I don't know why I feel that whenever I issue an opinion or state a fact critical of some of our major (MAJOR; as in HUGE) private, for-profit corporations and note some of the less than optimally socially desirable propensities of the private enterprise system I first must also admit that not since October, 1978 was I a wage-earning employee of anyone, but a business-for-self entrepreneur who loved being able to work for myself in a private enterprise environment.
The truth is, I like the free, private enterprise system. But there are a lot of folks in it that a.) don't always behave well; b.) a number who never behave well, and never intended to; and c.) the system makes it easy for 'a' and 'b' to flourish.
Evidently, a huge number in America haven't the first clue about anything relative to the actual making of money by a business entity. See, there are essentially only two sides of this bookkeeping thing: the revenue side that comes from sales of the business entity's products or services, and the expense side that is necessary for the production of the product or service. Profit is what you get when you subtract from sales revenue all the expenses it took to produce the service or product.
And profit is not a bad thing. Or, to bring it down to the simple: Remember when you were a kid and a neighbor wanted his or her lawn mowed. Now, perhaps you would have done it for free, rather than hang out with your buds on that hot summer's day. Well, okay, once in a while. But if you made it a practice to do it for free every week, you were a terrible business person; not a bad person, just a complete fool businesswise speaking. You had your own needs that only a certain sum of money could satisfy, and giving away your labors was the surest path to . . . well, you were living with a parent (or both), and they'd cover your basic needs. But you just can't do that as an adult. You just cannot give your labors away and survive; literally. You too must earn a profit, even though you may not call it that.
Businesses -- mine, or anyone's -- can't do much to control revenue. They can strive diligently to persuade more and more and more folks to buy their product or service. But they can't force anyone to actually buy it. Whatever control businesses do have is on the expense side. Somehow, either legitimately, or completely illegitimately, businesses can find ways to cut those expenses, thus increasing the profit. And the incentive is always to cut expenses to as low as possible. The business can streamline operations. It can automate as much as possible. And it can cut corners; in other words: cheat like hell.
Sadly, unless you have been hiding under a rock, under water, in a very deep and dark cave, you have heard the many true stories of businesses that have "cheated like hell." And how the cheating like hell has had the most tragic of consequences for other folks who might have been completely innocent bystanders. We've seen coal mines that have collapsed when a coal mining company cut mine support corners, and cut maintenance and cut inspections, to ensure the supports that were in place were really capable of supporting the mine. We've seen what happened when British Petroleum cut the maintenance on its rig in the Gulf. And . . . here's one more; copied and pasted in part from an August 21 AOL report on the Arizona prison escape:
(Aug. 21) -- Just how lax was security at the privately run prison in Kingman, Ariz., where three inmates escaped and precipitated a three-week, multimillion-dollar manhunt through at least six states?
The Arizona Department of Corrections inspected the prison after the brazen July 30 escape to get an idea. Among its findings:
"¢ Alarms went off so frequently for no apparent reason that responding to them was a lower priority for guards than "answering the telephone, issuing keys, checking staff in."
"¢ The prison perimeter was often unmanned during predictable shift changes.
"¢ More than 80 percent of the staff was new or newly promoted, and many of them lacked training in procedures and struggled to even load and unload weapons during a security review.
"¢ An outside dormitory door was left open so frequently that a rock was left nearby, apparently to prop it open.
The 3,400-bed Kingman facility is run by Utah-based Management and Training Corp., which has contracts for more than 21,000 prison beds in Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Ohio and Texas. Just before the Kingman escape, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced MTC as the winning bidder for a seven-year, $135 million contract to operate three of its correctional facilities.
Stan Stojkovic, a criminal justice professor and dean at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, told AOL News on Friday that security issues can be common at privately run prisons, though some states have had success with private companies.
"The general issue is the quality of service and security is a part of that," Stojkovic said. "They're there to make money andany way they can cut corners means they make more money." (Emphasis mine.)
"In the public sector, the security of the prison is job one," he added. "This kind of security breach, that would just be a serious, major breakdown. That's not always the case with private companies. So yes, these kinds of problems [cited in the Arizona report] are not necessarily unusual and that is a concern."
Back to me:An entire host of morally corrupt people (We'll call them conservatives) have been trying to peddle the notion that in every instance, private enterprise is superior to something government run and that anything that is government run is failure bound, and that if we as a society just let private enterprise do its thing, unmolested by any form of regulation or oversight, all of us will have lives of unlimited joy and bounty. Also, an entire host of really, really stupid people (We'll call them Fox News viewers and conservative radio listenersand Republican voters.) have bought this line of crap . . . hook, line and sinker, which is why so much of the economy has been sunk,just like the oil rig in the Gulf!
All I'm trying to say is that all of us have an absolute moral obligation, as human beings blessed with the most amazing device -- the human brain -- ever devised, to use that brain to do some critical THINKING, to not fall into the very poorly disguised trap (Like, there have been huge signs posted every few feet: TRAP AHEAD!), and to decide we don't have to march lemming-like into it. Not a one of us has ever been forced, nor are we now being forced, to be stupid. Let me end with an example. If your neighbor told you that hanging upside down from a 4th story rain gutter would provide the best view of the parade . . . Hmmm, the hard to grasp evidenceisthat a lot of parents would not shout to their 10-year-old, "Tommy, don't listen to that guy, he's completely nuts--and get down from there NOW!"
An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."