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I’m about at the end of my rope with the whole “Government can’t do things right, so we need to shift as much as possible to the private sector” meme.  Where, exactly, is this private sector utopia of competency I hear so much about?  Where, exactly, is this private sector bastion of effectiveness they speak of?

Is it West Fertilizer Company in Texas that blew up, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds more, all because of their glorious private proficiency in maximizing profits at the expense of worker safety?  Is that what they’re talking about?

Is it the chemical company in West Virginia, Freedom Industries, that spills 7,500 gallons of the chemical MCHM into the Elk River, cutting off clean water supply to more than 300,000 people?  Is that the pinnacle of effectiveness they’re referring to?

Is it the long, long list of Wall Street companies that effectively leveraged their abundance of greed to essentially destroy the U.S. and global economies?  Is that one?

Is it Rupert Murdock and his News International newspapers whose employees hacked into the phones of a murdered schoolgirl, relatives of deceased British soldiers, and victims of the 7/7 London bombings, all in the noble pursuit of a scoop?  Surely that’s a shining example of private sector responsibility, no?

Is it BP and its Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion which killed 11 and spilled nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, all because of “cost-cutting” decisions designed to maximize already-record profits, then proceeded to hide documents and lie to Congress in the subsequent cover up.  That good corporate citizen?

Is it Johnson & Johnson that was handed a $2.2B fine in 2013 for withholding information on known potential side effects such as stroke for one of their drugs, and even bribing doctors to prescribe as much of the drug as possible?.  And why?  Say it with me now:  MONEY!!!

Is it big box, big-hearted Walmart and several of its top executives who systematically bribed Mexican government officials for years in order to allow them to open stores much more quickly than if Mexican laws had been adhered to?  That selfless “job” creator?  

I could go on and on with these examples, but I’m not going to.

Meanwhile the federal government has created and maintains some of the largest, most successful, most supported programs in our history.  Can anyone say Social Security?  How about Medicare/Medicaid?

The bottom line is that the for the most part, the private sector is driven by one and only one thing:  Maximizing profits.  And the actions and decisions which are required to fulfill that sole objective are quite often in complete conflict with the public’s best interests.  Conversely, the government’s sole purpose, at least in theory, is to look out for the public’s best interests.  Anytime there are human beings involved, there will be corruption and evil.  But this notion from the Right that government should be small enough to “drown in a bathtub” because it is incapable of competency compared to that of the private sector just doesn’t hold up for me when considering the facts.

Originally posted to FraidKnot on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:59 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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  •  I've often said (145+ / 0-)
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    that anyone who says we have to run government more like a business, hasn't worked in the private sector recently.
    The private sector has just as much waste, overhead, etc as any government. And often the right hand and left hand don't know what each other are doing and seem to be working at cross purposes.
    I've seen a lot of it in my 30+ years working for private for-profit companies. Sometimes they make profits in spite of themselves.
    And for privatizing government functions - nobody has ever explained to me how turning something over to a private company that is planning to make a profit off of the function saves you money. To make their profit they either have to cut corners, deliver less service, or pay their people much less. That is the only "efficiency" they can provide. It's just another scam to transfer public tax dollars to some private investors.

    Blue is blue and must be that. But yellow is none the worse for it - Edith Sidebottom

    by kenwards on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:09:05 AM PST

  •  competency at what is the question (22+ / 0-)

    Producing or just profiting?

    When you realize that goods and services are really just the means to the end of making money, everything the private sector does (or doesn't do) makes a whole lot more sense ... and that attitude should disqualify them from doing anything other than retail.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:25:02 AM PST

  •  Those failings you cited of private companies (18+ / 0-)

    are all well and good evidence, but the only thing that matters in terms of private sector competence is the profit margin.  HAVE THESE COMPANIES MADE MONEY FOR THEIR SHAREHOLDERS??

    Indeed, that is the only relevant question...apparently....

    Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:33:29 AM PST

  •  Like with any religion - when facts and reality (16+ / 0-)

    .. get in the way - You just have to have faith. You need to believe.

    Pray to the Mighty Invisible Hand. Turn on CNBC. Your crisis of faith will dissipate.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:37:03 AM PST

  •  Well, some people may be driven by the (12+ / 0-)

    desire to maximize profits by taking from those who can do because they themselves can't, but, objectively considered -- i.e. by looking at the results -- the history of bankruptcy and industrial collapse -- suggest that the desire is long from being satisfied. It has long been a fact that the successes of one generation do not carry over into the next; that fortunes made, however, simply are not able to be maintained. So, all the nattering about not taxing inheritance seems to be little more than a desperate plea to let the incompetent heirs fritter the assets away.

    The Koch Brothers may look like the exception, but that's largely because the natural resources and leases they inherited weren't properly valued in the day. And, though David has an engineering degree from MIT, the income they derive is mostly from selling (free) natural resources (coal and oil and limerock) or other people's inventions (duPont and Georgia Pacific chemical plants).

    The ambition generally exceeds their grasp.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:50:40 AM PST

    •  We can hope (11+ / 0-)

      30 years ago, when I was in law school, in property class, we learned about how the law discouraged vast, untaxed accumulations of wealth in the hands of families that no longer had to do anything productive in order to maintain that wealth.  The idea was that as a society, we wanted to encourage innovation and reward work.  The Rule against Perpetuities, Federal Estate and State Inheritance Taxes and time limits on corporate charters were all designed to these ends.

      These are now gone.  Time will tell if these rich can hold onto their fortunes.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:04:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep (5+ / 0-)

        I had heard back in the 70's that the reason for high taxes on individuals in businesses that earn a lot of profit was to force them to put the money back into the business to make it grow (including employees), the high taxes theme wasn't about feeding government coffers, it was about forcing money back into the system.  

        Now, of course, personal income taxes for the top echelons of businesses avoid paying personal income tax on 'compensation' by taking a much lower 'salary' (I call it walking around money) and the bulk of their 'compensation' is in the form of stock options taxed at a capital gains rate which is about a 1/3 of personal income tax rate.

        "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 02:59:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I totally agree! (7+ / 0-)

    Another example is exemplified by this very site - heck, if the "private sector" really were so freakin' efficient, why would there be a need for ads?

    (however, I'm glad for the inefficiency insofar as I find the ads for this site endlessly entertaining - for example pretty much every day there are at least 2 or 3 blatantly RW ads here - which totally wastes their $$s as far as I can tell).

    •  It is ironic. (0+ / 0-)

      We hear progressives, even anti-Capitalists, complain about for-profit enterprises on a blog that is a for-profit dictatorship.

      If Kos decides tomorrow that it doesn't fit his business model to allow anti-Capitalist points of view on this website, they'll disappear as quickly as those who questioned the official 9/11 narrative.

  •  Thanks--couldn't have said it better myself. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, Heart of the Rockies

    "Optimism is better than despair." --Jack Layton, the late Canadian MP, liberal, and Christian.

    by lungfish on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:17:17 AM PST

  •  You ask: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Where, exactly, is this private sector utopia of competency I hear so much about?  Where, exactly, is this private sector bastion of effectiveness they speak of?"

    Have you been watching the misisons to the International Space Station being done by private companies (Orbital Sciences Corp. and SpaceX)?  Have you been following the development of new spaceflight hardware (rockets and such)?  The government hasn't been doing that.  Private sector has.  Have you been following the launches from the spaceport on the coast of Virginia?

    Have you used a computer or cell phone lately?  Thank a private company for building and launching the satellites into orbit which makes the communication possible.  

    "Can anyone say Social Security?"

    I can.  I can say how bad it's been.  If I had the money I put into SS to invest as I pleased, I would have at least 4x more than the government predicts I will be getting at retirement.  At least.  The math is true.  

    •  if most people had put their money into Dow Jones (10+ / 0-)

      The money men of Wall Street would simply have pocketed more money and nobody on Main Street , 5th Street or Elm Street would be better off.  Sure, there might be a few exceptions, but very few!

      My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

      by NM Ray on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:38:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is 100% false. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, Sparhawk

        If what you stated were true, then how do you explain IRA's and 401(k)'s?  Or compound interest?

