Peanut Butter Knife

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Thailand Corp.

I read an interesting article last week on how Thai citizens are also facing up to the nightmare of a "CEO Presidency" (in the case Prime Minister).

Much like Bush, the Thaksin administration has seen rampant cronyism, a crackdown on free speech, corruption and conflict of interest. While some of Thaksin's goals were far to the left of Bush, I don't see how the outcome could have been any different from a man who promises to run his country like a corporation. The idea that corporate governance is good for actual governance is one of the biggest fallacies of the post-Reagan era.

The top-down structure of most corporations is antithetical to the spirit of democracy. It does not allow for transparency or openness. The only accountability a corporation has is to it's shareholders, who are a closed self-selected group whose only insistence is on growth and increasing profits. Where free speech and innovation clash with these motives, they will be squashed. This does not make the corporation evil in and of itself, only amoral, which is why we need regulation to keep the beast in check.

In a democracy, government is of service to all it's citizens. In order for it to function properly, there needs to be full transparency. As a service to people, it's is incumbent upon government not to be wasteful, but that does not mean that it needs necessarily to be profitable. If a bus route is losing money but that same route is serving an underprivileged community by taking them to work, medical facilities and stores, the greater good here is the service to the community, and that's something that private enterprises can't compute.

Someone needs to stick up for government as a concept. Good government, but government nonetheless. If we keep trying to run our countries like we run our companies, democracy will die.

Sidenote: You could read this wordy post I just wrote, or you could just look at this comic which says it all much more eloquently.

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