Monday, August 26, 2013

Week of 08/26/2013

Too Addicted To Quit The Drug War
– by David Matthews 2

There seems to be a perverse fixation in politics to make “drug addicts” suffer.

“Addicts” are treated as the scapegoat for all that supposedly ails society.

Bad credit?  Must be a drug addict.  Right, credit reporting agencies?

Unemployed?  Must be a drug addict. Right, Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio?

On Food Stamps or Welfare or disability?  They may be drug addicts!  Gotta check to make sure!  Force them to pee in a cup!  And keep forcing them to pee in a cup just to make sure!  Can’t have any drug addicts taking one red taxpayer penny, no siree!

Funny, though, how the cons and neo-cons can get their perverted sadistic fetish on when it comes to the people that need help and accuse them of automatically being addicts without ever being given an opportunity to be proven otherwise, but they’ll forgive an admitted pill-popper like Rush Limbaugh, or a former cocaine addict like Glenn Beck.

And yet, for all of the rhetoric about making addicts suffer, there will always be the one group of addicts that will never be recognized.  In fact, these addicts will be not only tolerated, but they will continue to be coddled and encouraged to be more and more addicted at the continued crippling expense of the community itself.

I’m talking about those addicts whose drug of choice is the so-called “War on Drugs” itself.

Yes, so-called “drug warriors” are addicts as well.  They’re dangerously addicted to power.  It’s really the only addiction where the damage only affects the people around the addict and not the addict himself or herself.

When students are suspended from school because they bring in their own proscription nasal spray so they can breathe during allergy season, then that school’s administration has a serious addiction problem.

When a little old lady is outright murdered in her home in the middle of the night because the city’s “elite enforcement division” was looking to meet a quota, then that city has a serious addiction problem.

When a city’s “elite enforcement division” cannot tell the difference between marijuana and organic tomato plants, then that city has a serious addiction problem.

When the police chief of a small New Hampshire city actually requests a military tank with a straight face, then that city has a serious addiction problem.

And this is the one addiction that nobody wants to acknowledge exists.  There are people that are addicted to the Internet, addicted to online gaming, addicted to Beanie Babies, addicted to soft drinks and pizza, addicted to sex, addicted to romance, addicted to inflatable pool toys, addicted to Star Trek, addicted to weddings… but nobody, especially those in government, want to admit that they can become addicted to power through the “Drug War”.  Or, for that matter, from “terrorism” or “school shootings” or from any other justification they can whip up to get what they want.

This addiction gives law enforcement and politicians carte blanche to literally create their own army through no cost of their own.  Want military-style flack jackets and automatic weapons?  Just say “War on Drugs” or “9/11” and you’ll have all the military toys you want.  Want a tricked-out military-grade Hummer as it was originally designed for?  Feel the need for a high-speed cigar boat?  Well if you can’t get the taxpayers to cough one up, you can always seize it from someone you suspect is dealing drugs.  What good is having asset forfeiture powers if the good stuff is going to be sitting in storage?

Bear in mind that this comes as cities are at the financial breaking point and as local communities are pressed to slice budgets to the bare minimum because there is no more tax revenue to collect from the already-stressed taxpayers.  And here comes your local police chief with his officers in tow demanding that the taxpayers to fork over still more money for a tank and maybe some drones!  These are dangerous times, after all.  Bad guys have bigger weapons and they’re putting little kids in danger.  Are you going to be the one to say “no” to all of that?

Then there’s the other problem when it comes to those addicted to the “Drug War”: you can’t get them to pull back, even when public support demands it.

There has been a steady effort in the various states to decriminalize marijuana, either for medicinal purposes or for recreational possession in small amounts.  Almost half the nation has already enacted such changes.  The reasons why vary.  Some cite health benefits, others say the cost of enforcement and incarceration is too much, and still more debunk the original arguments that were raised in the 1930’s.

