Corporate Government, Or a People's Gove

Here's a new political slogan with some integrity and democratic gravitas to it: "Let's run government like a government."

This is, of course, the opposite of the tired, old, tried-and-failed slogan that politicians of both parties have been pushing for years: "We'll run government like a business." The Clintonites used this in the Nineties with their "re-inventing government" campaign, declaring that government agencies should become efficient business operations and treat people as "customers"?

Oh? Efficient like -- what? -- the mammoth insurance-company bureaucracies, or maybe the military contractors who waste and defraud us of billions of our tax dollars? Or do they mean customer treatment like we get from don't-give-a-damn banks and telephone companies?

Today, we have a fully corporatized White House run by former CEOs, including BushCheneyRumsfeld & Co. They're literally running government through such standard corporate practices as operating in secret, twisting tax laws to benefit the elite, opposing public disclosure and right-to-know laws, shutting out dissenters and dissing dissent itself, rigging the regulatory rules for corporate gain, stomping on labor, running roughshod over the environment, dis-empowering consumers and using advertising gimmicks to hide their deceits.

It's time to get real. Government is not a business and we are not customers. We're citizens! Far from being passive consumers of government policies, we're the sovereign power who can make or un-make those policies. Corporations, by their very nature, are exclusive, private empires that exist to serve the bottom line of the wealthiest investors (including the CEOs) -- everyone and everything else be damned. That's no model for a democracy.

America's founders knew that corporate power was anathema to the public interest and the democratic will of the people, so they created a framework to run government like a government. It's time to put those democratic principles into action again.

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