Running government like a business

We hear the admonition often, and often from Republicans, that government ought to be run like a business.

The MDR’s own intrepid editor Seth Tupper has dared to question this notion. And the statements of so many politicians echoed around my mind as I have observed the uproar over the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to charge some users of Missouri River water.

This from the AP:

The corps’ plan appears to propose requiring contracts and payments from users who take water from the reservoirs …

Say what you will about water rights and lawsuits. This is what running government like a business looks like. Controller of commodity seeks to monetize said commodity. Is that so wrong?

On public radio’s Dakota Midday program, a Corps official said they agency wouldn’t be charging for the water, per se, but rather charging to store the water. I challenge you to find a more weasely explanation for anything from, say, your mobile phone provider or your car dealer. Feels very Rage Against the Machine-y, no?

There are valid arguments on all sides of this issue, but we ought not let those who glibly make the business argument off the hook if they are now howling at the Corps.

Layer on this our nation’s budget deficits and debt plus arguments that broad taxes should be shunned in favor of user-fees — charging those who use government services — and you get a good case study in taking one’s own medicine.


How high will the water go?

There are quite a few South Dakota government officials in Pierre and Fort Pierre, along with federal workers and other public employees.

The heavy snowfall and rain of the last several months were well-reported and a constant topic of discussion in South Dakota.

So does it seem rather disturbing that this sudden rush to build barriers and alert people to the wall of water that will pass through Pierre and Fort Pierre?

From an AP article:

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to release even more water from Missouri River dams will not only cause additional problems for the central South Dakota communities of Pierre and Fort Pierre, but also for the downstream cities of Yankton and Dakota Dunes in the state’s southeastern corner, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Sunday.”

Was the state ready for this? Why weren’t the barriers erected or at least started weeks ago? How much damage will occur due to this? Does the Corps care what will happen or is it trying to do the best it can to cause the least damage?

The water had to pass through. We knew it was coming. Why the sudden rush rather than a well-designed plan?

Or perhaps is this nature erupting once more and man far too puny to deal with it? Could nothing have been done better, earlier, smarter?