The other day I saw the president fielding a question about his health care deform, and he said the kind of glib thing that appears to be all the rage these days.
He said, in response to a question about his proposal putting private companies out of business, that he didn't understand what the fuss was all about. Wasn't the private sector supposed to be far more efficient? Wasn't it the government that was the entity that couldn't do anything right? Why, the president asked, his befuddlement apparently sincere, would this put any private companies out of business? Let the best man win, and all that.
But he left out of his calculation the nature of the inefficiencies. When two private companies go head to head for market share, the one that competes most effectively will come out on top. The inefficient one won't. The president was appealing to this well-known business fact to buttress his claim.
But he left out of the picture the one thing that government agencies are very effective at doing, and that is the task of increasing their budgets every year, and staying in business regardless of their inefficiencies in performing their appointed tasks.
If the post office had been subject to full-throated competition, they would have been out of business by now. But the post office does not solely rely, as private delivery companies do, on revenue from their business to fund future operations. They get to supplement their income by means of lots of money collected from the people by men with guns and big, block letters on the backs of their jackets. The issue is coercion.
So the private companies that are threatened by the coming government intrusion should take up the president's challenge, but with this proviso. "Deal. But leave the guns at home. Then bring it on."
Incidentaly, not to get sidetracked here, but the same thing applies to private companies that get government funds. Government control of private industry is fascism, not socialism -- to may to, to mah to. Do not judge free markets on the basis of what happens in unfree markets. Don't judge free markets by what happens in controlled markets. Every form of economic control from the center is coercive and violent in principle, and when it comes to the economic life of a nation, a Christian's desire ought to be keep coercion to a minimum.
The government is not bad at everything. As we parse it out, this is what we discover. The government is very, very bad at providing quality health care. The government is very, very good at forcing you to use and pay for it anyway.