Vegas Baby: A Tale of State Capitalism

September 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm (Uncategorized)

I work in the public sector, and so in the eyes of many, I work in the non-productive sector.  My job eats up “their” tax dollars, and produces little in return. For, in the mantra of today, only the market can save us, only the market creates jobs, only the market can save us.

Uh huh.

Time was once, meetings at my workplace had food. Coffee was free. Life was good (OK, maybe I’m idealizing the past a little). Today, not so much. Now if it seems like I’m whining about a free muffin, hang on. I do have a point. The rationale is that the public doesn’t want to see its tax dollars spent on feeding public servants.  And if you look at the way that say Brampton city councilors and Mayor Susan Fennell  used public funds you might have a point (Fennel expensed $186,000 over a three-year period including coffee and $1 I-tunes downloads).  After all, it irks when you see heads of charities enjoying luxuries paid for by donations, doesn’t it?

But it’s a false parallel: the hardworking private sector and the wasteful public sector.

My wife is going on a business trip to Las Vegas tomorrow. It’s for a conference there. It’s being held at a nice hotel with a casino. I won’t mention the hotel, but it’s nicer than any I’ve stayed in. Air fare, the room and the registration are covered. (I’m not absolutely certain if she eats the peanuts from the mini-bar whether she will have to pay for them).  You can see the expenses mount up. Business expenses.

Expenses which any mildly skilled accountant will be able to find a deduction for. And yet, these are a legitimate part of capitalism. My point here then, is not to suggest that the private sector is just as wasteful as the public sector, but to suggest the “free” market is a bit of a myth. There is only capitalism. Sure it has different forms, but there is no wall separating private and public.

The line about Vegas is that it was built in the desert by the mob. No doubt today, the mob could have applied for government subsidies.


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