20 February 2007

And someone else is getting rich off of the soldiers' miseries

CNN reports that even as Walter Reed suffers, the Army has opened a privately funded rehab center, which is state of the art.

This definitely is Grover Norquist's theory in action. Shrink the government until it can be drowned in a bathtub (or Katrina floodwaters), then let the well-connected vultures take over and make obscene profit.

I can only see where this is going - government services will continue to deteriorate and be cut intentionally, just to "prove" Norquist right - that private sector "can and will do things better." The problem with that view is that the private sector will only go where it smells money, which means that some unnecessary pork barrel projects may have to be created just to satisfy a contractor (i.e. approving funding for warplanes that the Air Force doesn't need or want). And while the private sector is more efficient, it is because (1) it is less accountable than the government, which has certain procurement rules, and (2) it usually has to compete (and healthy competition is an idea that's dying out in the US economy). When there is no competition (i.e. all those KBR/Halliburton contracts), the private sector can be even more wasteful than the government - while still being less accountable.

The government is also needed where there is a need for a service that doesn't make short-term profit, but is a long-term common good. Running a passenger railroad is a good example, as passenger trains are money-losers by themselves but help de-congest the highways and the airways, and cut pollution, therefore helping the society in the end. Of course, there is Amtrak, but the current policy is to subject Amtrak to impossible financial goals without investing in it, then use that as an excuse to eventually destroy Amtrak.

Capitalism works only when the market forces are well-distributed among many, and the many are able to influence the system. It breaks down when only the few (i.e. Halliburton and the oil cartels) have the means to effect the market with, and use those means to manipulate the market only to their short-term gain. Unfortunately, the latter is what American economy is looking more and more like. For all you people parroting "free market economics" - the free market has been destroyed, sorry.