Yes, and I have read that the Byzantine Empire, *realizing that
Christians could not be asked to fight*, used mercenaries.
A nearby city has ten private trash pickup services competing with each
other, so many streets (maybe not all, because certain streets may have
no customers of a particular service) have ten different trucks driving
along, chewing up the roads, and each bypassing several homes. How can
that be efficient and economical? But when the city council proposed
letting a contract to a single service, people screamed about having
their freedom of choice taken away; the proposal has now been dropped.
There is another model for the relationship between government and
private enterprise. For decades both the Commonwealth (national/federal)
and many state governments in Australia (no matter whether they were
conservative or "liberal" -- as Americans use the term) had enterprises
in competition with private enterprise"; e.g., The Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, The Savings Bank of South Australia (and similar in some
other states), various State Government Insurance Offices. None of
these, AFAIK, operated like a traditional government department: I think
they were run by boards of directors/governors. I understand that some
of those enterprises were privatized on philosophical grounds, but at
least in one case people, especially in rural areas, have been
disadvantaged: every Post Office (which in a small community might be
just a few feet of counter space in the General Store, or wherever) was
an agency for the Commonwealth Savings Bank, so almost everyone had
reasonably easy access to banking facilities. Since privatization, any
individual bank office that did not show a profit was closed, leaving
many people without convenient banking facilities.
One of the problems with the US regulatory bodies is that there is a
revolving door between those bodies and the industries they are supposed
to be regulating. In the traditional British-style Civil Service nobody
gets into a high-ranking position from "outside": seniority plays a big
I get the impression that you think that is bad. Tenure has been
discussed many times in our papers the over the past few weeks, and the
position that makes most sense to me is that tenure was never intended
to protect incompetence, but administrators often can't be bothered to
do what is necessary to get rid of incompetent teachers or to help them
Anyway, I did not say that promotion in a British-style Civil Service is
*entirely* on the basis of seniority: I said it plays a big part.
Another thing just occurs to me: if you have a regulatory body that is
greatly staffed by people from the industry they are supposed to be
regulating, isn't it possible that they will introduce regulations that
their buddies can live with but will drive their competitors out of
Unions can certainly be a good thing but they can also protect
incompetent workers. Often administrators have there hands tied. There
was an investigative TV program on a few years ago which focused on the
NYC school system. The process flow chart for firing a teacher is 5 feet
long. It is so difficult that they maintain a school without students in
Brooklyn and simply assign the "teachers" there at full pay and benefits.
Tenure originated as a system of job security in universities, not
elementary and high schools where it didn't fulfill it's role of
protecting the professor researching something not conforming to the
accepted wisdom (Wikipedia talks about other than "string theory" in
physics) or speaking out on controversial subjects. School teachers
don't do research and should be doing what they're told as far as
controversy is concerned so they and we don't need it. Tenure reminds
me of health care benefits for auto workers: easy to promise but very
costly to deliver.
As to incompetent teachers, they can't improve; either they're stupid
or they have the wrong personality to teach kids but they can't leave
because they can't get the same pay in any other job. Naturally "there
but for the grace of god go I" applies to the people in charge hence
lifetime employment for the hopeless. This BTW is true in any
bureaucracy or corpocracy although it may not be quite as blatant and
at a low level is perhaps not quite as bad as it seems. Putting people
into a position of constant stress, leaping tall buildings with a
single bound every day and every minute, results in burnout, lack of
loyalty, and lack of innovation--they just get a CYA mentality.
On 12/9/2010 9:35 PM, email@example.com wrote:
No argument that tenure is often abused, but teachers do need some
protection even at k-12 level. All it takes is some rich kid's parent
whining to school board that their little darling is being picked on, or
some vindictive kid making fake charges of sexual abuse, and small-town
school boards would be quick to throw the teacher under the bus. It
hasn't been that many decades since they routinely had 'morals' clauses
in employment contracts, and female teachers were presumed to have
resigned if they got married, lest they leave in the middle of the term
due to pregnancy. IOW, they were considered little more than glorified
You're at it again. There are a substantial number of "lifers" I know that
said the Iraq war got out of hand because of ill-trained contractors,
specifically the idjits that got themselves hanged from a bridge in Fallujah
because they didn't know where they were going, what they were doing and
were traveling in too small a convoy without properly armed escorts. That
incident, along with many shenanigans from the Blackwater folks, forced us
to treat the civil population as enemies and the "build a Mulsim democracy"
endeavor deteriorated quickly after that. The hacks that some of these
outfits hire are not all ex-Special forces as some may think but the
cheapest bodies they could get to fulfill the contract requirements. The
results, sadly, speak for themselves.
Oh yeah, I really want to be policed by "lowest bid" rent-a-cops with little
or no training in the use of deadly force who were flipping burgers a week
before they pinned on the badge. No thanks. Weren't you once a sheriff, a
paid government police agent? Wasn't it you, the Yaminator, who was just
recently telling us how crappy rent-a-cops are? Now you're singing a
different tune, it seems, to fit a pointless point that "anarchy is good for
Anyone who's ever run an all-volunteer organization will tell you it's like
herding cats. If you can't control their paychecks, you can't control them.
It's that simple. It's important to note those paid 15% work in most large
cities where the risk that one fire will burn down many houses. Experience
has taught those city officials that they need to always have paid
firefighting staff around that's well-trained and well-equipped because the
risk is so much greater than in rural areas.
The Brits hired the Hessians to help fight the Revolutionary War.
Guess who won? Look at the mess Blackwater made in Iraq. They were outside
the chain of command and they acted like uncontrollable cowboys, making
incredible amounts of trouble and ill-will. Look at the Romans: The
mercenaries they hired to fight for them eventually overran them.
"The historian Arther Ferrill has suggested that the Roman Empire -
particularly the military - declined largely as a result of an influx of
Germanic mercenaries into the ranks of the legions. This "Germanization" and
the resultant cultural dilution or "barbarization" led not only to a decline
in the standard of drill and overall military preparedness within the
Empire, but also to a decline of loyalty to the Roman government in favor of
loyalty to commanders."
Mercs didn't work for the English or the Romans, and it doesn't look like
they are working so well for us, either. But historical facts don't seem to
deter you from arguing the point as if it had an iota of merit.
In my area, the government did exactly the same thing (cans/automated
trucks) and it all works quite nicely. In some states, privatized trash
collection is a mainstay of organized crime and a source of a serious
amounts of illegal dumping. Why pay the waste station transfer fees if you
can dump the stuff somewhere for free? Privitization invites as many
problems as it pretends to solve.
"In the New York area alone, members of the five major mob families have
been convicted or are facing trials not just for labor racketeering and
extortion but also for criminal infiltration of such businesses as
restaurants, food distribution, entertainment, waterfront cargo handling,
vending machines, liquor, securities, garbage and toxic-waste disposal, and
the trucking, jewelry, garment, construction and real-estate industries." -
> On a more national level, virtually all building codes mandate
Do you run a fruit store on the side? I ask because you're always mixing
apples, oranges and kumquats in the same bowl. The FDA system isn't perfect
because Republicans are always seeking to defang it in order to protect the
big agribusiness owners in their home states. Contrary to popular belief,
most inspections are NOT done by the Feds, but by private companies. The
same companies that gave us poisoned peanut butter, salmonella laced-eggs,
E-coli infested hamburgers and more. The FDA was given greater power than
the 1906 Food and Drug Act provided because the private business that you
believe can handle everything as well as the government poisoned over 100
people in the 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy.
"By the 1930s, muckraking journalists, consumer protection organizations,
and federal regulators began mounting a campaign for stronger regulatory
authority by publicizing a list of injurious products which had been ruled
permissible under the 1906 law, including radioactive beverages, cosmetics
which caused blindness, and worthless "cures" for diabetes and tuberculosis.
The resulting proposed law was unable to get through the Congress of the
United States for five years, but was rapidly enacted into law following the
public outcry over the 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy, in which over 100
people died after using a drug formulated with a toxic, untested solvent.
The only way that the FDA could even seize the product was due to a
misbranding problem: an "Elixir" was defined as a medication dissolved in
ethanol, not the diethylene glycol used in the Elixir Sulfanilamide."