But no matter the reason, their efforts have so far been for naught.  No matter how many states decriminalize marijuana, no matter how many regulatory controls and oversight are created by state legislators, supporters are continually running into the biggest gang of addicts of them all: the United States Government.

Despite the change in public attitudes, you would have a much better chance of seeing evangelical conservatives embrace same-sex marriages before you would ever see the federal government willingly back down from their stance on marijuana.  To back away from marijuana now is completely against the nature of these addicts.

Let’s get brutally hone here… there is no way that our federal government will ever reconsider their stance on marijuana on their own.  They have to be forced, compelled, to comply, and even then they would do so grudgingly. 

Remember Prohibition?  The Volstead Act and the Constitutional Amendment that outlawed alcohol?  The people behind that firmly believed that there would be no way possible for the Eighteenth Amendment to be repealed.  They controlled the federal and state legislators, so they knew that they would be able to sabotage any attempt to get a repeal past them.  Like today’s “Drug War” addicts, these Prohibition Addicts were addicted to the power and control they had over the masses when it came to alcohol, and they were hell-bent on forcing America dry.

What the temperance activists and the political bosses failed to take into account is a second way to repeal a bad Constitutional Amendment.  The Prohibition Addicts were by-passed, and they were forced to back down on alcohol, but not without some regulatory battles that still are being waged today.

Today’s Drug War addicts are no different.  Even if every state decides to legalize marijuana, the federal government will still declare it to be illegal and still wage armed battles to stop it, unless they are forced otherwise by courts or by the same Constitutional Convention that enacted the Twenty-First Amendment and repealed Prohibition.

Sure President Obama pledged at one point to stop prosecuting people in those states where it is decriminalized or re-regulated, but that pledge was made meaningless when the arrests continued.  His promises mean absolutely nothing as long as Drug Enforcement Agents continue their raids.

Local law enforcement doesn’t want to back down; they want to escalate things even more.  Now they’re looking for “synthetic pot” and “bath salts” and anything that can supposedly put one in an altered state.  If it doesn’t come from Big Pharma, then they want it, and in states like Georgia they have been given cart blanche to do anything they can to supposedly “protect us” from it.  They are forever locked into one path, and that path is more government, more control, more arrests, more incarcerations.  All to keep us “safe”.

Sadly, there is no way to treat these kinds of addicts.  There are no rehab clinics or twelve-step programs to help these kinds of addicts out.  Doctor Drew Pinsky probably won’t be able to help.  Worse yet, they surround themselves with plenty of enablers, convincing them that they don’t have a problem… it’s everyone else.

No, the only way to deal with these kinds of addicts is with intervention.  To remove them from power through the ballot box so they can hopefully recognize they have a problem.  Unfortunately, if we’re not willing to do that ourselves, then it’s really not going to be done.  We can’t expect these addicts to clean themselves up.  After all, they’re busy trying to keep us and our tax monies safe from all those other addicts.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Week of 08/19/2013

The Precious Middle Class
– by David Matthews 2

If you need further proof that former U.S. Senator and presidential wannabe Rick Santorum is truly the frothy fecal matter that his last name now is associated with, you only have to look at his latest crusade to purge “The Middle Class”.

Mister Santorum has it in his head that the idea of a “Middle Class” is a “Marxist” one and that he wants conservatives, neo-conservatives, and the GOP in general to stop using the term.

“Since when in America do we have classes?” he told attendees at a GOP fundraiser in Iowa. “Since when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That's Marxism talk.”

Except that the idea of the Middle Class predates even Karl Marx by a few generations.  The idea of an intermediary class of people separate from both nobility and peasantry started in 1745.  Some even credit this intermediary class for helping to drive the French Revolution.

Karl Marx himself wasn’t even born then, Mister Santorum, much less the idea of “Marxism”.

