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  •  Blame the Congress. They have two main (21+ / 0-)

    incentives to privatize as many public services as possible.
    The first is to provide benefits to their civilian cronies. It is an historical fact that until the passage of the Federal Tort Claims Act in 1947, largely in response to military contract abuses during the second World War, all public officials, and especially Congress, we're immune from any review of their official actions, including the distribution of our natural and man-made assets to their friends and supporters. Although Congress had passed the Alien Tort Claims Act in 1789, giving foreign nationals the right to file suit, if they'd been wronged by an official act of malfeasance or negligent, U.S. citizens had no such right and the principle of "sovereign immunity" provided cover for doling out goodies from the public treasury.
    When the FTCA changed that on the books, it had little practical effect for a long while because the records and proceedings of public bodies were largely secret. It was only when the consumer rights and public information revolutions opened things up in the sixties that it became possible for people to know what was going on. The resignation of Richard Nixon and the imprisonment of some of his hoods was proof that there had been a sea change. But, instead of public officials becoming more conscientious and trustworthy in discharging their duties, they turned to contracting them out to middlemen, whom it is almost impossible to hold to account -- especially when being unaccountable is what the Congress is about.
    Contracting with private corporations is a two-fer: easy money from a guaranteed income stream for the privates and no accountability for the publics. (There was actually method to the change in name from the General Accounting Office to the Government Accountability Office. Being able to account for oneself or tell a story is different from things being actually counted. Potential v. Actual).

    The "contractors can do it cheaper" argument is a total sham, especially when you consider that the Congress is charged with issuing the currency or script with which the work they want done gets paid. But then, the responsibility for managing the currency is another obligation the Congress has sloughed off. Well, actually, they did that first in 1913, when they handed the job over to the Federal Reserve, a quasi-private bank, routing each dollar through Wall Street for its cut before the Congress doles it back out directly. What they did, in effect, was give Wall Street a veto over how much of our money gets allocated to public goods and services, so our representatives can claim it is out of their hands. Bunch of Pontius Pilates we have on Capitol Hill.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:19:52 AM PST

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