Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 39° Clear
Opinion >  Syndicated columns

Smart Bombs: Getting the business

From what I gather, the mantra “run government like a business” is a call for efficiency. It assumes that pushing government functions into the private sector will save money. Not always. Sometimes it just means a smoking deal for businesses.

For instance, Medicare Advantage is a collection of private plans within Medicare, and the government pays on average 14 percent more per patient under those plans than under traditional Medicare. The big winners are the insurance companies. Another example is student loans. The feds give money to banks, which lend it to students. The government bears the risks; the banks take the profits.

To save billions of dollars, the Obama administration wants to rein in Medicare Advantage payments and have the feds directly loan money to college students. Strangely, the current waste is being defended by some conservatives.

“The Department of Education should not be a $500 billion national bank,” thundered U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., about the proposed student loan change.

Sure it should. Just because it takes more government to run government like a business doesn’t mean it’s a deal-breaker.

None of our business . The Washington Legislature recently passed an “everything-but-marriage” law, which means that all statutes will be interpreted to give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. The only special right left for a man and a woman is marriage, but the state just removed its interest in that. Wouldn’t it make more sense for all couples to sign a government registry to satisfy the legal concerns and then head off to a church if they still wanted to get married?

It’s odd that many of the same people who tout limited government want some bureaucrat to endorse their marriage.

Bunker mentality. An Ohio State University study offers further proof that liberals and conservatives will continue to talk past each other. The researchers studied respondents’ reactions to the “The Colbert Report,” a television comedy in which Stephen Colbert satirizes bombastic, right-leaning TV pundits. But that’s just my opinion. One of the researchers noted that:

“Liberals will see him as an over-the-top satire of Bill O’Reilly-type pundit and think that he is making fun of a conservative pundit. But conservatives will say, yes, he is an over-the-top satire of Bill O’Reilly, but by being funny he gets to make really good points and make fun of liberals. So they think the joke is on liberals.”

This reminds me of cultural studies in the 1970s that found that many viewers considered Archie Bunker, the bigoted father on “All in the Family,” to be a hero, because his rants against gays, lesbians, minorities and liberals made sense to them.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.

Annual health and dental insurance enrollment period open now

 (Courtesy Washington Healthplanfinder)

2020 has been a stressful year for myriad reasons.