The Private Sector is way more efficient and reliable...

than government. At least that's what The GOP and others of our lobbyist bought-and-will-continue-to-be paid-for members of Congress and Blue Dogs will always say. No more Big government! Regulation is bad! Let the free market rule! Well, that's horse-hockey!

Three true stories:

1. Back in 2003 I was reading the newspaper and saw a list of names of people who had long-standing unclaimed assets. The government caused these names to be published so that the rightful owners would have a chance to claim the assets before they were forfeited to the State. Lo and behold there was my deceased grandfather's name. Calling the published telephone # I was quickly told what I needed to do to establish proof of ownership and a few weeks later I had a stock certificate in my hands worth about $3K. Not too bad.

2. Six months ago the IRS told me they thought I owed them more money. I disagreed. Called the taxpayer advocacy office, presented my case and although it took awhile, I got a letter saying the taxpayer advocate agreed with me and I could forget about the problem. It wasn't a smooth-as-silk process, but it worked and my concerns were appropriately documented and resolved. Not too bad.

3. The stock I mentioned above.... Well, in the ensuing years there were some stock splits/reorganizations into component companies and it required me to submit my share certificate to the BNY Mellon company and hold Book-Entry only shares in the new companies. I was forced to sell my fractional shares or buy more to round out the fractional shares in now multiple new companies. The paperwork seemed purposefully obtuse. When it was all said and done BNY Mellon shareholder services gave me an account number and I was supposed to be good-to-go. I can't recall receiving a consolidated statement of my new holdings or a simple-to-understand overall accounting of what transpired. About a year ago I was notified of a proposed holding company buy-out of one of the new component companies and given a chance to vote my miniscule number of shares. The buy-out was approved and I was asked to send in a letter of transmittal selling my shares to the new holding company. I did so. Months ago. Two months ago the BNY Mellon Re-organization Dept. returned my transmittal letter and a form letter stating "If you cease your demands for apprasal rights to get paid a letter must be sent to..." (spelled and punctuated as received).... providing a customer service telephone number if I had questions.

I called. BNY Mellon Customer Service had no idea what the letter meant or what I should do. They had no telephone number for the "Reorganization Department.... or perhaps were instructed not to give it out. After searching the web I got the proper Re-org service number and they too had no idea what the letter means. BNY Mellon now wants me to start over and send a new letter of transmittal just like the one they returned to me months ago. I asked to speak to a supervisor in customer service and was refused. No wrongdoing implied. It's just a big mess.

BNY MELLON scored $3 BILLION of OUR bailout MONEY. Bob Kelly, CEO of BNY Mellon was paid $20 Mil in 2007. In February, while in Dubai (probably residing comfortably in a discreetly inexpensive motel to save money) Kelly stated he opposed limits on bonuses to execs from bailed-out banks because he thinks senior execs would quit. BNY Mellon shares had recently dropped 47% due to the excellent management by himself and these "senior execs." (To my knowledge.)

Thank goodness for the intelligence, integrity, competence and high ethical standards of big financial houses....as opposed to, you known, the sleazy bureaucracy of government regulation intended to protect the citizenry, or the inefficiency, for example, of the Social Security folks who do a big, complex job pretty well every month...and so on.

I'm not for BIG government. I'm for ADEQUATE government. There's a difference, and the party of NO and the Blue Dogs are trying to keep us from getting adequate health care reform or a public option by whining and snlveling about "socialism" and obfuscating the truth.

Do you suppose there's any $$$$$$$$$$ involved? We certainly wouldn't want those health insurance company execs to be denied their lavish salaries and benefits, would we? I myself have decided to forego dental care or something to ensure I can pay more for my health insurance so the CEO can buy a larger yacht and give more to my GOP Senator's re-election campaign.

Oh, by the way.... Thanks, Rahm, for all the support.

Comments

Frontpaged

Thanks for writing this.

I was thinking yesterday about the US Postal Service and all the criticisms people throw around versus UPS. I personally love the US Postal Service. They do an amazing job in an extraordinarily complex environment and offer great value.

I like UPS too, and sometimes I'm even willing to spend twice as much as I would at the post office to get something delivered the next day.

To all, please use this thread to share stories about your experiences of dealing with government.

