Opinions From Here

This Layperson’s Opinion On Privatization

If the creation of value (i.e. GDP) is the measure of a healthy economy, how is it that transferring that value to the few benefits the many? Does placing more value into fewer hands broaden and raise the general welfare (via the economy) as effectively as distributing that value broadly? I would submit that it does not and, for my example, I will point to this latest currency of ideas to privatize the functions of government. Or, to put it more bluntly, to basically sell off our country to private owners.
Ever since the 1970’s when TV broke that story of the military paying gazillions for a toilet seat and a hammer it’s become somewhat fashionable to consider that privatizing governmental functions would create more value to the taxpayer through expediency and thrift. And, now more recently, that if privatization does not occur the government has become so bloated with waste that it will soon collapse under its own weight and we as a nation are doomed anyway. Yes, it would seem that our government debt (that could be argued was created in large part by big business interests in the first place) has now generated enough panic by corporate media to close some kind of a privatization deal between the American public and big business. And I certainly disagree with such a sell-out idea. I would argue instead that no value whatsoever is gained by merely trading the cost of governmental inefficiencies for the cost of feathering the nests of private businesses. And I would argue, moreover, that the general notion that government functions poorly when compared to private business is just plain rubbish. The fact that our government is broken politically should not be confused with convenient criticisms used by those who would profit by pushing them.
To argue my point let us start with the basic premise of privatization. I think most could agree that the prevailing criticism that a government operation cannot provide the same level of value as a business operation rests wholly on the supposition that business has an incentive to be as lean as possible to provide itself the best profit; and, therefore, that waste would be better eliminated and savings the result. But then, if this were true, would it not follow that since government is not meant to be “for-profit” those savings from its inefficiencies would be negated by a private company’s own profit motive? And that by continually exploiting the notion that the business is saving the taxpayer money, a private company would have incentive to continue to siphon its profit from the taxpayer in lieu of the supposed cost it’s saving them? Then that same circumlocuted rhetoric they’ve cultivated, raised and harvested to substitute for a perrenial profit would then be ressurected to justify whatever reasoning needed for continued profits. And, even more troubling, that in supporting a for-profit operation replacing a non-profit operation, excuses would crop up to erode the wage/benefit base that supports a decent standard of living–in a race to the skeletal bottom.
Hey, if government is so wasteful and out of control why not just contract some outside efficiency experts like ENRON did to monitor things? Has our CBO lost so much credibility with the corporate media that we now need a private accounting firm to satiate them? Are we lulled to think we would rather lose a little money on profits gleaned by private industry sneaking in through our back door than to get off our duffs and try to put a lock on it?
Look, whether it works well all the time or not, the simple fact is that government is meant to be non-profit; that means it costs to run it. Business, on the other hand, exists to make a profit–and would even enslave if not restrained. I fear that we would pay dearly for trading attitudes of reward of service to our country for attitudes on how to use the government to make money…eventually to the point of losing the services and decent standard of living that good honest government jobs symbolize and stabilizes. Remember this from your high school 1930’s economics lesson? The lower prices get on things the less money there is in circulation and, thus, the less flexibility an economy has. (Look at how the big-box stores have destroyed those margins small stores need to exist…) Sure, in government there are going to be screw-ups and outlandish cost overruns from time to time, but please let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let us instead be vigilant, frugal, and–most of all–rational about things. Let us not ask too late, “Why did we ever let Fed-Ex partner with the U.S. Postal Service and then allow companies like Bain Capital to sell off our country?”

~Carl Lewis Madison
11/25/12

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Comments From Here

Comment on news article (Spokesman Review): How can Mr. Luna have the sheer audacity to pledge collaboration and then out of the side of his mouth suggest resurrecting what Idaho just said no to? It sounds to me like Mr. Luna would prefer to not listen to Idaho voters and thinks he can just scapegoat the legislature as an excuse to push his same rejected agenda again. Only six days out that kind of gall is pretty offensive…as if we’re stupid enough to believe him.

Reposts From Here

Top News

Analysis: Manning plea offer in WikiLeaks case carries risk, reward

Fri, Nov 09 20:06 PM EST

By Andrew Longstreth

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An offer of a partial plea by the U.S. Army private accused of leaking documents to WikiLeaks appears to be a two-pronged defense strategy that seeks to win sympathy from the judge and to shift the focus of the trial to charges that are more difficult to prove, legal experts said.