        Of course investment firms get their fee's and all that.  You are paying for a service.  People put their money into long term investments for a reason: they expect to get a positive return from it.  The historical growth of the stock market cannot be denied.  It's far better than what you get in SS.  Don't take my word for it; do the math yourself.

        •  As noted in other comments (7+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul, ozsea1, TiaRachel, Kevskos, sethtriggs, DuzT, Val

          the vast majority of people don't have the luxury of simply letting their money ride through the ups and downs of the market.  A crash in the markets tends to ripple through the rest of the economy, putting a lot of people in sudden need of liquid assets at exactly the wrong time from a market standpoint.  

          Yes, someone rich enough to simply throw everything into an index fund can do quite well from it over time, if they have the luxury to choose exactly when they want to get out, rather than having their departure from the market forced upon them by external circumstances.  But for the vast majority of us, that's not how life works, or will ever work.

        •  I "explain" IRAs and 401(k)s as losers. (6+ / 0-)

          For the small investor, the stock market is a big loser.

          Since 2000, the S&P average has gained less than 1% per year.  And most of the period, it was underwater, sometimes by as much as 60%.

          So how does that kind of volatility work out for retirees with limited funds?

          Suckers waiting to get screwed.  The stock market is the Ponzi scheme.

        •  The purpose of SS is to prevent poverty in old age (6+ / 0-)

          Investing those funds in the stock market puts those funds at risk. Few working class people have the knowledge or skill to make investments that will be there for them when they retire.

          Providing a guaranteed retirement income through this program is one of the best things our government has done.

          As for 401Ks being a better solution for retirement, ask the many people who had 401Ks whose value was wiped out in 2008, and never returned. Now all they have is SS and glad of it, I'm sure.

    •  I disagree (24+ / 0-)

      I work in the legal profession: we have numerous fiduciaries who obtain court permission to invest. Reason? To "diversify."

      95% of these investments-- guided by supposedly competent investment professionals -- lose money. Why? The stock market and the bond market go up and down. Middle class people need money at specific times, regardless of the state of the stock market. Heirs want their distribution as soon as possible- they need to pay off their debts, fix their teeth and buy the home they can suddenly afford.  Conservatees move to expensive nursing homes that want a large down payment. Wards are accepted to college and tuition needs to be paid. None of these needs can wait on the vagaries of the stock market.
      As a result, securities are sold at a loss.

      Millions of people have lost supposedly secure investments and are now living on.... social security.

      •  You are talking a different type of investment... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Than I am.  I am talking about money put away for retirement, not for "fixing teeth" or "buying a home".

        When you are younger you can be more aggressive with your investments.  As the decades roll by and you get closer to retirement, you slowly transition your funds into safer (less volatile) investments.  

        •  ... and pray it doesn't all come crashing down (13+ / 0-)

          right about the time you are ready to retire, like in 2008.  The IRAs and 401ks of many of my near-retirement friends were devastated in 2008, and they are finding themselves still working because of it.

          “No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people.” ~ my Senator Elizabeth Warren

          by Domestic Elf on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:55:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (0+ / 0-)

            At retirement you're supposed to be in conservative funds so that can't happen. Why were your friends gambling their retirement in aggressive stock funds?

            (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:10:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You mean like municipal bonds? (5+ / 0-)

              I keep seeing commercials hawking municipal bonds to seniors because of how 'safe' they are.  I'm assuming they didn't have any Detroit municipal bonds.

              •  Lol (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nextstep, FG

                You are citing the failure of government bonds as evidence that the private sector is a disaster?

                (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:41:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You were talking about 'safe' vs 'aggressive' (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ozsea1, Ezekiel in Exile

                  investments.  Bond markets are usually pointed to as being 'safe' as compared to equity markets.

                  And I've never claimed the public sector was any more immune to idiots than the private sector.  Just look at New Jersey - plenty of corrupt public sector types on display there.  Of course, now that they've been exposed, most of them will end up having to slink back off to private sector jobs.

                  •  . (0+ / 0-)

                    yep.  But we're in the 'new economy' they say.  I wonder how greek bond holders are doing these days.  Some say we're in a 300 year bond bubble right now which I wouldn't doubt.  Its not like bond markets don't blow up and, no doubt, the money powerz will do their damnedest to avoid it (at what cost though?).  I'm not saying it will but who really knows.  I think the guillotine was invented in France when John Law, under Rothschilds loving guiding and invisible hand, destroyed the french currency (John Law escaped to London).  Hence french revolution.

                    "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

                    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 03:19:26 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  the private sector is not a disaster (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jesse Douglas, ozsea1, sethtriggs, Val

                  That is not the premise of this diary, nor of any of the comments as far as I can see.

                  The private sector is as vulnerable to disaster and failure as the government is.

                  Human enterprise is fraught with difficulty. Projects succeed or fail in direct relation to the quality of the people planning, administering and executing them, the support of the people with the money, and inversely with the amount of outside interference they receive.

                  There's nothing intrinsically bad about the private sector. And there's nothing intrinsically bad about the government.

                  •  getting the balance wrong in a point in time (0+ / 0-)

                    is the problem... and listening to those who sell one extreme or the other when what is needed is some minor course correction at that given point in time multiplies the errors and corrections needed eventually.

                    When an industry or service... becomes more like a utility, an effective monopoly... a mature market... fully saturated... a public non profit entity might be a better deal overall...

                    a cutting edge new tech area... is better served by many small competing companies... and later as the industry matures into fewer larger corporate blocs anti competitive/anti monopoly rules and legislation to keep a competitive market alive plus govt. standards and regulations for public safety and environmental issues must be kept strong and reliable... to keep corruption and fast exploitative profits from becoming the rule.

                    Government incentivizing private corporations and wealthy to invest in development and capacity and funding small start ups in new tech areas will keep things moving in the right direction with money in the service of people rather than the other way around... keeps the job market alive, heads off out of control wealth disparity and keeps competition and innovation focused on people and not profits first. The choice is either that approach or allowing one of two extremes to dominate.

                    All or nothing... privatize everything, dump all the rules on the one side versus out of control public ownership of everything only leads to bloated, static monoliths that become cash cows or cushy corrupt sinecures for the well connected... in the end for both extremes...

                    Keeping a healthy balance that holds costs down, keeps things transparent, still fosters innovation and the widest participation and profit for everyone is not easy... that is the unstable middle... society has to work to keep it balanced there... greed, ignorance or blinkered dogma will push it one way or the other very quickly.... maintaining a sustainable balance takes continual feedback and deft small adjustments plus continual education on why this works and what is needed to keep it in the sweet spot politically, economically, morally, environmentally etc...

                    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

                    by IreGyre on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 05:30:20 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Lol (0+ / 0-)

                You're citing government bond failures as proof that the government is superior to the private sector?

                You're blaming the private sector for not realizing what an f-up the government was...?

                (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:44:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  I am sorry, but you don't get it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          What you state is standard investment advice. It doesn't work.

          Mr. and Ms. X are in their twenties and start a retirement fund. All well and good, but when the roof needs replacing, Ms. X is laid off and can't find a job for six months and Mr. X needs extensive dental work, the retirement fund gets tapped. So yes, the money put away gets used for fixing teeth, because there is no other source of funds. Stock gets sold at a loss because the alternative is to live with a leaky roof or a painful mouth.

          So, Mr. and Ms. X are now in their forties and still trying to save for retirement. Except that the scholarship that Number Two Daughter (who is undeniably brilliant) has landed is not enough to pay the expenses at Tufts University and insurance doesn't cover the therapy for Number Three Daughter who needs therapy. So the retirement fund gets tapped again.

          Once again: Middle class people cannot count on making money on the stock market.

      •  Yes, I think I have. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Tell me, how many astronauts can NASA put into space now?

        [I'll save you the time to go research it.... none.  Zero.  Nada.  We pay the Russians to launch them into space.  Which is why private companies in the USA are working on their own launchers.]

        •  So let me get this straight. Your contention is (17+ / 0-)

          these private space companies that started essentially yesterday, that only exist because they stand on the very foundation built by NASA over decades, these are the companies that in your mind are the ones that exemplify space research and exploration?  You're laughable.  Let me guess, you also think Justin Bieber is a ground-breaking musician and The Rolling Stones just don't have it anymore.

          •  I would not call... (0+ / 0-)

            ...a company that has been around for 30 years as having been started "yesterday".

            They do contribute to space research and exploration.  I can provide a list if you want.  They also do research of Earth.  Including global warming. ;-)

            Your mentioning of Bieber and the Stones shows that you have little of valve to say on the subject.  It is basically name calling or bullying on your part.  I did not insult you in my reply.  I would ask you do the same.  Take care.

        •  NASA can't put astronauts into space (15+ / 0-)

          because Congress decided it was a waste of money and slashed funding.  Not because NASA is any less competent than the private sector.  The rug was pulled out from under NASA, in large part by Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration.

          I would hazard a guess that if you look at any private sector space firm, you'll find a large percentage of people who used to work in the public sector space industry and were hired away for their expertise.

          •  Blaming Bush won't cut it... (0+ / 0-)

            ...when it was Obama's call.  

            Candidate Obama said: "Under my watch, NASA will inspire the world once again and is going to help grow the economy right here in Brevard County," said the presumptive Democratic nominee, speaking to a crowd of 1,400 at Brevard Community College's Titusville campus.

            "Here's what I'm committing to: Continue Constellation. We're going to close the gap (between the end of shuttle flight and the next program, Constellation). We may have additional shuttle flights," he said.

            "My commitment is to seamless transition, where we're utilizing the space station in an intelligent way, and we're preparing for the next generation of space travel."

            Now, 5 years later, none of that has happened.  

            You said "Congress decided it was a waste of money and slashed funding".  Explain then why the USA pays Russia to launch our astronauts into orbit.  And what is your definition of "slashed"?  

            Keep in mind that President Obama had 2 years and both the House and Senate with him to make changes in the space program.  Yet what did he do?  Please enlighten me.  Sir, I shall await your reply.

        •  You have no idea how human advance occurs. (9+ / 0-)

          More than a century ago, the great anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, explained how all human advance results not from a few "geniuses" who then grab all the benefits.  Instead, progress is the result of the contributions of countless individuals, working in concert, usually with little to no pecuniary reward:

          Every machine has had the same history--a long record of sleepless nights and of poverty, of disillusions and of joys, of partial improvements discovered by several generations of nameless workers, who have added to the original invention these little nothings, without which the most fertile idea would remain fruitless. More than that: every new invention is a synthesis, the resultant of innumerable inventions which have preceded it in the vast field of mechanics and industry.

          Science and industry, knowledge and application, discovery and practical realization leading to new discoveries, cunning of brain and of hand, toil of mind and muscle--all work together. Each discovery, each advance, each increase in the sum of human riches, owes its being to the physical and mental travail of the past and the present.

          By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of this immense whole and say--This is mine, not yours?

          All Capitalists do is to grab the benefits of workers' efforts either directly by force or by using the State and the "legal" system that those same Capitalists enact for their benefit through manipulation of the political system using their economic resources.

          Carnegie, Rockefeller, Jobs and Gates are not innovators who have bestowed great gifts of innovation upon us.  Instead, they are sociopathic thieves who have stolen the ideas of others and used them to reap obscene profits and oppress the rest of us.

    •  So (13+ / 0-)

      Explain why it costs more and more per month for phone and computer access when there are fewer and fewer land lines to maintain.  We are being gouged by companies that should be competing and lowering prices, not raising them.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:08:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it has nothing to do with private sector (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sillycarrot, Sparhawk

        vs government. High barrier to entry in telecom market, weak regulations etc. In the countries where telecom is government-owned it's usually worse.

        •  Well, not really. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, Kevskos, Ezekiel in Exile, samanthab, Val

          In France, where I lived for many years, I had internet, TV and free world-wide phone service over internet for less than I pay for internet only in the US.

          We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

          by unclejohn on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:53:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In France government doesn't have a monopoly (0+ / 0-)

            on telecom. At least not any more, maybe you lived there when it still did. Sure, if government is one of the providers it may even be a good thing for competition. Elsewhere in Europe the prices are roughly the same or lower than in France with very limited involvement by government-owned companies.

      •  There are not fewer land lines to maintain, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They are now being used to carry broadband services instead of POTS (plain old telephone service).
        The telecoms have been attempting to sell 21st century products over 20th century infrastructure using 19th century technology (pushing electrons through copper wires).
        In other words, they are squeezing every last penny out of the existing system.  And charging whatever they can get away with for the service.

        I can see Canada from my house. No, really, I can.

        by DuzT on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:01:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  yeah (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, NoMoreLies

      I have heard of them and do know what they are doing.

      I'm saving up a million bucks to go float around in space for a couple of hours.

      The rich man's playground, its a small club and neither you nor I are in it.

      The only reason the social security system even exists is because the banking and wall street decimated the banking system and economy of the nation in 1929 - 1934 and SS was created so that ol granddad and grandma did not die from starvation so they could eventually produce you.  Ah but such are the little details about SS no one likes to talk about.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 03:12:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Wizard, Lily O Lady

      I worked for a company that Orbital bought years ago that made space launch vehicles.  You don't know much about them do you and how dependent these companies were on government contracts to even exist.  Now they're "private sector" companies and you actually believe they sprang up like mushrooms in a cave void of government nurturing.

      Hey I got a deal on the Golden Gate bridge for ya, its a deal you can't possibly lose money on.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 03:34:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm glad (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you don't have polio since Jonas Salk started his research into a polio vaccine while working for the National Foundation For Infantile Paralysis which later became the March of Dimes founded by Franklin D Roosevelt due to an epidemic of polio in 1938 into the 1950's.  Of course Roosevelt himself had polio since 1921.

      Where was the private sector then?  there was demand, there was profit to be made.   Oh ... well details, details

      I'm really "sure" space travel for millionaires is a far more worthy($) endeavor by the private sector since they completely missed the profit opportunity polio epidemics gave them back then.  We do have the pharma industry doing their damnedest to squeeze as much out of the populace as they can.  A friends' wife died from cancer even after that $17,000 dollar shot they gave her (1 single shot) and the > $500k spent overall to save her.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 03:53:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You forgot this one (0+ / 0-)

    Please especially note paragraph 4.

  •  I was stunned today (26+ / 0-)

    when I went to the local Department of Social Services to apply for Medicaid.  This application is a necessary step for me, I guess because I'm self-employed and input a certain income estimate at, to apply for health insurance in the Marketplace.

    I was severely intimidated before I went in, anticipating huge hassles getting the required documents, major agony filling out the forms, etc.  Yes, the application is many pages, and there were a lot of spaces where I wasn't sure what was expected.  I got a caseworker who was cheerful, efficient, and when she didn't know what to put, she consulted a huge book of recent changes to the law or called someone who did know.  It seemed like no time until I was on my way, with a surprisingly short list of further needed documents.

    The receptionist was also patient, courteous, and helpful.  I've had similar experiences at the Social Security office, and the DMV.  There are some small businesses with great customer service, but these government agencies are right in there with the best of them--and 'way ahead of the big faceless outfits.

  •  private sector efficiency is a GOP myth (24+ / 0-)

    I worked in it my whole life.  Big organizations can be complicated, public or private.  Big organizations can be bureaucratic, public or private, because they are complicated and need internal rules to keep track of things.  There are efficient organizations, and inefficient organizations, but public and private are equally able to be good at it or bad at it.

    •  Target (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Uncle Moji, FiredUpInCA

      As in:

      The diary and your comment are right on target


      One of the companies not mentioned in the diary or comment is Target.

      "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

      by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:39:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you remember the Soviets (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, sethtriggs

    Their industries were even worse.  The best approach is neither a purelypublir or purely private approach, but a public approach in some places with well-regulated private industries for the majority of it.

    "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

    by nightsweat on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 01:55:43 PM PST

    •  Then there's the worst of both worlds (6+ / 0-)


      The government throws money at crony private corporations to do what had previously been government functions.

      It costs taxpayers more (because before it was privatized, performing the function didn't need to make a profit) and we have less to show for it.

      "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

      by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:41:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you agree... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...that the government should buy their computers from Dell instead of spending countless tens of billions of dollars inventing their own microchips and computers from scratch, we already agree that privatization is acceptable. We are just arguing about how much.

