Skip to main content

There is a meme out there that does not get nearly enough push back. It is the idea that the private sector is always going to be more efficient than the public one. This is the whole of the idea behind all of the outsourcing of military functions and, of course the big push to privatize, to one degree or another, Medicare and Social Security.

This little nugget of conventional Conservative Wisdom (there is an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) suggests that because of the Plutonic ideal of the free market a for-profit business must be more efficient, or else it will be competed to death.

It is, in the vacuum of theoretical thought, a reasonable idea. But like most (all?) conservative ideas it suffers horribly when it comes into contact with reality (think matter/anti-matter for a good analog).

Why talk about something that pretty much every Liberal, Democrat and Progressive is going to nod their heads and say “Duh” to? Well it is an election year and there is going to be a shit load of this kind of talk and thinking (if it can be called thinking) being argued. Some of it will be at the Presidential level but it is really important at the Congressional level, as it is the asshats in Congress like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Ayn Randland) that push this destructive meme and can continue to cause damage if we let them run and win on it.

 So it is important to for us to be loaded up with counter examples and explanations so when Uncle Chuck is spouting off about why it is a good idea to elect or reelect Republican Congressman Mushmouth we can at refute the meme and start to kill it.

As anyone in any company large or small in America knows, there is not as much efficiency in a private business as the text book would suggest. Just think of the number of processes you deal with that have no relationship to serving the customer, staying inside the law and keeping the business going.

Even with these inherent inefficiencies, it is not the biggest problem with this meme. What conservatives always forget or gloss over is that a private business is, at its very base a profit making enterprise. It exists not to serve the public good but to make a return on the investment of the folks who own it. This is true of any business whether is a mom and pop shop, like Bob’s Backhoe Service, or IBM.

The conservative argument for privatizing is that a company working for the government will have to be more efficient because the government will only pay a certain amount for the services and they will have to find a way to make their profit from that.

There are two obvious problems with this idea. The first is that if the government really will only pay a certain amount, then the way that the company will find profit will obviously be by cutting corners on the service offered.

The results of this have been seen time and again in the contract services in our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The faulty electrical wiring on bases, the contaminated water, subpar waste disposal all were from functions that were taken over by contractors that the military used to provide.

The cost of these failure and frauds is huge, and more than offsets any kind of savings that might have been realized. That is, of course, before all the money spent on investigating them and having to follow around and inspect the shoddy work they did.

One might be able to argue that similar things could happen if the military had been in charge of these functions directly, but there is no doubt that the scale would have been greatly reduced and the ability to force accountability would be much higher, with none of the additional costs.

Then there is, of course, the mercenaries we hired in the form of Blackwater. These fools cost far more in the per soldier cost than any branch of the US Military. There was no savings there and their reckless and unaccountable actions ultimately made the job in both wars harder not easier. Given that we reached a money burn rate of 12 billion (12,000 million) a month, it is impossible to argue that contractors made us more efficient and cost effective in our misguided wars.

The other problem with this idea that the government will only pay a certain amount for outsourced services is that it is just not true. If it is a needed service that the government used to handle itself, then it is not something we can do with out. No matter what the contracts say, when push comes to shove we will have to have things like buildings and water for our troops. Then there will be cost overruns and they will be paid.

This is not just the case in military contracting. As a recent investigation of Walnut Grove Youth Detention Center shows the outsourcing of things like prisons can lead to huge problems. I know that people often feel that criminals should have horrible conditions, but if the state is going to use its awesome power to deprive people of their liberty (and we do it more than any other nation in the world) then the conditions should be, at least, humane and tolerable. When private corporations get involved that often goes right out the window.

The idea that we must give our social safety net programs to private companies to save this is ludicrous. The only success that Paul Ryan and his ilk can point to is Medicare Part D, the unpaid for prescription drug plan from the criminal Bush administration. They point that it is coming in below costs and claim (spuriously) that this is a prime example of the invisible hand of the market working.

Sadly, as Ezra Klein pointed out last summer, this is just not true. From that article:

The answer, basically, is that pharmaceutical spending is down because pharmaceutical innovation is down. Medicare’s trustees, whom you might expect to trumpet their success controlling costs in Part D, are very straightforward about this: “The reduced estimates reflect a higher market penetration of generic drugs and a decline in the number of new drug products that are expected to reach the market during this period.” In other words, old drugs are slipping out of patent and new ones aren’t being invented as quickly as we’d expected, or hoped. That’s not the program’s fault. But no one should cheer cost control that comes from a slowdown in innovation
.

So even though that program is coming in at a lower cost than estimated it has exactly nothing to do with competition and better efficiency and everything to do with the fact that you can not know when a breakthrough drug will appear. Without drugs that address problems that had been untreatable or ones that are so much more effective that they supplant older treatments the trend is towards the less expensive generics.

Finally, even though the Heritage Foundation and Rupert Murdoch’s Wall St. Journal continue to falsely claim different, the administrative cost of Medicare is 2% of expenditures, compared to the 11% of for profit Medicare Advantage programs.

If one is willing to concede (and I am not at all) that we spend too much on these kinds of programs, then it is clear that we still should stay within the Rubric of the Federal government as a cost savings measure.

There is not a single company in the world that can operate at a 2% admin margin (which includes profit, and all other admin costs) but the Federal government can and does. A big part of this is that the government does not pay the high flying salaries that private companies do; it does not have stock holders that demand a higher price and more dividends.

This is the point that needs to be hammered home. If efficiency is the goal, then moving programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid into the private sector is actually a clear step backwards.

So if you are arguing with Uncle Chuck, stick to the efficiency argument. It all there is black and white and dollars and cents. What you will get to in fairly short order is not that he cares about the costs, he has just internalized the idea of sticking it to “Big Government” even if it means wrecking programs he depends on.

The floor is yours.  

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 05:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Social Security Defenders.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (206+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debbie in ME, Robobagpiper, tardis10, tonyahky, smiley7, whoknu, congenitalefty, JamieG from Md, salmo, Dave in Northridge, KVoimakas, Leftcandid, drewfromct, tundraman, concernedamerican, ms badger, ZombyWoof, harlinchi, cotterperson, ChemBob, ER Doc, DBunn, Heart of the Rockies, mali muso, buckstop, lostinamerica, Thinking Fella, averybird, happy camper, Leo in NJ, Getreal1246, Captain Chaos, prettygirlxoxoxo, Unit Zero, enhydra lutris, cybersaur, Margd, Debs2, Robynhood too, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, CaliSista, Vayle, dradams, FG, Crider, myboo, mollyd, entrelac, CaliKitty, mkfarkus, poliwrangler, oakroyd, zerelda, rb137, Mentatmark, Assaf, Mary Mike, pamelabrown, pat bunny, jbou, orlbucfan, frsbdg, DefendOurConstitution, Horace Boothroyd III, Vyan, avsp, greengemini, gulfgal98, hubcap, bronte17, bwintx, efrenzy, democracy inaction, petulans, carver, northsylvania, northerntier, citizen dan, Azazello, Joe Bob, jrooth, hyperstation, stormicats, MT Spaces, where4art, Stwriley, DRo, anodnhajo, Sark Svemes, airportman, ranger995, The Angry Architect, RAST, Mollydog, kevinpdx, wasatch, bythesea, opinionated, ManhattanMan, Temmoku, Simplify, redstella, DerAmi, ferg, Question Authority, StateofEuphoria, Dbug, MKinTN, sostos, ogre, Sun Tzu, dotsright, Siri, JanetT in MD, MartyM, Amber6541, Old Surgeon, Gowrie Gal, engine17, zedaker, Plox, divineorder, cpresley, dksbook, TiaRachel, FogCityJohn, dougymi, sb, cany, blueoregon, commonmass, JBL55, Arahahex, Damnit Janet, eru, hoolia, sable, lastlegslaststand, elwior, sockpuppet, Angie in WA State, Saint Jimmy, GeorgeXVIII, ColoTim, chicating, Trotskyrepublican, Russgirl, chimpy, Calamity Jean, Mac in Maine, Trendar, dewtx, Witgren, legendmn, ExStr8, stunzeed, jolux, Tinfoil Hat, rage, Jim P, emelyn, bfitzinAR, elengul, Roger Fox, GenXBadger, spacecadet1, Rhysling, Kamakhya, mconvente, Karl Rover, Deep Texan, priceman, sc kitty, Catesby, Renee, Spirit Dancer, belinda ridgewood, marleycat, trumpeter, redlum jak, wdrath, jennylind, Late Again, ontheleftcoast, wretchedhive, Youffraita, madhaus, banjolele, PhilW, third Party please, NonnyO, Panacea Paola, Mr Robert, Mislead, millwood, David54, monkeybrainpolitics, ctsteve, Alumbrados, middleagedhousewife, brillig, FarWestGirl, bunsk, TexDem, Fireshadow, BusyinCA

    A big-ass bull horn to keep pushing back on a meme that is destroying making our budget problems worse not better?

  •  There is a component to the cost of any (41+ / 0-)

    good or service that represents and inefficiency completely disconnected from the value of that good or service: profit itself.

    While the profit motive may spur initiative in the startup of new companies, on the level of an individual good or service, it's just an added cost; and at the same time, since profit goes to the owner while wages go to the labor, the need for profit in a world where price is set by the market produces the perverse incentive to either suppress wages or cut corners on the product quality.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 05:58:09 AM PDT

    •  We're all looking for the best ways to distill (15+ / 0-)

      this truth down to the level where the capitalism-propagandized can intuitively get it.

      Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

      by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 05:59:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ayuh! (31+ / 0-)

      I think that at heart the issue is that there has to be balance. There is a place for profit, and there is a place for private enterprise, but it has been pushed to fetish levels by the Right and it is gone so far as to be damaging for workers and the nation as a whole.

    •  "Perfect" competition drives profit to Zero (8+ / 0-)

      In theory, perfect competition drives profits to zero.  We all know that no perfectly competitive market exists, and certainly if what is going on between contractors such as Kellogg, Brown and Root and the Department of Defense can be twisted into a market analysis, the American public would broadly agree it is far from perfect.  A useful measure of how imperfect it is might be the size of the profits involved.  Turning that observation into a bumper sticker sized sound bite is a task for far better wordsmiths than I am.

