Jacob, thank you for this thoughtful and well-considered response. I agree that the “lack of angels” and human inefficiencies are problematic, however, private enterprise does not escape that charge. Give anyone too much power, either by government or corporate oligarchy and the same problems apply. Massive corporations today have tailored laws to protect their markets and have merged and monopolized to such a degree that competition is null and void. Further, they have captured regulatory bodies to such a degree that they escape any and all regulation! Even when doing so literally harms the public.
Let us not kid ourselves: “private enterprise” in the U.S. has taken over the government, which now simply works to serve the interests of its shareholders. Inefficiencies abound in such an unholy union. Non-competitive government contracts are awarded to private companies who quickly “lose” the funds and never complete the work (see Halliburton/Iraq). Private military contractors working through the Pentagon are the worst offenders. They operate in a budgetary black hole, sucking public money into a void. The Pentagon resists all attempts by WE the People to audit them! They are a rogue agency, running covert wars to garner a profit. They are in the business of war, barely even trying to justify their profitable blood sports.
We have reached a point in history where private corporations easily abscond with public monies and institutions meant to protect public interests are dead or subverted.
Finally, you complain that these critiques are never applied to governments, this is untrue and completely disingenuous. There are volumes of economic textbooks that do just that. However, comparing public and private entities as equal, or even similar sorts of things, is a logical fallacy.
You are comparing apples and oranges.
They are absolutely not the same:
Public officials and institutions are subject to the People’s vote, they are answerable to their Constituencies, and they are tasked to serve the public interest. If they breach the social contract, they can be held accountable.
Private corporations are answerable only to their shareholders and board members. They cannot be eliminated or punished by a public vote, they are not tasked to serve the public interest, only to garner a profit — even at the expense of the public.
Pubic and private institutions are motivated by opposing interests, they are completely different animals and cannot be compared in the way you wish.
You write, “companies will go so far as to temporarily shut down to save on cost.” What are you even talking about? …Today’s venture capitalists will simply destroy the company, extracting any remaining wealth for themselves, hand out some bonuses then file for bankruptcy, flushing away all that (private)loss onto the public balance sheet. Even more disgusting, they have an escape hatch and a set of golden parachutes. These corporate monsters operate inside of secular societies, enjoying all the goods that public monies and institutions offer: water, roads, policing, fire protection, sidewalks, garbage service, an educated public, mass transit, etc. while rarely acknowledging their debt to the public structures upon which they stand.
Separation of church and state was one dangerous alliance that the founding fathers were aware of and could protect against. But, the parasitizing of our government by huge multi-national conglomerates, was not something our founding fathers could foresee. Therefore, it is a problem that must be dealt with now. My article is meant to offer a lifeline to capitalism…because it has failed us, horribly.
I work at a university and I can tell you that this new generation is not impressed, not by a long shot. Many find capitalism to be morally reprehensible, and I can’t say they are wrong. Our markets are extremely out of balance, with almost all wealth going to the top .01% while working wages stagnate — this is not sustainable by any means, (which is why socialism is on the rise).
Milton Freidman did a great disservice to our country when he said, “greed is good” in the 1960s — it is NOT good, it has led us to a place of moral bankruptcy and environmental destruction. It has stolen our humanity.
The legacy of supply-side economics will be the unmasking of a great lie. Wealth never “trickles down.” The rights of working people must be vigilantly defended. Authoritarianism and fascism can arise in any system— but when private capital takes control of public institutions and begins to extract wealth at any cost, we have reached a critical point in our historical trajectory. Either we defeat the evils of uncontrolled capitalism, or we die by its not so “invisible” hand.