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Pawlenty’s “Google Test”

As Doug Mataconis noted earlier today, Tim Pawlenty gave what was supposed to be a major speech on the economy.  Doug was underwhelmed by the promises in the speech about economic growth promises.

And then, in discussing place to cut, he noted the following:

We can start by applying what I call “The Google Test.”

If you can find a good or service on the Internet.  Then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it.

The post office — the government printing office — Amtrak — Fannie and Freddie were all built for a different time in our country.      When the private sector did not adequately provide those services. That’s no longer the case.

I honestly not trying to be a smart a**, but what the frak does that mean?

The Defense Department is on Google.

The CIA has pages on Google.

Fire Departments, police stations, and any number of other things are on Google.

What is he talking about?

All I can figure is that he means if you can find a service that is done both by the government and by a private business (i.e, the post office v. UPS) then the federal government ought not be involved (which raises it own set of issues).    What that has to do with Google, however, is baffling.  One could have found UPS or Fedex in the yellow pages twenty year ago back when  if someone said “google” they went “googol,” which was just a funny word for a big number.  As such, the “Google test” strikes me as both too clever by half as well as ultimately nonsensical.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. This is supposed to be an updated version of the “Yellow Book Test” — if you can find a company that provides good or service X in the Yellow Pages then the government doesn’t need to do it.

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  2. @Doug:

    Somehow I have managed never to hear that one–perhaps it is an Alinsky thing? :) My education appears to be so terribly wanting.

    Still, I must confess that the Yellow Book Test doesn’t strike me as especially useful for making serious public policy either…

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  3. @Steven

    It was a line used by a former Mayor of Indianapolis who was big on privatizing citiy services like garbage collection, etc.

    I forget his name at the moment but he became something of a star for a few years in the conservative movement

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  4. TG Chicago says:

    I’d say it’s not clever enough by half.

    Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) is Googleable. Guess we can dismantle the DOD now!

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  5. Gotcha.

    Of course, the problem with a Google test vice a yellow pages one is that one can probably find almost anything via Google. For example, I have little douotb that one could fine mercenaries and private security firms online.

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  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    It was mayor Stephen Goldsmith. He was mayor back in the early 90s. He was the last Republican for awhile in a line that started with Dick Lugar.

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  7. André Kenji says:

    On the other hand, there is no private direct competition to Amtrak. So Amtrak is fine.

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  8. Michael says:

    In that case, I’m going to start http://www.federallegislature.com and put the Senate out of business.

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  9. ponce says:

    New Reuters/Ipsos poll gives Obama a 13 point lead over his nearest Republican rival (Romney).

    Wonder if we’ll see a post here about it?

    I think Obama’s dog could beat Pawlenty…couldn’t we talk about Weiner’s dick some more instead of him?

    He’s soooooooooooooooooooooooo pathetic.

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  10. MM says:

    So then given that I can find people scolding me for victimless crimes on the Internet, I’m sure that Pawlenty is good about not enforcing those, right?

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  11. Jay Tea says:

    Steven, you’re being a wee bit cutesy there. Pawlenty was saying if you can find a private-sector provider for a service online, then it’s worth considering whether it’s necessary to have the government provide it as well. Yeah, you can find the CIA and the Defense Department online, but you’re not going to find “competitors” for them out there — at least, not on the scale that they do. Not even Google or Xe.

    It’s certainly a good starting point for a discussion…

    J.

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  12. Rock says:

    Eight months after my wife applied for a replacement Green Card form INS … we are still waiting for it to show up. I had my congressman inquire about the delay and the INS told him, “We’re working on it.” How’s that for Government service?

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  13. Ben Wolf says:

    It’s certainly a good starting point for a discussion…

    Why?

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  14. Vast Variety says:

    Just don’t Google Santorum.

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  15. Hey Norm says:

    I can find prostitutes online…does that mean I shouldn’t get married?