      •  The Zero point is the cost of capital (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        salmo

        in the form of modest returns on investment not Zero profits.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:22:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, I saved an economics text & quoted it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep

          Checking back in my economics 101 text to be sure I remembered it accurately, I see that I would get one of those half right ratings.  It has been decades since I cracked it.  From Mansfield (Microeconomics, Norton, 1970), I see a discussion of short-run equilibrium in perfect monopolistic competition, where price equals marginal cost - which would include the cost of capital you mention and by implication profit on the last item produced would be zero, but not all profits.  What I was remembering is his discussion of long run equilibrium in which the average of all firms is "... zero economic profits."  There follows a lengthy discussion, complete with figures and math to make it more complicated, about why this is so.  That is what I was remembering, and it is quite different from the short term theoretical equilibrium in that it really is zero.  Of course, in that theoretical example, wages go to starvation levels too.  Economic theory is wonderful stuff - that is we generally wonder why someone discussing an idealized, simplified world wherein a theory about "monopoly competition" with very unrealistic assumptions is taken seriously when snippets of his/her conclusions are wrapped into pronouncements by Very Serious People to justify whatever policies meet their short term desires.  

    •  So why didn't East Germany Economically (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk

      dominate West Germany when they were two different countries?  After all East Germany was unburdened by the need for profits the diary discusses?

      West Germany was based on profit seeking, East Germany was based on government control.  For anyone who had the opportunity to see East Germany in the 1980s the difference between these countries was astounding.

      What in your view are the three best national economies in the world that do not largely base their economy on the profit motive?  Which of these 3 would you prefer to live in over the US (if you did not already live in the US).?

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:18:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you really think that the primary difference (6+ / 0-)

        between western and East-bloc economies was that a tiny fraction of the population earned dividends on profits made by companies in which they owned stock in one, and did not in the other?

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:23:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When the profit motive is removed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          government uses oppressive powers to try to get people to do what is necessary for the society to function.  This is why it is so difficult to find counties that removed the profit motive that did not also install oppressive government.

          Again, what are the three most successful countries today that have largely eliminated the profit motive?  Which if any of these would you choose to live in over the US if you did not already live in the US?

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:39:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The two do not necessarily correlate (8+ / 0-)

            For example, the Soviets generally kept pace with us technologically in the military hardware arena - because they deliberately set up competition. Where state-run systems set up internal competition, they proved they could keep pace with the west.

            "Profit motive" isn't about workers refusing to work for less than their labor is worth; or failing to work industriously when underpaid. That's not profit; though this misapplication of the term "profit" is often used by advocates for capitalism. The earnings of average joe, and his motivation to excel and innovate, come under "labor costs". Even most small businesses, "profit" bears more resemblance to an owner salary than capitalist profit.

            "Profit" is about rich people investing their capital with potential innovators, in the hopes of skimming more cash off the successful bets than they lose off the unsuccessful ones. Those that are motivated by profit bet, at best, seed money to an innovative enterprise.

            Moreover, a investor-profit model (ie, capitalism) is not the only model in which seed money can be generated. Indeed, most start-ups in our nominally capitalist system come in the form of partnerships, savings, and bank loans - which fall outside the capitalist model.

            Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

            by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:50:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again, tell me who are the 3 most successful (0+ / 0-)

              Countries that have largely removed the profit motive? And which if any of these would you choose to live in if you did not already live in the US?

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:02:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The USSR was far behind technically in (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk

              militaryin military technology, especially anything having to do with digital electronics and semiconductors.

              Their most advanced computers were copies of 15 year old DEC minicomputers.

              Part of the profit motive is for an employee to leave one job for another higher paying job.  The USSR did not allow employees to use this aspect of the profit motive.

              Partnerships, savings and bank loans are in fact part of the capitalist economic model -  where did you come up with the idea that it is not?

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:09:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  "The profit motive" does not involve employees (9+ / 0-)

                unless they're in an ESOP.

                You keep using "profit" to mean "labor compensation.

                That's not profit. Profit is when a company makes more than it spends on materials, labor, and capital improvements and passes it on to investors (including executives who hold stock).

                Do you think employees of non-profit companies are unpaid?

                Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

                by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:17:57 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  When an employee changes employers (0+ / 0-)

                  The increase in pay goes to the employee, it is the same motivation of increased compensation as the profit motive.

                  Profit motive is not an accounting term, as you try to make it.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:54:26 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And yet the *entire* context of this discussion (8+ / 0-)

                    is whether or not a government function is improved in efficiency by the profit motive.

                    The only profit motive involved in government privatization that doesn't exist among government employees, is investor profit. And that has been repeatedly proven to drive worker compensation down.

                    You're repeating the standard line right-wing capitalists have used to propagandize our population - that worker compensation, and the opportunity to leverage one's efforts for an organization for personal gain, are somehow inextricably tied to the funneling of excess corporate income to the pockets of investors who, at best, provided seed capital, and more often, merely hold partial ownership.

                    They are not remotely connected; government employees routinely advance based on the merits of their efforts - and employees of for-profit enterprises often lose their jobs to less efficient, less innovative, and less skilled competition because the difference in compensation more than makes up the difference when it comes to investor profits.

                    But it's this conflation, playing the work-ethic like a fool for the benefit of the idle rich, that drives America's self-destructive adherence to a decaying crony capitalism, and away from a functioning social democracy.

                    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

                    by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:05:03 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Government control... (11+ / 0-)

            ...does not remove the profit motive.

            If government employes fail to perform, they get fired.

            If they overspend on lavish parties, the media crucifies them.

            Their performance and salaries are public knowledge and anybody who can file a FOIA request can criticize them.

            Compare the lavish paries thrown by Wall Street to the (relatively lame and nerdy) affair thrown by the GSA.

            The CEO of UPS makes $9.5 million and he supervises 222,000 employees.  

            Compare this to the Postmaster General's $277,000 salary -- and he supervises 622,000 employees.

            I defy anyone to show empirical evidence that public-run services are less efficient. The government relies on the profit motive -- but the motivation is applied to those who actually do the work, not those who own the enterprise.

            •  Why hasn't the USPS put UPS out of business? (0+ / 0-)

              Look at all the disadvantages UPS has, they need to pay for profits, high executive pay, federal and state income taxes, property taxes on their buildings and equipment, fuel taxes, etc..  USPS has none of these costs.

              Plus all the other factors the diary says on why government services are inherently more efficient.  

              So how is UPS able to survive delivering packages against the postal service?

              If privately run services are inherently less efficient than government run services, UPS should not exist.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:26:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Because the USPS... (7+ / 0-)

                ...is required to fund their pension fund 75 years into the future, a restriction placed on no other entity in the country, public or private.

                Also the USPS has defeated all comers in the daily mail (aka first-class letter) business.  Call FedEx and tell them you want to send a postcard to Fox River, Alaska (pop. 616). They will charge you $15. The USPS, because government is more efficient, will do it for $0.32....

                •  The pension fund issue arose only in recent years. (0+ / 0-)

                  Why wasn't UPS defeated before the pension issue?

                  Why hasn't USPS defeated UPS in the major population centers for packages when USPS has all their efficiency?  The Fox River, Alaska market is quite tiny.

                  I suspect the the $0.32 postcard cost for Fox River does not fully cover the cost of delivery.

                  The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                  by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:10:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The $0.32 does NOT... (5+ / 0-)

                    ...cover the cost. But it is subsidized by cheaper routes that the USPS runs.

                    Overall, the costs are covered because the USPS breaks even.This is what good businesses do, they can provide universal service by balancing the profitable and unprofitable products.

                    What we do not see are private companies, with all their "efficiency" lining up to deliver door-to-door mail. Thye cherry-pick the lucrative business-to-business services, but they do not have the skill nor the efficiency to handle the tough house-to-house business. Only the expertise of the public sector can do this.

                  •  Do your homework. (4+ / 0-)

                    The USPS was privatized partially only a short time ago, and was for a long time a balanced entity as far as money went.  But UPS and similar businesses and then the Internet cut into that model, and because there were (and are) far too many in Congress who wanted to privatize/piratize it, it has been prevented from operating efficiently.

                    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

                    by trumpeter on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:34:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  so.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chipmo
            government uses oppressive powers to try to get people to do what is necessary for the society to function.  
            you're implying that private corporations don't ?

            I knew this diary would attract the one percenter trolls.

            "What have you done for me, lately?" ~ Lady Liberty

            by ozsea1 on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 12:53:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, that's a whole barrel of red herrings! (9+ / 0-)

        When I think of the difference between East and West Germany, I see that one was attempting to base an economy on a failing ideology, and the other was basing their economy on what worked.

        When East Germany didn't become a shining economic powerhouse and a worker's paradise, the Soviet solution was to double-down on the ideology and punish the peasants until morale improved (hint: it didn't).

        If West Germany faltered, they had no ideology to prop up -- they had multiple parties and multiple ideas on how to get things done.  They held elections, and if they didn't like what was happening, they threw the bums out and let the next contestants take the stage.

        The different wasn't profit-motive -- if you don't think the Soviets didn't want to be an economic powerhouse, you are deluding yourself.  It was freedom to innovate.  It was not having to make all their round pegs fit square holes.  It was the free exchange of ideas.  It was the freedom to make mistakes.

        As for "the three best national economies in the world that do not largely base their economy on the profit motive...," please elaborate.  My mind-reading skills are not strong today, and I have no idea which nations you are talking about.

        "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

        by stormicats on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:45:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Getting started in choosing 3 countries (0+ / 0-)

          You get to choose the criteria for "best." You can choose to tell us your criteria or not.

          Three counties that are not largely based on the profit motive are North Korea, Cuba and Laos.  Using this initial list you are free to replace any of these countries with any other country of your choosing that also does not largely base their economy without the profit motive.  You can even replace that country/government with one that existed in the 20th century but does not exist today.  After you are done replacing countries, you have your list of three countries.

          If you have no substitutions to make your three countries are North Korea, Cuba and Laos.  Do you have a better list than these 3?  

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:24:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  West Germany... (8+ / 0-)

        ...didn't have to pay for a military. We subsidized them.

        That may not be the only reason, but 5-10% of GDP per year is not to be sneezed at.

      •  I am inspired by the diary title. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, chimpy

        So I'm calling BS. And I'm calling it from the former East Germany and a bit of insight of the culture.

        This better be good. Because it is not going away.

        by DerAmi on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:18:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Treuhand was the entity tasked with converting (3+ / 0-)

        East German into a privatized haven. It was supposed to raise many billions for the buildout of the region. Instead, they sold off East Germany's private assets for a pittance, lost a ton of money on the program, shuttered big companies all over the region, lost 4 million manufacturing jobs, and to this day, those jobs never came back as the region's unemployment is more than double that of the west.

        It didn't work. It's been 20 years.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:21:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How much support is there in East Germany (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          for the proposition that unification with the West was a step backwards.

