Posted by: Green Knight | July 15, 2011

Privatizing Government Services

I’ve done several radio and magazine interviews through a couple of services I subscribe to, where reporters post questions looking for expert advice.  This one really caught my eye yesterday, and I responded to it and copied it to a friend.  Here’s the reporter’s query:

Summary: Does privatization of government services really save taxpayer money?

Seeking expert commentary on whether privatizing certain
government services (law enforcement, public schools, utilities,
sanitation, etc) really saves taxpayer dollars.

My response (expanded a bit here) was:

I’ve copied this to a friend of mine who’s very involved in fighting privatized prisons.  The abuse and medical neglect isn’t saving anybody any money, just putting it in the pockets of the private confinement companies, and reducing the health, sanity, and life expectancy of those in custody, many of whom haven’t even been convicted of anything yet.  Expect to hear from my friend today.

Also, as an educator and former State hazardous waste inspector, I abhor the idea of turning that stuff over to the private sector.  45,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River the other week from a ruptured pipeline, because the DOT basically lets the industry self-inspect.  Same thing with coal and nuke plants, coal-mining, oil exploration, and more, and Congress is trying to move further into that mindset, even turning endangered wildlife management over to the states entirely.  And, while our educational system may need a lot of work, it’s mainly due to “all taxes are bad” types who don’t want to fund the minds of the next generation.  I shudder to think what would occur if public schools went private.  It’d cost more to line their pockets, just so we could cut curricula and turn out more drones who could try to compete with India and Mexico to answer phones for AT&T at the same hideously low wages.  The textbooks would be bland, devoid of thought-provoking content, and made of paper from rain forests in Sumatra.

I found it extremely distressing to discover that the third university I attended, the one at which I finally got a degree, shut down its anthropology/archaeology department a year or two after I graduated, and the earth science/geology department a few years ago, due to state budgets.  I majored in all that stuff.  We’ve been losing in science education to formerly third-world countries for decades; is this the wave of the future?  Privatization will do nothing but further dumb down education.  I notice the music and theater departments get cut even sooner than science.  Soon we’ll have nothing left but sports.

Pretty grim, huh?

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