In my opinion the looooong posts below

regarding the Econ blog and on deregulation hijack and distract from the point.... that being government does some things very well. The folks who always criticize government and tout the free market and private sector to be THE better solution fail to acknowledge commonly encountered failures of private business to be responsible and responsive.

Stan Bozarth

From the Econ Blog Economist View

Dani Rodrik wants the Anti-Greenspan - someone who truly distrusts financial markets and the ideology that surrounds them - to be the next Fed Chair:

Let finance skeptics take over, by Dani Rodrik, Commentary, Project Syndicate: ...Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s term ends in January, and President Barack Obama must decide before then: either re-appoint Bernanke or go with someone else...

[I]n recent decades central banks have become even more significant as a consequence of the development of financial markets. Even when not formally designated as such, central banks have become the guardians of financial-market sanity. The dangers of failing at this task have been made painfully clear in the sub-prime mortgage debacle. ...

This is a job at which former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan proved to be a spectacular failure. ... As a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors under Greenspan..., Bernanke can also be faulted...

What hampered Greenspan and Bernanke as financial regulators was that they were excessively in awe of Wall Street... They operated under the assumption that what is good for Wall Street is good for Main Street. This will no doubt change as a result of the crisis, even if Bernanke remains at the helm. But what the world needs is a Fed chairman who is instinctively skeptical of financial markets and their social value.

Here are some of the lies that the finance industry tells itself and others, and which any new Fed chairman will need to resist.

Prices set by financial markets are the right ones for allocating capital and other resources to their most productive uses. That is what textbooks and financiers tell you, but ... there are far too many “market failures” in finance for these prices to be a good guide for resource allocation. ... Implicit or explicit bailout guarantees, moreover, induce too much risk-taking. ... So the prices that financial markets generate are as likely to send the wrong signals as they are to send the right ones.

Financial markets discipline governments. This is one of the most commonly stated benefits of financial markets, yet the claim is patently false. ... If in doubt, ask scores of emerging-market governments that had no difficulty borrowing in international markets, typically in the run-up to an eventual payments crisis.

In many of these cases ... financial markets enabled irresponsible governments to embark on unsustainable borrowing sprees. When “market discipline” comes, it is usually too late, too severe, and applied indiscriminately.

The spread of financial markets is an unmitigated good. Well, no. Financial globalisation was supposed to have enabled poor, undercapitalised countries to gain access to the savings of rich countries. It was supposed to have promoted risk-sharing globally. In fact, neither expectation was fulfilled. ...

Financial innovation is a great engine of productivity growth and economic well-being. Again, no. Imagine that we had asked five years ago for examples of really useful kinds of financial innovation. We would have heard about a long list of mortgage-related instruments... The truth lies closer to Paul Volcker’s view that for most people the automated teller machine (ATM) has brought bigger benefits than any financially-engineered bond.

The world economy has been run for too long by finance enthusiasts. It is time that finance skeptics began to take over.

Links?

would be welcome and appreciated.

Deregulation = high prices, low wages, crappy service

I agree that the calls for deregulation and moving away from government over site result in a bad deal for the majority of folks that live here.

In my 48 years on the planet here's what I've seen from deregulation:

Ma Bell: split up and deregulated. Result? A fractured and broken phone system that stayed that way and is essentially being replaced by wireless which does seem to work a bit better...... and high wages and bonuses for executives.

The Airline Industry: Unions broken and deregulated resulting in lower safety standards, lower wages for employees, general chaos in scheduling, discontinuation of service to small population centers and an open door to terrorists... and high wages and bonuses for the executives.

Privatization of Forest Fire Fighting: resulting in a huge increase in costs of fighting forest fires, lower safety and wages for firefighters due to decreased maintenance of planes and equipment and increased mortality rate and .... higher wages for the executives.

Deregulation of the Electrical Power Industry: resulting in lower safety and wages for workers, increased cost for customers, a less reliable power grid, decreased response time and reliability for customers, and..... you got it, higher compensation for executives.

Deregulation of Banking and the finance sector: I don't really have to go through this one do I?

I defy anyone to name a sector of our partially capitalist, partially socialist economy that actually benefited from being deregulated. And I mean benefited in such a way that the consumer of its goods saw something better from it.

And James? Here's a link to Dani Rodrik's blog: http://rodrik.typepad.com/dani_rodriks_weblog/

Well

Computers, electronics, the internet, art, culture, telecommunications, etc. Why do you think people in the third world can afford to own a cell phone but don't have access to an 18th century technology - electricity?

