Does the Government Do a Better Job Than the Private Sector?

An excerpt from Bill Blum’s latest anti-Empire report below.

Blum is perfectly correct in his analysis up to a point…and then he misses it.

The “crazed” anti-healthers, while no doubt wrong on many details, and no doubt mixed up in their use of the word socialist (they should say collectivist), are actually more right than he sees…

And the only reason they are wrong at all is because of government intervention in the first place.

I’ll come back to the reasons why later, but meanwhile, here’s the piece. ( I ended up interspersing my comments within the piece).

Note:

It makes all the usual left-liberal mistakes, but since it’s the kind of argument you hear all the time, I’ll post it here anyway – since the best antidote for this kind of thing is free debate.

BB: These good folks wanna get their health care through good ol’ capitalism; better no health care at all than godless-atheist commie health care; better to see your child die than have her saved by a Marxist-Stalinist-collective doctor who works for the government.……

LR: False alternative. . And ad hominem.
What those “screaming crowds” are getting at in confused language is that they want the government out of health care, as well as all the so-called private corporations, lobbyists and professional associations (they’re just a bit confused about the second part). They want to go back to the time when there were simple country doctors who knew their patients individually, helped poor people in their extra hours, and charged what people could afford to pay.

That’s how it was before the government, insurance companies, professional associations and the rest of the racketeers got into the debate.

BB:

A common refrain, explicit or implicit, amongst the recent health-care hecklers is that the government can’t do anything better or cheaper than private corporations. Studies, however, have clearly indicated otherwise. In 2003, US federal agencies examined 17,595 federal jobs and found civil servants to be superior to contractors 89 percent of the time.

LR: Earth to Bill Blum – government contractors are not the private sector. They’re part of the government’s rent-seeking, dependent constituencies because they’re responding to an artificial market.

BB:

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Boys of Capital have been chortling in their martinis about the death of socialism. ….. Not one socialist government or movement — from the Russian Revolution to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, from Communist China to the FMLN in El Salvador — not one was permitted to rise or fall solely on its own merits; not one was left secure enough to drop its guard against the all-powerful enemy abroad and freely and fully relax control at home.

LR: The Boys of Capital aren’t Austrian free-marketers. They’re statists. But surely, I hope Blum isn’t arguing that the Soviet Union and Communist China killed and robbed their own people, defensively?

BB:

It’s as if the Wright brothers’ first experiments with flying machines all failed because the automobile interests sabotaged each test flight. And then the good and god-fearing folk of the world looked upon these catastrophes, nodded their heads wisely, and intoned solemnly: Humankind shall never fly..”

LR: Flying was a productive technological innovation. Communism is a fatuous theory of social organization that’s been tried on a small-scale (and a few times on a large scale) without any great success.

In any case, who’s stopping anybody from voluntarily sharing his goods, his food, his medicine, his house or his wife with anyone else? People object to being forced into the scheme. Voluntary socialism might well be the most admirable idea ever. But the Soviet Union or Korea or China or the US government aren’t exactly voluntary, are they?

3 thoughts on “Does the Government Do a Better Job Than the Private Sector?

  1. Government doing a better job than private secotr? Well, the diffence is increasingly a contivance and his analysis devoid of reality.

    There are the same amount of non-military employees than in 1970. In fact most of washington is run by contractors. Most consulting firms are contractors that run many of the functions of federal agencies. In fact, Booze Allen, Deloitte and a host of small and minority owned firms have large numbers of persons working cheek and jowl with federal employees. Contractors are billed at a multiple of the rate that is paid to federal employees.

    Whether or not they do a better job is besides the point–much of it is make work and wasteful if not stupid.

    Yes, I am a government contractor and have been for years….

  2. The private/public sector debate is smoke and mirrors–it matters not. Anything now that is “government provided” is actually contractor provided–and I don;t mean just military items. Everything. Think of mega firms like SRA, CNA, LMI, Booze Allen, Lockheed, Abt, BAE, Grant Thorton and an Army of small to medium firms. Oh the cost–here is an example of how things work. This is for a small firm (there are thousands like this–thousands) look at page 14 and chew on that for a bit. Oh–the jobs “created” by these firms are considered private sector! Its schocking people don;t discuss this issue–all too busy screaming about ideology I guess–check it out and multiply by 1000: http://www.compensationresources.com/GSAMOBISONLINESCHEDULE.pdf

  3. I’m having a hard time imagining Lila’s work in a video/play format such as this video that the sheeple would be able to relate to and perhaps learn from. I wonder if a bunch of others wouldn’t have such a hard time imagining how to do so and could create such… art? This is the, Bob the Builder-like parody of “The Government Can” song. I thought it was funny. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO2eh6f5Go0&feature=player_embedded

    The phrase, “responding to an artificial market” contains a whole lot of meaning, as well as an artificial customer which consistently disrupts/distorts/alters the profit feedback mechanism in a way the market couldn’t, wouldn’t and doesn’t very often. Government worker, government contractor, same thing.

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