The Spectacle Blog

We *all* know the private sector is the problem

By on 2.18.09 | 10:51AM

So says Gail Collins:

As to the banks — and the automakers — so far our problem has been too little faith in government rather than too much. We got into this mess by presuming that the private sector was inherently smarter than pointy-headed bureaucrats. But over and over during the past eight years, from Iraq to prescription-drug pricing, we’ve seen that the private sector is frequently both dumber and less efficient than government.

Collins manages to name the most government heavy "private" sector items imaginable. Private contractors in Iraq? Government spending without the oversight. Drug research? Heavily government subsidized.

The point Collins misses is that the market may have just as many inefficiencies as government, but when private enterprises *are* inefficient, they fail. Then smarter competitors learn a lesson and have a success. Government isn't allowed to fail, because it is a monopoly. This means more failures, rather than more learning. It gets worse when government bails out failing industries. The auto industry, the airlines, healthcare, all of these have been insulated from market pressure to the point that the "market" is completely distorted.

It's not about "pointy-headed bureaucrats" versus the profit-seeking businessman. It's about government getting in the way of innovation.

Anyway, dear commenters, let's have a little competition. The first person to nail what's wrong with this next sentence gets a free March issue:

The private sector got us into the savings and loan crisis during the ’80s, and who got us out of it? Was it … the government?

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