I disagree with those who maintain that government is inherently wasteful and ineffective. The public sector certainly can be both just as the private sector often provides poor quality workmanship and customer service.
Democrats are often better at governing than Republicans as they have a more positive attitude toward government activism. Government agencies can become more innovative and customer friendly with the right leadership and values. There is no reason for example that government offices cannot be open more flexible hours (like evenings and weekends) to offer better service to the public. Like big corporations, public bureaucracies can encourage a drone-like attitude among employees or promote an organizational culture of innovation.
Government can be as efficient in delivering services as the private sector. I think our military has done a great job considering the demands and limited resources that they must work with. Our police and firefighters show courage every day to protect and save lives. I can't imagine rent a cops and private firefighters showing the same dedication. The postal service ? Well, that could use a lot of improvement but much of the decline in service quality can be traced to the replacement of career civil service workers with the temp-like "casuals" who don't always have the same dedication to their duties.
Jacksonville,FL has a city-owned electric authority (JEA) which does an excellent job of providing power to the Duval County area. The rates are actually lower than profit-making private power companies such as Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric.
I am not suggesting at all that every enterprise should be run by the government but rather that government can do and actuallty does some things better or as well as the private sector. And there are areas like education that have traditionally been a public-private partnership like education. I'm all in favor of public education and some of our public schools excel at educating and training their students. Of course, some students fare better in a private or church-related school environment. Private and parochial schools have always educated a significant minority of our children. I see no conflict between experimenting with voucher programs to assist low to moderate income parents who wish to send their kids to a private school with supporting and further improving the public school system.
Likewise, I don't think it is always a bad idea for government to outsource certain functions to the private sector if a business can be made that they do the job more efficiently without compromising the quality of service. A lot of services in our society can be potentially be a private-public partnership. There is nothing wrong with workers in the public sector competing with those in the private sector as long as both are given the necessary tools to do their job. The answer isn't always creating or making a government agency bigger or mindlessly just declaring government bad and contracting all functions out to the private sector. In privatization mad Florida under the leadership of Jeb Bush, we've seen examples of how private companies often performed less efficiently than government agencies. Governing sometimes requires a little common sense and removing the ideological blinders - right or left.
* REPUBLICANS REWARD BIG BUSINESS - NOT VALUES VOTERS
I happen to oppose gay marriage (and support a constitutional amendment banning it) but agree with this UK Guardian columnist via the Tapei Times. The Republicans want to use social conservatives for votes while big business gets whatever they want. Progressives need to recognize that big business is the real enemy - not the socially conservative values voters.
Democrats must realize as JonathanFreedland that getting into a conflict with values voters is unwise. Our party needs to stress economic issues and allow for a difference of opinion on social matters such as gay marriage and abortion.
Bush's play to the Christian right is a red herring
The US President is once again pandering to so-called `value voters'over gay rights, but Democrats and other progressives should not bedistracted from the real enemy
By Jonathan FreedlandTHE GUARDIAN , LONDONSaturday, Jun 10, 2006,Page 9
"Well, it gave US President George W. Bush the presidency once before, so why not use it again? Our old friend gay marriage is back, evoked anew by the man in the White House to scare "values voters," most of them Christian conservatives, into voting Republican one more time."
"It did the business in 2004, when Bush's efforts to turn the election into a referendum on same-sex unions may well have tipped the pivotal state of Ohio, chiefly by persuading social conservatives to get out and vote. So it's no surprise to see a tired Bush, facing second-term poll numbers in the Nixon depths, reaching for the same stick now."
"Bush wants to amend the Constitution so that that precious charter of rights and liberties will include a new sentence defining marriage exclusively as an arrangement between a man and a woman. Such an exclusion clause would demean the document, like graffitis crawled across a sacred text. The Constitution has been altered before -- but usually to expand rights, not to restrict them."
"The president and his allies wrap this up in the usual preachy language, of course -- stand by for the radio pastors intoning that 'It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve' -- but there is nothing holy about this mission. It's brazen politics, an obvious lob of red meat to the hungry of the Christian right. If they gobble it up they will show just how easily they are bought. Abroad it will confirm an impression many have had of the US for awhile: that the country is on its way to becoming a theocracy, with the evangelical right organizing methodically, and over decades, to take over the commanding heights of the country. Europeans and others shudder at the polls which show that 40 percent of people in the US would support a ban on the teaching of evolution in schools, while two-thirds believe creationism should be taught alongside Darwin in the schools."
"With a leader who shares those sentiments ruling over White House, it's been easy to see this as the faith-based presidency. In this view, the salient feature of the Bush era has been its religiously rooted, Manichean vision of the world, seeing the US as locked in a holy struggle of good against evil."
