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The privatization scam

We’ve written a lot on this website about the ways in which corporate overlords are gradually buying up our core public structures and converting them into private assets that can be squeezed and otherwise manipulated to maximize profits. Still, it’s always powerful to learn of new, brazen examples of this process in action.

Take for example this story on Blue NC this morning documenting the relationship between a leading candidate for Governor and a private “infrastructure” company with a less-than-stellar record in a neighboring state. The formula is startlingly simple and works well with politicians of both parties:

  1. Establish a company that performs some kind of service(s) that government ordinarily provides (e.g. road maintenance, mental health care or even running a school or a prison).  
  2. Pay the workers lousy wages and look for other ways (like outsourcing and cutting quality) to keep costs very low.
  3. Give political candidates lots of campaign contributions.
  4. Hire fancy lobbyists and PR firms to whip up impressive presentations about “public-private partnerships” and “synergies.”
  5. Wangle big dollar contracts out of the politicians whose campaigns you helped fund in which government gives you boatloads of money to do what public institutions could have done just as well or better for the same amount of money.
  6. Repeat.
  7. If you get chased out of one state, head to another to start the whole process over again with a new batch of corrupt and/or gullible pigeons.

Ah, the genius of the market.

 

4 Comments

  1. david esmay

    July 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I guess in Pat’s view the engineers at our state universities and the DOT aren’t professional.

  2. Steve Harrison

    July 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

    What drives me crazy about this is, in spite of mounting evidence that privatization fails more often than it succeeds, the cheerleaders continue to shout and wave their pom-poms.

    If the average citizen would sit back and do some critical thinking, they’d realize that if a business who wants to take over a public function pays lobbyists and drops thousands into campaign coffers to take over said function, they’re investing in a future profit margin. And whether it’s overcharging or underperforming to maintain that margin, the taxpayers are the ones holding the tab.

  3. Jack

    July 9, 2012 at 11:56 am

    The issue is about accountability.

    The privatization scam is an extension of the bailout scam. Big business, bankers and Wall Street have already shown that they are no better at managing things. The difference is at least public officials are accountable to the people and we can through the bums out at election time unless voting becomes privatized.

  4. jlp75

    July 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Exactly. I’ve been wondering about this privatization as well. I agree that government can be down right inefficient and understand the lack of competition. However government does not work for a profit. So it just seems like a wash to me. Basically replacing the government inefficiency with profit that goes into someones pocket. Either way the taxpayer pays about the same. When profit is involved there is just too much incentive to cut corners to put more in someone’s pocket.

    I am in no way saying that profit is a bad thing for you teabagger communist screamers. The private sector and the market are powerful tools and excel at delivering many goods and services. It just seems to me that there are some services that government should be left to deliver. If you don’t like the government, replace it on election day, you have that power. Everyone needs roads, education, health and human services, however everyone is not able to pay equally for said services.

    Food for thought. How do you get to a job to make money if you don’t have the seed money to pay ACME road company for the privilege of using their highway?