Should government stop offering any service that the private sector can provide?

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty says government should stop running trains, delivering mail or offering any other service that’s available from the private sector. Today’s Question: Should government stop offering any service that the private sector can provide?

  • Alex

    What Governor Pawlenty said is true in some ways, but not entirely. If there is a private company who can offer competitive prices and incentives for consumers, then the government should stop providing a service, such as mail delivery. The federal government would save a fortune if it didn’t have to deliver mail.

  • Hiram

    No. For one thing it’s not a matter of what the private sector can provide, it’s what the private sector does provide.

  • Mike

    Absolutely stop competing with the private sector.

    Even if there is good reason to do so, our government can’t figure out how to afford $ it.

    It shouldn’t even be considered an option until after they figure our how to balance a budget for essential services.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Pawlenty’s position is purely ideological. It proceeds a priori, without regard to any actual evidence, from the assumption that private enterprise always works better than the government.

    All ideology is bullshit.

  • John O.

    The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 abolished the United States Post Office Department, which up to that point in time had been a cabinet-level agency. From that law, the United States Postal Service, was created as an independent agency with an official monopoly on the delivery of mail in the United States. PL 91-375 was signed by President Richard Nixon on August 12, 1970.

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the “Postal Clause”, empowers Congress “To establish Post Offices and post Roads.”

    It is worth noting that the Postal Service has had its share of challenges since the popularity of e-mail has continued to grow.

  • Carl Lee

    Absolutely not!

    Privatization adds to expense, for example, the expense ratio of non-government healthcare is five to seven times that of government healthcare programs. Instead of the money going into healthcare, it goes into the pockets of management and investors.

    Privatization is about profit. Decisions are not made on what is best for consumer or the situtation, but what will generate profit. For example, healthcare companies make more money by denying claims than providing health care.

    This country has always been its strongest when our leaders have understood the distinctiion between the private good and public good. Gov. Pawlenty, whose proposal raised this question, does not understand this distinction. He has never been a servant working in the public interest, he has been the waterboy for private interests.

    Pawlenty’s proposals are not any different than they were eight years ago, nor any different than what has been the prevailing policy for more than a decade. Look where it has gotten us! Somehow, more of the same is, only more extreme, is going help us? The cost of Medicare and VA medical has gone up since Cheney got the HMOs in there. When are people going to wake up and stop drinking the koolaid?

  • iPosty

    I’m afraid Carl Lee’s response is rubbish.

    The government has it’s hands in far too many things that it really ought not. That is not to say it should avoid any responsibilities which the private sector “could” provide. Just because you “can” do something, doesn’t mean you “should” do something.

    President Thomas Jefferson said, “A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”

    This is why Minnesota government is struggling, why budget expenditures are outrageous, and why taxes are much higher here than other places, while the return on that investment by the taxpayer is so low. (for example, our school systems struggle to provide a quality education – and it’s *not* just because of funding. It’s about prioritization of the funds they have.)

    If people expect goverment to solve all their problems, it will try to. Until it takes away your liberty to solve any problems for yourself..

    Government should do far less than it trys to do today..

  • Virginia

    Would he get rid of the Military because he could hire Mercenaries to fight?

  • Kevin

    As others have said, Pawlenty’s proposal is based entirely in ideology, with no evidence to support it. This helps to show why Pawlenty never won a majority vote in a Minnesota election. This plan would hurt workers, make profits for the already wealthy, and not save the government a dime in the long run. There may be a few short-term gains, which will be lost when government administrators discover the limits in the contracts they’ve signed, and the extra charges they face to cover changes needed over time. Government has responsibilities that are best fulfilled by government workers.

  • Scared for us all

    Given Pawlenty’s track record here in Minn, the only thing that rings true is that HE could and should be replaced by the private sector.

  • Clark

    Pawlenty is absolutely correct in his approach.

    The radical lefty free loaders would love the federal government to continue its growth to add more worthless public sector jobs so we all become dependant on the government. If you look back at Greece and Portugal, two of the worst performing economies in the past 10 years, 70% of their job growth was in public sector jobs not private sector jobs. Eventually, there were no more private sector funds to pay for the massive increase in public hiring so now both countries are bankrupt.

    If the private sector can perform more efficiently, that is good for the country and if they make a profit, also good.

  • DNA

    The government should stop offering any service that the private sector can provide with less expense to both the individual and the environment, and at the same time the greatest benefit to both.

  • Sue de Nim

    This is another example of just how far toward the extreme right wing the country has swung. Does anyone besides me remember that at one time Richard Nixon (certainly no “radical lefty”) seriously proposed national health insurance based on the model of the postal service? I get the impression that the current crop of Republicans would regard his proposing that as a greater sin than the Watergate stuff.

  • Joel

    Sure. Why not just hire Blackwater to fight our battles? We’d save 27% of the entire federal budget now spent on defense! No more deficit!

  • Laurie

    What does private sector actually mean, and will the private sector be held up to rigorous standards, certifications, fraud detection etc? Will this also include non profits? I am all for smaller government, but quality and control has to come from somewhere.

  • Brooke

    Amen, Carl Lee!

    The solution to our postal problem is not privatization. The solution is a little bit of creative thinking and an openness to change. Other countries keep their postal systems above water by including *some* banking and insurance options for customers. Perhaps we could learn something from them.

  • Terry

    In some cases government needs to become more transparent in its business dealings, drug dealing for instance, sharing the burden with other dealers. All drugs still illegal in the United States

    should be decriminalized. The middleman can be eliminated, the government can sell drugs at cost plus 200 percent, and those monies can be placed in a special fund to pay the social, medical, and educational

    costs of the legalization program. Money from taxes on alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and cannabis

    can also be placed in this fund. Also following this one-year period, pardons should be given

    to all offenders in drug cases that did not involve firearms or felonious assault.

    At the foundation of the American theory of social polity is

    the notion that our inalienable rights include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” To

    pretend that the right to the pursuit of happiness does not include the right to experiment with

    psychoactive plants and substances is to make an argument that is at best narrow and at worst

    ignorant and primitive. The only religions that are anything more than the traditionally

    sanctioned moral codes are religions of trance, dance ecstasy, and intoxication by

    hallucinogens. The living fact of the mystery of being is there, and it is an inalienable religious

    right to be able to approach it on one’s own terms. A civilized society would enshrine that

    principle in law.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Nice bit of sarcasm, Joel. Hire Blackwater to fight our battles– LOL. Sadly, some folks actually take such preposterous ideas seriously.

  • jeffrey swainhart
  • Spamtown

    Hiram is absolutely right! The private sector provides services where it can make a profit and the public sector provides services that are for the public good.

