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It's a simple thing, so let me break it down:

The private sector exists for one thing and one thing only: profit.  Businesses don't exist to make the world a better place.  They don't exist to make our lives easier.  They don't exist to bridge the race gap or the cultural divide or build bridges to a better tomorrow.  Businesses exist to make money.  Anything positive or ameliorative that comes of their pursuit for profit is auxiliary and thus secondary.

The public sector exists for one thing and one thing only: the provision of goods and services by and for the government or its citizens.  Governments don't exist to profit off of you and me.  Their primary purpose is to keep this shit going, and by shit I mean you and me and the infrastructure that supports the entire society's long-term survival first and foremost.  

Why am I bringing this up?  Hold your fucking horses:

The government has a direct, vested interest in the survival of the population, including the businesses that dot its landscape, and of mankind and its resources.  A government is the only institution with the authority or even capability to coordinate or deploy very large-scale, society-wide decisions and technologies that can address mass-scale social, socioeconomic, or climatical problems if or when they arise.  Sudden zombie viruses, meteors, pandemics, multi-state terrorist threats, and many more in a long list of imagined or real, proximal or distal, existential or secular threats to humanity and its persons can only be tackled by the far-reaching bureaucracies so ardently maligned especially by those on the right.  The machinery is slow and sometimes wasteful but it works in a way that a large smattering of private companies never could.

Apple and Google cannot solve the world's direst problems.  This is not a diss on those companies; it is a reality borne from the fact that, despite the noble aspirations of Sergey Brin, or the world-class vision of Steve Jobs, or whatever, companies have far narrower sets of immediate and long-term interests than governments have.  The same goes for impact: Amazon can donate $2.5 million dollars in support of gay rights legislation, but only the government can craft and enact it.  Even individuals whose privately amassed wealth is used to fund world-beating charities like the Gates Foundation to the tune of $33.5 billion endowments tackling everything from malaria to poverty exert only small-level change in the grand scheme of things, because they and their efforts are part of a much larger machinery that is almost always coordinated and deployed by governments, for which we are the better given the narrow sets of interests and economic lines of sight corporations are beholden to.

Then there's the fact that the total revenues of even the richest multinational corporations in the world, of which the Fortune 100 comprise a bulk, add up to a paltry $7.5 trillion dollars.  This is not cash-on-hand, it is merely their annual revenue, which is roughly half that of the United States's GDP.  That means that even in some GOP wet fantasy of the private sector coming together to solve the world's problems in a more efficient way than the public sector, the corporations would fall short without the help of the government.

So here's the money shot you've been waiting for:

Every time I hear some idiot say things like, "Why is [NASA's] Hansen's answer always give more money to government? Let's rely on technology to solve the problem.", it makes me want to strangle myself with the rope equivalent of a government-subsidized Stafford Loan, because, really, goddamn it, what's so hard about this?

End of rant.

Originally posted to therehastobeaway on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by TwitterKos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And, as an auxiliary point, NGOs (6+ / 0-)

    (non-governmental organizations) cannot replicate government either.  

    For those conservatives who claim charity (in their minds, probably churches in their own denomination) can provide all social services, I invite them to look at Haiti.  Haiti has been called "the Republic of NGOs".  It has thousands.

    And yet, most of the country still does not have clean water and adequate sanitation, because you need a government to install sewer lines, and trucks of water and porta-potties just aren't sufficient.  

    Which is why, when the U.N. forces brought cholera to Haiti, it killed thousands.

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:06:31 PM PDT

    •  Well They Could Also Look At 8,000 Years of (6+ / 0-)

      history. Philanthropy of the rich and Christian charity never solved the problem once, never even close.

      --Oh I get it. A few super rich with everyone else poor is their solution. It's not supposed to work for most people.

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

      by Gooserock on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:18:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Delusion, denial and propaganda, natch. (0+ / 0-)

    Some have drunk so much koolaid, their mental pathways are permanently fixed in the 'invisible hand will fix all' mode.  Others have recently begun drinking the koolaid and been t-bagged equivalent of love-bombed and 'just can't believe it!'

    And the Thugs and CorpsScum are happy to keep pouring the koolaid into any mouth available with a fire hose...

  •  I reject your opening axiom, (3+ / 0-)

    that "The private sector exists for one thing and one thing only: profit." Profit is essential to the survival of businesses in a capitalist system, but it is not the raison d'etre. It is a means to an end. Musicians are part of the private sector. Would you argue that musicians exist only for profit? The same is true of other endeavors. I have met many a passionate engineer and scientist in the private sector. To say that they exist only for profit is patently false and denigrates many good people.

    People (most, anyway; not the Mitts and George Ws of the world, but most) need to do something in order to sustain and advance their lives and express their tastes and talents. We are social animals with our own capacities, appetites, and backgrounds. We engage in activities that somehow or other contribute something of sufficient value to others that they will remunerate us for our efforts enough to enable us to survive and, with luck, even thrive.