          The major reason for the closing of the East factories was they were extremely uncompetitive and the population needed to re-learn how to compete in a market economy.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:30:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Come on over and find out. n-t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elwior, upstate NY

            This better be good. Because it is not going away.

            by DerAmi on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:42:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not true, not true. (6+ / 0-)

            Let's do it again. There were 4 million jobs, 8,500 manufacturing plants that had their assets stripped. Instead of making billions, they lost billions. The idea was that private industry would move in after the asset stripping. Many of those companies were profitable. How much better would it have been to install the industrial base that E Germany never got after the war. There was no buildout in the east.

            You're comparing the West with the East when the West didn't go through privatization. It went through a massive gov't program to build it out (coupled with the biggest default in human history, the loan forgiveness conference of 1953). 10% of America's GDP went into that buildout, with 5% building up West Germany. That's what primed W. Germany for its great run. The economic miracle was gov't run.

            But why didn't they do the same for East Germany? Why did they leave it to the privateers and asset strippers? They tore the place apart instead of building it out and improving it.

            The population needed to re-learn how to compete in a market economy.

            That's the IMF's refrain over and over. But of course no one ever mentions what happens when there is no investment in your manufacturing and productivity. It's always the population's fault that they aren't more industrious.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:44:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Guess who was in charge at the time? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, chipmo

              Answer: Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Reagan's #1 fan.

              261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

              by MaikeH on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 12:20:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The scary thing is that Kohl (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elwior, chipmo

                right now is criticizing the leaders in charge of Germany for being way too conservative and mercantilist. He is actually now a voice of reason. Jacques Delors has been absolutely excoriating both Merkel and Sarkozy.

                There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                by upstate NY on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 12:39:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Do public employee unions have a profit... (0+ / 0-)

      ...motive? Aren't they looking to maximize their compensation too? What's the difference between this and a private corporation, other than you can fire a company but not a public union?

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:14:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Speaks to the misuse of the phrase "profit motive" (11+ / 0-)

        and the conflation of incentives used to motivate workers, and corporate profit, which is about investors.

        The ideology of capitalism requires you to think that if you reduce the means by which investors can profit, workers and inventors will suddenly be deprived of incentives to be industrious and creative. It requires you to believe that the work-reward system that motivates many workers relies upon the existence of an investor class.

        Of course, the profits that flow to investors are completely disconnected from labor compensation. Sometimes, a smart for-profit will realize that rewarding its workers leads to success. Others will maximize profit through corner-cutting and suppression of labor costs, either by busting unions or moving overseas.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:44:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Privatization is just SLANG (36+ / 0-)

    for GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION.  Look at who gets the business from privatization.  It's all buddies of the elites, like Halliburton and Blackwater.  Cheney was Halliburton's chairman and CEO.  Blackwater was started and run by Erik Prince, part of the Devoss family, which have been RNC bigwigs and heavy contributors for decades.  

    That's the secret of capitalism, for you.  It's not capitalism.  It's cronyism.  It's Republicans making friends in high places and scratching each other's backs to avoid competition -- and calling it the free market.

    Greenwald (not Glenn) did a film on KBR in Iraq, and the shitty job they did for the troops.  They had one interview that was classic.  A soldier told of how the clothes came back from KBR always feeling greasy, so he started washing them himself.  He was ordered NOT to so that KBR could do it.  Classic.

    •  There is something to that, but I don't think it (16+ / 0-)

      is as effective in slaying this meme as laying out the facts that it is, at heart, less cost effective and efficient that what already exists. People get the idea of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it".

      As you point out this is a solution in search of a problem for specific gain by specific people. Stay away from the corruption angle, as it is too easy for low information folks to say "they are all corrupt" and shut their minds without flushing the privatization meme.

      That is the goal, driving a stake through the heart of an idea that is incredibly damaging both to the individual and the nation as a whole.

      •  It's important to note that corruption flows in (14+ / 0-)

        one direction: FROM the for-profit enterprises TO government.  A democratic government is not for profit & thus not an inherently corrupt entity, whereas every for-profit entity has the built-in incentive to cheat whenever possible.  It's easy enough to point this out to cynics who say everyone's corrupt, although it doesn't mean they'll come around.

        This Private Sector Efficiency meme has to prevent people from thoughtfully considering the corrupting for-profit angle in its presentation, or it fails.  When it succeeds, it gets away with presenting the private sector as not only efficieny, but responsible & worthy of the public's trust.  These days it's mandatory to talk about privatization as "handing it over to Wall Street."  It's not only true, but it pinpoints the untrusworthiness of the entire concept.

         

        Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

        by Leftcandid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:30:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How to respond (8+ / 0-)

        "Corrupt cronies" getting "no-bid contracts". It makes a great meme-slayer.

        •  Are public employees also... (0+ / 0-)

          ..."cronies" getting "no bid" contracts? What's the difference?

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:17:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, because every person applying for a (5+ / 0-)
            Are public employees also "cronies" getting "no bid" contracts? What's the difference?  
            government job is in essence bidding against every other applicant, as long as it's a civil service type hiring process.  Individual employees can be "cronies" only if hiring is done by the patronage system.  

            Renewable energy brings national global security.     

            by Calamity Jean on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:15:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The difference is (0+ / 0-)

            that the government is accountable to us, that we can hire and fire them and indirectly the people who work for them, it's all above board, and there's no secret slush fund money coming back to Congress-critters to favor one group of public employees over another that are better able to do the same job.

      •  I have no problem with privatization (0+ / 0-)

        if it works.  I don't see this as the right-left issue that you do.  Just because the Republicans push it as the solution to all problems and then seek to exploit it doesn't mean that there aren't some solutions better dealt with through private industry contracts than with directly administered government programs.  If that's the point that you're trying to make, then I disagree and think you're doing the same thing as the Republicans.

        The problem with privatization isn't private industry's inffectiveness.  It's that it just never happens.  It's always a crony getting a no-bid contract.

    •  Privatization is also DOG WHISTLE (9+ / 0-)

      for increasing the wealth gap. It goes hand in hand with lower taxes for corporations and the rich.if they pay lower taxes on huge bonuses, it almost makes sense to suck the money out of innovation and R & D.

      Back in the 50s when the highest tax brackets were taxed above 90%, it didn't make any sense to pay someone a million dollar bonus because the government was going to take most of it. Businesses instead put their profits back into their companies in the form of paying higher wages for labor and investing in research.

      Example: if Daddy Warbucks decides to take a bonus to buy an $80,000 Monet, if taxed at 20%, he has to take $100,000 from the business and buy the painting for $80,000 and write a check for $20k to the government. If taxed at 50%, Warbucks has to withdraw $160,000 from the company to buy the same painting ($80k for the painting and $80 k for the government).

      I think the math is right.


      i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

      by bobinson on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:15:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As an anecdot (32+ / 0-)

    I worked for a bank that was the middle-man of a transaction between the state and a processor for licensing.  We processed payments for licenses before the contract and after.  When the third party processor  took over the processing, it added an additional $11.00 to each license that was paid for by the consumer.  I don't know whether the state paid a lower price or higher price, but to me, to add $11 to $36 license fee is just plain wrong.  Now there is a profit model, stick it to the Beautician and locksmith who are forced to be licensed by the state.

    Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

    by whoknu on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:10:24 AM PDT

  •  Is all people want from their government merely (20+ / 0-)

    cheaply-done service functions?  

    I cannot believe that if the American people knew how it is that private, for-profit corporations envision the delivery of quick, cheap "services", the American people would prefer to have the services they need from the government contracted out to private entities who will always cut costs so as to ensure their own profit.

    Road building and maintenance, bridge building and maintenance, infrastructure of all kinds; defense capabilities; research and development; medical care; counterintelligence; space exploration; natural resources management.... really?  Are cheapness and rapidity of service really the most important factors in managing all these areas of national life?

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:25:08 AM PDT

    •  They shouldn't be but that is how things are (12+ / 0-)

      viewed currently. As long as we don't challenge this meme and challenge it hard that is where the focus will be.

    •  Good question (16+ / 0-)
      Are cheapness and rapidity of service really the most important factors
      And it becomes an even better question when we start to ask how the "cheapness" is achieved.

      In the private sector, a primary strategy to increase profit and/or decrease nominal price is the externalization of costs. Squeezing costs off the books of the private enterprise is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far, because those costs don't evaporate, they just get shifted to some other part of the system. Example: cutting corners on environmental protections might reduce the nominal price of a product or service, but those costs show up later (and often far greater) in the form of polluted groundwater, increased incidence of cancers, or catastrophic climate change. Cutting wages and benefits makes the bottom line of an enterprise look pretty, but those costs show up elsewhere as reduced consumer purchasing power, greater demand for safety net medical services, young people who can't afford college without taking on unbearable levels of debt, etc.

      To generalize-- externalizing costs is standard operating procedure for private business. At the micro level there's nothing wrong with that, but a whole system can't run on a principle of everyone trying to externalize cost onto someone else. Those externalized costs have to go somewhere, and it is a principal function of government to address them. That's why we have the EPA, Social Security, and public education (and why we should have a true national health care system).

      When we think about it, the notion that government programs made necessary by the aggregate cost-externalizing behavior of millions of micro-level private enterprises can be "more efficiently" handled by yet another layer of private enterprise is kind of silly.

    •  That's one perspective. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DBunn

      "People" taken as generic want bread and circuses.  They want their lives to run relatively smoothly, an with as little bumpiness as possible.  And the opponents claim that is possible.

      To stretch the hell out of an analogy:

      But those of us who actually look beneath the surface and see what is needed to actually maintain the infrastructure of the systems that keep things running know you can never trust the cheapest bid on a contract.  That you should look into the attic and crawl space before you buy that house.  That you should check the wiring and plumbing, and if possible, replace those old single-pane windows.

      The GOP and their handlers in big business are still trying to sell the people a "fixer upper" without a home inspection.  They always have been that way, and always will be.  It's cheaper for them, and most of us are not bright enough to know the difference.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:48:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  and of course it's political (16+ / 0-)

    If we want to go back to the roots of this, it's not even our own idea.  Think back to the 1970s, when the Tory government of Great Britain realized it could get billions of pounds off the books by privatizing -- yes, selling off -- all kinds of things, like water and electricity distribution, like the airlines, like the phone company (there's a list at the end of this article from the Guardian).  None of the sold-off companies are doing as well as they did for anyone but the shareholders, but the point is they aren't failing, at least yet.

    Thus we have politicians who venerate Margaret Thatcher who want to do what she and her party did because they could.  Meh.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:30:13 AM PDT

  •  First rejoinder: "More efficient at what?" (18+ / 0-)

    At despoiling public lands & clearcutting forest?