    Private “health insurance” providers do not offer health insurance to those of us who have a pre-existing medical condition (and that would pretty much rule out private insurance for anyone over 65–great idea to get rid of Medicare). They don’t think they can rake in enough to pay their upper management the huge bonuses that they have grown accustomed to–if they actually have to cover medical expenses for their clients. Why would anyone think that the private sector would wish to branch out to building infrastructure? And I would point out that “for profit” higher education is vastly more expensive and does a much worse job than public universities. Pawlenty was touting the party line–with no regard to reality.

  • bsimon

    “Should government stop offering any service that the private sector can provide?”

    That would be quite nearly everything government does. As others have noted, private security firms could handle both domestic and international security. Even the justice system could be privativzed, sold off to firms specializing in arbitration. The last government function would be the writing of laws.

  • jon

    I wonder what our country would look like if we already did this years ago…

    electricity would only be available in cities, as it’d cost to much to run power lines in the country, with out enough people there to bill to pay for the lines.

    every one in the country would be driving into the city to get their mail, cause UPS and Fed-ex even now don’t deliver every where in this country.

    Every house would have 3 addresses, one for UPS one for Fed-ex and one for DHL, as well as additional addresses for all other delivery companies.

    more over I don’t think that USPS is killing the federal budget, they do their best as an interdependent agency to remain budget neutral. (you know that money you pay the post office to deliver things, they use that to pay for the delivery, not saying it isn’t subsidized at all, but not enough to save us from the deficient)

    Certainly trains can be run independently… I mean it isn’t like there wasn’t a big mess with that over the years with different groups owning different lines and different size tracks even…

    Then again, maybe regulation and oversight might actually make companies that would otherwise focus only on their bottom lines worry about meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements also.

  • Jessa

    I think some people have had too much koolaid!

    Jeffrey – corporations ARE people! They are the motivators of this great nation! They constantly strive for a better, cheaper, cost effective product or service. You think that’s bad? Ug….

    While government services are nice to have and comfortable, they are not sustainable in today’s market. Our country is broke and we have to start cutting the “nice to haves” ESPECIALLY if there is a private sector business that is already providing it. It’s like going out to eat at a fancy restaurant with your family every Saturday when you are loosing your home.

  • Paul

    So, private health insurance has even come close to solving our health care crisis? It is the most expensive system in the world and ever rising in its cost. The U.S. Postal Service was in large part founded to provide equal accessibility of communication across the country which is still a laudable, national objective.

  • P. Nielsen

    Absolutely not! The private sector, when given public sector work to do very soon results in much higher costs to the taxpayers and less acceptable outcomes, most of the public monies winding up in the pockets of the top management/shareholders rather than being used for its intented purposes. Services provided by Government is for the public good and not for making profits off of the taxpayers. It’s shameful to even consider ideas like this. I’m afraid the Country is falling farther and farther behind our European neighbors who figured out long ago that Government can provide certain services much better than the private sector and went ahead and developed programs and ways to deliver those services.

  • matt

    Let me make the proposition that government should be the only maker of computers. They are vital to our national security, our economy and are quality of life. If computers are left to the unregulated and unscrupulous manufacturers we will be left with ever increasing prices, poor quality and only the rich will have computers.

    If you find that proposition to be absurd please tell me how education, postal service, train service are so incredibly different.

    As for getting the govt out of the military if we could just get the govt out of wars the question could quickly die in significance.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “I think some people have had too much koolaid!”

    Apparenlty it takes one to know one.

    “….corporations ARE people!”

    Actually, corporations are pieces of paper. They’re fictitious entities given existence by our laws, as a way to protect the real people behind them from certain risks and liabilities. They exist because we find it useful to do certain activities through impersonal mediaries. Also, if they were people, they couldn’t be bought and sold.

  • Kurt

    If we follow Pawlenty’s approach, the first thing we should do is scrap the military replacing it with private contractors like that formerly known as Blackwater. We also have the great examples from Iraq with contracts to Republican cronies and the disappearance of billions of dollars.

  • DanW

    Pawlenty, as almost always, is not just wrong, but more wrong than anyone else. And as always, he is being amazingly simplistic.

    In our society, we need both profit-motivated private enterprise, and effective and efficient government. It’s just a decision as to how to make the best balance.

    Things change over time too. It used to be that the postal service delivered all mail and packages. But package delivery companies have cherry-picked the profitable portion of that service away from the postal service, leaving the unprofitable delivery of regular mail. (The postal service doesn’t try to make a profit, but they do need to break even.) So, if the postal service is losing money, what company would emerge to take over in a ‘market’ where the demand is declining due to the ever-growing use of electronic communication.

    TP is always wrong.

  • Kyle D.

    Of course not, if only because the private could potentially provide any service. A standard like this can only demand the dissolution of government, because there’s no service that can’t be charged for.

    There’s certainly a case to be made that the government is an inefficient provider of services with some built-in overhead that private companies don’t have (though this isn’t always the case, as with health insurance mentioned in other posts). But a service provided by the government has some accountability, which private corporations do not.

    You can always vote, or organize politically, and in so doing impact the way that a government service is administered if you feel strongly about it. Think back to the early days of labor unions, when workers fought to stop kids from working 12 hours a day with machinery likely to kill or maim them. Rather than even pretend to respond to those concerns, corporations hired strike-breakers and started beating and killing the “greedy” workers.

  • paul- st. paul

    It would make as mush sense to take lessons in social media ethics from Anthony Weiner as it would to listen to lectures about fiscal management from Tim Pawlenty.

  • uptownZombie

    wow. no.

    [begin evil laugh]

    Pay me a monthly fee and I will employ a force of people that will keep you safe (read: Police and fire), keep you fed (read: doritos, ramen and pepsi/coke). I’ll even build housing for you (read: multiple 1000′ towers with 500sq ft apartments), and give you water (you good with recycled urine right?) and electricity (wind and solar, because then we’re GREEN).

    And all of this you will get for free, after your monthly bill to me

    [end evil laugh]

  • Dug

    Um. No. Some things SHOULD NOT be left to the private sector. Regulation? Ha. When have we ever had results that show us corporations will do the right thing, when no one is watching?

    Perhaps we should turn our Law Enforcement and Defense over to private companies too.

    This way, we can continue to keep the corporate leaders rich, while continuing to widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

    This war on the poor is sickening, and its so blatant, its even worse that more people aren’t upset about it.

    If trends keep up, I will be listening to MPR from Canada.

  • Tai Koma

    Let’s celebrate a day where everything is privatized and see how much people like the idea when the day is over.

    Want to drive to work? Well, the roads are now owned by private industries. Enjoy paying a toll at every corner.

