Goals and purpose of government differ from those for business

To the Editor,

For the past several weeks we have been inundated with news about the contamination of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water with lead. Essentially all of the reports have addressed why it occurred, who is responsible, what should be done and how can something like this be prevented in the future. However, in the midst of our current national presidential campaign, two important lessons that should have been learned from the Flint water problem need to be emphasized.

Although good financial and managerial policies are imperative for government to run well, the goals and purpose of government are very different than those of business. Governor Snyder is a perfect example of why non-political business people are not suited (for a multitude of reasons) for political office. While fiscal responsibility and good management decisions are important for good government, bottom-line based decisions do not accomplish the primary goals of government. Governments exist to provide an environment in which people can grow, flourish, feel secure, and are treated fairly and equitably no matter whom they are. Government decisions based primarily on saving money and avoiding taxes most often do not achieve these results. Think Aramark and the prison food disaster, the privatization of nursing assistants mess in the Grand Rapids VA Hospital and the Flint water catastrophe as just a few examples.

The other lesson to be learned is to remember what happens when democracy is suspended. The legislature passed the Emergency Manager law and Governor Snyder signed it into law. By referendum the voters of Michigan, by more than sixty percent, revoked the law. The legislature passed the law again and attached an appropriation section to prevent another referendum. The Governor signed it into law. The emergency manager law concept has given us the Flint water disaster, the Detroit Public School debacle and the Muskegon School system mess again to name just a few. Businessmen love this minimal oversight of their decisions. Accountability to a selected board is not the same as accountability to an electorate. There are other ways to solve our problems without suspending our basic rights. Republicans take note, as efforts are underway to block Mr. Trump’s travels toward nomination.

C.F. Gehrke

Tecumseh

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Tecumseh Herald

 

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