Government run on greed is not good.

31 May 2012 11:21 pm
Posted by: Donna

sheneman cartoon

My dear friends Manny Cruz and Valerie Revering are featured in a compelling New Times article by Amy Silverman. It’s about their 5 year old daughter Jessica, known to everyone as Rocky, and their ordeal trying to get her the extensive and comprehensive care she needs.

And so when Rocky’s mom, Valerie Revering, told Sue Johnson she was applying for ALTCS (Arizona’s Long Term Care System, the state’s version of Medicaid services — including everything from access to speech and other therapies to state health insurance and even babysitting assistance), it never occurred to Johnson that Rocky wouldn’t qualify. By law, a child must have one of four conditions severe enough to require institutionalization: cognitive disabilities (until recently, referred to in the law as mental retardation), cerebral palsy, autism, or epilepsy.

Rocky didn’t qualify. Twice. As of press time, Revering was awaiting the ruling of an administrative judge who heard the family’s appeal in early May. Even if the judge agrees with the family — which is unlikely — the final decision is in the hands of state bureaucrats.

This is the direct result of state budget cuts, which were the inevitable outgrowth of decades of lawmakers in the thrall of Republican trickle down fantasy economics. This season they’re all doubling down on the market fundamentalist hooha. It is imperative, we are told by one after another glib business-suited talking head these days, that government is best when run by Business LeadersTM with Private Sector ExperienceTM. David Sirota took that canard apart in a recent Salon piece:

Among the most insulting memes in the national debate about government are those about leadership — in particular, the three-pronged notion that assumes that 1) running a public institution requires no public-sector experience at all, 2) public sector experience is something inherently bad, and 3) a public institution will actually benefit from an infiltration of business executives, because those bare-knuckled suits will “run government like a business.”

Bizarre as it sounds in the post-financial-meltdown era — how can anyone want a Wall Street executive running anything? — the idea persists, and with few real challenges to its fundamental premises. Indeed, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, is a guy with just four years of experience in government (far less than even President Barack Obama had when he ran for president) — a guy whose entire candidacy is predicated on the notion that only the ruthlessness and know-how of a private equity barbarian can get the government to start doing what needs to be done.

The unasked question, of course, is whether there is any truth to those assumptions. That question raises other uncomfortable ones, such as: What actually happens when corporate executives with zero relevant experience run public institutions? And what do those institutions do when said executives run them “like private businesses”?

Sirota draws from examples in his home state of Colorado of “government run like a business” going predictably awry to argue that:

…public administration is a professional expertise unto itself — one whose nonprofit mission, obligation to taxpayers, and responsibilities to the common good are fundamentally different from the private sector’s objectives.

But this isn’t only about the people who get elected and the beliefs that guide them – in the case of Business LeadersTM the belief that government exists to enrich them. It’s also about who has influence at the state capitols and Congress. It’s true that there are brave and wonderful people advocating passionately at those institutions on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens, like Rocky Cruz. But they don’t hold a candle, influence-wise, to the vast assortment of corporate lobbyists, anti-tax cultists, rich egotists, and other ruthless barbarians pushing their wish lists on captive legislators. The limitless needs of these Masters Of The UniverseTM are crowding out those of the 99%. And to a large extent it is intentional.

You can see how awful this all is in this comprehensive 2011 report, After the Dust Settles, by St. Luke’s Health Initiatives.

The cuts that have occurred to date are beginning to take their toll on people – especially our state’s most vulnerable children and adults, such as people with behavioral health conditions and children with special health needs. Oftentimes, these people depend on publicly administered care. In part, this is because health coverage for people with chronic health conditions is often inaccessible or inadequate, and healthcare costs associated with their care are often out of the range of affordability for even middle-income families. It is also because people with complex conditions require coordinated systems of care – systems that the state has historically played an active role in creating.

If they can’t cut it in this glorious new government-run-as-a-business, they can go ahead and quit! Oh wait, they can’t.


  1. Comment by Mark on June 1, 2012 6:06 am

    This ‘faith’ in the sagacity of businessmen managing the commons is ugly, persistent bad religion. Ironically, when I read your post it was accompanied by an ad calling on me to donate to Romney’s campaign. Barf!

  2. Comment by Mike Slater on June 1, 2012 5:48 pm

    Liberals think government, ie the taxpayers, should take care of everyone. That’s not the role of government.

    President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, vetoed a bill for charity relief in the 1870’s. This is what he said.

    “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.”

    The federal government and state governments should not be in the business of taking care of people.

  3. Comment by Timmys Cat on June 2, 2012 3:15 pm


    AUTHOR: Abraham Lincoln (1809–65)
    QUOTATION: The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities.

    The first—that in relation to wrongs—embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.


  4. Comment by Timmys Cat on June 2, 2012 3:23 pm


    You lie-berals are just afraid of Mitts return to the policies of “Our First MBA President”. You just want to ignore the fact that millions and millions of dollars were spent on schools, charities,orphanages, etc. Millions more on infrastructure and medical care. See, a business background president succeeds! Ha!

    (harumph, the fact that it was spent in Iraq is beside the point.)

  5. Comment by Michael Powers on June 4, 2012 6:15 am

    Corporations are all about self-interest, and, as much as they say otherwise, hold no allegiances to a nation or it’s people. History has shown time and again that the private sector is not to be trusted. Corporations have none of the checks and balances provided by our constitution. Checks and balances that have been chipped away at by the private sector since almost before the ink was dry on that document. Why we keep falling for it is beyond me.

  6. Comment by Dude on June 4, 2012 10:29 am

    Mike Slater, you’re such a fucking asshole. If you think you’re so independent of society and capable of taking care of yourself, I’ll volunteer to pay to drop you into Canadian wilderness with a Bowie knife and a loincloth and see how well you fair.

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