    Get home and your house has been robbed? Hope they left enough money for you pay the police. An electrical short causes a fire in your garage? Better hope you saved your checkbook on the way out, you don’t expect the police or fire department to work for FREE do you??

    Go to the grocery store to replace your burned-up groceries and find the prices have all jumped by huge amounts. What happened? Well, we don’t want the government’s grubby public-sector hands in our private sector, right? Private industry should be able to stand on its own, with no government interference!!… Too bad that means no more agricultural subsidies that keep corn cheap so we don’t have to feel the ‘real’ price of farming when we go to the store.

  • Tom

    Privatization is a scam. We have had increasing privatization of areas once handled by public utilities or government, since Reagan. Instead of increased competition leading to greater efficiency and improved services, we have seen the U.S. slip behind the standard set by other “first world” nations. Look at Internet access, phone service, and passenger trains – we’re stuck behind most developed countries, but still better than most developing nations.

    Maybe the most important effect of privatization is to create new industries that make political contributions to the G.O.P.? A little quid pro quo?

  • matt

    “So, if the postal service is losing money, what company would emerge to take over in a ‘market’ where the demand is declining due to the ever-growing use of electronic communication.”

    You might have a very incorrect view of why the postal service is losing money. Door to door delivery and forcing you to take mail just because it is sent to you are two very important factors.

    There is no doubt that a private company could get every birthday card in the hands of your intended recipients for less than your true and total cost of mail service today.

  • matt

    @Tai,

    So you understand that you already pay for roads, fire and police correct? You do realize that those costs come out of your paycheck and are built into everything you pay for at the store right?

    You do realize that agricultural subsidies just move a cost from one pile to another and we still pay them right?

    Unless you are stating that would should just continue to run deficits and pass these costs on to our grandchildren then your argument against privatization has no basis.

  • Philip

    Well, it would go a long way to getting us back on the path of self-sufficiency, rather than the mind set of “entitled.”

  • Rich in Duluth

    No.

    The government provides needed services that private companies can’t or won’t provide because it’s not cost effective to provide them.

    What private company is going to provide housing, food, medical care for people who are too poor to pay for these things? None, of course.

    As noted below, what private company is going to provide affordable daily mail service to sparsely populated parts of our country? Do you think FedEx or UPS will deliver or collect letters in Cotton or Shaw on a daily basis?

    What private company are you going to trust to regulate medications or set standards for food handling and production? Maybe self regulation is the way to go, like the guys on Wall Street do it.

    If services are worth having, they’re worth paying for. Do we want to support poor people? If so, we have to pay to do that. Do we want daily mail service everywhere, including outlying areas? If so, we have to pay for it.

    It’s cheaper for us to pay government employees to provide needed, non-cost effective services, because a private company is always going to want to add a profit to the cost of services. We don’t add profit to government employee’s salaries.

  • SY

    Really? Seriously? Come on Pawlenty, your ideas make George W Bush look fiscally responsible.

  • Joel

    Jeffery, thanks for the Nick Kristol link (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/opinion/05kristof.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB).

    Fabulous!

    Welcome to the peasantry!

  • Jamie

    Absolutely not. Privitization just means an even larger gap between the haves and the have-nots. And it often does not work, either — in terms of saving money NOR providing adequate service.

  • Ruth

    It’s true that, as is, we pay for so many services through taxes, but the burden on the individual is much less. How much do you suppose it would cost to pay for a privatized service of say, putting out a fire? Hundreds? Thousands? I pay a lot of money out of my paycheck for taxes spaced out through time and the amount deducted is relatively proportionate to what I make, but when a large bill comes at me all at once, how can I pay for it? What if I live below the poverty line? Food and basic services would be completely out of my reach.

    T Paw wants to tax those making $50,000.00 or less at 10% and those making above $50,000.00 at 25%. So, if I make $45,000.00/yr I will pay 10% and if you make $45,000,000.00/yr you’ll pay just 15% more than me, even though you make 1,000% more. These kinds of policies will literally kill the middle and lower classes.

  • matt

    @Rich in Duluth

    The Shriners care for kids without looking for a profit, Habitat for Humanity works on housing issues without a profit. Why can’t that be a bigger part of the answer?

    If the govt stopped regulating drugs would you just stop taking medication, or just take anything handed to you? If everyone were afraid of medication that would the drug companies market – seems a little naiive to think they would just let that happen. Why don’t television makers just ship empty shells that don’t work – there is no govt regulator, right? There is that Underwriters Laboratory insignia on most electronics that you buy though right? Private for profit businesses paying for quality control without any govt intervention at all. Wal-Mart and Target verify their vendors so that you are a happy customer right? If you can buy a TV, Ipad, bike, car and so many other things without a govt inspector why are food and drugs so different.

    In the end those products that are tested by the govt are tested in small amounts, you are not made safe by this you are made to feel safe. Yes accidents, bad actors and tragedy could happen if the govt did not interfere but please remember that those things all do happen now with the additional burden of the govt cost.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It never ceases to amaze me what sorts of bovine feces people will accept as valid opinion. For instance, Matt, your idea that food and drugs could be effectively regulated by private businesses operating in their self-interest denies the experience of history. The FDA was established precisely because it wasn’t happening. In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, there was no end to quack remedies and bogus medicines, some of which were actually harmful, as well as food purity problems. In the absence of effective regulation, unscrupulous people will do amazingly unethical things in pursuit of profit. But I can see how the idea of self-regulation might make sense theoretically, in the absence of actual evidence, and given our collective ignorance of history.

  • matt

    @Ruth,

    So why wouldn’t a private fire dept just charge you a simple monthly rate just like insurance? Clearly a business model of showing up at a fire and then asking for a check, or asking for one after someone has been through a fire would not work. But a simple fee of $x/month (remember you are already paying that amount in taxes) would provide you coverage. More likely than that your mortgage provider would escrow the payments just as they do for insurance – again making sure you have fire protection service protects their loan. If your home is paid for it is likely one of your largest assets it would seem strange not to contract with someone for fire service…most homeowners don’t drop homeowners insurance when their mortgage is paid even though it is not required.

  • Jennie Brabec

    For those who believe in Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED (1957) and THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS the government should be dismantled. I was amazed and frightened to learn that a survey by the Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club found that ATLAS SHRUGGED ranked second as the book that most influenced readers. The BIBLE ranked first.

    The Koch Brothers are funding university chairs in economics if ATLAS SHRUGGED is core. Alan Greenspan had a mentor and friend in Rand until she died. Our Supreme Court declared a corporation to be a person. Just lately it gave corporations privacy rights to shield their political contributions from scrutiny. Now they can buy elections with little public awareness. One of the Tea Party loyalists made a movie of Part One of ATLAS SHRUGGED which premiered on April 11.

  • bsimon

    @matt, that’s how fire protection used to work. The problem, of course, is if your house is close to your neighbor’s and your neighbor chooses not to buy coverage from the fire department. Suddenly his choice to take the risk of going without coverage puts your home – and life – at risk as well. That’s one reason for single-payer mandated fire coverage (i.e. taxpayer funded, government-run fire departments).

  • matt

    @Steve the Cynic

    So there are no bogus medicines out there today? Why don’t you buy medications via links sent to your email account? Your moniker leads me to believe you look before you leap why believe that the rest of humanity is incapable of that simple feat? The snakeoil salesmen of old were forced to move from town to town to find new suckers for their wares. How long does it take to get word around the globe today that someone is a fraud.

    In the presence of regulaltion, unscrupulous people will do amazingly unethical things in pursuit of profit. Govt does not change human nature they, in many cases, provide the framework to do it legally and other cases remove the risks. How much did Goldman (and the other banks) and BP pay for their mistakes? Nowhere near the devastation they caused.

  • Carrie

    This discussion is yet another unfortunate result of the Reagan years. Government certainly is not the solution for everything but it is also not always the problem either. Not everything is done better by the private sector.

  • Rich in Duluth

    @matt

    The Schriners and Habitat for Humanity don’t have a mandate to serve a population as our welfare system does. They do what they can as contributions are available and that’s commendible, but…

    If we, as a people, decide that a portion of our population needs to be supported (the poor and disadvantaged), then we must be willing to pay for that. It’s the responsible thing to do.

    As for product safety, @Steve the Cynic covered that very well.

    And as for your comment to @Ruth, remember that a private company is always going to add profit to the cost of providing fire protection. Direct government services don’t add that cost.

  • Sheri

    No.

    In government’s hands we as citizens have more accountability over the essential services that impact our lives. Private business is less transparent, particularly about whom the actual owners are. It is harder for us to get private business to respond if there is a problem, particularly if the response will interfere with the bottom line.

    With government-provided services we always have the prospect of the next Election Day to amplify our voices.

  • matt

    @bsimom,

    I agree with that logic but am not sure how much weight it has. If I have fire insurance and my neighbor does not my fire protection service knows that it will be cost effective to work preventively. That may not mean extinguishing my neighbors fire (it could) but preventing my house from catching on fire by spraying it with water or foam would might be the cheapest course.

    Counter balance that with the fact that I have a contractual relationship with my fire protection service now. Suppose there are three fires and only two trucks. A decision needs to be made on which fires to fight. Under the current system if my fire doesn’t get chosen I am left to watch my house burn and I have no recourse against the city/county. With a contract my house may still burn but I now have recourse against my fire protection service. The incentive is even greater for them to perform.

    Since I am cynical I would investigate my fire protection service to ensure they have adequate insurance to cover me in case they could not extinguish my fire because they were busy with another customer. They, wanting my business, would likely advertise that they were backed by insurance company x to cover all of these situations. And again this is still all in addition to my normal home insurance.

    As it is now if the fire dept does not make it my house I am left with writing a letter to the mayor to voice my displeasure.

  • Joanna

    Privatization has as its result the structuring of an underclass defined as criminals, while only those with wealth in gated communities have access to clean water, sewage systems that work, roads that are repaired, electricity that is not interrupted, fire and police protection, schools for their children, safe medications and food. Think this is a fantasy? just go to any Latin American or African country that was forced to go through “structural adjustment” in the 80s by the IMF and the World Bank, and see how the resulting savage inequality has structured the divide between the haves and the have-nots. We’re already halfway there; Pawlenty wants to pull up the ladder and kick the poor into hell on earth. “I got mine, screw you” is the ideology he is promoting.

  • Terry VanDerPol

    The purpose of private business is to make profit providing a good or service. The role of government is to educate, protect its citizens, secure its borders, and advance the basic human rights of its citizens. Get rid of police and sheriff departments and hire private security? Turn the next war totally over to Blackwater? Completely privatize education? No. We have far too much blurring of the line between government and private business already.

  • Sharon in St. Paul

    This is the wrong question. The real question is why the media, including MPR, isn’t ridiculing Pawlenty for thinking the US Postal Service is part of the government. “Since its reorganization into an independent organization, the USPS has become self-sufficient and has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters. … in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the USPS was not a government-owned corporation” -wikipedia

    Personally, I think leaving it all up to the private sector gives you ridiculous costs for the unfortunate, such as $90 to send a package 50 miles (yes, a real price for a UPS shipment recently), or prohibitively high costs for rail tickets in low-population areas. It flies in the face of fundamental fairness. That said, I would be willing to give up Saturday delivery, if it would help.

  • matt

    @Rich in Duluth,

    If the govt stopped supplying the needs of the poor and disadvantaged would you take the money you saved in taxes and buy a new car or would you use it to help the poor and disadvantaged? I know what I would do. Again we are already paying for these things I do not advocate not paying for these things – there are indeed costs to a society. Worse yet by funneling it all through a third party we absolve ourselves of poor results. We either let the system catch people or blame the system that fails them – it is still up to Rich and Matt.

    Plus we can help in the ways that seem to make the most sense to us. If you want to help people get off drugs you can direct your support that way. If you feel that supporting a community garden gives people food, makes for a greener world and teaches valuable skills you can do that. You are not locked into midnight basketball.

    Is your food shelf spending 27% on operating costs you can support another one. Maybe the one you choose to support has 50% operating costs but that is because they are giving valuable work experience or hire people with profound disabilities.

    Our love and compassion is not dependent on govt, in most cases it is hampered by it (see local tree trimmer gets the boot story, or this gem http://is.gd/m903Wx ).

  • Ruth

    Matt,

    First of all, I imagine that you and I could not be further apart in where we stand on this issue, but I applaud your ability to discuss disagreements in such a civil way.

    To address your response to my comment I would counter that privatizing basic services would still be too costly to the individual. This notion of a simple fee ignores the other part of my point that taxes should be in proportion with your income. Lower classes tend not to have the luxury of planning ahead because they have to make the choice this or that NOT this and that. In other words, food I need now OR fire protection I may need later? Obviously we are both over simplifying to make a point but try to expand this to all basic services, fire protection, roads, sewers (how would the infrastructure of the low income part of town fare?), etc. A simple fee for all of them? Private charities can provide relief but would it really be enough? We have millennia of data to look to for the answer. When there is no government help for the poor, they live in squalor.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “So there are no bogus medicines out there today?”

    Sure there are, but not nearly as many. The plural of anectode is not data.

    “Your moniker leads me to believe….”

    That’s because you’re laboring under the modern misunderstanding of what a cynic is. Cynic is not a synonym for skeptic or nihilist.

  • Dean

    Gov. Pawlenty should realize one thing: the United States Postal Service is no longer funded by the federal budget for the basic operating expenses. The Postal Inspection service still has federal authority for investigation purposes. The USPS has been forced over the years by the Federal government to pay the Fed. for funding the health coverage for the USPS and other Federal retirees; agencied that are funded by the budget and did not plan on how to pay for retiree benefits. They also had to pay several billion dollars back to the Defense Dept. a few years back for pension funds of military retirees that worked for the postal service. I used to work in a direct mailer with daily contact with postal employees and have a brother that works for the USPS. How will privatizing this service benefit the country? I see higher rates, low employement at lower/minimum wage possibly, and potentially lower quality of service. Not everything can be done online in rural areas with limited broadband access. Also many older people don’t use the Internet.

  • Tom

    This is just another ploy by a conservative Republican to dismantle our society one block at a time and replace it with their world based on preditory competition and anti-social institutions. Our government is the “people” not the enemy and if the “people” cannot work together through their government to help one another we might as well sell it all off to the highest bidder and shoot ourselves in the head. I am sick an tired of the same old Republican crap from Pawlenty and his friends. It has been polluting our consciousness for over a decade and we can see the destructive results of their anti-social, pro-capitalist policies all around us.

  • matt

    “Privatization has as its result the structuring of an underclass defined as criminals, while only those with wealth in gated communities have access to clean water, sewage systems that work, roads that are repaired, electricity that is not interrupted, fire and police protection, schools for their children, safe medications and food”

    Why is this not the case for every good/service that is not provided by the govt? Why does Target have low prices and wide selection for everyone? If I sell clean water why wouldn’t I want to sell it to “less rich” or even “poor” people? By restricting my market I cannot achieve efficiency and my costs go up…do you think the “rich” people will just accept that, laugh at poor people and just light another cigar with a hundred dollar bill made on the labor of an eight year old? It doesn’t pass the logic test and quite simply equates moral superiority with low earning power. For every Koch brother there is a Bill Gates, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. For every Donald Trump clone that is evil and soulless there are 100′s that make $30k a year. Demagouging the issue just lets the injustice continue because we battle ideas instead of problems.

  • Neil

    Congratulations to the MPR question writer for asking a great question, and fomenting an interesting debate!

    I approach this question with the following perspective:

    - If there is legitimate competition amongst providers, costs go down and quality goes up. The market really works. (Cars, computers, restaurants, retail, etc.)

    - If competition is lacking, there is less incentive to improve, and prices tend to stay high and quality stagnates, or worse. (Cable companies, utilities, Microsoft)

    - There are many sectors of the economy, where competition is impossible to maintain, for any number of reasons. (Network economics and economies of scale are the big ones.) For instance, it is just cheaper to have one centralized water and sewer system for a city.

    - A private company without meaningful competition (Delta at MSP) will perform at least as badly as a public sector company without competition (USPS) and both will tend to be highly regulated (in an attempt to eliminate the known problems of monopolies.)

    - Many regulated companies (whether private or public) have a built in excuse to be inefficient. (e.g. the USPS must deliver to everyone 6-days a week; the U of M must have an “open door” admissions policy; all pharmaceuticals must be approved by the FDA, etc.)

    Which (finally) leads me to my multi-part answer to today’s question.

    - Yes, the government should stop offering any service that the private sector has a high probability of being able and willing to provide more efficiently and more effectively (e.g. passenger rail service, mortgage financing and airport security, but probably not the military and certainly not my city’s water system)

    - On the other hand, the government should consider offering essential services that the private sector has proven it cannot provide efficiently or effectively (e.g health insurance)

    - More importantly though, the government should look at all of the regulations and mandates that it imposes on both public and private enterprises on a regular basis, and eliminate all regulations and mandates that are no longer relevant or are excessively expensive to meet. (e.g. 6-day per week mail delivery and Cold War weapons systems)

    OMG! I’m beginning to sound like TPaw!

  • matt

    @Ruth

    Thank you for listening! I am not here to convert anyone, that doesn’t work. I am just planting a few seeds. And I certainly don’t have all the answers but keep on looking for as many as I can find.

    How does it all equal out in the end? I am not sure but I know that people in the Hamptons get better services than those in Appalachia so inequality exists already. But I do know that most non-profits rely on large donations from a few “big fishes”. I know that when I throw my $50 a week in the collection plate at church that there are a lot of people that put in more than I do because they can and they care.

    Would a private fire service provide free service to the poor end of town? They might. A church might sponsor them, they might have a fundraiser. I live in town where we have a volunteer fire department because we simply can’t cover the cost of staffing a fire dept. In a privatized system it might still be a volunteer association rather than a for-profit business. They would collect from those that could pay and serve the rest. I certainly would want to consider their policies before I volunteered. Fraternal organizations worked this way in the past to cover medical care and other services for members. Society has done this for milenia.

  • matt

    @Neil,

    Great comment!

  • Jon

    Privatization? NO, this will only hasten the demise of the American Middle Class. Evidence of the Failure of the Free Market economy is everywhere… it is the standard operating procedure for business. I mean Bernie Madoff, Tom Petters, TYCO, ENRON, Arthur Anderson, Lance Armstrong, Martha Stewart, Jack Abramoff, Barry Bonds, Scooter Libby, etc etc etc. This is just a sample, if lying and deceptive practice is this pervasive, then how could anyone possibly trust the private sector to make quality products, or cheat in their effort to increase profit? The private sector will create PR and Marketing campaigns to fit their own interests and expecting them to produce products that are reliable is ridiculous. Money is involved therefore deception and substandard performance is to be expected, I would suggest that it is required .

  • Eric Reiner

    All public services should not be taken over by private businesses. Most importantly, this applies to our national defense. Private defense contractors can cost us 25% more, but cost is not the only concern. More importantly, our military is responsible to us. Our soldiers pledge to uphold our constitution. Contractors do not. They are responsible to their shareholders. The consistency of training and their loyalties are also concerns.

  • Rich in Duluth

    @matt

    I’m not following your ” funneling it all through a third party we absolve ourselves of poor results” issue. What poor results and what absolution?

    Your solution to welfare, Matt and Rich deciding where the money can best be used, is, I believe, flawed. I know that I don’t have the time or resources to determine where my dollars should go to do the most good. Yes, I may be partial to giving to the food shelf or community garden, but that’s because it makes me feel good. What’s really needed is known by the people in the field, who are working with the poor and disadvantaged…you might call them experts. I think that my tax dollars, given to them, will do the most good.

    And, if I want to feel good, I can still give a few extra bucks to the food shelf.

  • matt

    @Rich,

    “What poor results and what absolution?” Collectively we have come up with a solution for poverty that relies on govt transfers, so for the most part we view the problem as solved. When we see the homeless woman we are saddened but are confident that the system will take care of her. Our contribution to the state has covered that problem. There is our absolution. Poor results are that we have not really done much to eliminate the problems. Technological and economic advancement have done wonders to increase the standard of living so our poor are not the poor of the depression era but the actual process of moving people from destitution to sustainability has not progressed. Those are our poor results.

    As for allocating or distributing our philanthropy the alternative of central planning doesn’t have to necessarily go away. Giving to the United Way has some of those same benefits. I would posit that the marketplace has done a pretty good job of meeting our needs on many other things that we don’t have time to figure out all by ourselves. Success feeds on itself if a charity is doing a great job of delivering meals to shut-ins it spreads and meals on wheels becomes a nationally known project based on the same concept that coca-cola does a good job of refreshing a person or Sealy makes a good mattress. We don’t have time, energy or in many cases desire to spend a lot of time researching soft drinks and mattresses and yet we are successful in getting a good nights sleep provided we didn’t drink a coke just before getting into bed.

  • Dave

    Trains; passenger train service WAS provided in this country by private companies for at least 100 years. They wanted out of it and went to great lengths to abandon passenger rail business. So the government took it over, and that is now Amtrak. Would Pawlenty reverse this now? It has only been a few years since this all happened. I read that Amtrak has just had the biggest rail passenger year ever, and the trains are full. I would look very, very carefully at dismantling this system. If private industry did not like this business before, would they now?

  • Rich in Duluth

    @matt

    Maybe some view the poverty problem as solved. But, I don’t think we’ve come up with a solution to poverty. And, I don’t subscribe to the concept of absolution. I simply see that people are in poverty and wish, as a nation, we would do more. I’m willing to pay more taxes to improve things.

    And, while United Way is a great organizaton, doing a fine job of spreading money around, I believe there’s a more important point. Earlier today you asked what I’d do if my taxes were reduced. Well, at first I might put all of it into charity. But, I’ve lived a long time and I know how personal priorities change and situations change. At some point I would probably be able to justify not sending quite so much to that charity. Then what does the United Way do if many of us have changing priorities? I believe that has happened during this recession.

    Taxes are manditory, and considering the above paragraph, I think that’s good.

    Good conversation.

  • Jamie

    // “The federal government would save a fortune if it didn’t have to deliver mail.” // -Alex

    That’s very short-sighted, Alex. For one thing, if the mail service were privatized, there would be massive layoffs of Postal Service personnel (hundreds of thousands of people). Yes, some of those people could get jobs with the profit-making privatiser, but they would take huge cuts in pay and benefits, leaving them a lot less money to spend at the businesses that move our economy, and making them less able to help pay for their kids’ college education and stuff like that. So it would have long-term ill effects on our economy.

    We’d also lose control over how the service is “delivered” so to speak. The profit-maker would do whatever it takes to make bigger profits, no matter what cuts in service would occur. And The Market would not help in this regard, any more than The Market helps in the delivery of other profit-driven mass-market service we must use with tied hands.

  • Tai Koma

    @Matt Of course have already ‘paid’ for these items through our taxes.

    But let me ask you this: Do you HONESTLY, for one SECOND, think that if all public services were discontinued and you got that money back, but had to spend it on private sector services instead, that you’d come out ahead? Really?

    Do you really think driving on nothing but toll roads would be cheaper than what you pay in transportation taxes?

    Do you really think the money you’d get back would cover the increase in price of crops?

    Do you really think the low-income should have to choose between food and knowing the police will come if someone breaks into their house?

    While I’m at it, how about answering this question: Why are you concerned about the idea that your grand children might have DEBT, but you don’t seem to care if they have clean water, schools, breathable air, access to affordable housing, health care if they get sick?

    —-

    On a separate topic: The idea that we can do everything through ‘voluntary’ charity doesn’t work because people are people.

    If you take your average person and say ‘We’re cutting medicare so you can have an extra 60 dollars a month in your paycheck” is going to say “I should give this to shriner’s hospital or john hopkins hospital or a children’s charity?” Or do you think they’re going to say “Sweet, three new blue-ray movies, here I come!”

  • Tai Koma

    I accidentally deleted this bit when I was editing my response:

    To continue my example: If all roads were privatized, how do you know the companies would ever choose to fix rarely traveled ones? If a road simply wasn’t ‘profitable’, and your house happened to be on that road, why should a private business bother repairing it? It’s not profitable, they won’t do it.

    Now take that idea and apply it to all other services. If you live an area with not enough people, or an area that doesn’t serve enough profit, poof! No more service for you.

    Not a pretty idea, is it?

  • Lyssa

    Almost ever private service is subsidized in some way – if you took away those subsidizes away prices would be through the roof. So does T-Paw want to pull all government intervention out? If so, I would really like to see what massive corporations would do if he proposed that, good-bye Republican backing!

  • Travis

    There are private security services provided in private sector. What would be the effects of getting rid of out local police forces for private security forces. My first bid is on the former Blackwater.

  • Joe Schaedler

    Considering the proliferation of private security guards, should the government just stop offering police services altogether?That’s actually the way things are in many parts of Latin America.

    Pawlenty unfortunately just doesn’t recognize that’s exactly where his brand of social cannibalism is trying to take the country: pulling away the strings of civilized infrastructure all the way backwards to developing world status.

  • Travis

    there was a time where all firestations were private. They would go up to a burning house. If it did not have there logo. They would let the house burn down.

  • Anna R. Kist

    The government should be a service that the private sector provides. Everyone who has a genetic code would be a share holder with voting privileges.

  • glinda

    Look at Health Insurance. Failure. Look at any privately run, operated, large public service entity run by private interests. Failure. Privately run services will be given to special interests and will have even less controls and oversight. I have lost all faith in 90% of the wealthiest business persons. Profit is their concern, not ingenuity, caring for the overall health of this Country or serving the interests of the people.

  • Floyd

    This issue is rampant socialsim which began in our government during the Teddy Roosevelt administration. The Federal government should only be empowered to conduct a national defense, “supervise” the issue of a national currrency; and, collect international tarriffs. The Federal government should be barred from providing any governmental services of any sort. State and local governments should be similarly barred from providing services in competition with the private sector. Gov Pawlenty fails to go far enough in his proposal because he is tolerant of socialism.

