Friday, July 18, 2008

Privatize The Government - Everything Will Be Better

Ronald Reagan promised us that private corporations could run our government better than we could.

People running the government from the White House to state houses, counties, municipalities, towns and villages, were in the dough! Now they could fire their staffs, bid out the contracts for government work to their friends whose companies would provide seats on boards of directors to family and friends, the government budget would swell and the cash would flow directly, not to the people doing the work to make our country run, but to well-connected businessmen who would increase their profits by eliminating worker benefits, cutting salaries, and defunding internal oversight. The result has been a sicker, underemployed nation, working for less money, receiving scant medical benefits, and paying higher taxes for fewer services.

We've come to accept this philosophy and the resulting disaster and failure that is our government for and by the People. Our infrastructure is a mess, public transportation is a laugh, and profits for government contractors are sky-rocketing. Yes, we've come to accept Ronald Reagan's dream for gutting our government.

Government contractors have existed longer than Reaganomics, of course, and the government should contract to have certain work done by experts outside our employ.

To what standards, though, should we hold these contractors?

Should a military contractor hired to torture prisoners of war have certain qualifications?

Should a truck driver under government contract be licensed to drive big rigs on public roads?

Should an electrician wiring new bases in the desert possess an electrician's license from a United States authority?

Or, do we just bid out this work and trust that the contracting companies have our nation's interest in mind when they make choices?

Reaganomics, and the privatization it brings, has been a failure for everyone but the shareholders of the companies that are collecting our money. The shoddiness of the work by private contractors is obvious throughout the country. Just look at the bridges in Minneapolis and the filthy subways in New York City as two examples of failure.

Now we learn that military contractors in Iraq are responsible for the death of some of our soldiers! This from the New York Times:

Electrical Risks at Bases in Iraq Worse Than Previously Said
July 18, 2008
WASHINGTON — Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.

During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military's largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.

And while the Pentagon has previously reported that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks, according to the documents. A log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis. Read more . . .

I wonder why the military can't employ electricians of their own? There must be electrical apprentices in the National Guard who could work under an enlisted master electrician. If privatization isn't working, then why are we using it in the most volatile and difficult project on our agenda: war?

Privatization is a complete and utter failure and will cause more disasters and lead to more deaths than government incompetence ever could.

Another news item of interest today:

On NPR this morning, someone finally said out loud what Reagan apologists refuse to admit about privatization. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac replaced standard governmental procedures of providing money for mortgages through the FHA. They are privately held companies distributing public money. What this has created is not really privatization, because the companies are only privatized for distributing profits; and losses are absorbed by the government -- you. So, like all of the Republican scams, we have privatization of gains and socialization of losses. Nice.

Listen to the NPR story here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with going with the lowest bidder is that you get what you pay for. Once again, socialist government screws it up, and socialists blame privatization. You see, one of the linking factors of a capitalist society is the personal interest and responsibility of the buyer. When you go to buy a car, do you get the cheapest used car you can find that the salesman swears meets your minimum requirements? Of course not. You look at all your options, do your research, weigh the risks and costs, compare brands and years and models, and make an intelligent and informed decision. (Of course, if you're a socialist, maybe you don't.) Likewise, if the people who were taking bids on these Iraqi contractors had a personal stake in the investment, they would make much better decisions. This, however, is not how our government today works. Clinton, Bush, Obama, and every president to follow will not be spending his/her own money, and it will not be for his/her own interests (political interests, yes, but they're not going to be living or working in that building) at stake. They are spending public money, and can get more any time they want by making empty Bush-style "terrorist" speeches or Obama-style "hope" speeches, to get America to fork over more money and sacrifice more freedom.

The problem is not with privatization. What you have defined as privatization - companies handling public interests under the bill and supervision of the government - is called socialism. Your example of Fannie Mae (part of Roosevelt's socialist "New Deal") and Freddie Mac (thanks to Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society") are shining examples of what results from the realization of neo-liberal philosophy. Failure. If it were real system of privatization, the government wouldn't be in Iraq at all, and the Iraqi people would be picking out their own contractors, according to their own standards and interests.