News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Better prospects for the economy

One of the prospects of the Obama presidency is that the nation is choosing intelligence over ignorance and stupidity. La Belle Ditz Sans Merci, the Republican vice presidential candidate, set up a striking contrast to Obama and his campaign and magnified the kind of bumbling fakery that put us in an unconscionable war that has ordered 4,100 brave and loyal troops to their deaths, that redefined "ugly American" for our international alllies, and that set the moral and intellectual conditions for the most threatening economic collapse since the Great Depression.

At least with the Obama regime, people who expect better of their government and say so will not be termed disloyal and unpatriotic. And people who expect better of our business community and say so will not be termed communist and anti-free-enterprise. And people who are smart and work hard and attain good educations and establish impressive achievements will not be dismissed as elitist. Although there are those malefactors out there who loudly protest that Obama should not consider 53 percent of the vote as a mandate, we can be assured he will not be dissuaded from carrying out the kind of thought and expression he displayed in his campaign and will work earnestly and intelligently to correct the regressive incompetence that has pushed the U.S.A. to the brink of Third World status. People who want to improve America and seek the redress of their grievances do not hate America.

We have been attacked from without by Al Qaida and Islamic extremists who do not respect equality, religious freedom, and the right to life. But we have been betrayed from within by a business community that mistakes greed for capitalism, predation for efficiency, dishonesty for business acumen, and incompetence for corporate culture. With Obama we have the prospects of a country throwing over rule by corporate fascism and re-establishing those democratic principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

I once covered a school board meeting where a self-important board member went on a harangue that the school district should be run like a business. The superintendent replied that the district could not afford to be so badly run. It had to establish and keep within a carefully planned budget, and was accountable to both the taxpayers who financed it and the children and parents who it served. While some people constantly harp about the efficiencies and innovations of the private sector, they neglect to mention how many businesses fail and how many businesses from Enron through Citigroup have failed their investors, their customers, and their nation. While there are scandals and failures in some public agencies, and some government bureaucracies lapse into incompetence and menace--such as the IRS did in the 1980s and early 1990s--most of them try to deliver their services with integrity and strive for efficiency. It is when they are run like businesses that they betray the public trust.

This does not mean that we are anti-business. It means we are anti-bad-business. There are corporations that offer excellent products and services and do so under a belief in corporate citizenship. When the free market works, businesses strive competitively to produce better products at better prices. This is what happened with the American automobile. The Japanese auto makers have garnered a huge share of the American market the old-fashioned way. They earned it with better engineering, more reliable motor cars, and more quality for the price. The free market worked for them and for the consumer.

The American free enterprise system has contributed immensely to the progress of our democracy. One of the things we can be thankful for this season is that prospects for returning the business community to responsible and effective free enterprise are bright.

Maybe the business community can be made trustworthy again, and free enterprise will no longer mean freedom to fleece the public.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States