    At devastating the Gulf of Mexico?

    At nuking retirement portfolios, while the excecutives face no prison time?

    At eliminating consumer protections & rights?

    At keeping shit secret?

    At bribery?  

    At theft?

    People need to understand that they should not support the efficiency of the immoral.  Better to support a seemingly ponderous government than an efficient ruthless gang.

    Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

    by Leftcandid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:34:38 AM PDT

    •  The problem is that morality is only (5+ / 0-)

      self-defined and is a crappy way to convince people to change their minds. If they share your moral beliefs it can reinforce behavior but it is unlikely to change it if they don't.

      I'd stay off of morality in arguments about government. Stick to things that are measurable and don't flex with every single individual.

      •  Wow, I can't disagree more. (8+ / 0-)

        I agree with Lakoff that all political arguments are moral arguments.  There is some flex, but there is a shared morality called culture that we have to fight for in every discussion, topic, issue.  It's what people respond to most strongly.  Making a moral appeal won't get everyone, but it's the way to get those who hadn't considered particular moral dimensions to switch permanently.  

        Numbers/measurables arguments are useful, but they are most useful in making moral cases.   What will turn people from supporting the Private Sector Efficiency meme is their realization that it's a plot to steal from the public.  Those who don't believe in public wealth will not be swayed by any measureables argument, but those who do believe in it will be swayed most strongly by the moral argument that makes them remember what they really believe in.

        Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

        by Leftcandid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:48:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We might as well not even start on this (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Robobagpiper, Deep Texan, elwior, fuzzyguy

          argument. I am not persuadable that morality has any place in government. I respect that you have a different view but I given that we can't have a standard measure of it is is a flawed tool and more often than not in human history has been used to repress rather than free (with some notable counter examples). So let's agree to disagree.

          •  OK, but just to clarify, morality =/= religion. (6+ / 0-)

            When I say morality, I mean the vision for shared cultural value that transcends & includes the core concepts of the major religions that are fully compatible with secluar humanist values.  What I mean by morality is, for example, cooperation is Good & stealing is Bad.

            It isn't possible to have an electorate that operates an amoral government; even a secular government operates morally.  Numbers can't ever express why rights exist; those are a moral concept, just not one founded in a particular religion.  So that's what I'm talking about.

            Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

            by Leftcandid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:20:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Go it, and I was not even coming at it from that (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Robobagpiper, Leftcandid, elwior

              point of view. Here is the question that wrecks morality as a good yard stick. Is there a policy that you consider moral that you disagree with?

              As far as I have been able to tell the answer for nearly everyone, everywhere is no. So that means that morality is a totally internal measure and is variable by each person.

              While it might fire people up, trying to run a nation by what is moral is impossible because it is subjective to the individual and you wind up with arguments that basically come down to "I think this is right because I think it is" as opposed to trying to do the job of government which is to do the most, for the most people with the least use of resources possible.

              •  I see your point, and while I agree that many (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elwior

                people do approach things that way, whoever ends up governing is going to be involved in the national, ongoing discussion of Good & Bad, Right & Wrong.  There isn't any law or policy that doesn't take that into account.  It's always going to be about what people consider morals & values on some level, so we might as well do our best to win that discussion.

                So, those people who say, "This is right because I think it is" always have, somewhere, a reason they think that, & that reason is always being discussed somewhere in the culture war, & there are always implications for policy before & during elections.  Some discussions are very obviously made about a moral stance--abortion--but funding Medicare & Social Security are just as much moral arguments as abortion is.  It's about the morality of ensuring people have health care & insurance against poverty.  Making that case is what can most effectively attack the selfish morality propagated by the GOP that tells people to hang on to their money & resent cooperation, aka taxation.   So the argument you make about the job of government is the moral one, albeit one facing a strong opposition based in a morally inferior argument.

                Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

                by Leftcandid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 12:22:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  See your point, (8+ / 0-)

        but whenever anyone starts in on the "government is inefficient but private companies aren't" theme I ask them if they admire Wall St.? What kind of service do they get from a large company when they make a call?  End up in a dead end of press 1 for X, press 2 for Y?

        I think a lot of people are dissatisfied with the poor quality of many products and services, but they are not willing to pay more for better, just as they complain about taxes.

        Low prices/taxes have become paramount so that we can all have MORE.

        •  The consequence of stagnant wages in a (6+ / 0-)

          perpetually more expensive world.

          Romney - his fingernails have never been anything but manicured.

          by Pescadero Bill on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:15:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  People want and have (0+ / 0-)

            more stuff than they did 50 years ago.  By a long shot.

            •  And so we do... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Calamity Jean, elwior

              but sadly, most of it is crap!

              The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

              by The Angry Architect on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:12:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not true (5+ / 0-)

                Cars in the 50s needed maintenance all the time - if any part lasted much more than 10000 miles, it was the exception, not the rule. Even tires didn't last as long.

                They weren't nearly as safe, either.

                TVs were the same - tubes burnt out all the time, and while they were relatively easy to replace you DID have to buy them. They weren't always cheap or easy to find, either.

                Records were easy to break, needles on phonographs wore down, and don't get me started about how much space you needed to store them (and it couldn't be too hot either, or they'd melt)

                Phones were practically unbreakable. They were stationary though. And didn't do anything but let you talk.

                •  Fair enough... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elwior, Heart of the Rockies

                  It was a crusty comment, without much detail.

                  Many longstanding consumer items (let's say durable goods) have improved in terms of quality and serviceable lifespan. I was responding to the "more" aspect of the parent comment...

                  Much of what is sold to consume for the sake of consumption, the goo-gaws, gadgets, tchatckes, baubles, and trinkets, is crap...

                  The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

                  by The Angry Architect on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:58:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  There's a lot more to have by a long shot. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, mmacdDE, ozsea1, chipmo

              But the desire to buy all this great stuff doesn't offset the fact that people pay a far greater proportion of their income for housing, transportation, and healthcare then they did 50 years ago. That's why credit cards became so popular. And why cheap goods and cheap food are in such demand.

              After people get finished paying for shelter and healthcare and gasoline, there's less and less left to spend on all the neat shiny things. A niche filled mostly by poor quality Chinese goods and fast food. Everyone hates them, buy most can't afford better.

              That's why it is imperative that middle class wages follow suit with GDP.

              Romney - his fingernails have never been anything but manicured.

              by Pescadero Bill on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:29:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the rule of thumb used to be (5+ / 0-)

                25% of your take home pay for housing.

                It's not unusual now for people to be looking at 30-50% of their GROSS for housing.

                Food is probably close to what it used to be, but the quality of the food is worse, and it includes a lot of eating out.

                Food in the 50s was almost always home cooked meals, and dinner included a starch, a meat, and a veg, maybe a salad. Lunch was often a sandwich, maybe some fruit, maybe some soup. Soda was a treat. Ice cream was a treat. Chips were a treat. That was party food, not what you ate every day.

                I remember trucks that came through the neighborhood selling produce. Now that's an idea that might go over well again.

                •  Agree wholeheartedly (0+ / 0-)

                  Eating out was uncommon.  Much of what people now eat daily was considered a treat or for special occasions.

                  Food was also far more seasonal, and therefore grown closer to home.  No grapes or tomatoes in the winter.  Peas, strawberries and asparagus meant spring.  Corn, zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant told you it was summer.  Apples and winter squashes meant fall.

                  I think the portion of the budget spent on food has gone down in the last 75 years, even though many items eaten today are partially prepared or processed and therefore a lot more expensive.

              •  The average new house is (0+ / 0-)

                several rooms larger than houses built in the 30s-60s.  Sunset Magazine did a feature story on that some years ago.  They also have 2-3 car garages and multiple bathrooms.  Lots of appliances unheard of until the 50s and 60's:  dishwashers, automatic clothes washers and dryers, let alone color TVs, FAX machines, computers, cell phones, air conditioners, etc.

                Many people used public transportation or lived close to smaller stores (no big boxes).  Many did not have a car, let alone 2 or 3 vehicles.  Public transportation went away when people used it less, favoring personal vehicles instead.

                People used public recreational facilities more than they do now.  As an example, I cannot recall exercise gyms other than those housed in public facilities (schools, recreational centers) or places like the YMCA.

                As for credit cards, I was an adult when they became widely available.  They enabled debt, as did low money down mortgages.

                Stores were generally closed in the evenings and on Sundays.  In smaller towns they were closed on Wednesday.  Shopping was for the most part a necessary chore, not a form of recreation as it seems to be now.

                We  lived a simpler, less goods oriented life than most of us (and I include myself here) do now, regardless of how much income we had.

            •  Perhaps, in a material sense, but not in terms (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chipmo, Heart of the Rockies

              of security.
                 Workers used to get pensions from their companies.
                    Health care coverage was solid, particularly by the time Medicare and Medicaid passed.
                   There was adequate, decent Housing for all.
                    The breadth and the quality of Public Education was on the rise.
                   And on and on.
                   

              "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

              by elwior on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:51:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I think there is an important point there... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Something the Dog Said, elwior

          Cost and efficiency are related to some outcome or product, and relate to perceptions of VALUE - not moral value as discussed above, but simply value per dollar spent.

          An outcome is clear in the examples of faulty wiring or greasy clothes provided by military contractors. But somewhat less clear when it comes to providing a service that involves a process or procedure.

          The "customer interface" is where the general public will form opinions of the value of a service.

          Most citizens have experience with government at some level (local, state, or federal,) and frustration, or low customer satisfaction, with those experiences leads to a desire for something (anything) different.

          If the only "alternative delivery system" presented is privatization, then some will gravitate towards support for that system simply because they want change.

          But, per Heart ot Rockies' comment, it might serve our argument well to remind with examples of the poor customer service from private enterprise.

          How satisfied are people with the service of their cable or telephone service providers, or their insurance companies? And, of course, too big to fail banks are private institutions, and how well served do people feel by these?

          Yes, changes can and should be made to improve customer satisfaction, but there are many reasons not to throw the baby out with the bathwater by turning over public services to private enterprise.

          We might do well to find examples of changes and improvements in provision of government services to address the issue of how improvements can be made within existing structure.

          The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

          by The Angry Architect on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:44:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Fairly often the moral choice turns out to (3+ / 0-)

        also be the pragmatic choice in the long run. And both approaches need to be interwoven and used as leverage to persuade others to think about real costs. A bit OT, but  would Ayatollah Khomeni ever have risen to power and the US hostages been taken if we hadn't installed the Shah and pushed out Mossadegh in 1953?
        Domestically what would this  country look like if we had fostered a different relationship with Native Americans, instead of stealing their land,  never allowed slavery,  etc. Sometimes you do reap the whirlwind, as a result of heedless and ruthless actions. And if profitizing continues apace, we may not ever get to the underlying vital questions re uncontrolled growth, population, pollution, global warming and the whole long litany.

    •  That assumes that everything government does (2+ / 0-)

      is moral and it's clearly not always the case. People do have at least some control of the government as voters though.

      •  Ideally, our government acts morally, & We The (6+ / 0-)

        Electorate are in charge of holding it to account to ensure that it does.  The current reality leaves much to be desired.

        I believe Thomas Frank's The Wrecking Crew offers a good summary of how our government was considered by its aggregate workforce to be a force for public good--a moral force--during & after WWII, in many ways (obviously Zinn etc. would have some opinions on its shortcomings even then).  The Right has beaten a lot of this For The Public Good attitude out of civil service in favor of for-profit service, aka corruption.

        Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

        by Leftcandid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:25:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's where (0+ / 0-)

        Jefferson's "well educated public" comes into play.

        I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

        by trumpeter on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:50:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, it's really just common sense (14+ / 0-)

    If we're talking about necessary services that we absolutely, positively cannot do without--think schools, hospitals, prisons, roads, utilities, etc.--then adding profits to the cost of such services is the exact opposite of efficiency.

    Then there is the profit motive and the corruption factor: A private prison company needs more prisoners confined for longer times to increase profits. A high crime rate is good for them. Same goes for mercenaries: They want longer wars, and they are well positioned to keep the wars going longer.

    What we need is a very clear and open discussion about the functions of government as laid out by the founders in the Constitution. We should make it very clear what the words "Promote The General Welfare" mean to us. For one thing, they mean that any goods or services that the citizenry cannot do without can and should be available from the government at the lowest possible price, which means on a non-profit basis. Leave the unessentials and the luxuries to the market, but ensure that no private supplier is given the power to rapaciously gouge captive consumers for essential items that are always in unavoidable demand.

    Here's another point that needs to be made to our "Libertarian" friends : The Bill of Rights only applies to the government. Corporations are under no legal impetus to respect our freedom of speech, let alone our right to bear arms. For that matter, we citizens choose the members of our government on a one person/one vote basis. How much influence do average everyday workers and consumers have in choosing CEOs and other corporate officers?

    Conservatives love to talk about accountability. Well, the government is the only entity that is accountable to We The People. Private businesses are accountable only to the profit motive, and they are only accountable to the government to the extent that We The People are willing and able to choose the government that holds them accountable.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:43:20 AM PDT

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)
      Here's another point that needs to be made to our "Libertarian" friends : The Bill of Rights only applies to the government. Corporations are under no legal impetus to respect our freedom of speech, let alone our right to bear arms. For that matter, we citizens choose the members of our government on a one person/one vote basis. How much influence do average everyday workers and consumers have in choosing CEOs and other corporate officers?
      The government can exert as much control over these things as it feels like by just writing language specifying these things into the contract. Companies that don't feel like complying don't have to bid.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:55:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  efficiency was never the goal and nobody cares (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, The Angry Architect, elwior

    The problem is that when the government takes over a service or offers a service they essentially become a monopoly.  This is basically due to scale and legal issues.  But once the government is in the market for a service it can through sheer force of scale or legal force if it must eliminate the private sector.

    To those who believe in free markets this is a moral and ethical outrage.  Monopolies are always viewed as problematic as there is no reason for competition and the stronger organization can crush the smaller one by hook or by crook, and here you have a monopoly with the full scale and legal force of the federal government.  Once the government is in the market that market is essentially gone.

    From as strictly free market system privatization is the only way to offer choice in these areas and hopefully allow citizens to choose what solutions they want and to allow others to gain from it.

    Of course there are plenty of examples of private markets royally screwing up basic services like say a fire department, or areas where it's just not profitable for them to offer one and it must be done at a loss like say the post office.  I personally enjoy government services over private ones, but I'm not a free market moralizer anyways.

    The other real issue is that nobody likes paying for something someone else uses.  And whenever we talk about "fixing" a government service we are inherently talking about throwing more money at it.  Removing "waste and fraud" is cute and all, but that's so minor it's not going to save medicare and it really has no impact on social security.

    The simple issue is that someone is going to have to pay for these services, and most of the money to pay for them is in the hands of the people that don't really need them, and they don't want to.

    We shouldn't even be talking about efficiency, it's just a point people use to advocate cutting things.  Make it more efficient is just code for "spend less get more".

    "Foolproof systems don't take into account the ingenuity of fools."

    by overclocking on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:44:54 AM PDT

  •  My military subcontractor anecdote (20+ / 0-)

    In the 80's I worked for a military subcontractor with electronic power systems for other electronics.  They made everything from simple power supplies, to very sophisticated ones.

    One time I was doing a test for the primary contractor on a fairly simple power system.  These units ran hundreds of dollars.  I asked the inspector, why are you paying hundreds of dollars for these when you can go down to Radio Shack and get almost the same thing for about $20?

    He replied, I don't care what they cost, we're just going to add 20% and pass it on to the government.

    Private companies know they can stick it to the government and don't hesitate a second to do it.

  •  Who benefits (12+ / 0-)

    The frequency with which privatization increases costs is so high that the durability of the idea of using privatization to achieve the opposite result deserves much more study.  Herewith are my suggestions for research:

    1.  Who benefits?  How are those beneficiaries tied to the politicians and opinion leaders who support privatization?  The behavior of our public institutions in this regard is either insane or corrupt.  

    2.  What are the actual market mechanisms under which privatized services operate?  Does competition occur, and if so how does it function, how to winners get chosen and how to losers get punished, if at all?  As the services for which public entities contract expand, from simple tasks to complex and comprehensive services, the procurement, oversight and accountability functions become far more complex and far easier to circumvent.

    3.  Who reports?  How do citizens learn about those services, their costs, and the controls over them?  In an era of diminished mass media performance, what are other effective mechanisms by which the scandalous continuation of the trend towards privatization can become more widely understood?

  •  Best argument: (20+ / 0-)

    Private contractors have to make a profit - government doesn't.  Any of your tax dollars that go to profit didn't go to services you paid for.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:00:11 AM PDT

  •  The market protects the market (3+ / 0-)

    Buggy Whips.

  •  Government is not business and business experience (9+ / 0-)

    doesn't not mean one will be good in the public sector.

    When they talk about government being run like a business, they're lying about efficiency when what they want to is to extract profit from the public sector when those funds they see as their profit are better rolled back into the servicing of public governmental needs.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:12:06 AM PDT

  •  BTW - ... (9+ / 0-)

    Dog, I know you considered hiatus, or more severe, but glad you're around. I like reading your opinions, perceptions.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:12:59 AM PDT

    •  Thanks! It turns out it was a mid-life (8+ / 0-)

      crisis. Taking time off to figure that out was important. I still don't have it all figured but what I know is that I am a writer and writers, er, write. So knowing that I am following who I am.

      In the end that is about the best we can hope for, no?

      •  I've found that all I can do is be who I am... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said, elwior

        If we can't be ourselves, then who are we supposed to be?

        For me, too many of the people closest to me in my life, who supposedly cared or loved me, actually didn't like who I was and didn't want me to be me. The strange thing is, I've accomplished so much now without them, I've come to realize that it wasn't that I was doing something wrong, it is that I was making choices and voicing things that scared others or made them jealous (of the potential - then and reality of now) of what I might do without them.

        The sad part is, that these good things in my life are things I wanted to share, and for them to be a part of, but because they could not accept my growth, and my changes, they preferred to try to limit me and give controlling ultimatums instead of trying to continue the journey together.

        I hope you continue your journey in good company being who you are and choose to be.

        -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

        by Vayle on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:16:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  There is usually no cost savings (16+ / 0-)

    as often the contract goes to a  company that is charging as much on the surface.

    Or if there is, it is achieved simply by hiring less-skilled labor and paying those workers less.

    During the rush to privatize during the Bush administration, sometimes the cost was higher to farm out the functions. And then, the employees at the private company, not having the skills and experience of the government employees that they were supposed to be replacing, had to be supplemented by keeping on the essential employees after all, either in their former capacity as federal employees, or as consultants or contractors.

    And don't forget how when "privatization" is accompanied by transfer of assets with the project, the assets are essentially given away. Think parking meters in Chicago, or the state of Arizona selling the state house and buying it back at a huge loss a year later.

    In the city next to mine, the city council decided they could save money by paying a company to manage their treatment plant. I seem to recall the workers were "re-hired" at much lower income and non-union. The company cut corners on maintenance to make the budget look good. After about 5 years they walked out on the contract, the facilities in such disrepair massive money needed to be sunk into replacement of equipment. Disaffected employees had quit rather than take on management, and the city had to start again from scratch. In the end they were totally ripped off by some fly by night company in it for the short haul.

    •  Another example: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Something the Dog Said

      Back in the old days, when you were in the military, you served X amount of time doing "K.P." - basically washing dishes, peeling potatoes, doing general scut work that left the trained cooks freer to just concentrate on making a passable meal out of marginal ingredients, bad circumstances and too little time.  And it was good for morale - if you were a shirker or a slob or a dolt, you would get that kind of thing as punitive duty, and would eventually either shape up or ship out, but in the mean time, your work would help your teammates.

      Now that stuff has been privatized.  Halliburton comes in and provides food and bunks and showers, all under a no-bid contract, often with imported almost-slave labor... who doesn't give a damn.  And we get badly designed, built, and maintained facilities.  Add to that the lack of the disciplinary benefits and the lack of team building and the lack of empathy for the next poor dope who ends up on KP for sassing back at the sergeant, and the whole system suffers.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 02:01:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Recent conversation validating this diary.. (8+ / 0-)

    I was on a bike ride whose participants included a physician who works in a cardiology lab at the University of Utah Hospital a couple of days ago.

    Part of his work involves bioinformatics and the increases in efficiency that field can provide. He's had a varied career for 40 years or so including working for the Veterans Administration and said that the VA is about twice as efficient in its use of resources as any other part of the medical "industry".

    He did mention that one reason for that is that its clientele is used to waiting for things and being told that the prioritizations necessary to maintain that efficiency means that some of them won't get some things, particularly as they get older.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:18:57 AM PDT

  •  It goes much further... they are privatizing not (17+ / 0-)

    just military functions and Medicare and SS, but prisons, city infrastructure, and even things like the FAA.

    Privatization essentially means that whatever function or thing is being privatized is being handed over to a construct whose FIRST AND FOREMOST objective is profit.

    It is in the shareholder's best interest to demand that the company or corporation they are investing in makes things most efficient thereby generating a higher profit or revenue margin.

    However, doing things more "efficiently" (in the corporate sense, I.E. cutting corners) can come and WILL come at the expense of quality, reliability, and safety, critical concepts which, when viewed through the perspective of something used by 99% of the public like roads, air traffic control and the power grid are revealed to be absolutely necessary.

    People's safety depends on the quality of everyday services once usually provided by government, Privatizing them means that if the company fucks up, people may die but the only likely, significant consequence they will face is a fine.

    Socialist Fuckstick No. 308273

    by culturejammer on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:19:30 AM PDT

  •  In some cases privatization can be beneficial. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Angry Architect

    For example, if all IT companies were government-owned it would significantly inhibit the innovation there. However, right now in US we don't have a problem with too much government. Things that the government currently does (like administration of Medicare) are usually the things that governments tend to be good at.

    •  Yes it is, but ... (5+ / 0-)

      IT is one of the worst examples of this - Ronnie Raygun's star wars program was directly responsible for the boom of IT development -- make no mistake, Raygun's star wars was a giant money pit -- but the one thing that DID come out of that was small and cheap electronics as a direct result of massive government investment and research.

      However -- I do have examples:

      1. I love to cook.  I am happy that I have the choice to buy a $200 cookware set (or more if I could rationalize it) rather than a $30 set - because, for me, and the way I cook, it simply is worth it, and cheaper in the long run.  For someone that does NOT like to cook, but rather just reheat prepared food - a $30 set is more than sufficient.

      2A.  For the most part, there is only 1 way to expertly diagnose a person's vision.  There is no reason for 'competition' in this area - my hope is that if I go to a dozen different eye doctors, they will all tell me exactly the same thing. There need not be ANY competition here - in fact, competition seems deleterious to a quality diagnosis.

      2B. What I do with that diagnosis IS open to competition - do I want Lasic? Do I want bi-focals or progressives? - For me, I pay the extra for progressives because I am vain - and I pretend that it is because I couldn't get used to the bifocal lines - but that is my choice, and I think this kind of choice SHOULD be available.

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:36:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  side point (13+ / 0-)

    I'm not an insider, but I had noticed that a lot of the "innovation" in pharmaceuticals in the last 20 years is taking an existing drug and tweaking the percentages of ingredients, then marketing it as a completely new treatment at twice the price.  

    •  that's because... (4+ / 0-)

      ... real pharmaceutical research is expensive, can be very time consuming, and not guaranteed to provide a return on the investment (ROI).  Pharmaceutical companies don't want to 'waste' money on research that may not actually result in something they can make money from.  Shareholders get very testy when ROI doesn't result in nice quarterly bonuses, preferably BIGGER ones EVERY quarter.  So the 'research' division of any pharma company is under a lot of pressure to make their research dollars pay off on investment within a short time frame -- hence, they focus more on what could be a 'sure thing' for them.

      That's why almost all real pharmaceutical research is done under government contracts by universities or private labs who bid on those contracts.  The private company has to make a profit, and that's built into the contract bid. The government doesn't, so pursuing research that may not pan out isn't a fiscal disaster -- it just means the results can tell the next research project what not to try again.

      A lot of research projects for federal government agencies are funded under earmarks, too -- often because the project being funded doesn't, strictly speaking, fall under the scope of a given agency's  budget, but is still relevant or necessary for their long term goals.  

  •  Privatization savings claims are false for... (6+ / 0-)

    ...many reasons.  In public service jobs, like those for  school districts, even unionized employees can be and are multi-tasked to within an inch of their lives, figuratively speaking.  When the jobs of those employees are out-sourced, contractors must be provided for each of those individual tasks.  Changes that could be are imposed on actual employees are effected with contractors in a far more costly manner, both in time and in dollars.  Administrators who approved the contracts might suddenly become far more tolerant of errors while employees might have been held to a more stringent standard.  Cost savings might be overstated by omitting all of the costs of implementation, e.g., not counting the hundreds of hours spent each by ten to twelve of an organization's most highly paid employees over the course of a calendar year while planning for and using the new product.  

    Perhaps I'm getting a little too specific!

  •  And here we are (12+ / 0-)

    on the verge of dismantling the USPS, a nation-wide network that was built with money we have paid.  

    I can't wait to pay private carriers lots more money to deliver my letter across the states.

    ...someday - the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it. --Steinbeck

    by Seldom Seen on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:31:52 AM PDT

  •  Overruns, double billing, and cost-plus contracts (11+ / 0-)

    Halliburton KBR also was ripping off the taxpayers and DoD by massively overcharging for the food services they had privatized. The total was $1 billion in overcharges that had been noticed by former chief of contracting for the DoD, Bunny Greenhouse.

  •  Let me add an example from my work: (16+ / 0-)

    We needed annual traffic data to model air pollution exposure around Chicago.

    We extended a bit into NE Indiana, to get better model coverage.

    The Indiana DOT had an excellent interactive online map, where you can read the AADT (average annual daily traffic) on highway and road segments, at practically any resolution.

    With one exception. Toll roads. Such as I-90 from the moment it crosses the border from Illinois.

    Those have been privatized and auctioned off to a Spanish-owned company a few years ago, as part of "efficiency" no doubt.

    The INDOT sends you to the company to get traffic data. Online there is no trace of it. So I called on the phone.

    The phone system is totally geared towards what interests the company: drivers whose transponders don't work, need a new one, need to pay, etc. etc.  I finally got around to customer relations.

    The lady tells me: well, I can give you the number of the person who deals with that, but she's on leave. You leave a message on her answering machine.

    On leave? When will she back?

    "I don't know".

    Can you give me some email addresses I can write to?

    "I can't really do that".

    Whereupon I drew out my Israeli rudeness, and got her to give me the person's email address. I emailed.

    I got an auto-response: "I am on Maternity leave." That person was nice enough to provide an alternate email, to which I promptly wrote.

    That was some 2 months ago. No answer since then - neither from the alternate, nor from the original person who might quite probably be back from the leave.

    We ended up filling I-90 traffic in from older data.

    Anyway, that's privatization of public resources for you, in one amusing anecdote.

  •  Harrisburg Pennsylvania bankruptcy (5+ / 0-)

    Naturally, I would be remiss in not pointing out the failure of privatization by Teabaggers in local government like what happened in Pennsylvania:

    A federal judge dismissed a bankruptcy suit for the city of Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday, saying that the filing, made by the City Council last month, was illegal.

    The ruling, by Judge Mary D. France, was a blow to the Council. A majority of its members had fought Harrisburg’s mayor, Linda D. Thompson, for months, saying she was seeking too little from creditors. A failed trash incinerator project has saddled the city with about $310 million in debt, more than quadruple its annual budget.  

    •  for what it's worth (4+ / 0-)

      the entire city council in Harrisburg are Democrats. Not a teabagger in sight

      The previous mayor (who was mayor for about 30 years, and is also a Democrat) was also a spendthrift (had many, many stupid projects, of which the incinerator is only one) and also did very little to fix the problem of having over half the city's land tax-exempt (gov't property doesn't pay property tax). It's a little more complex than teabagger privatization fetish.

      (I work here.)

      I'm struck by how the meanest, cruelest, nastiest people brag about how they live in a Christian nation. It's rather telling.

      by terrypinder on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:31:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like the way you phrased this (10+ / 0-)
    It is the idea that the private sector is always going to be more efficient than the public one.
    Because that's absolutely false.

    But...after working as a consultant for about 30 years on environmental and water resource issues for both governments (City, County, State, and Federal) and commercial clients, it is also false that the private sector is always going to be less efficient than the public one.

    In other words, which is more or less efficient depends on circumstances.

    One key area where private companies, such as consulting firms, can be more efficient than the public sector is when a service or a problem requires unusual or specialized expertise. It would be horribly inefficient for, say, a City government to keep a highly specialized expert on staff (mostly because their need for such expertise likely would be intermittent), whereas a consulting firm can keep one or more experts on staff because they can use them at several locations over time, each time gaining additional experience in slightly different circumstances that would be impossible for a City or County employee to replicate.

    Another inefficiency is rooted in the Federal Government's approach toward completing projects.  Governments tend to have many, often overlapping, required policies and procedures designed to prevent failure.  When working with relatively inexperienced staff with limited expertise, such policies and procedures can and probably do prevent catastrophic failure.

    However, when working with highly qualified people (either government staff or contractors), the policies and procedures required by the government to prevent failure can lead to a ridiculous amount of excess and frankly unnecessary paper work that provides little real value to the government or its citizens.

    In short, the government effectively assumes inexperienced or and/or limited-knowledge staff will be doing the work, and dictates extensive procedures and documentation requirements to minimize the chance for failure.

    I'll cite an example from a couple of years ago. I work for a consulting firm that handles both government and commercial projects. Because of my location in Portland, OR, I tend to work on commercial projects most often because the Federal government has a relatively small footprint in Oregon. However, I don't just work in Oregon, I work on projects all over the nation and in certain other countries as well.

    A couple of years ago, we had a senior employee in a small office located in another state leave to start her own consulting company. One of my Portland-based co-workers and I were asked to step in and help back fill the hole in the project team her departure created. The project was a relatively small field investigation at an active military installation in the U.S.

    The field work was pretty limited: about two weeks of sampling and analysis, along with a small amount of surveying to document the locations of sample sites, followed by data evaluation and reporting.

    In our experience, developing the planning documents for this amount of sampling work in the private sector would have yielded a set of documents (work plan, sampling and analysis plan, health safety plan, quality assurance plan) totaling about 50 to 75 pages in length.  At most. Frankly, most private sector projects wouldn't even have involved a separate quality assurance plan, so the work planning documents could have totaled perhaps 30 to 50 pages.

    The total length of planning documents for the Federal government project we were assisting with?  About 650 pages.  We were astounded at the contrast.

    Granted, a lot of that was what is commonly referred to as "boilerplate" but developing such a document, as well as the various checks and re-checks it requires, increases costs substantially compared to how a similar project might be done by private enterprise.

    Now, you might dismiss my perspective since the company I work for has part of its business in government contracts, but I think assuming that "the public sector is always more efficient than the private sector" is just as false as "the private sector is always more efficient than the public sector."

    Both ideas are wrong, in my opinion.  Which is more efficient, or what blend of public and private effort ultimately delivers the best value to the citizens, depends on the circumstances surrounding the matter being considered.