And “since when in America are people stuck in areas”, you ask?  Maybe you should research the history of our immigrants.  Look up when the Irish started coming in, and the Italians, and even the Cubans.  Did they instantly “assimilate” themselves into America?  No, they huddled together in certain neighborhoods, so you would have a “Little Italy” area, and a “Little Greece” area, and a “Chinatown” district.  And guess what?  Many of those little areas still exist today!

By the way, Mister Santorum, if you abhor the idea of a “Middle Class”, then why were you so hell-bent on giving them tax breaks in your failed 2012 run for the White House?  Why was your website dedicated on “rebuilding” a class that you think shouldn’t exist?  Why were you trying to defend a class that you think shouldn’t exist when you criticized Texas Governor Rick Perry’s tax idea in South Carolina?

Oh, but, wait… Mister Santorum did say in 2012 that maybe there is a “group” for cons and neo-cons to pander to: the “middle-income people”.  You know, the people that aren’t in the “upper-income” category but also aren’t in the “poverty” level.  Right there in that “middle” category that fight hard to avoid the latter but somehow can’t make it into the former.  But don’t call it a “class”… because that’s “Marxist talk” according to Mister Santorum.

Sir, you truly are full of “Santorum”.

Let’s get brutally honest here… not only is there a Middle Class in America, but it is the one class that has been both doted on and pandered to and also preyed upon and screwed over by politicians and by Big Business since at least the Cold War.

The very idea of suburbia is something that would not exist if not for that “middle group” that Mister Santorum thinks we shouldn’t refer to anymore.  The so-called “American Dream” of moving out of the cities into little neighboring towns and getting your own home in a nice and quiet neighborhood and then driving to and from work… that was custom-made for that so-called “middle income” group.  It didn’t exist before World War II!  The very idea of high-volume highways is a Cold War concept.

And who do you think Santorum’s buddies in the GOP pandered to in order to get elected all this time?  Who do you think Richard Nixon pandered to in order to get elected and re-elected?  Who do you think Ronald Reagan and both generations of Bush pandered to?  Who do you think was the focus of the “Morning in America” commercial?  The poor?  No, that group belongs to those “filthy liberals”.  The wealthy?  Sort of redundant, don’t you think?

No, the group that the GOP needs in order to get elected and stay elected is the Middle Class.

And I should also point out it is the same group that Mister Santorum failed to reach when he was voted out of office in 2006 as a U.S. Senator, and also failed to reach when he tried to get the GOP nomination in 2012.  And he’ll need to reach out to them as well if he expects to try again in 2016.  It doesn’t help voters much when they’re being told by people like him that their demographic is a “Marxist” concept.

At the same time, I’m not really a fan of the Middle Class.

First of all, it’s always “under attack” according to one group or another.  If it’s not Mister Santorum’s friends in the religious crowd screaming about “rampant immorality”, then it’s under economic attack according to both liberals and conservatives.  Either they’re paying “too much” in taxes or they’re not getting paid enough to keep up with the cost of living.

The Middle Class is convinced to put their names and their money into getting homes at any cost, then they’re left to blame when the banks screw them out of those homes.  Then they’re convinced to give up trillions in taxpayer money to bail out those same banks on the promise that the banks would then work with them to save their homes, only to turn around and be screwed yet again.  They’re told to support tax breaks for the wealthiest on the promise that it would “trickle down” to them, only to find the wealthy keeping the saved money because “it’s too unstable to invest”.

They just can’t seem to get a break, can they?

The Middle Class are suckered into the myth that they can someday be like the wealthy.  They’re convinced to spend money beyond their means so they can appear to be successful.  They’re told to buy the newest and the latest goodies and gadgets and clothes.  They “need” that new car, the latest cellphone, and to go on vacation.  They shell out whatever they can for “wealth secrets” that only make them poorer. 

“You too can buy stock like the rich,” they’re told.  “You too can buy gold like the rich,” they’re told in TV commercials.  “You too can buy a foreclosed home and flip it and make money like the rich,” they’re told through TV programs.

