Saturday, August 29, 2009

It is what it is or is it?

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele on NPR's Morning Edition
You have Medicare. You have Amtrak. You have the Post Office - all these government-run agencies that try to inject themselves into private markets typically don't do too well. My only point is that, okay, Medicare is what it is. It's not going anywhere. So let's focus on fixing it so that we don't every three, five, 10 years have discussions about bankruptcy and running out of money.
There is no argument with his last point. However, his first point must be addressed.

I am perplexed at the comments that come from the right. They are either purposely designed to perpetuate an idea- to distrust government's abilities in order to reduce it's standing - or they actually believe their comments to be true. I am beginning to think that the right has pushed aside intellectuals and instead welcomed in a leadership that believes in an idea but without an understanding of what is actually taking place.

So for the benefit of Mr. Steele and all those that think this way.

Private corporations have a mandate to serve their shareholders. Government corporations (medicare, Amtrak, the Post Office) have a mandate to serve the people. You cannot serve two masters. This is a truth and I welcome anyone to present an argument to the contrary.

Unless the shareholders choose to serve the people or are mandated through contract, law, regulation, or force, they will serve their own self-interest. Does this mean that those in charge of the government programs behave in an altruistic way? No, they too look out for their own self interests as well. The difference here is the mandate. You cannot compare Medicare, Amtrak, and the Post Office to how a corporation would do it. They work under two distinct different principles.

So my question is this. Did Haliburton provide a better service to our troops then the government would have with government employees? Did they do it more efficiently and at less cost?

The idea that government is inefficient because it is government is a myth. Its problems are from lack of will and resolve, made worse by a party that believes itself to benefit more from its failure than from its success. If we are served better by corporations, then you would not hear any argument from me. We are not, simply because the corporation will always serve itself first over my needs. Give me the Post Office's foibles over Enron, Arthur Anderson, AIG, Bear Sterns, and GM any day.

So naively, I will try to put this argument to rest by showing how Mr. Steele is wrong. When FedEx needs to deliver a package to a remote rural address whom do they use? They use the Post Office. Why? Because the post office has a mandate to serve all addresses in the US, FedEx will only serve areas that are profitable - if there was not a Post Office FedEx would not deliver there unless the cost could be recouped. This is the same principle that awaits Medicare and Amtrak if we turn it over to the private sector.

For a little over $10.00 I can ship a box anywhere in the US by the Post Office. If you took FedEx and UPS out of the picture, this box would get delivered. However, if you take the Post Office away, many addresses would most likely no longer be served. Unless someone is willing to pay for it, corporations will only focus on endeavors that bring in the best rate of return. That is their mandate, and that is what they will do if you let them take over health care, the post office, or Amtrak. This corporate mandate serves you well if your are a shareholder, but it does not serve the people overall.

Let corporations take care of our wants and government take care of our needs.

No comments: