Selling out government: From 'citizens' to 'customers, the reinvention of government costs us our Constitution

November 9, 2002

By Joan M. Veon
© 2002

I voted on Tuesday, but with great remorse. On a day that should have been a happy day the ability to tell the government what you think and elect those who will uphold the Constitution the reality that it means none of those things sank in.

I recently moved to a new community about one hour from the range of the sniper's bullet not far enough away since he was found about 10 minutes from my home. My neighborhood has about two dozen new homes averaging mid-six figures. My neighbors, like most Americans, know nothing of world government, sustainable development, "smart growth" and biodiversity, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Group of Eight, the Bank for International Settlements and the Council on Foreign Relations. Nor do they know anything about the new international economic architecture which has been put in place to accommodate a world without trade, financial, electronic or political boundaries.

I did not hear one candidate tell how he was going to restore the Constitution for most are like my neighbors and don't know that it has been bypassed yet they are running for office to "improve" our lot in life. The candidates talked about "change," so let's take a look at two things that have changed in the last few years.

One, there is no such thing as Republican versus Democrat. Philosophically there is no difference between the parties any more. In a world which is interconnected with the United Nations acting as the chief administrator among the nations to help them arrange themselves globally, the term "parliament" should be used instead to describe some of the changes taking place.

In a parliamentary form of government, there is no opposition. If you take a look at the policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations, you can't tell where one left off and the other began. Let's not forget that it was the Republicans that gave the people of the United States open borders when the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, which became the World Trade Organization, was passed by a lame duck Congress in 1994. Let's not forget that the North American Free Trade Agreement which is the pre-cursor to a Western Hemisphere free trade zone similar to the European Union was passed during the same time.

Two, someone recently reminded me about how Newt Gingrich talked about smaller government and how he was different. What they did not understand is that Newt was one of the first "new" Republicans that helped the Clinton administration institute a whole new form of government.

Using slick titles, it is called "Reinventing Government" which merges or partners government with business and non-governmental organizations. The logic is that government can't do it all. What they haven't told you is that all levels of government local, county, state and federal are broke and don't have the funds necessary to provide services. Therefore, they need to find deep-pocketed partners and since corporations create wealth, government is now merging with business. The objective of business is to make a profit, not provide a service. In this regard, new terms to describe the new role of business are popping up. One term is "corporate governance."

This switch is explained in the Nov. 3 Washington Post. Matthew Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg wrote an article entitled "From Citizens to Customers, Losing Our Collective Voice." In it they basically tell us that we are no longer citizens but customers, "We are watching the slow-motion collapse of American citizenship. Citizens own the government. Customers just receive services from it. Increasingly, public officials regard us as 'customers' rather than as citizens. Citizens belong to a political community with a collective existence. Customers are individual purchasers seeking the best deal. President Bush's call to action in the aftermath of Sept. 11 did not ask for sacrifices but asked us to 'show our resolve by having the courage to shop.'"

Around the world the change from government providing a service to public-private partnerships where corporations play a major role is taking place. The United Nations has endorsed the "Global Compact" which is just that business getting involved in governing. Furthermore, at the recent U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development, over 250 partnerships were created between businesses and governments.

One of the largest is the Congo Basin Forest Partnership which blends seven African countries, the U.S., Canada, UK, EU, Germany and several other developed countries with a number of major international NGOs such as Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund and then business through the American Forest and Paper Association. I will bet my two front teeth that this is a new international partnership model to be duplicated in the future. After all, who needs organized government?

Therefore, in light of these changes, why does the government need our tax dollars since we are no longer going to receive services? So what did I vote for? The thought that echoed in my mind after voting was, "Maybe Marie Antoinette was right eat cake."

Joan Veon is a certified financial planner and is president of Veon Financial Services, Inc., an investment advisory firm. Visit her website,

Note from Cris Shardelman in Washington state: As people read this, it is important to know about legislation passed by our (Washington state) Legislature in 1994, which proves exactly what Joan Veon contends. ESB6601, Government Performance and Accountability passed unamiously. In part it read:

"The governor, the legislature, and the public expect Washington state government to focus on the cititzens of Washington as valued customers of state govenment. State government will accomplish what its citizens truly expect of it, and operate as its customers expect

We have a state government where, with due regard for the different responsibilities assumed under the constitutional separation of powers, the governor and the legislature operate in partnership to improve the whole of state government, including themselves and their processes; where the governor and legislature act in partnership with officials and employees act in partnership with the citizens of Washington, who are the customers for state government."

ESB6601 set up a Performance Partnership Council, who in turn created a Performance Partnership Operating Committee, including the Director of financial management: directors of state agencies, including independent agencies and agencies that report to the governor: representatives of state employees; private sector representatives, and representatives of the legislature.


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