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The Privatization Scam

istockphoto_308943_cash_pile_spread_100_s.jpgSeems you can’t go a day without hearing it at least once from someone who lets Grover Norquist or his disciples do his or her thinking: “Name one thing that government does better than private industry!”

Sorry, no can do. I can’t name just one thing, but several. For starters:

Pandemic disease fighting. Quick, name any for-profit companies analyzing dead birds looking for West Nile virus and warning communities when it’s detected in the vicinity! Oh, that’s right, there aren’t any. Gee, and it’s an essential service, too: Why doesn’t the magical free market just magically provide it? Oh, that’s right, it’s tough to make a profit doing it.

Old-age insurance and pension plans. Social Security has less than 1% overhead costs whereas the private US life-insurance plans (as well as privatized plans in places like the UK and Chile) have around 12% to 14% overhead costs.

How disgusting are the privatizers’ lies WRT Social Security? One moment they’re arguing that it’s going to run out of dough in the 2040s — a scenario that only happens if the country has sluggish Depression-era growth levels from now until the 2040s — and the next they’re touting the alleged high rates of return on private (privatized) accounts, rates which would only be possible if the economy grew at peak-of-the-Clinton-boom levels forever. In short, they’re predicting both Permanent Recession AND Permanent Boom at the same time.

Public utilities. Again, the government-run versions run better, cheaper and with less overhead costs than the privatized ones (remember Enron, anyone?).

Intelligence operations. The CIA is belatedly finding out that privatizing their intel operations is costing more and yielding less than was the case before privatization.

Warfare. By now most of us are getting increasingly familiar with the growing and troubling role played by “private security companies” (what used to be called privateers or mercenaries) in the US occupation of Iraq — a situation that our new Congress has now managed to put under some actual oversight.

This is just off the top of my head, folks. Give me the better part of a day and I could have a bunch more cites and facts in context to show what a rip-off it is to privatize government functions. (But of course the main goal of the anti-gummint/tax crowd is to not have their tax dollars going to poor black people, so they’re going to ignore everything I just cited.)

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