"Such a view is certainly appealing: it's simple and it would explain a lot. But it would be woefully incomplete. For there has been another force at work during the Bush years, one that can claim amuch larger, if less publicized, role in shaping the policy of the present era. Take this very week in Washington. While the talk shows and blogs are humming with gay marriage, the Senate will debate the permanent abolition of the inheritance tax. Republicans are already rebranding this the death tax, as if the wicked government insists on squeezing even the corpse on the undertaker's slab. But the truth is that only three estates in every thousand are eligible for tax under the current law: everyone else pays nothing. But those three matter, because they're the estates worth more than US $4 million -- and it's those families Bush wants to help. No change there."
"In his very first months as president, Bush passed a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest 1 percent ofAmericans, a redistribution of money from poor to rich that will leave the most affluent a staggering US $477 billion better off over a10-year period. That, rather than any religious crusade, has been the true hallmarkof the Bush era. In every sphere it has been the wealthy, andparticularly big business, who have been the true beneficiaries --and often architects -- of Bush policy."
"Energy is a case in point. Just 10 days after his arrival in theWhite House, Vice President Dick Cheney, fresh from running the oilservices and construction company Halliburton, convened a secret "energy task force," an unelected group that set about makingthe oil and gas companies' dreams come true. Whether they wanted more drilling, mining or deregulation, they got it."
"One telling documentwas a wish-list memo from Enron: a later congressional analysisshowed that 17 policies sought by Enron, or which directly benefitedthe company, were included in the task force's final report. Again,no big surprise: Enron had been a generous giver to the Bush-Cheneycampaign in 2000.Cheney managed to keep the task force away from democratic scrutiny,but occasionally the curtain was tugged back."
"A rare and choice example is the case of Philip Cooney, who served until last year aschief of staff for the White House council on environmental quality.It turned out that Cooney had been quietly editing reports bygovernment scientists on global warming, wielding his pencil to castdoubt on climate change. One sentence asserting that the world is 'getting hotter was rewritten to say that it 'may be."
"Yet Cooney had no scientific training. His sole qualification for the job was that he had previously worked for the American Petroleum Institute, the chief lobby group of the oil industry. He was forced out of the White House, but that was no problem. He got a new job --as a spokesman for ExxonMobil.""There are countless other examples, from the gutting of the Clean AirAct to Bush's attempt to dismantle the US pensions system known as social security -- a Roosevelt-era institution valued by Americans on middle and low incomes, but irrelevant to the rich and powerful."
"The symbol of this closeness between the White House and the boardroom remains Halliburton itself, which was awarded three massively lucrative reconstruction contracts in Iraq without even suffering the inconvenience of having to bid for them. We're told that Cheney played no part in allocating those contracts. But he wouldn't have to, would he?Those who want to take on the Bush administration should keep all this in the forefront of their mind."
"The Christian right may be the juicier, more telegenic target, but they are not the sole, or even central, driving force of US policy.Where does that leave Democrats? It suggests they must keep their sights on the real enemy. It does not pay to get into a fight with 'values voters.' More important is to make a moral case against poverty, environmental despoliation and a greed culture."
* GUN RIGHTS MOVEMENT SETBACK AND VICTORY
Congratulations to the Amendment II Democrats for making a valiant effort to persaude the Texas Democratic State Convention to adopt pro-gun rights language to the state party platform. Progress was made in raising awareness about firearms issues among party activists and many connections were made with other pro-Second Amendement Democrats at the conventionlast weekend in Ft. Worth. For information on Amendment II Democrats, check out their website at http://www.a2dems.net
A great victory for our Second Amendment rights was won Monday in a California Superior Court as a judge struck down a San Francisco voter initiative banning residents from owning handguns within the city. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
"In today's ruling, Judge James Warren said California law, which authorizes police agencies to issue handgun permits, implicitly prohibits a city or county from banning handgun possession by law-abiding adults."
"That law 'demonstrates the Legislature's intent to occupy, on a statewide basis, the field of residential and commercial handgun possession to the exclusion of local government entities,' Warren wrote in a 30-page decision."
The article quoted Chuck Michel, attorney for the NRA which the voter approved ordinance as stating,"We're thrilled that the judge recognized that law-abiding citizens who possess firearms to defend themselves and their families are part of the solution and not part of the problem."
Few cities would ever consider enacting such extreme and un-Constitutional laws as a gun ban. The fact that 58 percent of the voters in San Francisco would approve a prohibition on the ownership of handguns shows just how far the city is away from mainstream American public opinion.