On the Corporatization of Government

This was originally written in 2011 or 12. With the advent of Trump to the presidency it’s worth saying agin. I’ve heard so many people saying that government should be run like a business. That’s a stupid idea. A stupid statement by stupid people.

People keep saying that government should be run more like a business. That businesses are the most efficient way of delivering services. That everything from schools to prisons, to the parks to even parts of the military should be privatized because it would be “better”.

This ignores two big problems

First, Corporations are most clearly NOT the most efficient way to do things. Corporations make a profit by cutting costs to the bone and charging as much as they can. They raise prices until the customers scream and lower service until somebody dies to squeeze a buck. They could be more efficient if they eliminated the profit but maximizing the profit, not efficiency, not quality of service, not happy customers, is their driving force. Even being “well run” has a totally different meaning depending on whether you are talking about a corporation or a government. Customer satisfaction, and quality work, are means to an end i.e. profit and if they can make a profit without either, corporations will. Corporate ethics is just the predatory thirst for money and greed without regulatory oversight is not a good way to deliver essential services.

Secondly who says that most efficient is the best thing for essential services. I want good teachers that turn out enlightened and inspired children, not teachers that get the minimum done for the least cost to process the most bodies. I want prisons that rehabilitate criminals and spend what is needed to make sure they do not offend again, not ones that warehouse them at the minimum cost possible, and uses the literally captive workforce to line their own pockets. I want a park service that has preservation and protection of national treasures foremost in their mind not what lurid thing they can add to extract more money from the site. I want police and fire services that protect me because it’s what they do, not ones that count pennies and have their hand out for kickbacks. I want a military motivated by love of this country not whichever country is paying the most.

Humanity fought long and hard to put aside a society where the most powerful ruled and replace it with one where the rule of law was foremost. The corporatization of government is a huge step backwards to the dark age Darwinian days of robber barons and hired thugs abusing a peasant class. Mafia dons and street gangs are not exceptional, they are just particularly ruthless corporations. It is law and government that enforces the law that keeps profit minded entities in check and gives the rest of us a chance to make civilization better. To turn government over to corporations that use business models to provide essential services would be to set civilization back centuries.

And too many good people died to get us where we are today to let that happen.