Republicans love to talk about privatizing government functions, because, according to them, a for-profit business model is so much more efficient. But Wendy Gittleson, writing at Addicting Info, has nine really good reasons why we don’t want those savvy businessmen teaching our children or putting out house fires. Following are three of her compelling arguments, and you can read the rest here.
Companies are in business for one reason and one reason only—to make money. They are not in business to serve their employees or even their customers. A corporation is legally obligated to put profit above all else. This philosophy typically boils down to making the cheapest product the market will allow (or offering the least amount of service) and selling it at the highest price the market will allow. It’s one thing if your cell phone has a built in life span of six months to two years. It’s quite another for the electrical power grid.
The government is not in the business of creating demand. By and large, government services are services deemed necessary for our society to function. Businesses spring up every day by creating new demands for new products. Pharmaceutical companies invent illnesses. Clothing manufacturers convince us that we are somehow inferior if we are caught wearing last year’s styles. Governments pick up trash, teach children and put out fires. They have no incentive to have us create more trash, make dumber children or start fires. On the other hand, if those same services were run by business, the more trash they picked up, the more money they would earn. The more work they had to put into educating our children, the more money they would earn. The more fires they had to put out, the more money they would earn.
The government is directly accountable to us. Post-Citizens United, this might sound somewhat naive, but we do still hold elections and only the people are eligible to vote. A corporate CEO, on the other hand, is controlled by a small group of people known as the board of directors. If we, the customers, wish to fire our President or Congressperson, all we have to do is show up at the polls (something Americans are notoriously bad at). If we, the customers, wish to fire the CEO of a multinational corporation, well, good luck.
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