Who needs the government when we have the Internet?
“Google it” works as an antidote to most of modern life’s quandaries. So Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty apparently decided, why not apply it to government spending? The Minnesota governor is set to give a major economic address in Chicago, where he will unveil what he is calling “The Google Test.”
“If you can find a good service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it,” Pawlenty will say, according to his prepared remarks.
As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire notes, the Google Test is just a rehashing of former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s “Yellow Pages Test,” which suggested that if the phone book listed three companies that provide a certain service, the city probably should not be in that business.
Of course, expanding Goldsmith’s test to the vast expanses of Google is insane — most of all because you can find pretty much any service on Google. Granted, Pawlenty’s proposed test is probably just meme-ready gimmick speak. But let’s take him at his word and see what federal programs and services we could do away with, thanks to the Google Test.
As prime examples of what we could look forward to, Mother Jones‘ Tim Murph suggests “police officers” employed by BP to harass environmental activists; privately hired diplomats; Blackwater; and badly run, corrupt private hospitals.
“Does the ‘Google test’ mean public education is unnecessary, because private and parochial schools are available?” asks Politico’s Alex Burns. “How about police departments, in the age of private security? Does the Smithsonian get shut down because there are private and nonprofit museums?”
Pawlenty, for his part, suggests that Amtrak, the Federal Printing Office, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and the postal service are all unnecessary. (Never mind, as blogger Bill Egnor notes, that the Post Office doesn’t actually cost the government anything now.)
And what else? Could we replace the National Institute of Standards and Technology with BoingBoing? Replace HUD with Craigslist? Replace Congress with 4Chan (h/t Alex Pareene)? Well, the Internet certainly provides a wealth of services offering bad advice on how to save money, so maybe by his own test we shouldn’t need Pawlenty to do that for us.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com. More Natasha Lennard.
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