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The Outsourcing Scam

uncle-sam.gifOne of the big fetishes of the conservative Republican "government is evil yet we wanna make money from it" types is outsourcing. 

Like its twin sibling privatization, outsourcing is predicated on the notion that, thanks to the shimmering beauty of the Profit Motive and the Invisible Hand, private industry contractors can always do any given thing better, faster, and cheaper than public servants can — even if it's something that the public servants have been doing for decades, if not millenia.  (Of course, some of us would find it rather telling and cynical for flag-waving conservatives to tacitly admit that they think that profit trumps patriotism every time.  But I digress.)

Unfortunately, outsourcing and privatizing government functions actually leads to their being done worse, slower, and pricier than before, and make them easy prey for corrupt persons.  Here are a few examples:

Spy stuff.  Under Bush, the US intelligence services now outsource 70% of their work — at twice the cost (if not more), and with no accountability.

Military stuff.  Most of us know that mercenaries privateers private "security contractors" are being used heavily in Iraq and elsewhere.  What most of us generally don't know — again, that accountability thing — is the extent of their use and the things for which they're used.  And most folks don't know the rather nasty background of groups like Blackwater, a favored private security contractor.  To make matters worse, much if not most of these contracts are of the no-bid variety, meaning they were simply handed out to anyone the Bush people liked, such as Dick Cheney's firm Halliburton.

Environment and health:  In 2003, The Progressive ran an article titled "The Outsourcing Fraud" which outlined the harm that Bush's push for outsourcing and privatizing had already done to the Environmental Protection Agency.

And of course, we all know about the Republicans' push to destroy Social Security by privatizing it (aka, "outsourcing" the money to their brokerage-firm buddies at a much higher overhead than exists now) — a push that has been stalled, at least for now. 

The upshot:  Whenever a Republican says that outsourcing is better, ask him or her:  "Better for whom?

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