Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Is America For Sale?

with 7 comments


I’ve been bothered by privatization arguments for years, decades really. The argument is very simple, a private entity is going to have incentive to run an operation efficiently in order to make a profit, therefore it makes sense to have private entities take over various government functions. They will run them more efficiently than a bureaucracy ever could, therefore the public saves money when this happens.

I’ve always had some problems with this line of reasoning. The very first being the motive. A government institution like a school at least in theory is going to be focused on the mission, providing education for students. A privately run school is going to be focused on its mission, making money. While the two are not necessarily at odds, basically when an institution is privatized it now has to do the same mission, it has to generate a profit as well. There’s no logical reason to assume that making a profit is going to magically transform an agency or institution into a more efficient organization.

Secondly, if a government institution is privatized, what is the real cost? Government institutions provide good jobs for the most part, private industry does it’s best to provide low-paying no-benefits jobs. Plus if an institution is capable of making a profit, why can’t the profit go to the taxpayers who are paying for the whole thing in the first place?

Sadly I appear to be in the minority, most people simply take it as a given that private industry is more efficient than government, therefore this is a no brainer. I’m pretty sure this is pure propaganda, it has been repeated so often that people simply believe it because they have heard it so often. Corporate America certainly has ample incentive to promote this message, privatizing government functions can prove to be amazingly lucrative business.

Two examples. The first is a school in San Francisco. This happened some years ago, the city let a private company run a few schools. The result was a disastrous experiment and was cancelled after a few years. The schools improved test scores and did their job, what was the problem? The problem was that the private firm did everything in its power to cherry pick students, IE lower achieving students were shuffled out of the system wherever possible. Even worse, they basically refused to provide any services for kids with special needs. So in other words, the company made a profit, kids who didn’t need help got an education, and the kids who most needed a good educational system were dumped on the city.

Another example would be the privatization of the military. The US now hires some tens of thousands of security personnel in Iraq. The military used to hire zero security personnel, since it’s the military’s mission to provide security personnel. Now the military pays to train people, discharges them with a pension, then rehires them at a massively increased cost? So we are not only paying far more for these “soldiers” than we would if the military was simply expanded, our best and most experienced soldiers are leaving the army to join private security firms. So by hiring private security firms like Blackwater, we are paying more for security and simultaneously degrading our military. Um, this makes no sense at all.

And this gets worse. If this article is to believed, the sale of the country’s infrastructure is now well underway. Toll roads, airports, and bridges are being sold to private companies across the land. I know our infrastructure is a mess, but selling the hen house to the fox makes no sense. This means that the public takes a double hit. They paid and in many cases are still paying for (bonds) the initial construction of these items, then the government sells them and the public gets to pay continuously because these items now have to be run at a profit. Again, this makes no sense at all.

I wish people would pay more attention to stuff like this, and less attention to zany conspiracy theories. This may not be as titillating or exciting or fraught with emotional button pushing as 911 theories or amero fears, but it’s actually happening. This is undeniable. We would not be the first great nation to collapse in a sea of legalized theft from the public till, but it’s really annoying that not only is it happening right under our noses, few people seem to even notice.

The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

Psalm 12:8 King James Version

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. And it not only doesn’t inhibit the copyright holder from promulgating their message, it adds to it. Credit: America for Sale, House Rules Committee Democratic Staff, Honorable Louise M. Slaughter)


Written by unitedcats

July 24, 2007 at 1:57 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Privatization benefits the big corporations. Politicians who support privatization get elected with huge corporation campaign contributions do their best to return the favor when they are in power. You forget to mention health care system which is not working. US government must take over health system from private insurance companies to provide universal health care for all its citizens.


    July 24, 2007 at 3:24 pm

  2. I offer this as a parallel addition not any type of critique to a very good post. The privatization of infrastructure issue I’d offer up Boston MA. BIG DIG. Cost overruns,leaks and death (wrong glue holding up multi ton panels). All government controlled. I’d also offer the MA Turnpike. An entity that released bonds to assure its existence time and time again.
    I’d also offer a questionably related issue. The states that garnered $$$from the tobacco settlement. I’ve heard that RI and NY are looking at using the cash for other than what it was intended. The DAs tripped over themselves using tax $$ to sue then do this.
    Blackwater=Hessians. Conspiracy,laugh or history lesson.


    July 24, 2007 at 4:54 pm

  3. Who needs facts when we have Lindsey Lohan?
    (and other made for circus distractions)..

    Get back to the malls everybody or else!


    July 24, 2007 at 8:42 pm

  4. Attention Deficit Disorder..

    on a social scale !


    July 24, 2007 at 8:43 pm

  5. What do yo mean its going to cost us $35 to cross this bridge !


    July 24, 2007 at 8:44 pm

  6. Yes!
    It’s just like the “deregulation’ of the energy industry was so obviously to the detriment of the American consumer(particularly Californian). Enron being one of the most blatant offenders…but there are many dishonorable mention awards to go around. “don’t ask don’t tell apparently extends way beyond the US military.


    July 25, 2007 at 3:44 pm

  7. I’ve thought about writing a book about “Corruption in America.” People simply do not understand how completely out of control the hog feeding frenzy is in Washington, not to mention at least one state capitol. It’s depressing, it really is.


    July 25, 2007 at 8:27 pm

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