        (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:13:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Specious argument (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, Val, Darth Stateworker

          Perhaps government has made computers in pursuit of a government function, but making computers is not a government function.

          "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

          by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:43:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ok then (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jeff in nyc

            By your logic cleaning buildings isn't a "government function" either, so we can outsource that?

            (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:45:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cleaning buildings (6+ / 0-)

              Of course maintaining government property is a government function--from national parks to government buildings.

              Procuring supplies is also a government function, but making those supplies isn't, unless they are rocket ships or the first computers--stuff you couldn't easily buy in the private sector.

              So the way I see the analogy is this way:

              Government should clean its own buildings, but it wouldn't make the mops and brooms and cleaning fluid to help them do so.

              Just like government would hire word processors and systems analysts, but would procure the materials they use from the private sector.

              You would find this distinction going back to at least the French and Indian Wars--even before this land was a country.

              "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

              by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:55:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's no real difference between goods and labor (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jeff in nyc

                There just isn't. Both are commodities the government needs and has to get somehow, preferably in the most cost effective way possible.

                Cleaning your floors and buying computers are the same thing.

                (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:25:25 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Definitions (4+ / 0-)

                  Function-- an activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing.  synonyms: purpose, task, use, role responsibility, duty,  concern, province, activity, assignment, obligation, charge; task, job, mission, undertaking, commission; capacity, post, situation, office, occupation,

                  Commodity--a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee.

                  "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

                  by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:53:05 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Of course our government has made computers (6+ / 0-)

            Our government has made computers in pursuit of a government function.  In fact, it was our government that made the modern computer and made the modern computer industry possible.  See my comment below about NASA.  

            •  There is a difference between developing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              technology and making a viable product. Governments can be pretty good in the former but are usually not very good in the latter.

              •  NASA (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG, Darth Stateworker, NCJan

                I'm talking about NASA.  I think they were pretty good at it.

                •  It can work in some specific cases. (0+ / 0-)

                  Especially when you want a working product quickly and don't care how much it will cost or what bells and whistles it will have. NASA, Manhattan Project, weapons, etc.

                  But even with NASA private companies are beating it now.

                  •  Directly correlated (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    salmo, burlydee

                    Private companies only seem to beat NASA when NASA loses funding and vision and mission--which seemed to start with the grand non-dream of Reagan.

                    This is another rather facile and specious argument that assumes as default logic that private industry is better than government without real facts to back it up.

                    "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

                    by NCJan on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:14:16 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The problem is really the monopoly. If the (0+ / 0-)

                      government is the only one doing smth, it has a monopoly on it (by definition). It can be fine if we are talking about distribution of money or provision of basic services. But any monopoly discourages innovation.

        •  If the government is a major user, then yes. (3+ / 0-)

          They should utilize vertical market integration.  Indeed, they might want to design and manufacture their own microchips simply to ensure the hardware they're using doesn't have malware built right in by foreign governments teaming up with multinationals to spy on America, like we spy on everyone else.  Or to ensure that any such onboard malware is our onboard malware, so that the NSA can spy on anyone using our tech.

          But that's a national security argument.  From a purely economic standpoint, the main place the government should be vertically integrated is in energy and the military.  The US military is one of the largest endusers of oil and gasoline on the planet, so it would make more sense for them to own at the very least their own refineries, and even to simply have kept control of various oilfields, rather than leasing them off cheaply to private interests.

        •  What was NASA's role in computer development? (7+ / 0-)

          There's an interesting history in the development of the semi-conductor and computer chip technology.  Where did the funding for the early basic University centered research come from?  Where did the applied research take place?  I think you will find that this was primarily a government and university project, not something that sprang from the private sector.  

        •  who is arguing that? (6+ / 0-)

          Put the strawman down and back slowly away.

          This isn't a diary championing communism. It's a diary refuting the very silly claim (made by Republicans, at least since Reagan) that our government is somehow systemically worse at everything than the private sector.

          •  We can agree... (0+ / 0-)

            ...that there are times that privatization is appropriate and necessary, and times that it is not. A lot of posters here seem to think that corporations can do no right.

            For the litany of anecdotal corporate screw ups here, I could add a mountain of massive government screw ups as well, even worse because they were committed under color of law.

            (-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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:06:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why do you keep arguing against no one? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              burlydee, IreGyre

              Who here is saying to abolish private corporations?

              And privatization is not a synonym for private companies.

              Privatization is when one takes a government function and turns it over to private companies--like Blackwater in Iraq or the private prison industry.

              "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

              by NCJan on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:16:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Straw man (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, samanthab, Val, Darth Stateworker

            Glad you said it first. ;-)

            There seem to be a lot of those around here these days.

            "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

            by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:25:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yep. Russian government recently decided to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          come up with its own search engine.

          They wasted tons of money and got nothing.

        •  ROFL (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCJan, burlydee, IreGyre, NoMoreLies

          Your argument is reductio ad absurdum, and essentially apples and oranges.

          In "buying computers from Dell", even Dell isn't "inventing their own microchips from scratch."  Dell buys chips invented by Intel or AMD.

          A more exact analogy would be government building its own PCs and servers from individual parts bought from a 3rd party supplier and servicing their own machines instead of paying Dell for service contracts.  Now, this would require government to hire employees to do this - those that can build and service the rigs built.  For desktop machines, you're talking about workers that essentially have just a bit above the knowledge base of a Best Buy "Geek Squad" member, as it isn't all that hard to slap together parts and maintain a PC.  In other words, we're not talking about employees who make $80k/year with a Masters degree in either arena.  For servers, the skills needed to build and maintain them would be more advanced, but given the amount that Dell charges on service contracts, the cost would still be competitive.

          Personally, I think it's funny you mention Dell, because New York buys/and or largely leases much of its hardware from Dell - and the costs are astro-fucking-nominal - I see this firsthand working IT for the state.  I've seen servers that would cost a few tens of thousands to build with parts from CDW or Newegg to build an equivalent have million dollar + long term lease pricetags.  So you could build the damn server and pay the cost of having an internal employee specifically to run and maintain that server for its useful life for the cost of the damn lease.

          However, don't let that sway you.  I know you're self-described "left libertarian" and have the kind of disdain for much of government that any other libertarian would have, so lets look at the private sector.  Why?  Because you know who has figured out it's cheaper to buy the parts and build your rigs yourself?  Google.  So obviously, even a guy that loves private sector solutions like yourself has to admit the idea isn't all that far fetched (especially as far fetched as your post made it out to be) if one of the most successful companies in the nation is doing it and saving a boatload of cash by doing so.

          •  This person doesn't seem to know the difference (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Between a "private corporation" and "privatization."

            He doesn't distinguish between "labor" and "function" either.

            I guess we can tell he's never been a state worker! ;-)

            "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

            by NCJan on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:18:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  In having numerous discussions (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IreGyre, Another Grizzle

              with Sparhawk here in my time since joining, let's just say it's my opinion that he's much further to the right with many of his viewpoints than your average DK user.

              There's a lot "libertarian" about him, but little that is "left" IMO.  He comes across as a more socially progressive 3rd Wayer than anything else to me.

              However, I concede that even though I often don't agree with him, it is good to see someone argue other viewpoints so we don't simply have a self-reinforcement feedback loop going on here.

              •  I agree that we should have discussion (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                But I would hope that the person discussing would have a better handle on what they are talking about.

                I would also hope that they would respond to the diary.

                "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

                by NCJan on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:06:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Why bring up the Soviets? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCJan, Kevskos, Val

      Nobody's advocating repeating their mistakes on this diary.

      We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

      by unclejohn on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:54:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They'll tell you nonsense about choice (4+ / 0-)

    At least people have the freedom to yada yada.  

    When the public sector does it, it's force.  When the private sector does it, then you have the freedom to choose.

    It's a crappy argument.


    by otto on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:00:41 PM PST

  •  Just another big lie from the GOP. (11+ / 0-)

    Just like "CEOs deserve their lotto ticket salaries." I worked for HP for 25 years. I can speak from experience, it isn't true.

