Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Money that should have gone to meet community needs ends up in the hands of lawyers, consultants and corporations."


Privatization is corporate welfare for the wealthy


The Daily Journal (NJ)
Copyright 2010

What is wrong with privatization?

Our government entities are a public trust; they belong to everyone. Privatization is sneaking through the back door in the form of public-private partnerships. What does it mean? Privatization is a betrayal of the public trust. What is owned and operated by governments are public enterprises that belongs to us -- we the people.

Privatization is a form of government and private piracy of the state and national trust. In other words, the Garden State Arts Center and Byrne Arena were privatized because of the misconception that they cost the taxpayer money. Actually, they did. But they also returned money to offset taxes and government costs. And most of all, they belonged to us.

What is wrong with this?

When private companies take over a public project, the focus shifts away from the public interest and meeting community needs to ensure profits for the companies' shareholders. Quality goes down. Companies cut costs by paying workers less, not offering them benefits or permanent jobs, and reducing health and safety measures. High staff turnover means the quality of services goes down and risks to the community increase:
  • Higher costs. There are many examples of how privatization cost the public more since interest on loans to the private sector is higher than when the public sector borrows. Many efforts cost tens of millions of dollars before contracts are even signed, and deals are costly and difficult to get out of. Money that should have gone to meet community needs ends up in the hands of lawyers, consultants and corporations.
  • Secrecy. The interest of commercial confidentiality overrides policies to protect the public's right to know about how the people's money is being spent. Commercial confidentiality means information on contracts and negotiations are often unavailable to the public.
  • Loss of accountability. Public control and accountability are both compromised because public standards are seen as obstacles to profiteering business ventures.

Even municipal officers have been kept in the dark about all information regarding the financing and operation of community enterprises, while the wealthy take a bath in the millions and billions of dollars in corporate welfare.

So, we could wind up living in a corporatetocracy. Our democracy is waning fast. Let's not give it away.

Tino Rozzo

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