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Avoiding Responsibility

While many people have written about Blackwater, Paul Krugman points out in his Friday column, Hired Gun Fetish, that the practice is wide spread in other areas of government.

…the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

The private companies are not accountable. They end up with the immunity of government and the immunity of the private sector. When something terrible happens the Hedgemony says it wasn’t us, it was a private company, and nothing ever happens to the private company. The government contracts have often been written to shield these companies from even civil liability.

The GOP views it as given that tax cuts produce greater revenue and that private enterprise is more efficient than the government. There is no actual proof that has ever been presented that either assumption is true, and plenty of cases where both assumptions have been shown to be demonstratively false. The US has gone several Trillion dollars in debt allowing these presumptions to be tested with our tax dollars. They continue to fail, and yet they keep being tried. Every time the failures are brought up, there are excuses presented, but the truth is they don’t work and clapping louder won’t make them work.

6 comments

1 whig { 10.01.07 at 12:50 am }

They are privateers operating without authorized letters of marque and reprisal. Pirates, in other words, enemies of the constitution.

2 Bryan { 10.01.07 at 11:30 am }

Mercs are mercs. The government that hires them is responsible for what they do, and what they do is kill people.

3 Alice { 10.01.07 at 9:44 pm }

Rather than deal with the responsibility of actually running a government, BushCo farms things out to third parties and then claims their hands are clean when the third party fails or fubars and that there is nothing they can do because said third party is private. Failure is irrelevant. This same old song has been played over and over for the last 5+ years and I don’t see it changing unless Congress starts living up to it’s responsibilities. So I guess I really don’t see it changing. It’s so frustrating.

4 Bryan { 10.01.07 at 10:22 pm }

The next White House is going to have a monumental problem trying to hire competent people for the Federal government. So many jobs have been converted to political hires that the transition is going to be another disaster.

There are plenty of functions that can be outsourced, or consolidated, but security and law enforcement aren’t among them. Some things require qualified professionals and the government has little control over hiring and firing after a bid is awarded to a private firm.

Congress needs to act now or the problem is just going to get worse. These people haven’t hired adequate staff for any of the regulatory agencies and the lack of people shows. They had to be forced to hire people for the Border Patrol and the Immigration Service. It’s just pathetic.

All you can do is hope for the best, and expect the worst. At this point there isn’t much space between those two positions.

5 Steve Bates { 10.02.07 at 1:01 am }

“There are plenty of functions that can be outsourced, or consolidated, but security and law enforcement aren’t among them.” – Bryan

And… not to be impolite about it… how’s that privatized Post Office thingie working out? I know it’s not on the order of mercenary armies, but the GOPers (particularly the Bushists) seem determined to prove in every way possible that privatizing a lot of functions that are public for good reason (the military, for example) just introduces external motivations contrary to the public interest (read: obscene profits). When privatizing becomes a matter of religion, we find “religious” people like Erik Prince in charge of things of which they shouldn’t even be allowed to be in the same vicinity.

If any good can come out of this wretched series of episodes with Blackwater, it will be the reminder… actually acted upon… of the notion that some things simply cannot be privatized without detriment to the public good.

6 Bryan { 10.02.07 at 12:50 pm }

The Post Office has gotten worse ever since these people came into office and encouraged everyone to run services like Enron. They have cut staff to the point that they are no longer providing a decent service. They don’t understand that mail delivery isn’t a product, it’s a service. You can’t make a profit delivering mail from any point in the US to any other point in the US for the same price. You have to use the profitable routes to pay for the unprofitable. That is a given, and that is why you can outsource the transportation of mail after it has been bundled, but collection and delivery are always going to lose money.

Security and law enforcement involve the power of the state, and that power should only be given to employees of the state.