Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 5 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/15/18

The Truth About Privatization

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     (# of views)   4 comments
Author 47089
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert B. Reich
Become a Fan
  (128 fans)

From Robert Reich Blog

- Advertisement -

Privatization. Privatization. Privatization. It's all you hear from Republicans. But what does it actually mean?

Generations ago, America built an entire national highway system, along with the largest and best public colleges and universities in the world. Also public schools and national parks, majestic bridges, dams that generated electricity for entire regions, public libraries and public research.

But around 1980, the moneyed interests began pushing to privatize much of this, giving it over to for-profit corporations. Privatization, the argument went, would boost efficiency and reduce taxes.

The reality has been that privatization too often only boosts corporate bottom lines.

- Advertisement -

For example, consider Trump's proposal for infrastructure. It depends on private developers, who would make money off of both tax subsidies and private tolls. So the public would get charged twice, without any guarantee that the resulting roads, bridges, or rapid transportation systems would be where they're most needed.

It's true that private for-profit corporations can do certain tasks very efficiently. And some privatization has worked. But the goal of corporations is to maximize profits for shareholders, not to serve the public interest.

The question should be: What's best for the public? Here are five rules of thumb for when public services should not be privatized:

- Advertisement -

1. Don't privatize when the purpose of the service is to bring us together -- reinforcing our communities, helping us connect with one another across class and race, linking up Americans who'd otherwise be isolated or marginalized.

This is why we have a public postal service that serves everyone, even small rural communities where for-profit private carriers often won't go. This is why we value public education and need to be very careful that charter schools and other forms of so-called school choice don't end up dividing our children and our communities rather than pulling them together.

2. Don't privatize when the service is less costly when paid for through tax revenues than through prices set by for-profit corporations.

America's hugely expensive for-profit health-insurance system, for example, is designed to sign up healthy people and avoid sick people, while running up huge tabs for advertising and marketing, and giving big rewards to shareholders and executives. Which is why the administrative costs of Medicare are a fraction of the costs of for-profit medical insurance -- and why we need Medicare for all.

3. Don't privatize when the people who are supposed to get the service have no power to complain when services are poor.

This is why for-profit prison corporations have proven again and again to violate the constitutional rights of prisoners, and why for-profit detention centers for refugee children at the border pose such grave risks.

- Advertisement -

4. Don't privatize when those who are getting the service have no way to know they're receiving poor quality.

The marketers of for-profit colleges, for example, have every incentive to exploit young people and their parents because the value of the degrees they're offering can't easily be known. Which is why non-profit colleges and universities have proven far more trustworthy.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Well Said 2   Supported 2   Valuable 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Robert B. Reich Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Trump Cornered

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

What to Do About Disloyal Corporations

The Gas Wars