Why running government “like a business” can cause great harm

Today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer includes a column I wrote regarding one of the myriad shortsighted cuts included in the House version of the 2013 state budget that’s been emerging on Jones Street in recent days.

In another classic case of conservative ideology trumping common sense, the proposed Justice and Public Safety budget would eviscerate the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection by ending state funding and forcing the lawyers there to become “receipt-supported.” That’s a fancy way of saying that the Section will have to fend for itself and scare up money to pay the bills from lawsuits it wins. As I note in the piece:

“Under such a system, attorneys in the state Consumer Protection Section would have a huge, new incentive to decide which cases to take and which consumers to defend based upon the kind of attorney fees and other “receipts” they could hope to wring out of the case. Put bluntly, public watchdogs would face enormous pressure to behave more like ambulance-chasing lawyers than public servants.”

In other words, free markets are great, but this clumsy attempt to inject them into a place in which they’ll turn public servants into “entrepreneurs” is a perfect example of how market fundamentalists are sacrificing our state government on an absurd ideological altar.I hope you’ll take a moment to read the entire column by clicking here.


  1. Alex

    May 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

    The antithesis of “running government like a business ” is the way we are currently doing it which is taking us down a clear path towards insolvency, a bloated unresponsive bureaucracy much like the failing European nations. I hardly see that as a viable choice.

  2. Frank Burns

    May 25, 2012 at 8:23 am

    What’s wrong with the idea of having lawyers on retainer “as needed” when issues come up, they can be dispatched to support the state? That would be a more coste effective way of using lawyers instead of having several sitting around in offices twiddling their thumbs.

  3. Jack

    May 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

    NC state government has the lottery monopoly here so the die-is-cast to establish state government as a full-fledged partner with business as a predator of NC citizens.

  4. […] that our out-of-control state legislature has moved since returning to Raleigh last week to cripple the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection by eliminating its funding entirely. Its effort to transform the publicly funded office tasked with […]

  5. david esmay

    May 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    To state that government should be run like a business reveals your ignorance as to what governments and businesses are, businesses exist to provide goods and services to turn a profit. Governments provide public goods and services, things we have have determined people have the right to possess. If someone has been successful running a business does not mean they can run a government. Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush were the only two POTUS’ that had a business background, one brought on the Great Depression, the other, the Great Recession.

  6. Frank Burns

    May 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Government is not the same as private industry but some practices of private industry could help government. Clear goals and objectives should be established for each agency and the agency’s performance should be measured against those goals. Each agency should be continuously evaluated to see if the mission needs to be changed as society changes. The problem with government is sometimes funtions are no longer necessary but the agency remains with its bloated budget.

  7. Louie

    May 27, 2012 at 4:54 am

    overincarceration is costly

  8. Frances Jenkins

    May 27, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Is there every a chance you could discuss issues without putting people down? You are not nice.

  9. Alex

    May 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    You’re right Frances ! He’s a bully !

  10. Frank Burns

    May 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    David is a nattering nabob of negativity. I see that a lot from the left, they get vicious when the argument does not go their way. It’s like, how dare people offer an opposing view from his.

  11. Jack

    May 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    So if the right interprets facts as vicious no doubt there are a lot of bully’s out in the world.

  12. Alex

    May 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    The problem is that david often provides erroneous and outdated facts to support his position, but then always accompanies this with a verbal attack on anyone who disagrees with him. For someone who supposedly advocates for tolerance and diversity , he is among the least tolerant on this site.

  13. Jack

    May 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Nattering nabobs of negativism? Quoting a disgraced Republican who resigned the Vice Presidency due to business fraud! Your point is?

  14. Frank Burns

    May 29, 2012 at 8:32 am

    What is your point?, my point is in my note, should I repeat myself?. The quotation is appropriate, the source makes no difference. The description just flows from the tongue and aptly describes the negative left, nattering nabobs of negativity.

  15. Jack

    May 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Source is all important. The source reflexes, in this case, the negativity wishing to be conveyed by the writer, you . Agnew was being definsive when he spoke the words and the intent of the words remain.

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