    We've been getting the hose for years. America, it turns out, is dumber than a bag of hammers.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:07:52 PM PST

    •  I'd love to see any white collar exec spend a week (7+ / 0-)

      in foul weather as one of the guys who gets up at 3am to go out and load people's garbage into trash trucks all day long, then try and tell me with a straight face that they deserve their 6-8 figure salaries because they 'work so hard'.  If 'hard work' determined who got big salaries and who didn't, manual laborers would be our 1%ers and white collar folks would be the ones on welfare to supplement crappy pay.  (And I say that as someone who spent a decade in a white collar job before it disappeared.)  

      Getting to spend your days in a nice, quiet, climate-controlled indoor environment typing on a computer, even if you work long hours, is a hell of a lot easier than many minimum wage type jobs.

      •  System based on caste and classes, plain & simple. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The American political elite doesn't believe in "All men [and women] are created equal" anymore. Perhaps, even as a distant ideal, it never really did. The French proclaimed equality and fraternity as supreme values in their Revolution; the American Revolution did not.

        We consistently overestimate the integrity and moral fiber of our political and managerial elite. We may try to describe the system and the behavior of our leaders using terms like "meritocracy" or "technocrat."

        We probably underestimate the temptation posed to them by the prospect of a life of, not just ordinary affluence, but wealth — wealth! — in style. Ever higher, ever better!

        Climb to the summit where star athletes and entertainers and, yes, nowadays bankers too dwell — and then imagine raising even that exalted status to the nth power: a vista of life as lived by men calling the shots in Saudi Arabia or Brunei or the Gulf sheikdoms . . .

        Years go by, a fog of posh dinners and parties and deal-cutting sessions, politely interfacing and catering to figures like this. You note their foibles and faults. They're only human after all, just like you; a twinge of "Why not me? Can't I get in on a little of that, for myself and my kids? What makes them so privileged?"

        And then at last, the invitation to step up, to be initiated into the next degree of club membership . . . Of course, there is just one little detail, a few matters concerning which they need to know they can count on you from now on . . .

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:34:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well said. A particularly clear example is (0+ / 0-)

    socialized medicine.  Even if you think that government is not very efficient, asking the government to be more efficient and easier to deal with than private health insurance companies is setting the bar very low.  

  •  I signed up for Obamacare (7+ / 0-)

    Most of the delay, confusion and bureaucracy I've experienced was from the private insurance company, not the exchange website. Blue Shield sent me multiple notices that I needed to pay the first premium (weeks after I'd done so), then robocalled me, emailed me and sent a letter to tell me that they had accepted my application and I would be receiving my insurance card shortly... several days after it had already arrived. Finally, they sent me another letter congratulating me on being accepted for insurance... for the crappy, expensive, and high-deductible policy that they had switched me to when they canceled my old policy last year, and which I had politely declined to renew.

    So don't tell me that private companies are a customer friendly nirvana and that government is a bureaucratic nightmare hell.

    ~ Trendar.

    •  Similar experience for my son (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Trendar, FiredUpInCA

      After October, no problem signing up through

      But Blue Cross Blue Shield hasn't hired enough workers for the onslaught of new customers.  They keep him on hold literally hours just to tell us their swamped, and then things are pretty much as you laid it out.

      We're still waiting for the cards, even though we've paid up and the website shows we're enrolled.

      "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

      by NCJan on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:44:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can only guess (8+ / 0-)

    that people who claim corporations are always or usually more efficient and effective have never worked for one.

  •  Municipal utilities 1, corporate phone company 0 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    unclejohn, PsychoSavannah, Kevskos

    Over a decade ago I moved from Canberra in Australia to Los Alamos NM. In both locations the utilities were government-run and I had absolutely no problem obtaining a credit reference, faxed from the ACT billing folk to the Los Alamos county utilities department. This allowed me to avoid putting up a deposit for gas, water, and electricity, and helped my unsettled financial situation quite a bit.

    The phone company in Oz was in the process of being privatized and at the time was approximately 50% corporate. There was absolutely no way for me to get a similar credit reference from Telstra to Qwest, while my previous US phone company had been bought by Verizon and I apparently no longer had existed. I spent a year using phone cards for long distance rather than reward their extortion attempts for deposit money. I later had a several month-long battle over a billing mistake they made, fighting it out to the last overcharged penny. Never had an issue with the County.

    I always bring this up in addition to SocSec and Medicare overhead rates when friends and family start in with the superiority of the "free" market.

  •  I for one can count on the DMV and post office (9+ / 0-)

    to do an excellent job. Not perfect but pretty excellent.

    People that complain about them are often the problem when you get to the details. Complainers often have a libertarian or tea bagger agenda in my experience.

    I can also count on the police to never lose a parking ticket either, so there's that....

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:38:50 PM PST

    •  Re: the post office ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard, KenBee

      I'll repost here a comment I left in another diary recently:

      This year I got an email Christmas greeting from a friend in the U.K.  He said that now that their postal system has been privatized ... guess what! ... the service has become worse, and prices have gone up.  He was sending email greetings because as much as possible he now refuses to have his money go to their shareholders, rather than back into a working postal system.

      I was unaware that my beloved Royal Mail system has now also been trashed by privatization.  This saddens me to no end.  Two years ago I visited the U.K. and was appalled by the train system I had also loved in the 1990's.  

      The service had become terrible.  Trains were overpacked and not sufficient for the number of people traveling.  (It was in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival -- when hundreds of thousands of extra people pour into the city -- yet the rail owners couldn't be bothered to add extra trains or cars in anticipation of that.  Because of that I had to sit on the floor of a baggage section with several other people.)

      Several Brits on the trains expressed their anger at it.  What had happened in the intervening years?  Privatization! -- with all the same old baloney promises of better services and lower prices (because of "competition").

      One woman told me that because some of the lines weren't profitable enough for the new rail companies, the companies shut them down.  In order to keep those lines open, the government was now forced to subsidize those companies; so, in effect, the government was still having to pay for those lines -- as it had done before -- but now it was done in order to ensure that a private company made a profit.

      In the face of all the mountains of past evidence to the contrary, conservatives continue to claim privatization leads to better service and lower prices.  But why?  There is no logic in that.  The ONLY priority of a company is to make as much money as possible.  It can't do that by lowering prices and increasing quality.  It can only maximize money by cutting corners, and making people pay more.  And it can only constantly increase profits by increasingly cutting more corners and raising prices.

      That's what conservatives have done to the formerly wonderful government rail and postal systems in the U.K., and it's what Republicans want to do to OUR postal system.

  •  The government 'program' I point to most often (4+ / 0-)

    is the FHWA.   Only a central government could build, maintain, and manage such a huge and complex system of roadways.   Private sector would be down a thousand rabbit holes of squabbling (and probably closing bridges during grudge matches).

  •  Capitalists should be barred from (7+ / 0-)

    owning any sector of the economy where their decisions can have a detrimental effect on human health or welfare.

    1) America's capitalist-owned health care is twice as expensive and has worse outcomes than the publically-owned systems in all other industrial countries.

    2) Our capitalist-produced food is dangerous to consume.

    3) Our capitalist-owned utilities are unsafe, unreliable and overly expensive.

    4) Our capitalist-owned transportation system is a jury-rigged mess.

    5) Capitalist-owned schools shut down over night throwing your children and their teachers out in the street.

    At every step you can be sure that a capitalist will sacrifice your interests in favor of his.

    As someone else commented in this diary, if a publically-owned entity screws up, we can intervene to correct it because it is ours.

    We cannot win a war crime - Dancewater, July 27, 2008

    by unclejohn on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:47:12 PM PST

  •  Target lost personal information, ACA didnt'. nt (16+ / 0-)

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:50:35 PM PST

  •  The real problem is that we "privatize" revenue (15+ / 0-)

    and make the "public sector" pick up the tab on the cost side.  Why should the private sector care about the environment, natural resources, climate change or anything other than the profits when we do not ever make them pay even a sizable portion of the cost of their miscreant efforts?

    Why is BP still in business after the disaster it created in the Gulf? Why isn't West fertilizer required to liquidate all assets as well as the assets of their backers (shareholders) if need be to compensate for the results of their ineptitude?  All any of them have to do is declare bankruptcy and walk away leaving the rest of us on the hook for the clean-up.  You cannot do that as an individual.  If you declare bankruptcy you are still on the hook for what you owe.

