June 24, 2005

Other: What Belongs?

One of the most common arguements I have is of the "Who would you do?" variety:

Who do you trust more: business or government?

I've almost always come down on the side of government, and this frequently gets people tied in knots where they start babbling about "lost freedoms" and "Big Brother" and "cops". Sometimes it takes a little longer for the last one to come out, but it usually does. I also qualify my response by making sure we're only talking democracies, here. I'm not going to say I'd rather live in Nicaragua than have a WalMart in my town!

(On a side note: I took a bus up to Nelson, B.C. a few years back, and it was gorgeous. But after riding 14 hours through some of the most amazing views in the world, the bus stops outside of...)

What's more interesting than the knee-jerk reaction to the word "government" that some of my erstwhile opponents have is their image of what a "business" is: there is a prevalent belief that it's all mom-and-pop run corner stores, where if you have a problem you can talk to Phil at the counter and he'll fix you right up. Likewise, all they can see in government is this shadowy, nebulous mass of tentacles dancing bureaucratic automotons who enact unreasonable laws for unknowable reasons.

Which bugs me.

For a few reasons, but the most important one is this: living in a society, any society, is about striking balances, and there are a lot of them around. There is no such thing as a completely stable society (despite Confucius' best wishes), only one that is balanced. All politics is a social experiment, because the society we live in now is mid-change, and laws that may have seemed reasonable at one time are now looked on as outdated, overly restrictive, or even criminal. The society (that's us) changes, and with that change comes the change in laws.


People can be (and do get) voted in or out of political office as the tenor of the times change. Laws that are enacted by one government can be changed or superseded by another. Obviously, some governments are a vast amount better than others at reacting to their citizens demands, much like some companies are much better to their employees and those that live around them than others. On the other hand, companies that are big enough can demand certain things from those governments that they deal with, like: reduced (or eliminated) municipal corporate taxes; cash packages; 99-year leases of land for $1/year; and oh yes...

Having the government seize private land for their gain.

There is a problem when the balance only has weight one side.


posted by Thursday at 1:09 pm


Blogger Chip Nelson said...

Good thoughts.

I am a State Government Employee in a Department nobody wants to know about and never goes near. I am a Sergeant in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. I work in a State Prison. Most people appreciate and laud their Police and Fire Fighters but don't give a seconfd thought about what we in the Prison system do on a daily basis.

We deal with what society can't cope with. Tax payers complain about their taxes but fail to realize that there are those of us who risk life and limb on a daily basis and never make the papers.

Privatization of Prisons has never and will never work. We are a necessary evil to most. We do what we do out of pride and take what we do very seriously regardless of what the media might print or say or show.

I am also on the Riot Team, for which I am paid an additional $1500.00 a year. Want to appreciate a government function? Try facing down hundreds of Inmates in a riot sometime.

No Sir, most people don't get it. Glad to see that you do. Keep up the good work!

3:45 pm  
Blogger Squish the Klown said...

Nice. Only thing is...I still don't see the separation of government and business. Government is a business and businesses govern. To wit: The enormous support that Anheuser Busch gives to the presidential "debates." Let's not forget special interest groups and lobbyists, either. Who do I trust? The guy picking cans out of the trash so that he can get enough change to buy a 99cent double cheese under the Golden Arches...him, I get.

4:00 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...


Mate, you've got a job that I'm glad I don't and good luck to you for doing it; I am a little more familiar with the medical side of things, and the few instances of privatized services for care homes here has NOT gone well at all.

Big difference in facing down a few score angry octagenarians and hundreds of rioting prisoners, I suppose!


I dig the frustration inherent when money enters the political system, but one big, big difference between government and business is that democratic governments can't declare bankruptcy and start over. Someone has always got to deal with what the last batch left. This is why the Holy Rollers down south are bad news for the States: if Armageddon is coming, why worry about tomorrow?

3:56 pm  
Anonymous Adam said...

Great thoughts! you're on point and I love that ;)

11:16 pm  

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