Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Government has a notorious record of wasting money when it engages in regular business activity. One reason is that governments tend to pick up businesses that fail, and deliver goods at prices that often have nothing to do with costs. So of course government businesses lose money. They’re set up that way.

But it’s worse than that.

Three years ago I told the sad story of Washington State’s ferry system for Puget Sound. For over a score of years, ferry system managers have been unable to provide a comprehensible audit, unable even to account for cash flow.

Now, a series of stories for Channel 5 in Seattle, by Susannah Frame, has exposed the operation for wasting “millions and millions of taxpayer dollars,” according to Ken Schram, a popular Seattle-area pundit who works for another news service on another channel.

Schram claims not to know “why every news organization in the Puget Sound isn’t outraged.” He sees this as a non-partisan issue, and is befuddled by lack of interest from news consumers. And he’s especially annoyed by Washington State’s governor, who blew off the news story, saying she couldn’t keep track of everything. Schram calls her arrogant, and goes further: “I find her lack of regard and respect for taxpayers offensive.”

I’m on Schram’s side, except I wonder: Is this really all so inexplicable? Maybe everybody just knows, deep down, that government businesses never will run as well as real businesses.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Pat says:

    Maybe it’s a case of outrage fatigue. We can’t get riled up over everything. I never saw such crowds at my congressman’s office as I saw during the health care debate. Did our opposition matter? Not in the least. People are tired of battling government, so they just shrug their shoulders and go about their business.

  2. Drik says:

    I hate to see complacency prevail in our lives when it’s so directly contrary to the teaching of Christ.
    Jimmy Carter

    Even a broken clock…..

  3. MJ says:

    The question should be: Who needs to be held accountable. Iread yesterday that FEMA spent several thousand $ on birthday gifts, not to mention the other wasteful things they have done. Yet, they did not say anything about who did it or what might happen to them. If no one ever gets punished, what good does it do to tell us about the abuse?! Let’s start getting some names.

  4. Bob Jones says:

    Some years ago, I was a senior director of the Washington State Ferry System. I was hired from outside to come in and square things away. I was fired after 24 months. I got too close to the secrets of the thefts going on.

    The ferry system, the largest state agency, is fully unionized. No governor wants to hear how much the unions are stealing. Even 15 years ago we could not account for the cash we took in. The books never balanced and we gave up.

    Retiring boat captains made twice what the Gov. did their last year of service in order to pump up their pension.

    Any true businessman could cut the cost of the system in half and still make a profit.

    No one in government cared about it.

  5. … Washington’s “governor,” who blew off the news story, saying she couldn’t keep track of everything (is) … arrogant, … (and her) lack of regard and respect for taxpayers (is) offensive …

    Which, given that she was never elected to the post she so squalidly besquats and bemanures, should surprise no one!

  6. Bob Jones’ recall of of his experience among the thieves in the Washington Ferry Service pretty much parallels mine, a couple of decades ago, at home and in the Far Abroad, among Foggy Bottom’s systemically intellectually-and-ideologically-corrupt liars, thieves, traitors and incompetents and their uniformly-reprehensible “contractors” and “suppliers.”

    Truth is, the self-and Peter-Principle-perpetuating permanently parasitical who people the world’s bureaucracies are all quite quickly — and, almost inevitably, irreversibly corrupted by the experience — and Bob Jones and I are two of the few lucky ones.

    Two who got away.

  7. […] What big organization doesn’t?” Nice dismissal of the incompetence and corruption in a state-run biz that cannot even account for its […]

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