And yet no matter how hard they try, no matter how much they spend, and no matter how much they risk, they can never seem to make enough, can they?  They can act like the rich and spend like the rich and try to think like the rich, but they can never be rich.  The bar is always being raised that much higher.  The cheese is always being moved to a new location.  Like fanboys for a centerfold model, they will give everything they have for something they will only see but never have themselves. 

It’s like they’re stuck in a particular stratified socioeconomic segment, always pushed to move up with the fear of being downgraded to that despised lower segment, and yet only going just so far before hitting a glass ceiling and being knocked back down.

Almost like a… class. 

A “precious” Middle Class valued only for their numbers and their willingness to be suckered into whatever scheme can be dreamed up to avoid being branded as “poor”.  A stratified socioeconomic class that is placed up on a pedestal and then secretly thrown rocks at by the very elite that placed them there.

Of course I would like to believe that one day we could do away with the “Middle Class” as a frozen social stratified level and be in a society where one could truly succeed without hitting a socioeconomic ceiling.  Unfortunately that would require we eliminate the Predatory Parasitic Philosophy of Plunder that has become so pervasive in the business world and has been responsible for screwing over that segment of the populace.  that’s not going to happen anytime soon, especially given who is in Washington today.

A more likely scenario would be the elimination of the “Middle Class” in this country in ways that you currently see in countries like Saudi Arabia; where the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is so wide that there is no intermediary group.  Then Mister Santorum would get his wish, because then there would be no socioeconomic classes for people to worry about or for politicians to pander to.  There would only be the super-rich and the super-poor, and nobody would be confused as to where they stand in that kind of society.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week of 08/12/2013

Transparency?  For National Security?
– by David Matthews 2

So President Barack Obama now feels that we need to look at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the National Security Agency’s spying efforts and revising parts of the ill-named freedom-hating PATRIOT Act.  He decided that now is the time we needed to bring in a “special advocate” to supposedly make things “more transparent”.

Well isn’t that nice of the president to decide that “now” is the time to do these things… when the news comes out as to how these things are being actively abused.

Isn’t it nice to know that “now” is the supposed “right time” to do these things… after we learn that the NSA was actually listening to our phone calls despite a decade of denials.  Something that was only made public thanks to Edward Snowden, whom the President refused to consider as being either a “whistleblower” or a “patriot”, even though he was the one that brought this gross abuse of power to light.

Isn’t it nice to know that “now” is the supposed “right time” to do something about these abuses… after we discover that other agencies are also using the very information that the NSA wasn’t supposed to have in the first place.  Oh they claim that they “really aren’t” doing that, but that is about as credible as the NSA’s continual claim that they haven’t been listening to our phone calls.  They are all as credible now as Bill Clinton was when he claimed that he “never inhaled” and that he did not have sexual relations with “that woman, Miss Lewinsky”.

It should be noted as well that this comes at a time when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is making a hasty beeline exit from Washington, leaving the various agencies to flounder in her wake.  But it would not be fair to put this debacle squarely on her shoulders, because this kind of complacency in peering into our lives and the willingness to share such information with other agencies doesn’t happen overnight.  This kind of comfort and complacency is something that is built up over several years; maybe even from the ten-plus years that this whole Orwellian Wet Dream has been in our homes and in our lives.

When I hear talk about a “special advocate”, I think back to the movie “Boiler Room” with the scene of the guy sitting all by himself in a closed room, who does nothing but read the newspaper, and we find out that he’s supposed to be the regulatory supervisor that would make sure nothing “illegal” goes on.  I remember the fall of Enron and how a supposedly “trustworthy” firm like Arthur Anderson was supposed to make sure nothing “improper” or “illegal” went on.  I remember Lincoln Savings and Loan and how the U.S. Senators known as the “Keating Five” were “shocked” to see it fall under their supposed oversight.

