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July 14, 2019


Professor Kennedy recently quoted Paul Krugman on the issue of privatization of government services in her daily blog and how choices of what government services are to be privatized and what are not are subject to abuse by politicians both as to costs and to efficiencies. As slightly edited, I responded to her insights and observations as follows:

Krugman gives vent to what is already well known, that privatization of government services by politicians via contract is a means of avoiding pensions, unionization etc. of government employees while providing “campaign contributions” (aka bribes) to such politicians’ coffers. It is theft in plain sight and became popular, predictably, during the Reagan regime.

The private prison industry has gone beyond merely running prisons and paying off politicians; they are now actively lobbying state legislatures for heavier penalties. Those dirty jaywalkers should do 20 years – yessiree! Business is business, you know. So now we have private contractors using tax money to make and influence policy? Who voted for them? How far does this go? (On the other hand, an argument could be made that contractors for profit would do a better job at governing than the sorry spectacle we have governing us in Texas and Indiana, among other such states who are flirting with the Brownback Solution.)

What to do? First, you win the election. Then you appoint an independent commission to study what should and should not be privatized based on costs and other efficiencies in the production of goods and services subject to privatization, outlawing lobbying and payment of “campaign contributions” by such contractors or their proxies to politicians of any political stripe. What next? I leave that up to bright and thoughtful congressional  staff and fearless reformers.        GERALD         E


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