If you want to think properly about government debt, stop thinking of it in the same way that you think about your household debt. It's like trying to solve a quadratic equation using 2+2=4 rather than using algebraic techniques like the Quadratic Formula.

      There are two political aisles: Center-Left and Center-Right. It's impossible to cross them both. Republicans know this and govern accordingly; Democrats don't.

      by Jimdotz on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 06:26:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Government is not a business moreover (0+ / 0-)

    Most businesses fail, usually pretty quickly, but even successful ones eventually.  Name the number of businesses that were going in say 1940 and still are today.

    Government is not a business, unless you are a fascist,  then it is the business.

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 06:33:23 PM PDT

  •  Gawd, people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, truth is on the left

    "Running government like a business" just happens to be a great line. It's five words long. It has a spit-and-polish no-nonsense air about it. It has fangs and a spine. Who cares if it's nonsense?  

    Where the hell are our lines?  You know what was a good one a few weeks ago? "They won't take yes for an answer."

    We have a shitload to learn from their line. Not the least thing being--well, how long is their line? Five words?  And how long is this diary?  I don't know, because this diary is correct, and dignified, and respectful of the facts, and closely reasoned, and just  really plain excellent all around, and as a result I lost consciousness about the third paragraph.

    •  Bumper stickers!! (0+ / 0-)

      The right speaks in bumper stickers and we speak in paragraphs to a populace that cannot hold its attention on anything important for more than one sentence.  Our answers are usually spot on but how to translate that into a bumper sticker is our problem.

      "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."Thomas Jefferson, 1812.

      by truth is on the left on Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 06:43:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  American enterprise has always (0+ / 0-)

    suckled at the public teat.  Business wants government to be run to its liking.

    "How do you like your Uncle Sam."

    by hannah on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 11:59:15 PM PDT

  •  Republican Philosophy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    armd, truth is on the left

    The problem is not that the Republican philosophy isn't working the way it's supposed to work, the problem is that it is working the way it's supposed to work. They don't believe that government has a role in solving national problems because they believe that government is the problem. They think we're better off if we just dismantle government­.

    For many years now, Republican­s have argued that government doesn't work. And with their many failures over the years, they have been quite successful in making that argument. The entire right-wing ideology is predicated on the notion that government can't work. They don't want government to succeed at any level, local or national. They actually encourage the public distrust of government­, having no problem with spreading conspiracy theories about government­. They highlight the inefficiencies of government not so that government may be improved, but rather as a reason to oppose government altogether. All the better to make the argument that government needs to be shrunken down to size and drowned in a bathtub so that corporatio­ns can rule openly.

    Perhaps this is why Republican­s so vehemently opposed President Obama and the Democratic Congress. It wasn't so much that Republican­s disagreed with the logic of the policies, rather they were affraid that the policies would be successful­. They were affraid that President Obama and Democrats would prove that government can indeed work for the American people and that it can be effective, just not in the hands of Republican­s.

  •  My problem with all this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truth is on the left

    I hear Donald Trump . Yes he is a laughable opponent , but the mantra is the same - SMALL GOVERNMENT.
    The issue to ME is Trump and his ilk do not in any way want small government, they want small government for me and you - the poor. They have the WTO claiming minimum wage laws, child labor laws and safety laws / rules all hinder trade and should be declared illegal . Now that is good government - TO THEM .
    See, when you or I are down and out they say small government , but why ? It would seem when they are down they want big government  . What is my point ?
    If you look at Trump's early books he LOVES big government. That is my point. He took grants to build his buildings, tax breaks, no to low interest loans from the local, state and federal government  . He brags about it.
    See, he loves the government handing out money - to him.

    That is the republican way - they love hand outs to the haves but if a have not needs a hand UP , then well, that is big government .
    We have seen this mantra rise since Obama took office because 'those people' take away money from the rich.


    you can't remain neutral on a moving train

    by rmfcjr on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 04:20:37 AM PDT

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