In these days of go-go merger mania and the erection of giant multitasked conglomerates whose corporate divisions are related only by the profit motive, the potential for hitherto unimagined conflicts of interest is built in to the Bush plan to corporatize American government. A corporate entity with a division that hires out its mercenaries to staff a government department may have financial interests that conflict with the public good. Information is money in post-industrial America, and the Bush plan offers an unparalleled feeding at the government-information trough to corporate executives with EnronWorldComGlobal Crossing moral and ethical standards.
The Democrats, if only for reasons of self-preservation, should be fighting the Bush plan tooth and nail -- threatening filibusters of appropriations bills to stop the selloff of government, trying to block it with lawsuits, the works -- yet the Democratic leadership has yet to utter a peep of protest. Had the Dems raised this issue and linked it to the dreadful homeland security bill (both are part of the same anti--civil service, anti-union grand strategy) they might have swayed a few votes and reversed the Senate’s rejection of amendments to rein in some of the bill‘s worst provisions. Of course, the privatization of parts of the federal service began under Bill Clinton, whose dedication to the collection of corporate campaign cash knew no bounds; most of the senior congressional Democrats are on the corporate pad in one way or another; and since the Republican sweep of the recent elections, the Democrats are more scared than ever of confronting Bush head-on.
But if the opposition party does not full-throatedly oppose this new and unprecedented power grab, it will have pitifully acquiesced not only in its relegation to permanent minority status, but to the fulfillment of the old Republican principle -- as enunciated by Calvin Coolidge -- that ”the chief business of the American people is business.“ Indeed.