  • JP

    Pawlenty sees citizens as a profit sector to be exploited by capitalists, rather than seeing government as something that should serve the public good. He is turning the whole notion of a commonwealth on its head in favor of the extremely rich.

    What is next? Should we disband the military and let the oil companies fund their own wars? Should we do away with regulating banks and the stock market because natural market forces will force those institutions to regulate themselves?

    Pawlenty’s proposals are the extreme endgame of debunked supply-side economics that have landed our economy in its current disastrous condition. It just shows how desperate he is to attract attention that he would embrace such radically dangerous ideas.

  • Marni

    So Pawlenty wants to get rid of services that could be provided by the private sector….Humm..What could NOT be done by the private sector? The armed services can be outsourced. The taxes could be done by a large accounting firm. Health insurances can be left as they were. Laws could be enacted by states with referendums. So why would we need lousy politicians to do anything? What would our government have to do? Let’s get rid of all government because clearly the people would not care if they elect someone so terribly short sighted and clearly not in touch with the real people who need the government to help them. And don’t forget that all those government employees would not be hurt by this……..NO NO NO !!!! Maybe they can get jobs with the private companies that take over…Maybe not! Pawlenty clearly does not care!

  • JP

    How far does Pawlenty think this will go in the “welfare states” like Alaska and Mississippi that collect far more than they send in to the federal government? Many of those states that tend to vote for republicans stand to lose plenty of government support.

    I’m also curious how all the supporters of this plan seem to justify their strident defense of capitalism which is never mentioned in the Constitution.

  • Ann

    The schools are advertising free breakfast and lunch again this summer for people up to 18 years of age. The notice says that there are no family income requirements. What does this tell us about government programs? If NASA is providing such valuable information, there should be private companies willing to take over. There is probably plenty of so called “research” that is funded by the government that isn’t essential. There are probably a lot of parks or museums that benefit very few people. There are foster children who receive things that other families have to cut out of their budgets. I think government does need to do something to give companies incentives to hire people, especially people who are over age 45. We can’t go for years without employment. If companies don’t want to hire because of the cost of health insurance, something needs to be done.

  • matt

    @Kai

    Would I come out ahead? I am not racing anyone, I am not trying to pad my bank account. So no. Do I believe that if you took all of the contributions made to the govt that we could achieve the same goals with better results? Yes I do. I have no problem with people believing, sincerely, the govt can do it better. I do think that a lot of people assume that the only way that it can be done is through the govt and hope to challenge that assumption.

    In the end their are failures in our system and we spend a lot of time and energy trying to solve them, through govt, through charity, through talking about it here. I don’t know if those problems would all go away if we changed to a private system but I suspect that we would be no worse off.

    I do know that Obama is planning for a billion dollar war chest for the next campaign, the republican candidate will match or maybe even beat that. Add to that all the sentate and house seats that are up and you see a lot of money being spent to control how those tax dollars are spent – that is a cost, a huge cost and it doesn’t solve the problems that we are really worried about.

    You are right there are some people who would just pocket those savings but tell me there is no dead losses in the current system either and then I will give you your point.

    “Why are you concerned about the idea that your grand children might have DEBT, but you don’t seem to care if they have clean water, schools, breathable air, access to affordable housing, health care if they get sick?” Show me one quote from this discussion where I said anything remotely like that. Yes I am concerned about debt. I am the first that will stand up and ask for a tax increase to pay down the debt. You seem to be locked in a world where health care only comes from tax dollars and I say that it is not true. That is not denying the need for health care that is saying you can get there another way, same with housing, air, etc. Just because I don’t want to play your game your way doesn’t mean I have forsaken humanity.

    Let me flip it back on you – Why do you support the state running our lives, making war on people that have done nothing wrong, denying people the right to marry whom they wish, imprisoning people for having unapproved plants, affording special protection to rich people and paper corporations at the expense of 80% of the rest of us and not even having the decency to say sorry? That is what you get when you trust the state. The same people that make those choices make the ones you advocate for.

    I object. The day we take the power back for the things that we should be doing is the day we can take the power back for the things we should not be doing. If your daily mail and Amtrak service is worth it to you…

  • alex

    Privatizing government services usually just ends up shifting tax money from government employees to private contractors. This often creates some short-term savings, but it also opens up the risk of dramatic price increases because most of the services government performs would most likely become monopoly companies. For example, when a water system is privatized, this almost always causes large price increases, but it rarely improves water quality or access to water. It is possible to use strong regulation to keep services up, but it is unlikely that the political will would exist to do this for most services.

  • Ben

    Well according to UPS web site mailing a letter across the street costs at least $10.86 USD *

    I much prefer the USPS rate of $0.44.

    and there IS no way to go passenger train in the midwest without Amtrack.

    I’m sure that private police and fire are MUCH more than my county/city taxes for these items.

    And We tried a few decades to privatize the weather service with bad results.

    And if you live in Rural USA then you will get almost NO affordable commercial services.

    So NO!

    –Ben

  • matt

    @Ben

    How much would pay your private police service to perform undercover drug stings and then feed, clothe and shelter the offenders for several years? How much would you pay your private police service to direct traffic out front of Target Field before/after Twins games just so the Twins don’t have to pay that cost? The whims of govt are built into those costs. I want you to be safe and happy but don’t assume that the cheapest way to get that is from city hall.

    Chances are that if Amtrak isn’t going to succeed it is due to the fact that not enough people want to ride a train from Chicago to North Dakota. Continuing to use money that could be spent elsewhere to subsidize those riders makes little to no sense. I would like cheap airfare between here and Denver so I could visit my father – why don’t I get that?

  • Steve the Cynic

    Here’s another bit of irony. Pawlenty belongs to a church that opposes the teaching of darwinism in public school biology classes, but the economic theory he espouses is social darwinism, which is a distinctly unchristian idea.

    The proper role of government is to rationally pool resources (i.e., collect fair taxes) in order to do those things that are everyone’s responsibility in general but no one’s in particular (i.e., necessary things that free enterprise doesn’t do well). This includes things like law enforcement, courts, national defense, building an maintaining public infrastructure, providing for those who cannot provide for themselves, regulating the powerful for the protection of the vulnerable, stewarding natural resources, providing a social safety net for those whom the free market fails– not a comprehensive list by any means.

    I once knew a man who was disabled and living in a nursing home, who had no living relatives. SSI and GAMC were all he had to rely on. The free market was useless to him, because no profit could be made by meeting his physical needs. Whose responsibility is it to see that people like that can have some measure of dignity in their lives? Everyone’s. If we leave people like him to charity, then only the generous bear the burden. Why should the selfish and greedy be able to shirk their part of our common responsibility to help provide for weakest members of society? Social darwinism would have let this friend of mine die in squalor.

