Stephen D. Foster Jr.
January 20, 2012
What if you woke up one morning and your government job was being eliminated by a corporation? What if you woke up to find that Wall Street now controlled Medicare, Social Security, and public education? What if you woke up to find that every single government service had been privatized overnight and that the prices for those services had skyrocketed because of corporate greed? Now imagine that the government kept this change a total secret. Well it looks like Florida is heading in that direction.
Florida Republicans are desperate to privatize the prison system in the state, which had been stalled by a judge in Tallahassee. So, they have introduced SB 2036 and SB 2038 to do just that. The measures would allow the state government to privatize prisons in secret and would also allow the government to secretly outsource the work of other state agencies. In other words, citizens could literally wake up one morning and find that their government by the people, for the people, and of the people has been given to corporations that don’t give a damn about what the people have to say. But that’s not all. The measures also give agencies the option of not reporting the privatization of a program until after it has already been done. So citizens won’t even have a chance to object. The bills also give the state legislature the power to privatize any government function it wants.
Imagine this on a federal level. Let’s say Wall Street secretly negotiates with the Social Security Administration or Congress to privatize the Social Security trust fund. Basically, the deal can happen without anybody saying a word to the American people. We could all wake up one morning and discover that our retirement money is no longer guaranteed by the government, but being gambled away on Wall Street by greedy fat cats.
The reason Republicans want to privatize everything is because they claim the private sector is less expensive. But they are wrong as usual. It’s either that or they’re lying. Privatization is costlier than the public sector. Take education for example. Each year, every American pays a few dollars in taxes to fund public schools. If you send your child to a private school, it will cost you thousands.
Now let’s look at health care. There’s a reason why medical services are cheaper in countries that have government run health care. It’s because the private sector doesn’t have a role. Government is not a profit driven organization. Obviously the government wants to take in more than it spends but it isn’t a greedy private sector company that needs profit to survive. Private companies have one goal: to make money. To make that money and pay their CEO’s massive salaries, they must keep prices high. You see, government, unlike private companies, does not have to pay insane salaries. Government workers make considerably less than private sector workers. And no government worker makes a million dollars a year. Not even the President.
Private contractors also cost more money. Contractors often overcharge for their services. Ever heard the one about it costing the government $5,000 for a hammer, $20,000 for a toilet seat? Yeah, that happens when government uses contractors. All the hidden costs and fees nickel and dime the taxpayers out of millions of dollars. That’s why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost us so much money. It wasn’t the wars as much as it was the contractors. The point is, privatization is just another way of saying that corporations want what rightfully belongs to the people. The people own the government by Constitutional right, and all the services it provides. That means the people own their health care, their education, their transportation, their environment, their defense and everything else government does. So why would we want to surrender what is rightfully ours to a corporation that doesn’t answer to us? It’s not like we can elect new corporate leaders if they screw us over. But with government, we have that capability and accountability.
These Florida bills are an alarming threat to transparency and democracy. They serve as a model for Republicans on the federal level. And you know they are considering the option. If Republicans can’t convince the American people to give up what they own to the private sector, they’ll pass a bill so that they can take it from us while we sleep.