"Deregulation" is only harmful when it is partial deregulation. The claim that the banking system was deregulated is a joke - it's the most heavily regulated sector of the entire economy. For people on the left who are quick to point out the corrupting influence of big business on the political process, it's surprising how many of the people responding to this topic seem to ignore the inevitable result of that corruption: much of what the government does is designed to benefit big business... even regulation.

So what you have is a rigged economic system due to a legal and regulatory framework that has been crafted by those with the most economic power. Yes, some regulation does restrict the power of big business (and they usually only go along with it if it restricts their smaller competitors) but much of it grants them artificial market advantages, especially in the banking sector where member banks of the federal reserve system have the exclusive legal authority to create US currency out of thin air and loan it out at interest.

Sure, when the government gives these institutions that kind of power (all backed up by violence, as usual) and then refuses to place limits on how that power is to be exercised there will be disastrous consequences. But the solution is not more government power - it is less - because government power is the source of big business's power.

Let's talk about some examples of high prices, low wages, and crappy service: education. Or maybe airlines. Hmmm, how about healthcare? Financial services industry? Gee, I wonder what all of these industries have in common? They are the industries with the most government intervention. Coincidence? Probably not - if you care to look at the economics. When government steals/borrows/prints up money to shovel into a particular service sector, what on earth do you think happens to the prices? Did the housing bubble not illustrate this?

One of the fallacies that makes me shake my head the most is the belief that deregulation causes things to go from being "free" when the government runs it to being "expensive" when privatized. It's not free. Nothing provided by the government is free. It almost always costs more than if provided by the private sector (services with legitimate consumer demand, not private prisons and mercenary-led invasions of other countries). The difference is, you never see who is paying for the government service, and what they would have spent the money on otherwise had it not been confiscated from them (by violence or threat thereof) to begin with.

Another name for a "partially capitalist, partially socialist economy" is a fascist economy, and that is exactly what we have.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

You didn't answer my question yesterday.

Let's say you are right about all of the above. What's your plan for doing something about it?

There's plenty to do

On the policy front?

1. Support decentralization of political power. Oppose the federalization of law enforcement. Redirect federal tax dollars to the governments of the states from which they came. Prohibit all federal grants (bribes) that include demands that state/local governments adopt a particular policy (when those demands, if formulated as federal law, would be unconstitutional). End forced annexation. Amend the Federal Constitution to include a right and method of orderly state secession. Similarly amend state constitutions with respect to county and municipal governments. Exempt small businesses and small farms from all federal regulation.

2. Reform monetary policy. Audit the Federal Reserve. Repeal the legal tender laws. Legalize gold, silver, and other commodities as money. Dismantle the Federal Reserve System and allow the people to choose their own monetary system. Allow start-up ratings agencies to compete with the government-sanctioned oligopolists. Privatize the SEC - maybe it will finally lose credibility - and allow other regulatory firms to compete with it.

3. End corporate welfare. Stop all economic subsidies. End corporate personhood in the legal system. End all tax benefits for corporations. Stop inflation and dismantle a tax structure that encourages speculation in the stock market. Abolish intellectual property and revoke all copyrights and patents held by corporate entities. Abolish NAFTA and abandon the WTO, IMF and World Bank.

4. Restore personal liberty. Abolish all state licensing schemes. Repeal all drug laws (including the Food and Drug Act) and pardon anyone convicted of a non-violent drug offense. Permit total health freedom (a good start would be passing these 3 bills by Ron Paul (10 pages in total, haha)). Abolish the CIA, FBI, DHS, IRS, ATF, DEA and all other agencies which operate outside of the scope of the Constitution. Create a higher 'probable cause' standard, prohibit any government surveillance without warrant issued by an independent judge, require full disclosure of all surveillance activities by the government after a short period of time, and allow citizens to sue the government for unreasonable search, seizure, or arrests. Pressure every state to adopt Vermont's gun control scheme (practically non-existent). Permit competition in education, and deregulate the accreditation process. Abolish the BAR as a government entity. Totally reform the immigration process and allow for near-open borders. Provide citizenship for anyone who has lived in the United States for a few years and has not committed any violent crimes. Allow young people the choice to opt-out of the Social Security system. Speaking of pro-choice, amend the constitution to include an explicit right to personal privacy and all that it entails.

