What I am going to say will probably come as little surprise to many of you, but it’s a concept still lost on many folks. As you know, one of the biggest talking points from the Republican Party and many libertarian groups is that many functions of government would be better handled by the private sector. Whether it is pension funds, highways or anything else, you’ll hear it repeated ad nauseam that government is wasteful and that the private sector can do it better.
There’s a couple of problems with this, especially when they say that government should be run like a business. First off, let’s address the “run the government like a business” talking point. While it does sound like a great idea, there’s a serious problem and false comparison there. Businesses have a main goal of making money for their owners and shareholders. In other words, profit first and the customer somewhere after that.
Yet, it seems that the privatization of every possible function of government, including education, is what front groups like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), FreedomWorks and others are pushing for – often while operating under a non-profit status and/or pretending to be a “grassroots organization.” Here’s a brief summary of how ALEC works:
Almost 98% of ALEC’s cash is from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, trade associations, and corporate foundations. ALEC describes itself as the largest “membership association of state legislators,” but only a little more than ten percent of its funding comes from legislative dues. Some of the biggest corporations in the world bankroll and thus subsidize the activities of the legislators who are part of ALEC. Corporations provide general support that covers the annual ALEC conventions — which are summer trips of politicians and their families to resorts for the annual ALEC meeting — and the preparation of “model” bills and glossy promotional materials. ALEC could actually be called one of the most powerful membership associations of corporations attempting to influence state legislators. But ALEC’s tax filings do not even count corporate donations as membership dues; they are listed under gifts. (Source)
In a way, the private sector has already taken over the actual job of legislating – or at least the process of creating legislation itself. For $50 a year, legislators and their staff don’t have to go through the trouble of writing some of the legislation they introduce and can use that time campaigning or attending to pet projects.
If you thought government was cold and uncaring now, can you imagine what it would be like if it was run by CEOs? I’ve worked in corporate America for the better part of the last decade and I can fully assure you that from my experiences, the private sector isn’t a shining beacon of accountability or transparency either. As an example, I worked at Sprint for 5 years and the company had a problem where, in my estimate, a minimum of $10 million was being lost monthly due to fraud. The issue had been going on for years but despite the pleas from myself as well as other departments, it was allowed to go on since too many people had a vested interest in allowing it to continue because it was profitable to them. While things like this happen in government also, in the private sector, you’re not likely to get fined, let alone go to jail – especially if you’re a high-ranking executive.
I’m sure we all have our personal nightmare anecdotes about the time a government agency screwed up, can you think of anyone who doesn’t? I’m actually living in Louisiana not because I want to, but because a department in Florida’s government messed up, massively. The problem with government is that it is run by human beings, and human beings are flawed and they’re also prone to corruption when there’s money, sex or power involved.
If you think it’s bad now, do you think it would really be any better with profit-hungry corporations and their shareholders running the day to day operations like the DMV, Social Security or paving the roads? Imagine being routed to an outsourced call center in India or Manila for help with child support or other functions currently handled by someone in your city or state? Because I can almost guarantee you that would be the case if these responsibilities were handed over to the private sector.
Not only would these corporations have control over functions our government currently handles, but our tax dollars would be going to them, which would then in turn be used for even more influence on political campaigns. Do you really think that’s a good future for our country? Because I sure as hell do not.
So, do you want to stop ALEC, FreedomWorks, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party and their destructive, selfish corporate agenda? There’s only one way to do that, and that’s to vote this fall and make sure to get others to the polls as well. Here’s what is at stake in the midterm election in November:
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Remember, they’re counting on your apathy and for you to believe that your vote doesn’t count. If we vote, we win. It’s as simple as that.
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