Schubart: The New Civil War

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Writer and commentator Bill Schubart has been thinking about the
organizational elements of how we govern and manage our society and sees
a new civil war of ideologies emerging.

(Schubart) The accords
we’ve long used to organize ourselves into a functioning society have
traditionally been shared among three sectors: government, business and
the non-profit sector.
Government has traditionally been the
steward of national defense, criminal justice, internal revenue,
education, infrastructure, and social safety. The business sector has
typically ensured employment, wealth generation, and commerce – all of
which make possible taxation that funds government. Gaps in the social
safety net, healthcare, education, and the environment have fallen to
the non-profit sector.

Today all bets are off. The rising clash
of political philosophies, unmediated by skilled leaders, has ignited a
smoldering civil war over the appropriate roles of the three sectors.
The resulting anarchy of words, fanned by an educational system failing
many of our citizens, threatens the fabric of America.
believe in minimal government, minimal regulation, and the inherent
benefits of free-market capitalism. They would prefer to see many
government roles reallocated to the business sector with minimal
The business sector sees new profit opportunities in
a shrinking government, and is moving swiftly into corrections,
transportation infrastructure, private armies, and for-profit education
and healthcare.
Pressured for further tax cuts in an
historically low-tax period, government must increasingly relinquish its
social, educational, environmental, and infrastructure commitments to
the non-profit sector – which in turn, scuffles through the refuse of
abandoned government commitments as it tries to fill gaps in the social
and environmental fabric. Its success, however, is often inhibited by
its tendency to ignore its own governance and fall back on competitive
rather than collaborative problem-solving.

A community-owned,
nonprofit retail store, restaurant or bookshop opens up because a
departing business sees no return on their investment and closes. Public
broadcasting debuts in 1967 to fill a broadcasting gap and offer
educational, documentary, and cultural programming to listeners and
viewers. Are these assaults on free-market capitalism or economic
evolution? For-profit specialty hospitals transfer patients with outcomes
outside their specialty to non-profit city hospitals. Are these examples
of enterprise or crime? These are the dilemmas emerging from our second
civil war.

If we’re going to re-assign the organizing elements
of society across government, business and the nonprofit sectors, it
will require strong leadership and dialog instead of the current
fusillade of ideologies.
We can return to the pursuit of
equitable growth and social progress we’ve enjoyed historically. But
leaders across the spectrum will have to give up their hortatory media
war and get on with the business of again being a great and innovative

Any leadership discussion will need to include transparency,
measurement, and accountability before we can again resume our path to


Clarification: This commentary has been revised to delete the suggestion that Corrections Corporation of America helped to develop Arizona’s immigration law. The company says a representative was at a meeting where the bill was discussed, but the company says it did not take a position on the legislation.

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