If you talk to Republicans about the Government, they’ll tell you that the more we privatize, the better because of greater efficiency in the private sector. My answer has been that, aside from the greater efficiency being mythical (which is why Dilbert is about the private sector), the intrinsic problems are that privatization adds an extra layer of expense in the form of profits for stockholders and that the ultimate focus of the organization shifts from ultimate responsibility to the public to ultimate responsibility to stockholders. 

This morning I heard a news report on NPR that reinforced my assessment. It concerns a lawsuit filed against the largest private prisons corporation in the US, CoreCivic, for actions in a prison in Georgia. How can a corporation improve its profits? One way is to reduce labor costs. The problem in this case is how CoreCivic is accused of doing that: 

By forcing immigrant detainees to work for as little as a dollar an hour.

”Forcing” can mean anything from restricting access to necessities for those who refuse to placing those who refuse in solitary confinement. 

Forced labor is illegal. Also, if you pay someone a dollar an hour you’re eliminating a job, because someone has to do that job and ordinarily whoever does is paid at least minimum wage. 

Looked at in strictly economic terms (and ignoring both basic decency and the law), a Republican looking at this would argue that reducing that wage saves the public money, which might be a weak argument for privatization if we thought any of that savings would be passed on to the public, so instead it’s really no argument at all. 

By the way, this sort of practice is limited neither to this prison nor to this prison company. This is not an isolated problem. 

As a general rule, you get what you incentivize. Maybe I should say you get what you reward. If incentives are geared primarily around making stockholders richer - and this is not only a financial incentive, it’s a legal incentive because of Fiduciary Responsibility - we’re going to see results like these. It doesn’t matter what any given party says they want, what matters is where they put the vested interest. 

If the primary vested interest is not in public service, the primary result won’t be either. And, in privatization, the primary vested interest can’t be. 

By law.

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Comment by Ben Sen on April 19, 2018 at 11:10am

The wrongs of other nations and tribes do not justify the kind of oppression we have seen in Israel any more than what happens in Israel justifies crimes against humanity elsewhere.  It is irresponsible and unconscionable to claim otherwise. You're playing victim.  It boils down to how the tyranny in Israel can be brought to an end, and that is where we most fundamentally differ.  The US is no longer morally obligated to support them given what they have done and continue to do.

Comment by koshersalaami on April 19, 2018 at 11:34am

I’m not justifying Israel’s oppression, though chances are I feel differently about aspects of it than you do. That’s not my point. My point has to do with the myth of Israeli immoral exceptionalism. If there’s a given kind of conduct you hate, great. But holding Israel responsible for what you wouldn’t hold countries responsible for across shared borders is a bit weird. 

The United States is not supporting Israel strictly out of moral obligation - in fact, I’m not sure the US is supporting Israel primarily out of moral obligation. There are pretty substantial military, intelligence, and technology reasons plus some significant domestic political reasons. 

I’ve spoken often about the most promising avenues for bringing the tyranny in Israel to an end. Mostly the responses I’ve gotten have been way more emotional than logistical. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 19, 2018 at 8:41pm

I wish you would have wrote that play. My University Philosophy Prof was obsessed with Mill, just ate it alive. I became so disenchanted with the Chicago School that once I looked at Austria I could only see a charlatan in Hayek as an economist. As a biographer, I will give him credit. As far as economics, well, one need look no further than Austria itself. Holy Roman Empire indeed.

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 19, 2018 at 8:45pm

Not to mix and match, but lets please remember, as we blend philosophy and Israel, that without Spinoza we wouldn't have gotten anywhere to begin with ... I can't imagine Netanyahu has a copy by his bedside, though I honestly hope I am wrong.

Comment by Ben Sen on April 20, 2018 at 6:23am

:"Israeli moral exceptionalism?"  Where did you make that one up?  Who is "holding Israel responsible for what you wouldn't hold other countries responsible?''  The UN?  The EU?  Any liberal who doesn't have on blinders when it comes to Israel?  Or, I know, maybe we should wait until the entire world is free of prejudice, ignorance, and fear--then we can hold Israel accountable.  Until that day, they can continue to blockade Gaza, perpetuate the settlements, the tyranny, and the slaughter.  We've now had a number of presidents who have seen through the masquerade: Carter, who wrote a book about it, Bush 1, who wanted to cut off aid, Clinton, who refused to make a buggy man out of Arafat and almost signed an accord, and Obama, who at least had the guts to tell them to stop killing Palestinians even if he did nothing about it.  If we ever get a Democratic president with enough of a mandate, we can demonstrate they don't have us in the pocket and put pressure on them.  That's going to probably be the only way.  

Comment by Ben Sen on April 20, 2018 at 6:37am

Is "Israeli moral exceptionalism" really the best argument you can come up with?  You may think you're being clever, but it clearly makes no sense.  It's only purpose is to confuse and convince those who still haven't seen through the facade.  You've been stuck on it for years.  Haven't you got anything new by this time? The US doesn't owe Israel shit, and Israel owes to us their existence.  We're their only allies and they stick their finger up at us every chance they get.

Comment by Ben Sen on April 20, 2018 at 7:05am

On Hayek:  I think what obsessed him about Mill is that here was a man who by every factor that influenced Hayak, Mill's family background, status, his education, his obvious intellectual capacity, and his moral conviction, he should have come to similar conclusions as Hayak, but he didn't.  Mill believed in a world that was constantly expanding and needed to do so.  He was the chink in Hayak's armor that he could never quite reconcile fully.   

Comment by koshersalaami on April 20, 2018 at 7:50am

First of all, it’s Israeli Immoral Exceptionalism. 

Do you read? I’m not suggesting being uncritical of Israel, but singling out Israel in a sea of bad actors is bullshit and your repeated contention about Israel being guilty of the worst human rights atrocities since the Holocaust is beyond bullshit - I’m surprised you had the nerve to say it, let alone repeat it. The lack of intellectual integrity it takes to say that is mind-boggling. Let’s pick one country in a sea of human rights violators and hit it with BDS. Gee, I wonder what’s behind that?

You apparently haven’t read much about Clinton and Arafat. After the talks between Clinton, Barack and Arafat, Clinton held Arafat responsible for the failure. 

Does Israel owe the United States its existence because of the recognition in 1948? The United States Government didn’t start giving Israel serious military aid until after the 1967 war. Israel fought that war with French MIrages.  Or do you mean continued existence? Like, I don’t know, Israel became a nuclear power because of American aid? Uh, no. That was in spite of the United States. Do you think that Israel owes its existence because of cooperation with a missile defense system? The US got a lot out of that deal because a lot of the technology in that system is Israeli. And if Israel didn’t have that system, how exactly do you think they would have stopped the missiles from Gaza? By surgical strikes? They wouldn’t be able to afford surgical strikes. The Gazan death toll would be astronomically higher than it’s been, so I’d say more Palestinian lives were saved by that action than Israeli. 

Speaking of owing existence, how many other countries can you name whose existence is under constant threat? 

Comment by Ben Sen on April 20, 2018 at 10:12am

Israel isn't the only example of the perpetrated becoming the perpetrator, not now, and certainly not in world history.  It is, however, the most obvious example currently given the Holocaust, and how long and how devastating their persecution of the Palestinians has been given their own past, and the effect it has had on the Middle East.  When a couple of African tribes commit genocide, it's morally reprehensible, but not the same threat to world peace as when the Israelis slaughter another couple thousand Arabs in an uprising, while calling themselves "allies" on the US.  It's time to say: enough.  And if there is a Democratic landslide in the future, perhaps something will be done about it.

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