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  16. PJ says:

    @Jay Tea:
    Yeah, you can find the CIA and the Defense Department online, but you’re not going to find “competitors” for them out there — at least, not on the scale that they do.
    So as long as what the federal government does is really big, it’s ok? That’s a rather weird defense from you…

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  17. Rock says:

    I can find prostitutes online…does that mean I shouldn’t get married?

    Yes!
    Advantages:

    Plenty nookie.
    No high maintenance woman.
    No nagging.
    No mother in law
    No rugrats.
    No honey do jobs.
    No divorce court.
    No alimony payments.

    Plus many more advantages to numerous to mention.

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  18. hey norm says:

    PJ – you aren’t looking for consistancy out of wingnuts are you? Seriously?
    Let’s review:
    They claim to be for small government types but actually want the government to have total control women’ reproductive parts, and to jail anyone who attends a speech they disagree with.
    They claim to be fiscal hawks but do nothing but add to the debt.
    They propose Health Care Reform, Deficit Commissions, and Cap-and-Trade…then vote against all of them.
    The so-called republicans, and people like J Tea, have no idea who they are or what they stand for.

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  19. Jay Tea says:

    Norm, would that be the Obama-appointed deficit reduction commission that gave its report, and then was utterly ignored? Would that cap-and-trade measure be the one the Demcorats championed? ObamaCare, which passed with only a single Republican vote in the House?

    Projecting much there, chum?

    J.

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  20. PJ says:

    @hey norm:
    Hell no, I’m just having fun :)

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  21. @Jay:

    Pawlenty was saying if you can find a private-sector provider for a service online, then it’s worth considering whether it’s necessary to have the government provide it as well.

    But the problem is, the notion that “If you can find a good or service on the Internet. Then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it.” is a really lousy test.

    You can find private prisons online, say we therefore privatize the federal prison system?

    You can find, as noted above, security firms online, should we privatize law enforcement?

    If one wants to make an argument about privatizing, then make it, but the “Google test” really makes no sense.

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  22. hey norm says:

    J Tea…
    Because the Deficit Commision – a republican proposal – wasn’t adopted in toto doesn’t mean it was “utterly ignored”. unless it fits your ideology to say so.
    Cap and Trade was also republican proposal. Because the Democrats embraced it republicans ran away – moving further to the so-called right.
    The ACA was a republican proposal. Because the democrats embraced it republicans ran away – moving further to the right.
    this isn’t projection by any stretch of the tea stained imagination. the so-called republicans have moved so friggin’ far to the so-called right, as a reaction to democrats governing from the center, that moderation looks extreme to them/you. the problem for the so-called republicans is that they are not self-aware enough to recognize the problem. only when they do will they be able to contribute to the republic again.
    what’s the name of that Farina book? “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me”

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  23. TG Chicago says:

    They claim to be for small government types but actually want the government to have total control women’ reproductive parts, and to jail anyone who attends a speech they disagree with.

    Don’t forget: their alleged desire for small government also evaporates when we’re talking about defense spending or the national security state. When it comes to things that scare them or opportunities to kill people, then throw money at the “problem”!

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  24. hey norm says:

    TG Chicago…
    Well yes, of course. It’s all just a big con job. A way to be for what they want to be for and cut want they don’t want. And folks like J Tea, who have never had a thought he/she could call his/her own, fall for it. Which is precisely what the cult leaders are after.

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  25. hey norm says:

    you can see the motivation for the cult leaders though…
    it’s not like they can go out and campaign on tax cuts for the rich. how would that sound? even J Tea would see through that. so they come up with frank luntzisms. “the government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem” but when you get past the bumper sticker you find out boehner has a totally unaccountable slush fund – . so they aren’t really concerned with spending at all. they are only concerned with being able to cut taxes for the koch brothers, and their other wealthy contributors.
    you can see the same thing with almost every issue. well J Tea can’t, but anybody else can.

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  26. Scott O. says:

    the “Google test” really makes no sense.

    For Pawlenty’s purposes this is not a problem.

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  27. george says:

    There are mercenaries out there for hire – does that mean we get rid of the Defense Department?

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  28. PJ says:

    I’m starting to think that for the Pawlenty campaign, any news is good news…

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