On a less facetious note, today in Erie County we hopefully elect a new County Executive, after four years of near-dictatorial government by Chris Collins, a fellow who ran four years ago on that most idiotic of platforms, a promise to "run government like a business". As I wrote in a comment on Alan Bedenko's blog:
One question that keeps coming to mind every year around election time, in my mind, is this: when did “running government like a business” become a desirable idea, and on what basis did it become so? When did “running a business” become synonymous with notions of competence, fair play, rewarding merit, and a general notion of a streamlined operation as opposed to a bureaucracy? I’ve seen lots of businesses — successful ones, even, if a business is to be judged successful by the only metric that seems to make sense to Americans anymore, i.e., whether it makes money — that are run in PRECISELY the way that Collins has run his state government. Businesses run by dictatorial fiat, businesses run by favoritism, businesses that are as listlessly bureaucratic in their customer interactions as any DMV office in the country — they’re out there. Chris Collins HAS run the government like a business, and that’s the problem.
I've never understood the American fetishizing of "business", as if to run one is to have done what is Best In Life. Nor have I ever understood the notion that running a business somehow makes one qualified to influence a vast area of public policy.
Bill Altreuter wrote scathingly several days ago about Chris Collins himself:
I find that I have not been particularly critical of Erie County Executive Chris Collins in these pages, (although I was probably critical enough, in some sense). Please allow me to rectify this omission: Chris Collins has been exactly the sort of small-minded creep he promised to be when he ran for the job, and now that he has had four years to prove it only two sorts of people should consider voting for him. Those would be people who are, like Collins, so rich that they are completely disconnected from reality; or people, like Collins, who are narrow-minded bullies who believe that narrow-minded bullying is a valid philosophy of government.That about sums it up.
[good graf containing specifics of Collins's crappy governing snipped, but worth reading...follow the link!]
He's a bad guy, is what I'm saying. This Tuesday we have a chance to stand up to a bully, and I am looking forward to it, but not just because it is a chance to vote against someone so despicable. In his time as Comptroller Mark Poloncarz has demonstrated time and again that he is an honest, hard working guy who appears to be, in almost every respect, the anti-Collins. It will be a pleasure to vote for him.
(And as a bonus quote, you can't get too much more illustrative of the perverse nature of Libertarianism than this, from the same comment thread on Alan's blog linked above:
Perhaps if Greece falls, leading to Italy and France next, the economic meltdown will totally engulf our country, setting up the conditions that appear to be necessary for people to regain their sanity regarding the proper role of government. Yes, that will lead to extreme hardship and pain for many people, but that seems to be the only way we are ever going to set up a decent future for the younger generation.
A worldwide depression? If it makes everybody suddenly decide that we need to trust our fates to the same free markets that have screwed us for years already, Huzzah! Viva la Ayn Rand! Wow.)
Get out and vote, people. For liberals and Democrats, preferrably.