Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Jim Henley is wondering why I'm torqued about Sen. Hollings' plan to rewire every computer on Earth, to make the world safe for Booty Call. He thinks I like government.

It's not that I like government any more Jim --- it's that I like the private sector less. In its worst moments, it can be at least as corrupt and inefficient as any government program. That was, you'll recall, the main thrust of the argument in the post you quoted, an argument which, to the best of my knowledge, you haven't yet answered. We've got students arguing in Harvard Business School classes that it's OK for their company to knowingly keep making lethal products, since their job is to maximize profit, and product safety is the government's business. When these same people get to be CEOs, I take them at their word that we need government to keep them honest.

Which makes it all the more worrisome when the government that ought to be keeping them in check starts selling out, as in the SSSCA, or, for that matter, the Dubya administration's evisceration of pollution controls on coal-fired plants, which has seen the chief rules enforcer (who joined the EPA in the Herbert Walker Bush administration, which strengthened controls at the time) quit in disgust. One of the main reasons that corporate interests try to buy government favor, though, is that it does have the potential to keep them in check. As can be plainly seen, for instance, in the dreadful Tauzin-Dingell home broadband deregulation bill, where the stress, for the corporate sponsors, is on removing government controls which are keeping rapacious monopolies in check.

(Update: see also Ginger Stampley's well-considered response, which takes a longer view).


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