There's great support for enlarging the power of the FDA in the wake of the
recent wide-scale food poisonings but Republican opposition will likely last
until Big Business kills another 100 people. As you can see, it's the
failure of business to regulate itself that INVITES government oversight.
Businesses have proven time and time again (most recently BP in the Gulf)
that they can NOT and WILL NOT regulate themselves. It's why we license
doctors, lawyers and other professionals - to assure the public that they
are capable of performing their complex tasks and to punish them if they
Anyone who wants to imagine what an entirely "privatized" world would look
like needs only study the early history of Chicago, a town built with
virtually no government "interference." Chicago eventually burned to the
ground because of a lack of planning, a lack of building codes that allowed
too many wooden buildings and sidewalks placed too close together and a lack
of appropriate fire-fighting equipment. And no, it was not a cow that
started it. That was the cover story put out to conceal the true underlying
causes and it's been thoroughly debunked.
Government regulations and the means to enforce them have arisen *precisely*
because businesses have repeatedly proven that they can NOT regulate
themselves. Just look at what happened after the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire:
"The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, New York, United
States on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the
history of the city of New York, and resulted in the fourth highest loss of
life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths
of 146 garment workers, most of them women, who either died from the fire or
jumped from the fatal height . . .
Working with local Tammany Hall officials such as Al Smith and Robert F.
Wagner, and progressive reformers such as Frances Perkins, the future
Secretary of Labor in the Roosevelt administration, who had witnessed the
fire from the street below, pushed for comprehensive safety and workers'
compensation laws. The ILGWU leadership formed bonds with those reformers
and politicians that would continue for another forty years, through the New
Deal and beyond. As a result of the fire, the American Society of Safety
Engineers was founded soon after in New York City, October 14, 1911."
Repeated failures of business to behave have brought on precisely the
government you appear to so deeply detest. Remove government and we'll just
have more of what we had before - callous disregard for anything except
profits. It's clear that profits, not human lives, were what the owners of
the shirtwaist factory were considering when they locked the only fire
exits. As Chris Rock once noted, if it were not for the minimum wage law,
employers would try to pay people in used Popsicle sticks.
You may hate the government (which, as far as I can tell, paid you a salary
for at least a part of your working life) but I'm glad that it's protecting
workers from big business, who would treat them as a lump of coal to be
consumed and discarded without regulations to the contrary.
Well, I, uh, don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because
of a single slip-up...
Heh! As a matter of fact, I was an unpaid deputy sheriff, a volunteer. Same
training, same authority, just not on the payroll. The largest such
organization is the one in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Reserve.
Virtually ALL of our diplomats, NGO workers, and U.S. installations were
protected by Blackwater. They did an exemplary job.
In the "some states" you mention, organized crime was there LONG before
municipal - or private - trash collection came about. You're confusing cause
"Though the fire was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century,
the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago's development
into one of the most populous and economically important American cities."
For many people making a minimum wage, used Popsickle sticks would be, in a
fair and equitable world, a bonus.
Businesses need three things: labor, capital, and raw materials. There is no
good reason to treat any of these items with more respect than it deserves.
Who determines what is "deserved"? I happen to think that anyone
deserves a wage sufficient to live on (food, shelter, transportation to
and from work [at least], health needs) at least for him/herself, if not
for a spouse and one or two children as well in exchange for 40 or so
hours of work a week.
having been a temp mailman I can tell you it would not work. There is
no way I could have delivered two days worth of mail in one day. I
couldnt even get it all on the truck at once. I do think that those
who want home delivery should pay a premium for it. Two apartment
complexes both about the same size. One had all the mail boxes at the
office the other had the mailboxes at each apartment. One took about
20 minutes to deliver the mail to the other about two hours. I havent
delivered a letter in 40 years but I still think those that make it
more difficult should have to pay more for the service.
We used to have a personable mailman; often stopped to chat. I asked him
about that and he said he didn't walk the route as it was laid out by the
postal service and local postmaster. He walked it the way HE wanted to walk
it. As a consequence, he finished his route, usually, by 1:00 p.m. Then had
lunch. Then read his text books until time to go back to the barn.
"What are you studying?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm going to law school at night. I hope to be a lawyer for the U.S.
Postal Service so I'll never have to work again."
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