    Corporations are people right up to the moment they are required to accept responsibility for their actions.  At that point the mantra becomes "we can't punish the innocent widows and orphans who are the shareholders for the actions of the company."  Why not?  The shareholders (most of whom are other corporations or their minions) benefit from the malfeasance over and over again.  Shouldn't they be required to do due diligence to assure they are investing in responsible companies.  If not, why do they reap the rewards?

    If we don't require these people to take responsibility for the damage they do they should not profit from the process.

    You have the right to remain silent. If you waive that right you will be accused of class warfare.

    by spritegeezer on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 02:56:55 PM PST

  •  I don't totally trust either (3+ / 0-)

    Capitalism doesn't have to be bad; unfortunately greed has gotten out of hand which has made it so horrible.

    Unfortunately if you only rely on government, then the bad apples in our species go and muck that up, too.  Just look at Christie and how he bloated up the Port Authority with his incompetent personnel.

    I want truth, and quality, and competence to be valued again. For us to priotize education and environment and equality.


    by chloris creator on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:09:23 PM PST

  •  Just remember, my friend, corporations are people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    onionjim, FiredUpInCA

    A famous and laughable quote from the past.

    Since corporations are people, and individual people are always superior to big gov-mint in Ayn Rand fantasy-land, the right then spews the propaganda of private sector competency and privatization.

    •  Just remember, my friend (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PsychoSavannah, skepticalcitizen, Val

      the death penalty is waiting for your corporate person. The Chapter 11 dirtnap. The old chew and screw. Bain and bail. Cash in and cash out. In the corporate world they have re-incarnation. The same crook who died yesterday in Maryland is reborn in Delaware!

      A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

      by onionjim on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:57:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In Conservative Speech, all meaning = opposite (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Darth Stateworker

    Private sector utopia of competency?

    Is it West Fertilizer Company in Texas that blew up, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds more, all because of their glorious private proficiency in maximizing profits at the expense of worker safety?  Is that what they’re talking about?

    Is it the chemical company in West Virginia, Freedom Industries, that spills 7,500 gallons of the chemical MCHM into the Elk River, cutting off clean water supply to more than 300,000 people?  Is that the pinnacle of effectiveness they’re referring to?

    Is it the long, long list of Wall Street companies that effectively leveraged their abundance of greed to essentially destroy the U.S. and global economies?  Is that one?

    All of those enterprises prove out as efficient examples of perfect competency. That is, they serve their masters' interests. But the private sector has no inherent obligation to the general welfare of the nation or the States. Only government has such obligations.

    When conservatives rail against government inefficiency, they are really expressing their fear of government efficiency. Obamacare is developing into a fine example of why this is so. Once people accept the benefits of better regulated healthcare with better control of prices and reasonable freedom of choice among practitioners, they will never consider turning back. Government efficiency is any conservative's worst nightmare.

    Despite being so often portrayed as perfectly coincident, the interests of the private and public sectors should never fully coincide. Sometimes they must be adversaries, sometimes allies. But one serves the interests of profit and the other serves interests of common defense, public safety, liberty and general welfare for all. An efficient and effective public sector is the horror of the private sector. It must be ever thus.

    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

    by LeftOfYou on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 04:51:52 PM PST

  •  The private sector is highly overrated... (5+ / 0-)

    ...for some reason the meme has allowed to take hold that the "private sector" is always far preferable than anything the public sector can do.

    However, the facts show quite the opposite.

    For instance, we used to have a 100 percent privatized retirement system in this country (before Social Security). And guess what? It failed. And it failed miserably. Which is why we have Social Security to begin with. If it weren't for the complete, abject failure of the private sector to ensure that there was financial security in people's old age, we would not have Social Security.

    Same, too, for regulations.

    If it weren't for the inability or unwillingness of the private sector to ensure that food products were safe to eat, we wouldn't have a Food & Drug Administration to begin with.

    If it weren't for the fact that the private sector has been unable or unwilling to regulate itself, in instance after instance, we would never have had citizens of this country demanding regulations. heard that was the citizens of this country who demanded regulations, not politicians. As is always the case, politicians followed the lead of the citizens.

  •  How DARE you question the orthodoxy??? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:40:21 PM PST

  •  degenerate capitalism (0+ / 0-)

    lay off all the cops, and the system degenerates

  •  Another perspective is just that everything (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That can be served by the private sector ought to be left to it. I don't want the government involved in the commercial sphere other than as regulator or provider of last resort.

    I don't want political influence extended to commerce to the extent that is possible.

    I want the fewest possible types of jobs to be government jobs (which does not mean I want to cut govt jobs, only not expand into new arenas.)

    They may equally suck at management, but the private sector jobs promote at least some innovation and personal ownership of one's labor.

    “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

    by jeff in nyc on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:43:29 PM PST

  •  Hear Hear... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Although I don't want to swing too far and demonize the private sector either - there are many people who don't make it profits over all - I completely agree with the gist of this diary.

    Another example that might be cited is the supposed governmental technical incompetence surrounding the Obamacare website.  Yes, there were bureaucratic inefficiencies, especially ridiculous turn around times on decision making and unrealistic deadlines.

    However the government technical people working on it often had stellar backgrounds.  

    The test is this...if you have federal government tech specialists put their resumes out, they get deluged with private sector offers.  So much for "government worker incompetence."

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:09:28 PM PST

  •  The Supply-Side Religions Four Horsemen: (7+ / 0-)

    Privatization; Deregulation, Trickle-Down, Free Trade.

    All are proven, demonstrably proven, and massive failures. Long past time for our Party to hammer this reality home to the voters. Kill and starve Reagan's Voodoo Economics, and offer a 'people first (and business ain't people)' alternate.

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:24:11 PM PST

  •  This diary should be reprinted everywhere and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    anywhere forever, and ever, amen.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy -7.2, -7.9

    by helpImdrowning on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:37:10 PM PST

  •  Don't forget Fannie Mae! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    spritegeezer, Darth Stateworker

    When the Wall Street Meltdown occurred in 2008 the thing we always heard was about how terrible the Government was because of Fannie Mae's role in the crash. The thing is, Fannie Mae was a wholly run Government Agency from 1938 until 1954, when it became a "mixed-ownership corporation", where the US Government held preferred stock, and private investors owned common stock ...

    This, in 1954, Fannie Mae became a "Free Market" entity.

    In 1968, Fannie Mae became a Privately Held Corporation, in order to remove its debt from the Federal Government.

    In essence, Fannie Mae has been a front for the "Free Market" Financial Sector since the 1950's ... so ... when the "Free Marketeers" were shrieking about how poorly run Government Agency was the cause of the who sub-prime mortgage mess ... THEY WERE LYING.

    Fannie Mae having been an appendage of Financial Sector Fraud for decades.

    Fannie Mae

  •  Tools in the tool box (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Val, Darth Stateworker

    Neither the private sector nor government is either a god or a devil.  Both are tools in society's tool box, and declaring either of them out of bounds is like declaring that bolts must be driven with hammers because wrenches are evil.

    The Soviet Union was "communist" the way the Holy Roman Empire was holy, Roman or an empire.  It was a truck system writ large, complete with scrip that was worthless elsewhere.  It was an example of how extreme ideologies meet at the antipodes of sanity.

    On the other hand, we had that alleged utopia that the Randroids on the Right claim they want -- no regulation, no pesky labor laws or minimum wages, and even a gold standard.  I needn't describe that time and place here.

    Bello ne credite, Americani; quidquid id est, timeo Republicanos et securitatem ferentes.

    by Sura 109 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:02:43 PM PST

  •  corporate waste (4+ / 0-)

    I spent 12 years in the insurance industry. Upper management spends a portion of premiums for free golf, lunches, 4 star hotels, company cars, office decorum and on and on. No one calls that freeloading. CEOS and upper management run companies to the ground today and walk away with lots of money. It is legal too.

  •  Let's remember (0+ / 0-)

    that the federal Obamacare website was built by a private contractor.  Result:  big mess.

    But the states that set up their own exchanges did okay.