  • Tony

    The private sector provides us with many people who say we should cut taxes and government.

    With so many people in the private sector providing this advice, we should eliminate the Republican government employees who are, essentially, duplicating this service.

  • Carol Ashley

    Postal Service? Guess how much mail rural people would get. Roads? Guess how much driving rural people would be able to do. Police forces? Ah, profit is key and to get more prisoners….use your imagination. Welfare? Rural areas are often poorer and very “wrong side of the tracks, no charity for that dude” mentality.

    Most people do not understand the connections between urban and rural. Privatize a lot of things and rural areas would become corporate ag polluters even more than they are now or total wilderness with no access. (The latter isn’t a totally bad idea except where would the food come from.)

    Pawlenty needs to understand how rural areas were way behind urban in getting electricity. Perhaps he needs to find out how many people in rural areas have dial up internet connections and why. Perhaps he needs to find out why it’s important for rural kids to have a good education.

    Not everything needs to be done by government, but the Constitution does mention promoting the general welfare of the people. Some things are better done by the government to insure equality and “general welfare.”

    We are seeing the results of unmitigated capitalism across the country and the world. Time to try something else.

  • Ted Malm

    Private enterprise will always segregate access to goods and services by the ability of the consumer to pay. For most things that is perfectly fine, but for some things it is not, and there are many services that should be provided by and for the community through government. Anything that should be available equally to all should be provided either through government or by a private concern with a government sponsorship or franchise. Also, anything that is vital to our economy, quality of life, or well being, that is not commercially viable should be government sponsored. Roads, bridges, water, sewers, and parks are a few that come to mind. So is sponsorship of the arts, public broadcasting, mail, and Amtrak. Pawlenty’s position is utterly wrong on this point.

  • Lucy

    @12:13 Tom :

    you called it!

    Polluted consciousness it is.

    Excellent choice of words.

  • Al

    Just what I always wanted in a president – someone with no sense of nuance.

    And if Pawlenty thinks private companies are always managed better than the public sector he’s clearly never worked for some of the bosses I have. Government does not have a monopoly on mis-management.

  • Kevin VC

    Every time the private sector does the work the government does:

    * it charges more

    * Scams money and

    * provides less bang for that buck

    * Has no OVERSIGHT.

    * No public input to HOW its run…

    The Social Security/Medicare program is one of the most efficient and best run programs, and there WAS no private sector coving the same services.

    That is why it came into being.

    If your referring to the NUT JOB idea Pawlenty put forth, like he JUST discovered GOOGLE, its clear he is even more clueless then I thought. I had given him SOME credit for some brains, even if it was just as a evil genius….

    Now I put him right up there with Bachmann… Complete loon. No wonder why out state is shutting down…

    These extremists want to remove the government because it the number one interference to criminal corporate greed… pesky laws and rules and regulations… tend to stop all the money grabbing greedy Plutocracy…

    Seriously….

    I can put one name out there and it will be synonymous with this:

    “Haliburton”

    The same criminals poisoning our troops, responsible for the Gulf Coast oil spill, the electrical deaths in Iraq, and really a lot of criminal activity. And it is not even a American corporation anymore….

  • Charles C

    Not to diverge too far from the discussion, but what is it about trains that people love? Amtrak is in deep doodoo because most people would rather fly. It’s a big country! Except for the East Coast and California, population density is low and distances are great. Trains are a great way to move freight and a lousy way to move people. Let’s pull the plug!

  • Tai Koma

    @Matt

    News flash: the ones who want to privatize the social safety net are REPUBLICANS.

    News flash again: The ones who put gay marriage on the ballot and block measures to approve medical marijuana are REPUBLICANS.

    So why do you seem to think I’m with the Democrats when it comes to ‘socializing’ everything (by which I have said, I don’t think essential public services should only be available if you can AFFORD them) but I’m with the Republicans on issues of gay marriage and marijuana??

    How strange.

    Wake up and smell the coffee: the party that you’re praising for the idea of ‘getting government out of our lives’ is the party that WANTS government in your private life. It just wants government out of BUSINESS, so they can pollute and exploit all they want. Your private life is still fair game to them.

    There’s even a phrase for it. “Republicans support a government so small, it fits in your bedroom.”

  • matt

    @Tai

    News Flash – there are more than two parties and some of us don’t belong to either party. Instead of viewing the world as left vs right others view the world as free vs statist. So I do not support the idea of privatization because it is Republican, I know without a doubt that if Pawlenty was elected president he would not even begin to do what he has pledged.

    The state has historically done two things, and by this I mean every state that has ever existed anywhere, there are no exceptions – promote warfare and serve the wealthy/elite class. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Churchill, Stalin, Phillip, Henry, Augustus, Tut – they have degrees of difference in extent but never in the ultimate ends. They buy you off by taking your wealth and spreading it around, the redistribution is not problematic but you don’t need a govt to do it, and for this you let them skim off the top and kill people. That is what Obama does, that is what Bush does. That is the nature of the state.

    If Obama did not deliver health care reform how long would you have stood defending him for continuing tax breaks, continuing to stand behind the bankers and continuing to kill people half a world away and torturing a little closer to home.

    Sorry I won’t be bought (with something I already owned) for looking the other way. Oh, and when health care reform doesn’t work or it gets scrapped – those dead people will still be dead and the bankers will still have your money.

    Obama 2012 – status quo that we can believe in!

  • Lissa

    Anyone remember Enron? Private business doesn’t do everything right either.

  • matt

    @Steve the Cynic,

    ” Why should the selfish and greedy be able to shirk their part of our common responsibility to help provide for weakest members of society?”

    So you are saying that doesn’t happen today, with the state providing “needs” via taxation? Really, the selfish and greedy are paying their fair share? That is happening right now? Hmmmm….I guess I have been misled somehow. I will go analyze the situation some more. Maybe I am using an incorret definition again.

  • Steve the Cynic

    No, Matt, not an incorrect definition, but you are twisting what I wrote to make it mean something I didn’t intend. I used the phrase “selfish and greedy” to refer to those who would refuse to give to those charitable causes that you suggested might adequately provide for the needs of those who are unable to provide for themselves. You are apparently using that prase to refer to recipients of government services. I believe that helping the helpless is everyone’s responsibility, not just an admirable but optional thing that only high-minded people do. If you disagree with that, then say so, and I’ll quit trying to talk sense into you.

  • KC

    Does that mean less taxes? Or do you think taxes will go up because now they need to make a decision (services cost extra)!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ Florence

    Never would have thunk I would find this so idniespsnable.