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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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