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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Privatization to its logical extension

The privatization crowd rarely show their math work. They're especially shortchanging when doing the math all the way to the likely conclusion. So let's take a look.

Assume that the entire country (has lost its mind and) has gone ultra-conservative. We privatize EVERYTHING. 

Education: Rather than having what amounts to a group discount for education, you have to purchase it on the free market. And since it's been privatized, it has to turn a profit. So, we have to jack up the price of what is factored into your taxes by whatever amount that works out to. For the sake of argument, and to be...conservative...let's say the factor is 2. 
Done - 2X

Transportation:  The street you live on will be privatized. How will that work? One assumption is that your neighborhood could purchase a grid of streets and do its own maintenance. That means that you will have to pony up your share to help buy them. Again, no single-payer discount, and since fixing potholes requires a crew to go out each time and do that, figure a factor of 2, conservatively.(Fair disclosure: My stepfather worked for a paving company for over a decade and 2X probably isn't even close, more like 5X)  (Edit note: Another option for the street you live on is for a private firm to buy it. Imagine having to pay a toll to pull out of your driveway. You'd probably have to pay, say, a month in advance, like you would for some other services. To pull out of your driveway. Having fun yet?)
Done - 2X

Health:  What you pay now will make it seem like Walmart has been pricing your care compared to where those costs would go. No single-payer for services now covered by Medicare, Medicaid, VA, other public health plans, means that healthcare prices will skyrocket. Public plans help hold down the price of healthcare by way of competitive pricing between public and private plans. It's hard to make a guess for this, but it would be safe to assume that the byzantine "coding" system of healthcare pricing would remain in effect and probably get even more complicated, We'll be ultra-conservative and call it 2X.
Done - 2X

Security: Now ALL cops are rent-a-cops. Ever see 'Mall Cop'? Ever see the fat security guard at the mall with his face stuffed into a 2083-ounce pop? Those will be your new cops. Some might say that competition will breed better cops, but if that was true, current rent-a-cops wouldn't look like Kevin James. 
Done - 2X

National security: Does anyone recall Blackwater? They changed their name to Xe, but it's still the same people doing the same things and charging ten times more than the same jobs done by equally or BETTER qualified people in the active military. Using private contractors to do the same work that military members could be doing is one of the great defense debacles of the Twenty-First Century. (Not only do we pay the contractors, we still pay the military members who are relegated to sitting on the sidelines or doing odd-jobs, so this is an 'in-addition-to' cost, not an 'instead-of' cost.)  We pay over 10 times more for a contractor to do the same thing that soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors already do.
Done - 10X

Getting a sense of where this is going? In logical parlance, the term 'slippery slope' is a conditional fallacy, so I'll try to avoid the use of that. But one human trait has never failed us, going back millennia: Greed.

The factors I use above are simply back-of-the-envelope numbers pulled out of thin air, but there WILL be a multiplication factor measured in integers involved in what we pay now versus what we would have to pay if the services our government now provides were to be privatized. And the above is just a handful of the hundreds of services that government provides. Even if you could purchase some of them on an a la carte basis, you'd still end up paying many times more than you do now. If you pay 30% of your check in taxes now, imagine if the across-the-board factor was 3X. That means three times more than you now pay. So let's do some math: 30% X 3 = 90% or 30% of your current income that you now pay in taxes times the across-the-board factor of 3X equals 90% of your income to private firms that provide services that were once provided by government through the use of your tax dollars. The people who want privatization are the very same people, or cronies of the same people, who currently, or would, own the businesses once privatization occurs.

Government isn't perfect, and probably never will be. But it has the ability to purchase common goods and services on a scale that privatization would never be able to.

Think about that when you vote for someone who wants to slash government and hand that work over to the private sector.