5. Abandon the global empire. Bring all U.S. troops home from around the world and cut the military by 80%. Use the money saved to help people dependent on the government before phasing out Medicare/Medicaid (or just let them go bankrupt, if you prefer). Scrap most military hardware, sell the raw materials, and divide the proceeds up and distribute them evenly to every man, woman, and child in Iraq and Afghanistan. Withdraw official membership from the United Nations and all regional proto-governments but retain a cordial and totally neutral foreign policy.

6. Reform the political process. Impose term limits, abolish the esoteric and counterproductive/ineffective campaign finance laws. Force legislators to sign affidavits stating that they have personally written the bills they sponsor (or explicitly record who did) and that they have read the bills they vote for. Radically reform the election laws to permit third party and independent candidates access to the ballots, and remove all forms of two-party favoritism in the legal/tax system. Abolish 'state secrets' and 'national security' exceptions to FOIA requests. Abolish so-called 'free speech zones' and bar the federal/state/local government from imposing time/place/manner restrictions on demonstrations or protests on public property.

That's just a small fraction of the positive reforms that could be made. Some reforms could happen today, others will take decades at a minimum. The current system will end one way or another - my hope is that we can smoothly transition to a sustainable society founded primarily on voluntary institutions and non-violent human relations rather than go through a lot of suffering that will be experienced if we continue down the road to Brave New World.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

A few good ideas

buried in a pile of craziness.

Get rid of Federal law enforcement, allow states to secede from the "Union", let 16 year-olds carry a concealed weapon without a permit? Oh yeah, that's brilliant. While you're at it, why don't we bring back legal slavery? At one time, we used humans as currency for barter, you know.

Tell you what, if these ideas hold such promise, you should be able to provide us some examples out of the almost 200 countries in the world. Which countries come the closest to this formula?

Why did you bother responding?

You just claim that those proposals are 'crazy' without providing any argument whatsoever (those town hall wingnuts must be rubbing off!). The FBI has a track record of spying on US citizens and being involved in all kinds of corrupt activities. State law enforcement can handle the vast majority of crime, and if a national level law enforcement really becomes necessary the states can create an organization to deal with that outside of the control of the federal government. I hope you don't seriously oppose abolishing the CIA.

Of course states should be able to secede from the Union. Don't you believe in self-determination? Don't you believe in democracy? Does the US have the right to leave the UN? Have you never considered the argument of the progressive Vermont secessionist movement?

What should we do about minors who carry weapons - throw them in prison? Yea, I'm sure everyone would be better off if we did that. The lists of things that kids can be harassed, arrested, and imprisoned for simply isn't long enough as it is. So what if those inner-city kids need a way to protect themselves? If there's ever trouble, they should do as we do here in the suburbs - call the cops! Hahaha

Are you suggesting that I look up the legal codes of over 200 countries and match them to the list of proposed reforms? Um.. I not going to waste my time doing that. Next time you respond to me I would appreciate some actual arguments.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Some things are crazy enough

to not require a detailed argument to expose them. But I'll give you a few anyway:

Aside from dealing with paltry issues like the abduction (kidnapping) and interstate transport of children for sexual or other purposes, and uncovering massive national and international fraud schemes that bilk people of their personal property, the FBI also maintains databases like IAFIS that allows local law enforcement to know the criminal background of the person they've taken into custody, as opposed to, you know, using a magic fricking 8-ball to figure that out.

I know you (Libertarian) folks don't like the government keeping "tabs" on people, but the FBI (and others) have helped to preserve the liberty and private property of millions of Americans. The fact that you can't recognize that speaks volumes, my friend.

As far as secession is concerned, tyranny is not something that only thrives on a grand scale. It can be present in a household, a village, a township, a city, a county, etc. Here's an example from our own history:

Sec. 6. (1) The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for the revenue necessary to pay the debts and carry on the Government of the Confederacy, and all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the States of the Confederacy.

(9) To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.

(1O) To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.

(11) To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.

(15) To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Confederacy, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.

And as to this:

I not going to waste my time doing that. Next time you respond to me I would appreciate some actual arguments.

So...you're not going to waste your time, but you want me to? That's just fantastic.