Keep in mind that we have an Attorney General that is petrified of bringing even one criminal charge against the career criminals in the banking industry for fear that even one little charge could crash the whole economy, even though his department’s own policy calls for doing just that.  We have millions of Americans that have been literally forsaken by Obama and his Fail machine under claims of the economy “improving”.  And yet now we’re supposed to “trust” the Obama Fail to look out for civil liberties when it comes to doing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing in the first place?

Let’s get brutally honest here… the only thing that I can ever have trust in regarding President Obama and his perpetual fail is that he will continue to fail the American people, especially when it comes to looking out for our civil liberties.

The GOP will no doubt deny this publicly, but if there is one thing that they share with Obama it is their addiction to keeping whatever abusive power they can get and to keep the public petrified in order to retain it.  Just look at the recent “chatter” scare tactic regarding our embassies, ripped right out of the same “Nexus of Politics and Terror” playbook from the Bush Imperium.  Isn’t it funny how there seems to be “chatter” after the government gets caught doing something stupid or wrong?

Speaking of the party of chickenhawk fascism and fear-mongering, you can guarantee that the GOP will fight tooth-and-nail any attempt to “reform” the NSA, Homeland Security, the FISA Courts and the ill-named freedom-hating PATRIOT Act.  These groups are all very much the GOP’s legislative babies and the GOP will protect them as vigorously as they would protect their own pork programs and tax breaks for the 1% crowd.  Why give up power that they themselves will want to use at some point after Obama leaves?

And then there is the punchline… if there is one word that could ever be considered out-of-place when it comes to security, it is the word “transparency”.

Expecting a fear-mongering government that has no qualms using past trauma to keep the masses complacent to suddenly be “transparent” when it comes to collecting information is not only unrealistic; it is dangerously delusional.  And I mean “delusional” on the caliber of being kept medicated and in a padded room.

Let’s start with a few truths.  The first truth is that the government will never willingly admit to doing anything illegal or improper unless they are forced to do so, and even then they will refuse to admit to being wrong.  The government operates on the presumption of being always right, even and especially when they are wrong.

The second truth is that government does not give a rat’s ass about civil liberties.  If it means throwing almost every citizen into prison to keep them “safe”, they’ll do it without a second thought.  If you have any question about that then consider that after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, our government rounded up all Japanese, Italian, and German immigrants and threw them into internment camps until the end of World War II.

The third truth is that no leader, including the President of the United States, will ever admit that they knew about the government abusing those civil liberties before it is made public.  It’s called “plausible deniability”.  It’s not only a matter of accountability but also a matter of image.  You can have all of the FoxNews witch-hunts, you can summon all the Congressional hearings and appoint every Special Prosecutor in the world and you won’t find a chief executive of a supposedly “free nation” that will admit knowing about the government abusing the civil rights of even one individual before that news is made public, even if they were the one holding the water-boarding bucket.  So all of this stuff about President Obama “reading reports” and not knowing about any abuses is about as much “truth” as you will ever get from him on this.

The fourth truth is that there will never be a “right time” to have a “dialogue” on this.  Never.  The assumption made by Obama about us having an “orderly and lawful process to debate these issues” ended on October 26,  2001, when the PATRIOT Act was shoved down our gullets – sight unseen – and gave our government cart blanche do to what it wants.

And the fifth truth is that not only is knowledge power, so is information, and once the Orwellian genie is out, it’s impossible to put it back in.  We know that the NSA is keeping track of our phone calls.  We now know that other agencies are getting access to this information.  We know that the Department of Justice pompously assumes that it has uncontestable warrant-less access to everything out on a “cloud” server, including your emails and your computer backups.  Do you honestly think that any of these groups would be willing to give up that power without a fight?