    •  OTOH (3+ / 0-)

      If you were involved in a project that required safety, as a citizen I would be glad for all that extra paperwork if it meant saving lives, the environment, or considerable savings.

      •  This is true.... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, dksbook, elwior, Deep Texan

        There are times you WANT redundancy -- when an error or a failure on the part of whatever the procedure, process or system is could be very costly.  

        Public infrastructure. Medical/health care. Power and communications grids.  Education (if your goal is to educate ALL kids, not just the ones who can thrive under the system exactly as it is).  Any situation where failure would be disastrous (flood levees, deep-sea drilling rigs, hazardous materials storage, etc.) Having enough qualified staff to cover for emergencies.  And so on.

        But that redundancy costs money, and so it's one place where private companies will -- if allowed to -- cut back to save costs, and boost profits.  They're gambling that that redundancy will not be needed...  and as is the nature of emergencies, most of the time they might be right.  Until, of course, they aren't.  

        But for a lot of big companies -- if it costs them less to settle a tort lawsuit or two (or even two hundred) out of court, than to CHANGE THE WAY THEY DO THINGS (and thus perhaps reduce their profit margin), then they will just pay off the lawsuit and consider it part of the cost of doing business.  It all comes down to money.

    •  Well said. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior

      And entirely accurate based upon similar experience with government regulation.

      There is room to improve systems of government oversight, stripping away unnecessary layers and allowing private sector to work efficiently.

      I would not do away with regulations entirely, as ineptitude is evident in both public and private sectors.

      Reasonable checks and balances make sense, but many times government agencies seem to add layers (not value) just to validate their existence.

      The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

      by The Angry Architect on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:18:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This reminds me of a statement made by (13+ / 0-)

    an ignorant wingnut relative of mine:

    ...he has just internalized the idea of sticking it to “Big Government” even if it means wrecking programs he depends on.
    The subject of climate change came up, and he said:
    I hate the environment.
    Not "I hate how environmental regulations hinder businesses" or some other at least superficially logical reason, but just "I hate the environment."

    I asked him: "What does that even mean? You hate trees? You hate air? Fish? What is it about the environment that you hate?"

    He had no answer, just a roll of the eyes that said: "Pfft. Stupid fucking Liberals just don't get it."

    I'll never forget that. So much undaunted ignorance packed into 4 words: "I hate the environment."

  •  Privatization of SS and Medicare... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is a completely separate argument to privatization of administrative functions, which successful corporations do every day.

    For example, companies that make microchips often don't hire their own janitor services. It's cheaper to outsource it, so they do. There is no reason at all why governments shouldn't outsource non-core-competency activity like that. They owe it to their 'shareholders' (taxpayers) to get services as cost efficiently as possible.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:02:33 AM PDT

  •  it's interesting listening to (8+ / 0-)

    the "privatize all the things" people.

    Like with Amtrak (tomorrow's its birthday.) Those people say "Well, Japan's is privatized and look at theirs." They forget that Japan's rail services get hefty subsidies from the Japanese government.

    But they never acknowledge that.

    I'm struck by how the meanest, cruelest, nastiest people brag about how they live in a Christian nation. It's rather telling.

    by terrypinder on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:22:09 AM PDT

  •  Career govt. employee here (12+ / 0-)

    with over 31 years full time in local govt and then several years after retirement, I worked part time, on call as needed.  I can only speak for myself and my co-workers in local govt., but one of the biggest plusses we brought to the table was that our first allegiance was to the public.  The public was us and they paid our salaries.  Employees in private corporations must owe their primary allegiance to the corporation.

    A large part of my job involved public contact.  I was not on a time clock as far as being forced to only devote "x" minutes to each contact, but could spend the amount of time needed to ensure that contact left satisfied with the accuracy of the information I provided. If a contact came in late in the day, I (and my fellow employees) would stay as long as necessary to finish with that contact without worrying about overtime costs.  While we were required to log in hours on what we worked on, it was simply a method of tracking how much time was spent on various functions and provided a means for budget for those functions.

    I would argue that govt. is actually more efficient because govt. employees can do their jobs properly without worrying about the profit motive which can lead to cutting corners.  In other words, the public could be assured that they were getting the necessary and more importantly, quality  service  because govt employees not bound by the profit motive.  

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:27:50 AM PDT

  •  Healthcare, protection of the environment, travel (8+ / 0-)

    safety & reliability (air, mass transit, marine, etc.) are not items to profit human greed. Privatization which exploded under Reagan proved it. The human life field is facing extinction cos of the greed characteristic. Nature will take that energy field and reconfigure it if we don"t change and soon.

    This diary and comment thread should produce a lot of diaries on this subject; it's that important, especially now.

    T and R!

    Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

    by orlbucfan on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:35:32 AM PDT

  •  We need to say "profitize" instead of "privitize" (12+ / 0-)

    It's more accurate.

  •  Another problem with the meme (13+ / 0-)

    It assumes everything that government does can be done for profit.  The problem is our government does lots of things that would never be profitable, and shouldn't be.

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

    by RAST on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:07:14 AM PDT

    •  Right, and many of these services (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Something the Dog Said, elwior

      when done well, seem invisible.

      Example: If the EPA is successful, we don't see dirty air or polluted water...

      The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

      by The Angry Architect on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:27:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The IRS found private auditors less efficient (11+ / 0-)

    Public secotr auditors were something like 40% more efficient than the private subcontractors.  FedEx cost something like twice what the post office does for equivalent service.  Private schools are no more effective than public ones one average.   The list goes on and on

    All public sector employees can say that their CEO gets paid less and they don't have to shave off cash to pay shareholder rents.  

  •  "Efficiency" is another dog whistle term (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    I think the first example of this that comes to mind is the food industry. If you can imagine when large agriculture or meat producers talk about "efficiency", they're explaining it purely from a financial standpoint. What is cheaper and more "efficient" for agra? Free range chickens and raising them to mature for at least 90 days on food that chickens eat by nature (bugs, seeds, etc.); or keeping them for 45 days in a darkened house, defecating on each other, keeping sick birds living next to still healthy ones, and aggressively feeding them cheap grains to grow their internal organs more than half their normal size for more meat?

    Efficiency is often a disgusting underhand word to explain cutting corners. In other words, it's another clever way to ignore the externalizations that rarely go into the actual, monetary costs. Never mind that the chickens may carry a strain of disease that makes it on to grocery store shelves, or even something superficial like the taste of the chicken itself isn't necessarily natural. No, the outcome is stationary, but the input is constantly being reduced. As soon as ethical constraints are reduced, it certainly does make decision-making on ways to cut corners much easier, and that's what you have with private prisons.  The environmental constraints, however, are not negligible, for they are pure science and mathematics, and they bound to catch up with these charlatans in time.

    "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:22:29 AM PDT

  •  Customer service is certainly not improved (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dksbook, elwior, Robobagpiper, Deep Texan

    at private companies. I've had much more pleasant talks lately with government student loans and the IRS than I can ever remember from a private company.

    The private companies are efficient at pissing you off, and though you can argue that they efficiently keep their money from servicing your complaint, they lose me as a customer. I never go back. That's well and good for the short-term CEO who will parachute away by the time his company's reputation dives (and so do sales) but overall, I would not call that efficient.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:24:31 AM PDT

  •  We are too hung up on ideology (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Deep Texan

    There are corrupt practices in government and on Wall Street, in corporations, and in mayor's offices, etc.

    Whenever you get unethical cabals of people together, they suck money away from others and create inefficiencies. yet there are great private companies out there as well as great public institutions.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:26:11 AM PDT

  •  Spot on (4+ / 0-)

    I have been watching, and this is exactly what the Republican party is gunning for, privatizing government.
    This does need to be talked about, and the Republicans need to called out on it, and asked to defend their stance.
    Of course if you have one iota of common sense their stance is more money in their pockets.  Follow the money.

    If your religious beliefs make you comfortable with your prejudices… question those beliefs.

    by okieliberal on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:28:36 AM PDT

  •  The government always privatizes (0+ / 0-)

    Does the government go and mine its own metal for aircraft?

    Does it design and fab its own microchips (at a cost of billions) or just buy Dell computers with Intel processors fabricated by the private sector?

    Lots of things are done in our civilization that the government doesn't have the resources to do itself. All of this is already "privatized". All we are arguing about here is a matter of degree.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:29:23 AM PDT

    •  The VA is government run. Busses often were. (6+ / 0-)

      The US military is government run.....with an unfortunate growth of privatized military.

      NASA...government run. School lunches: government run with an unfortunate growth of privatization.

      Schools. Public schools are government run, with an unfortunate growth of privatization.

      US Postal service, government run.

      City plowing. Some cities have government run power plants. Cencus bureau.

      Prisons...government run.

      There are TONS of government run orgazations and services. TONS.

      •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

        And every one of those services is dependent on inputs of goods and services from private sector companies who are, le gasp!, trying to make a profit.

        The fisheries department doesn't make its own computers, right? Why would it? That's completely outside it's area of expertise!

        Take this a little further: why would the fisheries department clean its own floors, a distracting activity that takes away from its core mission? Better to just hire a company to do that and get on with the business of protecting fish.

        This concept extends to many places. It is pointless for any organization (public or private) to keep non-core activities in house in many cases.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:09:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Two things: (4+ / 0-)

          1. We can spin that the other way as well...that Private Businesses are built on public services. Especially with the fisheries commission which actually raises and releases fish which supports entire fishing industries.

          Does the fisheries commission make its own computers? No. Does the computer industry or anybody who imports and exports goods patrol shipping lanes for pirates? No.  Heck, one of the most famous Federal actions was to invade Tripoli to put a stop to piracy.  

          2. None of this line of discussion lends credence to the notion that Business is More Efficient than Government.

          Should the fisheries commission hire an outside organization to mop its floors so it can get on with the business of raising fish?

          I don't know...

          Should my wife, as an employer, have to ALSO manage insurance policies for her employees or should the Government just take care of that so she can get on with the business of having a store?

          •  Re (0+ / 0-)
            1. We can spin that the other way as well...that Private Businesses are built on public services. Especially with the fisheries commission which actually raises and releases fish which supports entire fishing industries.
            I would hope so, that's the point of the fishery department.
            2. None of this line of discussion lends credence to the notion that Business is More Efficient than Government.
            Business is more efficient than government doing some things, and not others. That's the point here.
            Should the fisheries commission hire an outside organization to mop its floors so it can get on with the business of raising fish?

            I don't know...

            Simple question, what is cheaper? That's the option you want to take. All you want is your floors cleaned. No muss, no fuss.
            Should my wife, as an employer, have to ALSO manage insurance policies for her employees or should the Government just take care of that so she can get on with the business of having a store?
            If it's cheaper, absolutely (and in the case of single-payer, it likely is).