Private health care system needs regulation

I do agree that the de-regulation of the banking industry, communications industry, and transportation industry has led to massive failures. The Health Care Industry needs serious regulation because it is private for-profit and it has failed every American. We gave the Private Health Care Industry a chance to regulate themselves and do what is right for the people of this country. Instead, they have put profit above human lives and have done everything that they can to stay out of any government regulation, especially private health insurance companies.

I am a firm believer in that it is long past time for the Government to step in and regulate the Health Care industry especially the private insurance companies. They will do a much better job at it and ensure that citizens are treated equally and fairly.

We disagree

Dr. Q, we come at this from very different basic viewpoints. Your statements seem to suggest that if all rules and regulation were removed that the would would be a wonderful free market place that would benefit the consumer. You claim that our economy is fascist, and can no doubt find a nice set of dictionary references to support that claim. I believe that when you let the person with the biggest stick control the world that it is barbarism, and that the needs and human rights of minorities will suffer. I actually believe that is not right.

As I said, a basic philosophical difference. I actually do believe in everyone working together to achieve the best outcome for the most people, not the rule of the strongest and smartest to the exclusion and marginalization of everyone else. I believe that the people who make the products deserve a decent wage and decent working conditions in a place not poisoned by the manufacturing process. I have yet to see any example of this free market utopia work because the greed at the top always always always overcomes any market factors.

I stand by the items I listed above, because the price of something is only a partial example of its worth.

Actually we agree on a lot

Your statements seem to suggest that if all rules and regulation were removed that the would would be a wonderful free market place that would benefit the consumer.

Which rules and regulations? The ones enforced with violence? Yes, in the long run they hurt the little guy.

I believe that when you let the person with the biggest stick control the world that it is barbarism,

I completely agree. That big stick is called government, and that's why I want it to play a minimal role in human relations.

I actually do believe in everyone working together to achieve the best outcome for the most people, not the rule of the strongest and smartest to the exclusion and marginalization of everyone else.

Again, that's exactly what I'm saying. I'm suggesting that people working together voluntarily to solve problems is a better approach than letting a small group 'rule' over everyone simply because they have the guns. It's an argument against the state.

I believe that the people who make the products deserve a decent wage and decent working conditions in a place not poisoned by the manufacturing process.

I completely agree. I also think that you should always tip a waiter at a restaurant so long as they weren't downright hostile. But am I going to put a gun to someone's head and kidnap/arrest them and lock them in a torture chamber/prison if they don't tip? No. In other words, I don't automatically assume that my ethical standards should be applied to the rest of humanity using coercion (outside of a few very limited circumstances).

I have yet to see any example of this free market utopia work because the greed at the top always always always overcomes any market factors.

The market is simply the absence of government. Government, of course, is brute force - violence. So the "the free market" really just means all peaceful human relations (love, charity, trade, etc). Even though there's only been a few examples of completely free markets, we don't have to look for them for proof that peace and freedom (the market) are superior to force and control (the government). Just look at the ~10,000 year track record of government which clearly illustrates that it has been and always will be a tool of oppression and exploitation employed by the powerful few against the masses. Nearly all of the current injustices in the economy are ultimately founded on state violence.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Constitutional Market

This just in. X-ray analysis reveals original intent of Founding Fathers:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Market of the United States, which shall consist of Sellers and Buyers.

The executive Power shall be vested in Property Owners of the United States of America.

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Market, and in such inferior Markets as the Sellers and Buyers may from time to time ordain and establish.

A well regulated Market, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Credit Cards, shall not be infringed

The Big Stick

Referring to the tit-for-tat above describing the "big stick," I'll weigh in.

No less a "conservative" luminary than former President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned not of the big stick of government, but the really big stick of government and big business teaming up at the expense of the individual.

The government must be constrained against infringing on the rights of the individual, but it is only government than can constrain the power of big business against the rights and interests of the people.

Today we see more and more clearly the power of big business in concert with government, with nearly a trillion dollars committed with barely a rise in blood pressure to prevent financial institutions that were "too big to fail" from doing just that.

The great monologue by Arthur Jensen (played by Ned Beatty) in the 1976 movie "Network" painted a scary, yet accurate picture, of how the world really works. "There are no nations..." Jensen explains to the psychotic Howard Beale (played by the late Peter Finch). "There is only the corporation."

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR