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Open Badges Comment

Bailing out

Gregory A Petsko

Author Affiliations

Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454-9110, USA

Genome Biology 2011, 12:131  doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-10-131

Published: 29 October 2011

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

My online dictionary defines "bail" as a verb meaning, among other things, to abandon a commitment, obligation, or responsibility. It's hard for governments, or public agencies, to bail on commitments that affect the lives of many people, because ultimately they are held accountable by those same people. It's not as hard for the private sector to bail, because most for-profit companies see themselves as responsible primarily to their shareholders, who represent a pretty small segment of the population. I've never understood why critics of public spending and advocates of the privatization of virtually everything don't understand that elementary distinction. Anti-government zealots constantly try to suck the public into a debate on how much more efficiently or cost-effectively the private sector can do things, while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are a great many important things it will simply not choose to do at all.