Friday, December 06, 2013

Government Does Not Need To Show A Profit

I have been searching for the excerpt below for a couple of months now. Low and behold it appeared this morning while I was looking for another quote. It's important to me for a couple of reasons. One, is that I have been carrying mail for the USPS for close to five years now. And since then jobs have been eliminated and wages cut so that it can be run more efficiently. It must show a profit, they say. Secondly, my grandfather serves at the town and county levels of government, and he is one of the biggest opponents of the "lean government" trend. For example, in the county that I live in, certain public servants under the spell of Tea Party ideals want to cut the number of county board members from 21 to 15 to run the government more efficiently. This time to save the taxpayers money.

I like the idea of judging government institutions on the quality of the service they provide rather than the profit they show. In other words, the post office and other government institutions don't necessarily have to show a profit. I think James Hillman has done a good job of expressing below.

"It is well to keep in mind the image Treblinka when we ask government to be more "efficient." To expect the post office, the passenger railroads, the interstate highways, the prison system or the national parks to show a profit forgets that government is fundamentally a service industry as stated in the Constitution. It's efficiency can be judged only in terms of the services it provides--that they meet the needs of the people who grant its power. For a candidate for political office to campaign on a platform of efficiency in government suggests an infiltration of fascist ideals. Mussolini made the trains run on time--but at what cost?

"The extermination camps belong continually in our Western consciousness, not only to remind us of the human capacity for atrocity, the pathological potential in systematic technology, the virulence of racism, the existence of evil or the death of both the Jewish and Christian God. The camps belong continually in the consciousness because the devotion to efficiency continues unconsciously in the Western psyche, bearing witness to the shadow side of the current living god, the Economy, the god continues to urge Western civilization onward by means of ever more efficiency." [James Hillman, Pg. 44, Kinds of Power]

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