Quality public services give you a shot at life. They don’t guarantee you’ll succeed or prosper, but they help ensure that no matter if you come from the projects or the posh end of town, you’ll have the opportunity to be successful and prosperous. That you’ll be healthy, educated, and safe enough to live a productive and positive life.
There’s no question about it: quality public services are a fantastic investment. By pooling an appropriate percentage of our common wealth, we achieve incredible buying power and economies of scale. Everything is cheaper—whether it’s health-care, education, justice, scientific research, or retirement security—when bought in bulk.
Year after year over the past generation, however, we’ve been investing less of our common wealth in our public services. In 1992, we invested 52% of our GDP in our public service; in 2012, our investment was down to 41%. As inflation rises and our population grows, our public services are forced to do more with less. The wealthy can still afford education, health, and safety, but more of the rest of us are in danger of falling right through the cracks.
Privatization just makes it worse
Our politicians know our public services are being starved. But they’re frightened to tackle the problem head on with laws that ensure tax fairness. Instead, they offer privatization. Sometimes they call it “social investment bonds,” or “recycling assets,” “public private partnerships," "PPPs" or "P3s", they all boil down to the same shell game:
Shuffle the service’s costs out of the politicians’ upcoming budgets
With a “financial privacy” sleight of hand, let the corporation do the dirty work of slashing wages, and cutting corners in safety and quality.
There is no evidence that privatization schemes lead to either cost-savings or quality assurance. There is plenty of evidence that privatization schemes end in disaster. The suggestion that the profit motive can serve the interests of the many is flawed at the core. Only public organizations—organizations that are inherently transparent—can truly serve the interests of the public.
You’re paying for these services. Wouldn’t you rather a say in them through your politicians and your votes than simply give them away to a corporation bent only on squeezing out every drop of potential profit?