Privatization, or the removal of government organizations in favor of private companies, is a privileged view of what is or is not a public good. When schools were solely private, about 60% of white males in New England could read. However, according to Jack Lynch of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, by the turn of the 19th century, that number was close to 100%. Often, privatization offers efficiency, but sacrifices accessibility. The government is there to help and protect its people, and the removal of the government's safeguard can create negative consequences, as there are no immediate repercussions for private industries to neglect a large portion of the population. 

Let us take a simple example— roads. I still remember sitting in a debate during my freshman year and hearing the Libertarian spokesperson say he believed corporations should build their own roads. This theory works, if we believe a company would want to get to every single customer. However, if there is anything I remember from microeconomics, it is companies decide by marginal cost. This means if someone does not fit their cost-benefit analysis, they will not be included in the range of roads. So, now you are stuck in the middle of Mississippi with no way to get to the hospital, surrounded by forests and too far away for a company to care.

Another example I have heard brought up is the United States Postal Service. I have heard before we should get rid of the USPS because we already have UPS and FedEx. Yes, this is true. However, even in this day and age, FedEx and UPS do not have the range of every house in the country. This is where governmental institutions step in. How do you expect a normal person, maybe in the mountains of Montana, to receive all the mail they are obligated to receive? I do understand Amazon is working on this problem and are looking to hire more local contractors to deliver to more isolated places, but such an efficient and inexpensive organization often cannot be created, especially for something which could cost so much without governmental assistance.

This is not just a problem in America. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Although they have the second highest gross domestic product in Africa, they still experience 57 murders a day, as reported by the Reality Check team with BBC News. Why would I tell you this? Because privatization has not worked in this country.

As reported by Ezra Claymore with The South African, private citizens, at least those who are rich enough, have spent more on personal security, 45 billion rand, than South Africa's police force has in their entire budget, 30 billion rand. This has created a situation where only those who can afford to be safe are truly safe. The country has about half the needed police officers, but they cannot afford to pay any more. In this situation, privatization has been a cost-saving measure, but it is costing them social instability and human lives, leading to more violence.

Countries low on funds must rely on either non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or private organizations to perform the tasks which are usually the job of the state, but a country with the funds to continue to support all of its citizens should not rely on private institutions. Private institutions care more about money than the people they are supposed to help. Just because you may not need the government's help does not mean many others do not rely on the government's assistance.

(1) comment


"Yes, this is true. However, even in this day and age, FedEx and UPS do not have the range of every house in the country. This is where governmental institutions step in."

The post office lost 3.9 Billion dollars in 2018.

What our author fails to recognize is the essential truth that the flow and direction of resources (dollars, time, attention, expertise) move quickly where they're needed at private companies. This is because they can die if they misallocate those resources or gamble incorrectly.

The government has no such worry as it has a gun at the back of every citizen and if they need more money they'll get it. Thus, they're allowed to squander resources and make illogical decisions for political purposes. The profit motive harnesses the most powerful force in human nature (self-interest) and uses it to ensure people are operating as efficiently in the pursuit of what other people (customers) want.

We all vote with our dollars, every day. Every place we spend money is a vote for that place or product's continued existence. When we decide something isn't worth the cost we withhold our vote. When enough of us do that the product disappears or changes radically in an effort to re-win our votes (dollars). It's the most democratic process ever created.

Even most libertarians will tell you that roads, police, fire, military all make sense. That said, roads built by private enterprises are done faster and at a lower expense than roads built by the government. The same is true in virtually every facet where you could compare the two sides. There's nothing wrong at all with the government hiring private contractors for the purposes of running, building, or expanding government properties.

"Private institutions care more about money than the people they are supposed to help." What does that even mean? Does our author imagine that anyone creates, invents, or toils out of pure altruism? Even those of us who volunteer at shelters do so out of the selfish pursuit of the pleasure it brings them. There is no truly selfless act that earns a living. There is simply the creation of resources via the human mind and body and the most efficient exchange of those resources for the betterment of all involved.

250 years ago America was little more than a ball of dirt and in less than two hundred we became the only country to put a man on the moon. We consist of 4% of the world's population and represent 25% of its economy. It's because people are largely free to swap resources at their highest leverage points.

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