Saturday, February 16, 2008

Government is Not a Business

Michael Gene Sullivan

"When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses."
- Rep. Shirley Chisolm

There is an idea in our land. It is an idea that has been gaining traction since the 1980s, since the Great Communicator convinced so many that the New Deal had been the wrong deal, that the Social Contract was a pact with the Devil, and that welfare queens, homeless vets, and liberals were undermining that which made America great. The idea, simply put, is that Government should be run like a business. It is a stupid idea, but there you have it.

Reagan, a smiley White man in a dark suit, cemented the idea of the president as CEO, legislators as Middle Management, and the citizens as stockholders. He convinced many that, with Government as Business, careful money management and profit would be the rule of the day. Government waste would be a thing of the past! Surely men who put money first would run our country efficiently -- and anyone who said otherwise was a stinky commie! So it came to pass that where once Congress and legislative houses around the country had been filled mainly with Lawyers, whose training had prepared them to draft and interpret laws, "Government as Business" took hold, and these lawmaking bodies became filled with business leaders who had little or no law study or experience. These elected MBAs and jumped up Chamber of Commerce members worked to get "Government off our backs," deregulating everything they could, and managing the wealth of the county, or country, as they would any for-profit corporation.

But here's the thing: democratic governments are structured and function not as corporations, where profit is the bottom line, but as nonprofit organizations, where the providing of services is their sole function.

The rest after the click.

My comment:

The economy is circling the bowl and my Republican friends who live in the past are circulating a button ...

You'd think that the rank and file supporters of Reaganomics should start to wake up and smell the coffee. After watching a few companies that have been run like companies, one might detect a pattern. Remember Enron, Tyco and WorldCom? Or if your memory doesn't extend back that far, how about taking a look at the current mess the unregulated lending "industry" has gotten itself into.

The so-called business model suggests that all the benefits rise to the top and leave the shareholders holding the bag. Case in point would be all the incompetent CEOs who've recently been forced out of their companies ... with multi-million dollar severance packages as a reward for crashing and burning their businesses. The analog to that business model observation is becoming painfully clear. Incomes of the top 1% of the population have increased four fold in the last decade while your sub-million dollar yearly take buys less than it did ten years ago ... and the top 1% get the tax breaks that the Republicans want to make permanent while you get a check for $300, $600 if your married plus $300 per child up to ... yahoo!!! ... $1,200. It's a lot like tossing a buck or two to a bum on the street in the hope that he'll go away.

"Don't spend it all in one place!!!"

Well, let me tell you, that bad taste in your mouth is the same taste you get on the hung over morning after a night out binge drinking in bars. You got intoxicated on the illusion that you'd accumulated wealth as a result of Republican "borrow and spend" economic policies but now, in the light of day ... particularly if you're trying to sell your house only to find out it's worth less on the market than you what you owe on your mortgage ... you're finding that you were just drunk on the smell of some body else's cork. You were told that we were experiencing GROWTH when, in fact, what you were experiencing was asset inflation. Cheap credit and unregulated credit practices pushed housing prices up faster than that rate of real growth ... and that's the definition of asset inflation. But you bought into the story. You believed you were getting the benefits of a strong economy that resulted from "getting government off the backs of industry".

Now, you're waking up on the morning after and realizing that the house you mortgaged for a million is worth less than half of that and your feeling a little trapped. Slowly the dawn ... you were the last sucker in a Ponzi Scheme. (Don't believe me? check out what the foreclosure rates in California and Florida are doing to to housing prices. Surely you watch teevee now and then or read a newspaper?)

So much for the legacy you thought you'd leave for your children.

Better right-wing Reaganomics believers should look for a button that says "Vote Democratic: Reagonomics robbed my children blind." It might not be as much of a cheap snicker as the Monica button but it certainly contains a more meaningful truth.

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