    And like it or not, the NSA seems to be operating a pretty effective government run IT operation,,,

    ...there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. - Ratty

    by John Q on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:40:09 PM PST

  •  2013 botched rollouts, service & security breaches (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole, Darth Stateworker
    Target agrees to testify on Capitol Hill about data breach

    (Reuters) - Target Corp has agreed to testify before Congress in early February about a data breach that compromised credit and debit card and personal data of millions of customers, a House of Representatives subcommittee said on Thursday.[...]

    Target has said a breach of its networks during the busy holiday shopping period resulted in the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records and 70 million other records with customer information such as addresses and telephone numbers.[...]

    The subcommittee has approached the U.S. Secret Service, the lead investigator into recent data breaches at both Target and Neiman Marcus, and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, about participating in the hearing, a subcommittee official said
    4.6M Snapchat User Names, Partial Numbers Leaked

    Hackers posting the personal data to a website called snapchatDB included all but the last two digits of Snapchat phone numbers, inviting those who wanted the full numbers to contact the website for the uncensored database.

    Poulsen said the “biggest danger” from the breach was possible stalking.

    “Snapchat has a very young user base. I think the greatest risk from this is that the full list with the full phone numbers winds up being posted somewhere, and then we see users being stalked,” he said.

    Experts said the security breach was made worse by the fact that users tended to have the same user name for other apps — such as Facebook and Twitter.
    Grand Theft Auto Online launch hit by server woes

    The creator of Grand Theft Auto has warned there might be teething problems as its online version launches.[Ed note: It launched Oct. 1, 2012 the same day as Guess which one got more coverage for its rocky rollout.]

    Last week Rockstar North admitted it was facing "unanticipated" pressure because sales of GTA 5 had been stronger than expected.

    "We are working around the clock to buy and add more servers," its blog said.

    But it added that matters could be "more temperamental than such things usually are" because using so many computers introduced their own issues.[...]

    Other bestsellers have faced issues after their servers failed to cope with demand.

    Owners of Electronic Art's Sim City - which requires players to be logged into its servers to play - experienced waits of up to 30 minutes to get started and then sluggish gameplay when it went on sale in March.

    EA later apologised and offered a free title to those affected as compensation. It said more people had logged on than it had expected, adding they then played differently to the way its testers had.

    The previous year Activision Blizzard saw its servers for Diablo 3 come under severe pressure after its launch.
    UPS, FedEx draw fire after Christmas delivery problems

    Thousands of Americans awoke to find that special something missing from beneath the Christmas tree Wednesday, a day after UPS acknowledged getting swamped by the seasonal cheer and failing to deliver orders in time.

    Now, rival FedEx appears to share the blame for the holiday that wasn't.

    "We're sorry that there could be delays and we're contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup," Scott Fiedler, a spokesman for FedEx, told the Associated Press Wednesday.[...]

    "The volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity in our network," UPS spokeswoman Natalie Godwin said in a statement.[...], one of the country’s biggest package shippers, also cited UPS’s “failure” in an apologetic email to customers on Christmas morning.

    In addition to reviewing the performance of delivery carriers, Amazon spokesperson Mary Osako confirmed that Amazon is also attempting to placate affected customers by providing gift cards and refunds for shipping charges.

    These are all for profit companies who have been in business for years and they managed to choke at crunch time.

    Yet the narrative that has been firmly cemented in the American psyche for more than 30 years is:

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
    And the only ideal solution for the U.S. is for it to be run like a business by the likes of Donald Trump or Mitt Romney.

    Which business should the U.S. emulate? Lehman Brothers? Borders? Circuit City? Blockbuster?

    "I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights." (From "You Said a Mouthful" by Bishop Desmond Tutu - South African bishop & activist, b.1931)

    by FiredUpInCA on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 10:11:36 PM PST

    •  How about the British East India Company? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Since military garrisons abroad and the threat of war play such a big role, on both a policy and a budgetary level.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:06:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was reading recently about union busting tactics (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Val, lotlizard

        in early 20th Century US of A. I'd say the willingness to kill 100 people- including children- in order to intimidate is pretty much warfare. Also, Shell has very recently encouraged mass murder to get what it wants in Africa.

  •  It's easy to see a utopia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when its champions have deuteranopia.

    "Y'know... My Emolga really wants to shock your Dedenne." "...What?"

    by kamrom on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 12:48:35 AM PST

  •  BUMPED.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People have short memories..

    The ONLY reason the private sector in the U.S. hasn't totally polluted the air we breath and the water we drink (just like the bullcrap going on right now in major Chinese cities) is because of GOVERNMENT regulations, the EPA, etc. etc. etc.

    in fact as a kid driving thru the Gary/Whiting, IN area on the way to Comiskey Park back during the days of big steel, the air there was SHIT.

    the smog literally blocked out the sun completely on a summer day and smelled like shit. I remember looking out the car window and seeing the little houses with their laundered clothes hanging on clothelines.. and thinking WTF?

    There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that unchecked private sector business by the numerous arseholes in our nation would lead to even more fertilizer plants blowing up and killing people like the recent example in TX... and now the giant chemical spill which caused 300,000 people to lose potable water... and caused untold financial damage.

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 03:44:13 AM PST

  •  Nuclear accidents, industry v. Navy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    50+ v. none.

    The invisible hand is too shaky.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:01:43 AM PST

  •  US Postal Service is another example of what you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Darth Stateworker

    say here:

    Meanwhile the federal government has created and maintains some of the largest, most successful, most supported programs in our history.  Can anyone say Social Security?  How about Medicare/Medicaid?
    It just works. But it won't continue if the corporatists have their way.

    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

    by FrY10cK on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:12:19 AM PST

  •  The whole time I was in the military (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Val, Darth Stateworker

    I used to think "The private sector can't be this screwed up. They have to make a profit".

    Once I found myself working in the corporate world I realized it was the exact same people - they were just wearing different suits.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:31:50 AM PST

  •  Or how about CGI, (0+ / 0-)

    the company that put together the ObamaCare website (as well as Massachusetts and other states I don't know about)?
    They fixed the federal one, but the Mass one still doesn't work. YOU CAN'T GET HEALTH CARE IN MASS THROUGH THE WEB SITE - STILL. I am one of those affected. I lost my health care from Trader Joe's, who now will not cover anyone who works less than 30 hours a week (which they ensure won't happen unless you agree to 40 hours a week). I tried getting health care through the Mass web site - no go. Only about 500 people were able to sign up in Mass before the deadline. 500. WTF?

    And let's not forget how privatization worked in W's wars - Halliburton and KBR cost us billions and did shoddy work, even to the point of electrocuting soldiers with faulty wiring. And all those contractors? Remember them playing football with blocks of money never recorded?

    PRIVATIZATION DOES NOT WORK. It's why we formed this nation to begin with!

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:33:10 AM PST

  •  And the meme "Government can't create jobs" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Val, Darth Stateworker

    Really?  The second biggest employer in the world is the US military (first place goes to the Chinese military).

    With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, we are the nation's largest employer. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces.
    It's Republicans that can't create jobs - not government.

    If you stop traffic before you conduct your traffic study, you have nothing to study. Maybe THAT'S why traffic studies are not conducted that way.

    by thenekkidtruth on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:33:51 AM PST

  •  And...the NSA (0+ / 0-)

    Snowden didn't work for the government. He worked for a PRIVATE agency that handles most of the work.
    Those who think Snowden is wrong, ask yourselves, how did some lowly employee get access to national secrets? What sort of security do they have? Not much, I'd say.
    Further, having it private means you could get someone with big bucks who could get the head of the private company to give them info that would further their ambitions - ambitions that would harm our democracy (think the Kochs, Romney, even Chris Christie).

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:38:28 AM PST

  •  To me it is all a matter of balance. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    . . .If you have significant capitalist endeavors, you must have sufficient government oversight to balance their tendency to chase profits to the exclusion of all else.  If you have strong employers, you must have employee representation sufficient to keep the intrinsic employer advantage at bay. If you have extraordinarily rich citizens, you must have a force that sees to the interests of the rest of us.

    Capitalism isn't corrupt, but it isn't moral and altruistic either.  If you truly understand that the purpose of a corporation is profits/ return to shareholders and that they will never be patriotic, environmentally conscious, concerned about their employees, concerned about their communities, or even interested in creating a quality product unless some balancing force is applied to them. The frog can give the scorpion a ride on his back-when he has neutralized the stinger.