Keep in mind that you’re fighting more than just these agencies and departments on this.  You’re going up against the chickenhawk fascists in the GOP.  You’re going up against the chickenhawk “blue dog” Democrats (if there are any still living).  You’re going up against the god-dammed Fox News Script and their legions of corporate-owned “national security consultants”.  You’re going up against whole groups of K-Street lobbyists that make their money off collecting that kind of information and using it for their own purposes and profits. You’re going up against “Really Too Big To Fail” corporations that make money off misery and instability around the world.  And you’re going up against the segment of the population that has already eagerly sold their souls and all of ours to the Orwellian Wet Dream as simply being “part of the new reality”. 

This is their NRA “from my cold dead hands” line.  This is their “coat hangers” issue.  This is the thing that all of these groups will fight and kill you for; their presumed entitlement to look into your personal property and your personal lives in the name of “national security”.

As much as the libertarian in me sees the news from Obama for reforms as being “about time”, the practical and politically cynical part of me knows that all of these talks are nothing more than just lies and spin.  Obama has no interest in taking away any kind of power that either he or his eventual successor would enjoy and utilize, no matter how “embarrassing” the revelation of that power may be.  And even if he is sincere about it, he’d then have to fight the whole of K-Street, C-Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Fox News and their Orwellian scripts to do it.  Compare to all of that, al Qaeda is a pantywaist pushover.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week of 08/05/2013

The Dangerous Push To Privatize
– by David Matthews 2

As a libertarian it is assumed that I am in favor of putting every facet of government activity in the hands of private industry.  Privatize the police, privatize ambulances, privatize fire fighters, privatize the mail, privatize the roads… oh, wait; I forgot that there would be no road according to the critics of libertarianism.

Anyway the general idea… not to mention the continual talking point of conservatives and neo-conservatives… is that private industry would care more about a service than if it is left in the hands of the government.  And once upon a time I used to agree with that statement wholeheartedly. 

But then reality happened, and through my observations and experiences, my sense of libertarianism evolved into what I like to call “Practical Libertarianism”.  And I began to realize that the script that has been strongly promoted by conservatives and neo-conservatives and by my fellow libertarians on this matter is, at best, only a half-truth.

There are some things that are essential for a community to function.  Yes, critics, that does include roads.  (Seriously, critics, what is with this perverse fetish you have about roads?)  And also emergency services… and law enforcement… and the courts.  You don’t have to hate everything about government to be a libertarian.  There are hundreds of elected local officials all across the United States that wouldn’t even consider running for those offices if their sense of libertarianism automatically meant that they couldn’t be involved with government.

So back to the idea of the privatization of local government services.  A few years back the City of Atlanta thought they had a wonderful idea of privatizing the water and sewer services.  They had lined up a sweetheart deal with a provider and then they turned things over to them.

What a mistake that turned out to be!

People were being billed for water they didn’t use.  Some were suddenly getting huge bills in the tens of thousands.  The costs were going up and up without any reason.  An audit in 2012 showed that about seventy percent of the water meters were faulty.  Seventy percent!  And yet it was all being blamed on the masses!  “Oh, you got a $10,000 bill for last month?  Well it’s your fault.  You must have a leak somewhere.  You better take care of it… and also pay our bill.”

That’s privatization for you.

And that’s not the only example that I can turn to either.

How about Cable Television?  Back in the 80’s and 90’s, when Cable TV was all the thing, cable providers basically had cart blanche to put lines in, set people up, and charge them whatever they wanted to charge.  They would offer fifty channels and say “Well the first fourteen are basic, but the rest are a new service tier that you have to pay extra for.”  And then they’d take the most popular of those and come up with a new “service tier” and so on and so forth.

This was why there were efforts to put government-imposed limits on those kinds of pricing games.

Understand that for most parts of the country, there was only one cable provider for your area, and that was it.  It was literally a government-sanctioned monopoly, and you either chose to accept their terms or go back to the monster antenna on your roof.  Even with the debut of digital satellite services like DirecTV and Dish, not all places could use those as alternatives, so they really had almost no choice aside from not watching television at all.

