A few weeks ago I was forwarded an annoying post about the new element Governmentium. Now, that post was funny, but annoyingly libertarian in terms of mocking government. I was irritated enough that I thought a little about how I would rebut it. Here's a link to one version: http://www.dullmen.com/governmentium.htm
I did a little google searching, and turned up more than 4000 hits for Governmentium. I noticed that there was actually a great deal of mutation between the different sites' versions. And I let it drop.
A couple of days ago, somehow I stumbled across Administratium. Lo and behold, very much the same post, except that it applies to bureaucracies in government or in private business. Google turned up more than 8000 hits. Here's a link to one version: http://www.abcsmallbiz.com/funny/administratium.html
I figured these would not go unremarked in Usenet Groups, which now are searchable with Google Groups. And I was right: first mentions of Administratium were in 1993. First mentions of Governmentium were in 2002. And they were followed with comments that Governmentium was an uncreative rewrite. (I also found a comment that Administratium was reported in The New Scientist in 1991.) Two years later, groups had versions that added: "When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium" (2004)
What lessons shall we take away from this?
Well, first, that ideologues (including the right wing and libertarians) are phenomenally uncreative, and generally adapt rather than create their own arguments. We see this all the time: for example Intelligent Design proponents are simply trying to resurrect the ancient creationist argument from design.
Second, the principles of almost any ridicule of government apply just as well to the private sector: it's just a matter of seeing how. When right wing or libertarian reframing points you towards government only, rather than the more general case, this can be hard to notice. That's when a little clever research can turn up the original, and let you point out the reframing.