            Both strategies are cost avoidance which is extremely desirable. As I said, some things the government actually does better. Let's let it do those things instead of wasting time and effort doing things the private sector does better.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 03:26:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I've heard that crap from conservatives for years (10+ / 0-)

    ... including from many folks who are friends of mine.

    Having worked with many Fortune 100 companies as clients, I can tell you many of them are fucked up and inefficient with loads of employees who sit on their asses and defend their turf, above all else.

    "Oh. but they're subject to market forces!"

    Bullshit. Half of them have bought off politicians in order to get favorable regulatory environments or virtual monopolies in their sectors. They have bought out their competitors and then simply put them out of business. They collude with their few remaining competitors to fix prices and maximize their profits at the expense of competitiveness.

    The truth is that with any organization -- public or private -- it's all about leadership. Good leaders lead good, efficient organizations. Shitty leaders lead shitty organizations.

    I have a friend who is up in years now who was in a cabinet level position in the Clinton administration. This person has told me that Jame L. Witt who headed up FEMA under Clinton was one of the best leaders/administrators he has ever seen, public or private. He said the joke among people in Clinton's White House was that, whenever there was a problem of ANY SORT, people would say. "Call James Lee Witt!"

    This myth that the private sector is ultra-efficient compared to government is just that, a myth. Another conservative talking point that has become an accepted "fact."

    It's a complete load of shit.

    Good leadership runs good organizations. Period.

  •  I used to deliver pastries to banks and (7+ / 0-)

    other businesses like law offices.

    Every week or so the bank (or whatever) would have a meeting and they'd order pastries and juices.  A couple dozen donuts and some juice, arranged in a bowl of ice.

    The bill: between 75 and 150, for a couple dozen donuts and juice that anybody there could have picked up on their way to work for $10.

    I'd hand the bill over to my point of contact there, they'd perfunctorily sign it...with a tip...and then I'd be on my way.

    This is the story I tell when somebody says business is more efficient or frugal than government.

  •  Privatization = Theft (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Saint Jimmy, Deep Texan

    Privatization = Theft, pure and simple.

  •  Look at you, using reason and common sense (5+ / 0-)

    and plain math comparisons to make a point!

    You sly dog, you :)

    A very fine explanation of just how I see this issue, myself.

    * * *
    I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization
    -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr.
    * * *
    "A Better World is Possible"
    -- #Occupy

    by Angie in WA State on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 10:35:39 AM PDT

  •  "purchase or do" as the primary economic choice (3+ / 0-)

    Whether for an individual, family or society through its government (at various levels) the choice for getting something done is always purchase that work or do it yourself.  Almost always, doing it yourself costs less - depending on level of skill.  I can tell you horror stories of me trying to do plumbing.  But for me and my partner and cleaning the house, that we purchase (or a combination of do/buy). There are companies that write software themselves or they purchase my services.  If you have the ability and the time, doing it yourself is almost always less costly.

    That is part of the reason that the Republicans push for an imaginary cap on government size/employees - don't do it yourself (employees) and don't buy it (size as a % of GDP) - which just leaves with stuff undone - which is their goal.  Government doing less.

  •  This is what I say about (3+ / 0-)

    the false road of privatized, private corporations will not provide good public service because the free market says customers are expenses; they will not keep up with maintenance and improvements because the free market says maintenance is an expense; they will underpay and give few benefits to their workers because the free market says employees are expenses; they will not provide customer service because the free market says customer service is an expense; they will raise fees because the free market says fees are income; and there is nowhere else for the consumer to go because privatized public work is a monopoly and there is no free market.

  •  I can give it to you (5+ / 0-)

    in one sentence.  "Cost beats cost-plus any day of the week and twice on Sunday."

  •  Privatization is often more efficient (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    Its just that certain things should not be for profit.

    Tnr

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 11:47:49 AM PDT

  •  not in crony capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, elwior

    not in a world where corruption and fraud are commonplace.

    simply put..  not in this world.  

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 12:01:54 PM PDT

  •  Somehow I think the meme (3+ / 0-)

    was never even "intended to be a factual statement." Wasn't it always just one of those bait&switch, sleight of hand thingies the RW think tanks dreamed up years ago, to brainwash the 99% into handing over the nation's keys and wallet to the 1%?

    Support a starving artisan: Buy My Stuff New bracelets just listed!

    by jan4insight on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 12:10:56 PM PDT

  •  You got it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said

    Business is there to make a profit, government is not.  And not only does that mean a different style of doing business, it also attracts a different kind of employees.

    I did 10 years in the navy, and then 13 years as a court clerk.  In neither of those fields was I expected to make a profit, or to get paid well - I was there to be of service to society, and to benefit primarily from that.  When I left the courts in 1997, I was making under $23K a year, in Southern California.  Close to the poverty level, and --><--- that close to bankruptcy.  Friends who are still there don't make much more now.

    And yet, when we get republicans in control, they always go to the well of "public employees should make comparable wages or all of the good [fill in the blank, but usually lawyers or administrators] will go to the private sector ..." and they are always wrong.

    And, of course, when they are out of power, they bitch about how overpaid [lawyers and administrators] are in the public sector.

    The delineation between public and private sectors is vast, and they should stick to their own fields.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 01:16:11 PM PDT

  •  if privatization were so great... (4+ / 0-)

    ...we wouldn't have Social Security (prior to Social Security, America had a 100% "privatized" health care system for the elderly...and, guess what? It failed miserably). Same, too, for virtually every governmental service. Every single government agency and every single government regulation is a direct result of...wait for it...the failure of the private sector. Had the private sector done what it should have done and monitored itself effectively, we would have had no need for a Food & Drug Administration. However, since the private sector failed to do that, there was an overwhelming public demand that government do something. Same, too for (insert government department/agency/regulation here, i.e....the environment, public road system, Federal Communications Commission, Security & Exchange Commission, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.)

    The fact that federal and state governments have gotten to be the size that they are is a direct reflection of the...failure of the private sector. The only time new laws and regulations are demanded by the public is when the private sector has failed.

  •  I agree. We need a solid, sustained war against (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, Calgacus

    "privatization is better".

    I'd rather have a buntle afrota-me than a frottle a bunta-me.

    by David54 on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 03:04:10 PM PDT

  •  Privatization always leads to corruption and waste (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calgacus

    The deals are made to make politicians rich and to exchange bureaucrats and cronies for more money under the table.      

    When X govt function is privatized you be absolutely certain that money flowed from the private sector that wanted the business and enabled these $$$ to flow  from the private sector to politicians.    It is a fact of life that privatizing functions inevitably and irrevocably leads to those in the private sector being rewarded in exchange for bribes,  while total costs to the public will always be greater and be involved in more corruption.

    Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

    by dailykozzer on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 04:29:12 PM PDT

  •  Privatization also cuts into quality and account- (0+ / 0-)

    ability. It's one more layer between those served and the ones providing the service. It has an undesirable insulating effect and makes the providers less responsive to problems in whatever they're providing.

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

    by FarWestGirl on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 06:18:14 PM PDT

jbou, Bob Johnson, fly, Renee, Alumbrados, Angie in WA State, Joe Bob, northsylvania, rfunk, tundraman, ferg, ogre, slinkerwink, Trendar, Debby, cotterperson, hyperstation, gjohnsit, emelyn, hubcap, Heart of the Rockies, madhaus, opinionated, concernedamerican, bronte17, brillig, whenwego, Janie, mkfarkus, chimpy, bobinson, ctsteve, Cedwyn, dksbook, pollwatcher, Redfire, Getreal1246, sockpuppet, TexDem, pat bunny, ranger995, TiaRachel, hoolia, Damnit Janet, LiberalBadger, Bluehawk, bwintx, zerelda, glattonfolly, lonespark, Josiah Bartlett, Gowrie Gal, sb, ExStr8, marina, Tinfoil Hat, jrooth, Unit Zero, JanetT in MD, democracy inaction, sc kitty, grimjc, kitchen sink think tank, Simplify, terrypinder, MT Spaces, dewtx, ChemBob, drewfromct, eru, owlbear1, Sun Tzu, where4art, SBandini, Rusty in PA, bunsk, Jim P, martini, third Party please, Debbie in ME, myboo, Russgirl, tonyahky, Catesby, dougymi, fou, gpoutney, happy camper, NearlyNormal, ZombyWoof, ER Doc, middleagedhousewife, oakroyd, engine17, rage, chicating, blueoregon, zedaker, PhilW, bstotts, Temmoku, NonnyO, cpresley, dotsright, Debs2, ColoTim, Stwriley, Mary Mike, millwood, rovertheoctopus, sable, Assaf, South Park Democrat, MKinTN, mconvente, Roger Fox, ScottyUrb, Sixty Something, Youffraita, bythesea, elwior, monkeybrainpolitics, Calamity Jean, pamelabrown, carver, petulans, priceman, JamieG from Md, Old Surgeon, Robobagpiper, palantir, Leo in NJ, JBL55, legendmn, prettygirlxoxoxo, spacecadet1, greengemini, divineorder, lostinamerica, Dopeman, banjolele, Mislead, Norm in Chicago, jennylind, CamillesDad1, JesseCW, ToKnowWhy, DefendOurConstitution, CaliSista, TheOpinionGuy, bfitzinAR, kevinpdx, Question Authority, Leftcandid, commonmass, rb137, FogCityJohn, one love, stunzeed, eb23, cordgrass, gulfgal98, DerAmi, orlbucfan, elengul, Oh Mary Oh, cany, Mac in Maine, redlum jak, ozsea1, Plox, StateofEuphoria, sostos, swale44, FarWestGirl, smiley7, trumpeter, marleycat, Muskegon Critic, KVoimakas, Vayle, Sark Svemes, whoknu, enhydra lutris, Crider, mali muso, poliwrangler, Dbug, Hayate Yagami, imlpdx, DRo, googie, Mentatmark, airportman, Azazello, stormicats, wretchedhive, anodnhajo, Mindful Nature, Siri, Deep Texan, Trotskyrepublican, congenitalefty, Horace Boothroyd III, Mr Robert, Mollydog, belinda ridgewood, Spirit Dancer, Arahahex, BusyinCA, MartyM, notdarkyet, thePhoenix13, avsp, wasatch, Robynhood too, ShoshannaD, efrenzy, Captain Chaos, Prospect Park, Panacea Paola, Saint Jimmy, Late Again, bakers dozen, GenXBadger, The Angry Architect, xulon

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site