This Is What Happens When Government Runs "More Like a Business"

Since the 1990s, possibly the 80s, the idea that government should run 'more like a business' has been staple of conservative jargon. There are, obviously, a few serious problems with this idea: The first is that, most of the time, if an activity were profitable the government wouldn't be doing it. If you're going to run a unprofitable venture 'like a business' it doesn't bode well for the employees or users of the service. When a business is unprofitable they are constantly scaling back, even on critical core areas.

The second problem with running a government service like a business is that many businesses engage in behavior that is ethically questionable, to put it mildly. Government certainly does not need extra incentives to engage in shady behavior. For example, apparently there are 9 US states now where the detailed, private data of children is sold to private data companies. Via Boing Boing:
Among the data shared are name, address, phone numbers, test scores, grades, economic status, test scores, disciplinary records, picture, email, race, developmental delay... just about everything conceivable, and all specific, none of it anonymized. inBloom has arrangements with nine states (New York, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and Kentucky) to do this.

It is the kind of thing that a business would do, because there is money in it and school budgets have been cut to the point where they have little choice (they may have to actually start selling children soon). However, if this kind of behavior from schools is allowed to fly, the IRS may be next in line to sell some databases.
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