Sunday, August 18, 2013


There are several functions that should only be done by governments. They are things that we should only allow elected officials to do and control and for which the taxpayers should pay; they are things the government should never operate for profit. The obvious subjects of my attention are services mainly, but goods as well, include the army and the post office. Franchised utilities are examples: electricity, water, and sewage. Police and fire protections are additional examples with school and prisons included. The later two examples are of upmost importance because of the harm privatization can cause to society.

Sometimes the “man on the street” cannot appreciate how huge the government has become and how difficult it is to manage but also how important it is to mange it well. The Republican mantra, that the government is too big, taxes are too high etc, is na├»ve at the least and at best is pure hogwash. The list of things in the first paragraph is trivial compared to the actual extent of government. The idea that we should privatize everything and turn whatever it is in to a profit making organization to satisfy their demands is ridiculous. What they want is that some company executive makes the profit and earns huge bonuses, while the taxpayers pay the bill.

Connect the idea of “everything should be privatized” to the idea that the government “should deregulate everything”. Most of us think Republicans are talking only about deregulating private businesses; Wall Street, banks and saving and loan companies, and bond rating companies, etc, etc, etc. Because they want this so badly should serve as a warning. What is there about privatizing government services that you do not understand? They want to put their hands in the pockets of the taxpayers and not have oversight or even give working people the option of voting the chief executive of this or that company out of office. This shoveling of taxpayer dollars into their hands is already well underway and getting worse by the day, but here is something worse.

Look at privately operated prisons as an example where privatization is having more than just an economic impact on society. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population but it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. The prisons in the United States incarcerate 2.3 million people. The ‘private prison’ experiment started in the United States in 1984. Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group— the two largest corporations—in 2010 collect annual revenue for 2 billion dollars. What is most startling is the fact that the number of for profit prisons inmates grew by 1,664% between 1990 and 2009. Prisons that are privately owned in Arizona, for example,  are directly related to the harsh immigration laws; ownership is associated with politically powerful judges and politicians. Stop and search results in a number of arrest. Police are said to be stopping and searching people for illegal firearms or to investigate their immigration status; if that is the case, why are the most people arrested, charged, and sent to prison are sent there for possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Why are the prison sentences for minor infractions so long?

People are being sent to prison only so corporations can make money. This is ugly. Tough guy Republicans call for harsh treatment of criminals, then redefine what a criminal is, and then buy stock in a prison.  This is America but is this who we are?

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