Seriously, How in the Hell does Privatizing ANYTHING Make it Better?

Title pretty much says it all. I’m against privatizing things, at least, as far as I know this moment.

The FDA, education, and law enforcement come to mind.

The quick and dirty: Privatization begets competition, competition begets efficiency. Then, depending on whether you’re a business owner or a consumer, efficiency begets profit/lower prices.

In theory, at least.

How would one privitize the FDA? It’s an agency that enforces the regulation of the private drug industry.

Which, IMO, is a pretty good model for a lot of things (law enforcement and basic infrastructure being the glaring exceptions). Allow competition while using regulation and oversight to ensure the public welfare.

If you think privatization is bad, why not advocate for nationalization of more areas? Surely it can’t be that we have the absolute optimal balance of privatized activities and government run activies right now, can it?

Some things work better under a system of privately owned competing entities; others work best administered by a government. The problem is that many people have historically decided for ideological reasons that either the government should control everything ( Communism ), or private groups/individuals should control everything ( extreme libertarianism ). Not surprisingly, trying to apply the same solution to all problems doesn’t work all that well.

Would you rather go to a private college or a state college?

How? FuckifIknow. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done either…then again, one could argue that letting people of that industry run such things as they do now is a step towards it.

There’s a dimension to this that doesn’t get discussed often, I think, because it bogs down in complexity, maybe.

Even when the government takes something on as a duty, there are various degrees to which the government can resort to contracting out its work.

Contracting out is its own debatable proposition. The gummint does in fact contract out some measure of national defense - through defense contractors. Not talkin’ only about weapons development here, but also about supplies.

If privatization is totally a bad thing, should the government take over its own weapons development, munitions and other military supplies manufacturing? Manufacture all rations in gummint kitchens?

Should local governments contract out road construction, or have it all done by city crews? What about other kinds of construction? Garbage collection?

What are or what should be the principles involved? Just askin’.

I fail to see how having an entire industry run under the umbrella of an individual or corporation can be a good thing.

Wouldn’t the corporate mentality mean that the company must ultimately be run at a better and better profit each quarter?

Privatizing supermarkets is great. Privatizing regulatory bodies, not so much. Economic fundamentalism either toward one extreme or the other is unrealistic, but it’s a perennial struggle to sort out what ought to be a public or private entity. I’m especially on the fence about public education. It just makes so much sense to have a universally high standard of educational quality that benefits everyone, but the content of the curriculum is such a contentious issue often no one gets what they really want out of it. In principle I’m pro a lot of things existing for the public good, but the public often takes much of what’s good out of social programs with endless ideological squabbles.

If I were having to pay for a large chunk of it myself, state college- no ifs, ands or buts. The extra money you pay for a private college will take years to make up in difference in salaries assuming you ever do. Of course with colleges the big decision is what you’re majoring in, who has the best programs, what financial aid packages you can get, etc. and so forth. Few would argue that Harvard Law School is better than Jones Law School in Montgomery, AL, and few would argue that the science department of University of Georgia is better than that of Bob Jones University.

As for privatization in general, I’m mixed. I think the post office is considered much more efficient now as a government owned corporation than it was as a patronage based government department, and the competition from UPS and FedEx and others also made it run faster and better. On the other hand the privatization of schools has proven a very mixed bag and the privatization of road work has created incredible corruption. I think it’s too huge an issue to make a “privatization is wrong” or “privatization is right” blanket rule- each project should be decided on its own merits. I believe in rigidly enforced sensible regulations for essential industries but generally feel some private competition will usually be for the best.

vis-a-vis education the problem (acutely) arises, how do we insulate from politics the adminstration of a public good. We make stabs at it, but we end up with the need to erect formidable barriers to ensure academic freedom, which seem to evoke (for example, Oceanville-Brownsville) formidable siege engines of political organization.

Otoh, a system of completely voucherized education would be an invitation to balkanizition of society, in contravention of the important social benefits of mixing classes and races while young.

fuck, I don’t have an answer. (unaccustomed as I am…)

This may be where I think I lie on the spectrum. Like everything else in the universe, moderation is key.
When things are run only to make money, or for that specific purpose…maybe like fundraisers, I suppose, doing so under a private umbrella.
If anything, I think the model for the post office might be best for most industries. I’d like the government working to accomplish its own aims with a couple private companies doing the same thing .

That good or bad?

Ask any citizen of Atlanta how well its privatized water service worked.

(Hint: the contract has been canceled and the city is back in the water business.)

You’re also assuming that the government doesn’t kowtow to whoever gives it the most money. Just look at this list of foods certified by the AHA, including Golden Grahams and Chocolate Lucky Charms:

Take it from a former radical: It depends.

Personally I saw how a monopoly in telecommunications can really boggle down a country, once competition entered the market people now can get connected faster and cheaper than before, I still remember that it took my family months to get a phone circa 1975, IIRC a similar thing was going on in the USA, **but then AT&T was a private institution ** and it was declared a monopoly and it was broken apart.

In El Salvador it was a change in government to a very conservative one that finished the government monopoly, I can see privatization worked there, but things like privatizing water turned into a disaster for the poor, you see, the basic difference IMHO is that to properly privatize something, alternative or competing technologies for delivery of the item should be present; otherwise governments, specially the developing ones, are only changing one monopoly with another.

In the case of the FDA, I have to say private industry had years to police itself and they just dropped the ball. Just looking at the time line one can deduce the scandals and controversies private industry just could not correct:

While private Colleges can be better, not having public institutions can be the end of the American experiment that was started by the founding fathers, but the concept of public education has to be credited to the American People:

Some of that history does include prejudice against other cultures and races, but after the civil rights act, public education began to be a tool to prevent serious cultural and economical disparities in America.

Regardless how the concept of public education in the USA came to be, I can not thank the people who made it possible enough, a close relative of mine recently had to declare bankruptcy due health problems, but his straight A sons will go to college soon.
On Preview: Interesting to see that spoke- also points to water in a city in the USA as being also a failure from private industry to deal with.

Competition does not necessarily make things more efficient, even in theory. Competition requires you to advertise more, may reduce sales to the point that it is difficult to have economy of scale, and can lead to incompatibilities such as VHS and Beta.

In most cases, competition should lead to lower prices however.

Of course, what so many people on both sides of this debate forget is the need to address the normative issues first. Like you, they go straight to the “efficiency” argument (more efficient? less efficient?) without ever asking whether efficiency is—or should be—the primary criterion for running a society.

Sure, efficiency is an important consideration and one that needs ot be taken into account when making decisions about resource allocation and economic systems generally, but human beings are social and cultural creatures who may decide, in certain circumstances, that other criteria such as equality or a minimum standard of living or decent public spaces should override the quest for efficiency.

Well sure, there are other issues to consider, that’s why it was “quick and dirty.” I didn’t mean that was the ONLY way privatization could make things better, or even that it worked in all cases (hence the “in theory” addition), only that it was one possibility.

Even going back a post before mine, I’d say before you can seriously answer “How in the hell does privatizing anything make it better,” you’d certainly have to define “better.”

Is this a joke?