Massive Mismanagement

"We need to run government like a business," screech the corporate lobbyists, politicians, and media, insisting that America should corporatize everything from our schoolrooms to social security. One wonders -- can they spell E-n-r-o-n?

"Balderdash and jabberwocky" they exclaim, Enron was just a little ol' case of corruption, which doesn't negate the bottom-line genius and financial know-how of big business executives, so let's put them in charge.

Before we bet the farm on these pin-stripe "geniuses," however, we might want to consider two recent reports from the corporate world itself. One is by the respected telecommunications consulting firm, Adventis, which for some time has been warning against the corporate rush to lay thousand of miles of fiber-optic networks under and between our cities. Companies like Qwest, WorldCom, Williams, and Global Crossing poured gabillions of bucks into digging up our streets and laying the cables that they said would power the limitless growth they saw for internet traffic. was pipedream. Adventis reports that corporate America was "collectively hallucinating" about the demand for fiber-optics, and that they wasted at least $70 billion in building networks that either will never be used or will be obsolete before there's a market demand for them. "A lot of this stuff will just rot in the ground," concludes Adventis.

To see another case of genius grossly mismanaging, look at the merger-mania that recently swept the corporate world. Great Big Huge Corporation Inc. would be swallowed up by WorldGlob Inc., consuming more gabillions in capital. The price tags on these buying binges seemed absurd, but the geniuses assured everyone that each merger was a corporate marriage made in heaven. Welcome to hell. Now, various merged corporations are reporting that they lost billions on their super-deals, with the total of shareholder capital squandered expected to top $1 trillion.

Running government like a business can mean running it into the ground.


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