    If we are going to elect Democrats, lets elect real ones!

    by waztec on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:57:28 AM PST

    •  I think you should change this statement: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, Another Grizzle
      Capitalism isn't corrupt
      to "Capitalism doesn't have to be corrupt."

      The reality is, capitalism, left to its own devices, without regulation, does indeed become corrupt due to the greed that is inherent in human nature.

      As such, for capitalism to function properly and not be corrupt, it must be properly regulated.

  •  It's time to end the age of corporations... (0+ / 0-)

    they've done much damage and will continue to do so, such as squeezing every drop of fossil fuel from the planet, until our ecosystems are dead. It's impossbile to obtain "balance" as long as corporations exist. Nationalize all industries and eliminate the ability to hoard vast amounts of wealth. Yes, this will take a save our planet.

  •  A luxury private companies enjoy (0+ / 0-)

    that governments do not is failure.

    A private company, a businessperson, an entrepreneur can and do fail many, many times before they turn a profit, if ever.  A government has no such luxury.  A failed government damages a nation, a failed business damages far, far fewer...with the possible exceptions of businesses that have been allowed to become TBTF.

  •  Some better examples... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, Another Grizzle

    is the privatization of public housing in New Orleans, for example, which has meant the drastic reduction of the numbers of units of affordable and public housing, and spending federal funds to build middle and high income housing.

    Also, the privatization of meters in Chicago, the privatization of public schools, etc. This is neoliberalism, and Obama and most Democrats in office are practicioners. It is up to us to change this.

  •  Charter School closes in "dead of night" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, Another Grizzle

    How about these Charter Schools?  I can't think of worse private sector incompetence.  It makes me so angry.  Please add this to the diary.

    Diaried here by AnnieJo:  Milwaukee "New Hustler Academy" Voucher School Closes in the Dead of Night (Updated)

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:    Milwaukee voucher school LifeSkills Academy closes 'in the dead of the night'

    A small private school participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program abruptly closed in the middle of December, but not before collecting more than $200,000 from taxpayers this academic year to educate students who now attend other schools, state officials confirmed.

        LifeSkills Academy, a K-8 school that had dwindled to 66 students, appears to have closed around Dec. 12, according to a letter sent to the school from the Department of Public Instruction.

    LifeSkills became a voucher school in 2008, and through the years received over two million dollars in taxpayer funding.
  •  The "government doesn't do it right" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, Another Grizzle

    crowd is made up of two types:

    1.  Those being purposely deceitful - generally those paid to push the message and the ones paying them to do so.

    2.  Those being sold the message and gullible enough to believe it - generally the Fox News crowd.

    Those pushing the message push it because of the almighty dollar.  They know they cannot compete with government services when government services function correctly - because as government does not have a profit motive, it's cost to provide said service will almost always be less than a for-profit corporation.  So the only way they can make said dollars is by pushing the idea that government is "more expensive" and working feverishly to sabotage effective government services to make them look inefficient.

    However, objective observers can see past that.  All they need to do is look at areas where government does do it effectively and more cheaply.  Generally, these are items people don't give a second thought to unless it doesn't function right, like having water running out of their tap.  People tend not to see this as a government success story - they simply don't think about it because it works 99.99999% of the time.  Those that are objective, on the other hand, can look at such an example and see where government is doing something successfully.

    There are more examples, and in places that not everyone has access to such services.  In most cases, people get other utilities like electricity and cable/internet service from private companies.  However, as these are public utilities, there are some places that have decided to handle these services by the public sector.  

    For example, take my recent electric bill:  I have a monopolistic private sector company providing my power (National Grid).  I cannot change service providers, even if they make it appear I have a choice by allowing me to "choose" a supplier that puts the power into the grid other than themselves.  But know matter what, they still control the lines to my home.  My power bill for last month reflected a price per kWh that was almost twice what the price was last year, while blaming it on skyrocketing natural gas prices to power plants.  The problem - natural gas prices are only 32% higher than they were last year - not almost 100% higher.  So obviously, their excuse is bullshit.  Now, compare that to another town much farther north in the state (Massena) that has a municipally owned and operated power company and a deal with a state-owned (through NYPA) hydropower generating facility - their prices for power/kWh are static and far lower than even the lowest price I've ever seen on a cost/kWh basis from National Greed, er, Grid (or it's predecessor Niagara Mohawk).  It is so cheap for electricity in the town that most people heat their homes with electric heat.  How is it so cheap?  No profit motive.  For comparison, my bill was over $300 with Nat Grid last month (I have electric heat), and with the rates from Massena electric, it would have been about $81 for the same number of kWh.  Now that's government getting it right.

    Now, people downstate point to LIPA and how notoriously expensive power is on Long Island.  The problem with the comparison - LIPA is a public-private partnership.  LIPA contracts out its work to the private sector (previously National Grid and now PSEG) and has very few actual employees.  It owns no power plants.  It is in effect simply another public-private partnership that exists to feed the profit mongers in the private sector and always has been.

    There are examples spotted around the nation of successful, cheap municipal power cos (like Massena Electric), and the same deal with municipal cablecos (see the tale of Greenlight Cable in Wilson, NC).  But the "government can't do it right or cheap" message sellers ignore them, and those that buy into the message are generally completely oblivious of the existence of such success stories.

    Don't get me wrong.  Government cannot and should not do everything.  But when it comes to shared services we all need, properly run and efficient government services will always do it better and cheaper than some for-profit money grabbers.  In some cases, government is the only provider because there is no way the service would ever be profitable.  The stories that are out there of instances where government does it cheaper and better need to be highlighted far more often in order to combat the ignorance of those who believe government cannot do anything right.

  •  Institutions have to be responsive to the public, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    otherwise they fail whether we're talking about corporations or government bureaucracy. In theory markets provide a mechanism for achieving this but the reality is that capitalism can sometimes stifle markets as it naturally tends towards monopoly. Capitalism also fails when it comes into taking into account external impacts, which can have a damaging effect on communities and the environment.

    Sometimes I wonder if the Chinese are actually onto something with their approach to economic issues. Putting aside the problematic aspects of their government, when it comes to economics they seem to operate on the principle that the government is able to make ultimate decisions about the economy and where to allocate resources. If you could achieve this within a more democratic system where communities are able to make these decisions, it might not be such a bad thing.

    Also there is a big difference between giant corporations and dealing with individuals and small businesses. One of the best economic developments recently IMO is the growth of a kind of socially based economy where people offer services outside of the corporate system, often advertising for free over the web. I'd rather spend my money that way than have to deal with an inefficient and unresponsive corporate bureaucracy.

    Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99 percent of the population exist. —George Orwell

    by ukit on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:43:26 PM PST

  •  cut the budget enough (0+ / 0-)

    and the reliability collapses.

  •  Govt. vs private sector (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't it time for an amicable divorce (a no fault if you will)? The right has been pushed so far away from anything resembling sanity I do not think it is possible to reach any agreement anymore. It is time we figured out a way to let the righties secede and form their own country (soon to be a banana republic). Let them experience the glories of the "free market" and deregulation that their wonderful "job creators" want for this country. Once their living standards are those of the average third world peasant maybe they will come to their senses (although somehow I think their overlords will still be able to convince them it is the fault of unions, minorities, gays etc.). Our politics are so divided at this point I think only an amicable divorce will save this country from a bloody civil war within my lifetime (initiated by the Christo-fascists in the name of jebus and the "free markets" of course). I say let them have their wildest dreams come true, just do not let them have nuclear weapons.

  •  Intellectually speaking (0+ / 0-)

    I find the business world simply lacking in ideas.  Not that there are no clever ideas coming here and there.  My point would be that on the whole, its a copycat world.  Especially copied are tricks such as hidden fees, higher fees, and bureaucracy.  Bureaucracy keeps the executives free of blame, and the fees make executives more money.  

    Run the country like a business they say -- that would mean ceasing to serve voters in favor of shaking down customers.  It would mean rudeness would become the rule.  It would mean charging more for less, labeling old things new, and running like mad from any hint of responsibility.  


    The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

    by not2plato on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:58:53 AM PST

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