Then there’s your local electrical provider.  You really have no choice there, do you?  No electricity means no refrigeration, no lights, no alarm service for your house, no power for phones or computers, no heat or air conditioning… you’re really in a fix, especially if you have pets, children, and/or the elderly with you.  Well that’s privatized too, isn’t it?

Remember what Enron did a decade ago to California?  Rolling brownouts and blackouts… and all to generate profits to support a corrupt corporation that was self-destructing due to gross incompetence and mismanagement.  It even forced a recall vote of the Governor of California!

Again, that’s privatization for you.  You can’t come up with a bigger example of the dangers of it than with what Enron did to the public.

Sure, privatization works in theory, but let’s get brutally honest here… simply turning services over to private entities does not guarantee you’ll get better service or that you’ll cut down on costs.  All you’re really doing in that case is simply changing monopolies. 

Let’s start with the half-truth being promoted by conservatives and neo-conservatives about privatization.  Yes, the private sector can be competitive, providing better services at low costs.  But that only exists if there are actual alternatives for the customers (a.k.a. the public) to choose from.

If you have three or more providers of a service in any given area for the customers to choose from, they are all going to work to provide the best service possible for the most affordable rate possible; because they know that if they don’t, then the customers will cancel and sign up with their competition.  That’s how the whole competition thing really works.  The power in that situation is really with the customers.

But if you only have one or even two providers for the masses to “choose” from, then the customers don’t have the power anymore, especially when the providers agree to really not compete against each other.  They have no incentive to provide the best service for the cheaper price because there’s no real alternative for the customers.  Then it’s not a race to be “the best”; it’s just a struggle to be “not the worst”.  That’s how they are able to game the system. 

Now let’s suppose that you have a government service like animal control that you want to privatize.  You’re starting with an inherent monopoly, which is what the government is, and you want to give that same control to a private entity (a company or a corporation).  They will handle the Animal Control division, handle the licensing, deal with the stray pets, dispose of the dead ones, and oversee the adoption services of the strays they’ve picked up.  The deal is made and everyone talks about how a wonderful deal this is because it will put animal control in “capable hands” and do so cheaper than under government control.

Six months down the line, you find that the company is doing an abysmal job.  Strays are everywhere, dead animals litter the roads and ditches, there are more animals euthanized than ever could be adopted, it’s next to impossible to adopt one of those strays, the shelter staff treat the pets worse than pet hoarders, and the licensing fees have skyrocketed, so now it’s twice or three times the amount before privatization for citizens to own pets.  The masses are complaining because they believe they are getting screwed over on this deal.

So what can you do about that?  Well, nothing.  Previously you could get the local government to fire the people responsible. Granted, it’s not always an easy process, but it can be done.  But now the local government doesn’t have that power.  The private entity does.  The private entity has an iron-clad contract that gives them the authority to handle the quality of their service and the prices they charge.  The only power the local government would have would be when the contract comes up for renewal… and that only works if the local government would be willing to go back to managing the service themselves or to seek out any competition, if such competition even exists.

What happened to all of that talk about lower costs and better quality service?  It doesn’t exist, because there is still no competition in that department.  You’re merely handing control of that service to a private entity without any of the incentives that a private entity would normally have to provide that better quality and lower cost.

In theory, government operates to provide a service.  That is their purpose.  A job needs to be done and it will get done.  A private entity, especially a corporate one, operates to make a profit.  Everything else is secondary to them.  This is what separates the public and private sectors.  It’s not that the private sector is “better” at what they do; it’s just that they are motivated by something different than what drives the public sector.

I can understand the desire for local governments to want to cut costs, especially in the really tough times when people are hurting and tax revenues are harder to collect.  But turning essential services over to private entities is not the panacea that conservatives and neo-conservatives and even my fellow libertarians promote it to be.  All they’re really doing is handing off responsibility to yet another monopoly power; one that is more interested in making money than in providing a needed service.