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Opinion Letters Who do you trust?

It is quite the rage to blame everything bad that happens to us on the evils of big government. From long lines at the DMV to "over regulation" It is an easy target. If government can't do the job, is the private sector up to the task of keeping our society out of utter chaos?

The answer from most conservatives is yes. Call it what you will, business, free enterprise, or the free market, let capitalism loose, repeal all the regulations and society will prosper. Let's see how well that has worked.

For $.97 GM could have fixed the ignition switch that has caused numerous deaths and millions in property damage, but it save $.97 on each car. Duke Energy decided to store their coal ash in unlined ponds near water supplies because they could, and it was cheap. BP kept drilling in the Gulf after they knew there was danger, but it cost less than relining the well. Exxon could have used double hulled oil tankers, but that would cost more than cleaning up a few beaches.

Profit is the guiding principle for business not public good, and that is as it should be. Businesses are in business to make money, not create a just society. The market forces that conservatives keep telling us will make us free were at work in all these cases. Individual consumers had no say in these decisions, only stock holders and CEO pay packages were the guiding principles at work here, and that is the point.

There is a fundamental difference between what a business does and what government does. Good government is organized to preserve and promote a society that is good for all its citizens, not to make a profit. The EPA can't make a profit keeping our air and water clean. The FDA will not make a penny keeping our food safe. Your local fire department won't make a dime on saving your house, and private security guards cannot police a city.

Of course any government agency can be made more efficient, and if we don't like the laws they enforce we can elect new representatives. But the basic differences between the purpose of government and free enterprise undeniable.

When our Governor and the State Legislature including Jim Davis decide to gut public education in favor of for profit schools, they show their ignorance of this basic difference. Anyone who has been in a class room for more than a hour knows there is no profit to be made teaching our children. And using our children to make a profit is just morally reprehensible.

Margery Abel — Franklin, N.C.


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