    The exaggeration of the place of profit in our social ecosystem is a Gordon Geckoesque perversion spawned by the financialization of our society and by the emphasis of technocrats on things that they can easily measure. It's also a view that benefits predators who can use it to justify their ignoring the moral and social dimensions of their activities. If profit is all that matters in the private sector, then they're automatically off the hook for any immoral, destructive, or anti-social consequences and ramifications of what they do.

    But they are not off the hook, any more than Romney is off the hook for the suffering his predatory capitalism produced.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:24:04 PM PDT

    •  thank you, psnyder (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Melanie in IA, psnyder

      For articulating my reaction to this false premise. If those of us who have spent our careers in the private sector are judged on whether our employers maximized profits, or whether we personally gouged our employers for every possible bit of compensation and benefits, many if not most of us would be found wanting.

      Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

      by cassandracarolina on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:48:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, yes, in a way... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sue B, psnyder, therehastobeaway

      but this:

      Would you argue that musicians exist only for profit?
      I would argue just that, if the musician is making music professionally, as their means to sustain themselves. The music may be key (sorry for the pun) but they STILL must make enough to take some out of the business and pay themselves. And yes I know you could quibble about the definition of profit here. However, if the musician is converting their human capital to cash, covering expenses, and extracting the rest, they are playing for profit.

      That may not be the original motivator, I know. But still, they are converting their human capital to financial capital.

      Thanks, though, for a thought-provoking comment.

      •  I am not arguing that profit isn't a part (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Melanie in IA

        of the mix. But to argue that it is the only thing, well, I've already made my case. I am particularly concerned about how such a view can be and is used by vampire squids like Romney to justify any and all actions based on the premise that profit is the only thing that matters.

        The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

        by psnyder on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:37:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Would changing "only" (3+ / 0-)

          to "primarily" assuage you?  For the purpose of literary flourish, "only" has more gravity, but I'll grant you that "primarily" is a more accurate word, even though, I think, they're semantically equivalent in this case.  I'd imagine the Executive Summary of almost any business plan would cite profit as the only/primary/main objective and certainly as a main driver of decisions.

          I believe in the long-term arc of hope.

          by therehastobeaway on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:57:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, not really. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            therehastobeaway

            I'm not trying to be difficult here, and I'm sympathetic to the thrust of your argument. I acknowledge the importance of profit to a capitalist enterprise and its absence from the activities of government. I am only too well aware of its importance to small businesses, since most of my life I have only worked for small businesses. I like your point that, "companies have far narrower sets of immediate and long-term interests than governments have." Absolutely, no argument there.

            I also support your overall critique of the simple-minded individualism espoused by the right. It's simple-minded to the point of absurdity.

            But I tend to view profit as only one element in political economy, and I'm not sure that it's the "most" important or that by itself it constitutes the clear, bright line between public and private.

            The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

            by psnyder on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:02:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the follow-up (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psnyder

              I respected your last diary greatly.

              Admittedly, I never took a business or econ class, so my view of on this matter might itself be narrow.

              I believe in the long-term arc of hope.

              by therehastobeaway on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:48:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I enjoyed the conversation. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                therehastobeaway

                I was a PhD student (didn't finish my dissertation, though) in political theory and graded lots of undergraduate essays, so I'm perhaps over-sensitive. I guess my point is that you can more effectively make the case you really want to make without giving your reader (or opponent) the ammunition of a distracting exaggeration. They'll natter away at you over the exaggeration while your larger point goes begging.

                Good luck with your music career. My sister and her husband are professional musicians and have been for decades. It's a tough row to hoe, and I admire those who choose it knowing the struggle it will be.

                The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

                by psnyder on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:43:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks, p (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  psnyder

                  You're right about the distractions (and eye-rolls) that argumentative overreaching can create =).

                  As for the music, you're right about the tough row.  I'm only two years in but will make it work.  It helps to know that the strict practice regimen of champions like Michael Phelps yields results, so as long as I make the time to practice and create consistently, I'm sure I'll be proud of my contributions in the end :)

                  I believe in the long-term arc of hope.

                  by therehastobeaway on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 07:08:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

          We are in agreement, I think.

    •  I happen to be a musician and business owner (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder

      as an artist, my raison d'etre is indeed to create art.  The input is to create my art and self-actualize my artistic potential through it.  But I release my music commercially, through my business/LLC, and as such, the raison d'etre shifts.  The primary purpose of my business isn't to create art (that's what I'm for).  The purpose of my business is to monetize my art at least enough to remain solvent enough to allow me to continue making my art while meeting my personal and business obligations.

      I think the input is artistic but the output is invariably financial.

      But even granting you that profit in a capitalist system is but a means to an end, the "end" in this case is very narrow: I make a particular genre of music that I care about uniquely, and therefore the decisions and investments that I'll make through my business cater to that particular subset of the music landscape.  So my ability to tackle problems problems is also very narrow and would in any case serve the interests of just a small slice of the music-listening population, whereas the government must balance the needs, interests, and long-term wellbeing of all slices of its population.

      I believe in the long-term arc of hope.

      by therehastobeaway on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:54:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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