The offer from the accused private, Bradley Manning, was made public late Wednesday by his attorney, who indicated in a blog post that his client was willing to plead guilty to less serious offenses than those charged by prosecutors while contesting the other accusations in court.

The so-called naked plea is a rarely used tactic employed in military court proceedings and would only have to be accepted by the judge overseeing the case. It does not require consent from prosecutors who have brought 22 charges against Manning in what has been described as the largest leak of classified government documents in history.

Manning is accused of passing the documents to WikiLeaks, the online whistleblowing site founded by Australian Internet activist Julian Assange. WikiLeaks has never confirmed that Manning was the source of any documents it released.

Among other charges, Manning is accused of unauthorized possession of information related to national defense and stealing records belonging to the United States.

In his blog post, Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, wrote that his client is “attempting to accept responsibility for offences that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses.” This process is known as pleading by exceptions and substitutions.

Coombs did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The plea tactic seems aimed at achieving two goals, legal experts said.

First, it is seen as an attempt by Manning to curry favor with the judge in a bid for a more lenient sentence. Under this theory, Manning hopes the judge will go easy on him for acknowledging actions he would not be able to refute at trial, said Victor Hansen, a former military lawyer and a professor at New England Law School.

“He can say ‘I manned up to what I did,'” said Hansen.

HIGH BAR

At the same time, Manning could be trying to pare down the prosecution’s case to the most difficult charges to prove, including accusations that he intended to aid the enemy – in this case, al Qaeda.

Proving that Manning intended to aid the enemy could require prosecutors to establish that Manning wanted the leaked information to reach al Qaeda, and that is a high legal bar, said David Velloney, a military law expert who is a professor at the Regent University School of Law.

“He’s looking to fight the case in the most tactically favorable way and in the light most favorable to him,” said Velloney.

But there are dangers in Manning’s strategy. Even if the judge accepts the deal, there is no guarantee that Manning will be credited for pleading guilty to certain offenses in this late stage of the case.

By pleading guilty to certain facts, Manning also gives up any right to contest them at trial, which could make it easier for the government to prove its most serious charges.

“That’s the cost-benefit analysis you have to do,” said Philip Cave, a military law expert in private practice.

WikiLeaks founder Assange faces extradition to Sweden from Britain for questioning in a sexual molestation case. He has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Assange and his supporters have said the Swedish case against him could be part of a secret plot to have him shipped for trial to the United States and either executed or imprisoned at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

U.S. officials have denied those assertions. But they have acknowledged that a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, has been collecting evidence about WikiLeaks and some of its activists. Officials have not ruled out U.S. criminal charges against Assange.

(Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Jim Loney)

Meals From Here

Boise Rescue Mission evening cuisine Nov. 7th, 2012: not sure what it was (yuk!) but there were seconds available. Fortunately I still can hardly taste anything after the radiation therapy last year so I got it down with lots of water.

Boise Rescue Mission evening cuisine gourmet critique for Nov. 4th, 2012: the beans had not been soaked properly and, as a result, were quite crunchy; I left them and ate the hot dog bits which had a good barbeque flavor.  The piece of garlic bread was tasty as well,  though overly hard and a risk to dental work.   And, as for the bagel, I pocketed it and softened it later in the microwave.  All in all this meal was of typical quality there there at the mission.  (note: Also I stopped in at Corpus Christi earlier to see what they were serving for their afternoon snack: only to see radishes and watered down coffee…and a lot of very depressed looking street people.)

Letters From Here

Letter to the Editor (Idaho Statesman):
I for one would like to better understand Joseph Scott’s personal interest in contributing $250,000 to EVI.  What if there are conflicts of interest with outside educational software entities?  Wouldn’t an “oops-too-late” discovery of  inappropriately using voters for personal gain discredit Luna’s laptop program and risk later confusion in our school districts?  Would not it be more prudent to say no to Luna’s proposition #3 until these surprise EVI contributors and possible interests are more thoroughly vetted? Rather than the whole thing ram-rodded through?