27 January 2009

You Can Sure Trust the Private Sector...

Why am I so amused when I see or hear conservatives and Republicans repeat their refrain that the private sector is always more effective or efficient or trustworthy than the public sector? It's because they can keep saying such stuff while at the same time these things are happening. But my point isn't the simplistic opposite of the simplistic conservative position. I'm not going to say that everyone in the private sector is trying to rip people off like Bernie Madoff and his peers are alleged to have done. But I will insist on their cases as proof against the conservative claim that the private sector carries some aura of virtue around it that's absent in government circles. Some people take it on faith that privatizing any public service will make that service better and cheaper. In some cases that may be true, but it is also true that every such case is also an opportunity for someone to make a profit by squeezing the public and shorting them on actual service. What actually happens depends on the individuals involved. It isn't automatically good because it's private. Nor is it automatically good if it's public. But it's just as absurd to assume, based on ideology, that the public sector will always screw something up as it is to assume that the private sector will always get it right. People don't automatically become incompetent or corrupt when they become bureaucrats any more than they automatically become greedy or dishonest when they become entrepreneurs. This may all sound obvious, but it needs to be said at this time because there's one group of people in the United States who are determined to put their dogmas before the national interest, who are rejecting proposed solutions on reflex and mistaking their convulsive reactions for expressions of principle. I'm not saying this to get people to accept the Obama administration's proposals without question or on faith. But I do insist that everyone apply the same critical thinking to their own preconceptions that they apply to Obama's plans. Anyone who reacts with a pout and a huff that "markets always work out for the best" or "the private sector always does things better" is not just an ideologue but a fool, and should be known as such to all.

1 comment:

Crhymethinc said...

We've had at least 8 years of letting the market do its mojo. It has led to the worst recession in memory. It has led to hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost. It has allowed people like Madoff, Ley and a slew of others in the private sector to rip off, not only their investors, but their employees and the public who then has to pay to clean up the mess.

It's about time to apply good ol' Yankee know-how to a workable socialist system.