PRIVATIZATION – Such a fancy word for greed

Taking services out of the control of governments seems to be one of the stronger planks of the Republican platform these days. From street cleaning, garbage pick-up, to water and electric utilities, the cry is to get government out of “business.” Especially at the local level, the pressure is on to let corporations run your world.

What does that really mean, to privatize something? Government services are usually those that affect all citizens, such as maintaining city streets, providing clean water, ensuring parklands exist that are open to everyone. These benefits are paid for through taxes of various kinds, although utilities like water, sewer, recreation & electric all have a fee for usage that covers expenses and gives back to the whole community for other services, as well.

Private companies are able to do similar tasks, provide similar services, and many governments of all sizes can contract out part or all of these things without turning over total control of any service to free market influences. The market, unlike your elected officials, doesn’t care if your mother has cancer, or your child has special needs, or you just lost your job. It is impervious to those things, it runs solely on profit and loss considerations. Service to citizens is not on the priority list. Private companies large enough to take control of, say, a water utility are normally not locally situated in small towns and cities. Their employees and managers are not local people. Your neighbors don’t run NextEnergy mega-utilities.

Why is this desirable to the right? When I joined the political world [as a Republican], local control of government, the right of self-determination, was the standard on which most other strategy was based. Caring for democracy, for citizens’ freedom, was key. Now it seems giving power over to big business is the only goal.

For an answer, I will invoke a common phrase: Follow the money.

Buying political clout, and therefore politicians, has turned our democracy into a plutocracy. Money rules. Dollars buy ad campaigns full of empty promises. Those dollars then buy gerrymandered districting to limit – even eliminate – competition from the other party. And perhaps the emphasis that the GOP is now placing on the “I have mine, you go earn yours” philosophy has turned the political divide even more toward self preservation than to what we see as “the public good.”

I’m still with the founding fathers [most of them] on preventing the less fortunate from being disenfranchised simply owing to their bank account. [Thanks to slight prejudice about who was most qualified/educated to vote for president, Hamilton and Madison took us down the Electoral College road. Um . . . disagree.] And that includes having protections from abuses of the market in our basic needs, in my opinion. If you can’t afford clean water, should you die? If you answer ‘yes,’ please delete your account and return to the hole in which you belong. Should only the rich have smooth roads or safe bridges? Schools? Our current government is turning in that direction.

The protections for all citizens, no matter their status, rests in good government by and for the people. Keeping a steady eye and a strong hand on fairness, that is why we elect our neighbors and why we should “unelect” them if they fail. Or if they become enamored of their own profit rather than the good of the community. Which can happen. A lot.

If you’ve elected someone who starts telling you that it’s better for private business to clean and test your water because it’s cheaper, and they use lower standards, cheaper chemicals, less testing since all those things cut into profit, and because shucks THEY aren’t drinking this water, maybe take another look at your elected official. And her campaign contributions. And his private tax returns. And whether or not his kids are running the company taking over your water.

Community health versus private wealth, that friction is why we have government in the first place.  Saying that money equals free speech means the rich talk while the middle class and poor watch.

Gun control? Health care? Environmental safeguards?  Vote.  VOTE!!!!

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