The greediest wave of privatization in history has overtaken the nation's capital and key states. After funding sweeping Republican wins in November 2010, corporations own almost all of Congress and state governments, much of the media, and a majority of the Supreme Court. So, Big Business interests have demanded payback from the candidates they bought. They see government as a cash cow that corporations can milk. And Republicans are on record as eager to turn Social Security, Medicare, public schools, roads, hospitals, and every other aspect of government into profit centers.
Privatization has been the Republican mantra since Ronald Reagan demonized government as the cause of all America’s ills. Nowhere has it had a more crusading advocate than in Florida. It was the thrust of Jeb Bush’s two terms as governor. During his second inaugural speech, within sight of Tallahassee’s government complex, he shared his vision of public agencies entirely replaced by private companies: “There would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers.”
Especially now, because Florida's economy is in shambles, privatization will be a top priority of Governor-elect Rick Scott and his almost-all Republican Legislature. They’ll insist that it will save money and improve services, while reducing the size and bloat of government—even though privatization often turns out to be costly and inefficient. And while the governor and legislators plot the corporate takeover of Florida, they’re going to add insult to injury by passing laws that take away average citizens' rights for the benefit of business—through tort reform, perhaps challenging the constitutionality of the minimum wage, and gutting federal health reform.
But it’s time to call privatization the scam that it is: corporate welfare. Provide a single mother of two with benefits so she can get an education and a job and lift her family out of poverty—and detractors scream socialism. But give a corporation a no-bid, 30-year contract to take over a state agency or road with a guaranteed source of profit from tax dollars—and proponents hail it as free enterprise. In fact, the Kremlin couldn’t have designed a cozier arrangement. It’s pure state-sponsored redistribution of taxpayers’ money from (what critics call) Big Government into the hands of (what everyone should see is just) Big Business profiteering—with little or no oversight or accountability.
In Washington, at least until 2012, privatization efforts will fail because Democrats control the Senate and the White House. In a number of state, as in Florida voters gave Republicans control of all state government. So soon enough, the corporate state will replace government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” And the inalienable rights of average Americans to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” will be sacrificed for quarterly profits. It's up to voters in 2012 to reelect Obama with large enough majorities in both houses of Congress to stop privatization efforts--and to put enough Democrats in state legislatures to thwart efforts within their borders.#